What You Should Know About Social Science Majors

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Choosing to major in the social sciences can lead to lucrative jobs in economics, politics, and urban planning, to name just a few areas. With a social science major, you can expect to develop versatile skills that you can transfer to different roles.

[Featured Image]:  A man wearing a black cap and gown smiles as he graduates as a social science major.

Some college majors are more career-oriented, introducing you to an industry and the skills often needed to work in it. Others foster a broader range of skills development that you can apply to several career paths. Social science majors generally fall under the latter category. They typically refer to subjects that relate to systems and how they operate, such as the human mind and the global economy.

Choosing to major in the social sciences can lead to lucrative jobs in economics, politics, and urban planning, to name just a few areas. With a social science major, you can expect to develop a versatile skill set that you can transfer to different roles and industries.

What is a social science major? 

A social science major is typically part of a liberal arts education, which encompasses the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Whereas the natural sciences focus on natural systems, such as biology or chemistry, social sciences are more interested in how systems have been constructed and how they have and currently operate. 

As a social science major, you’ll likely explore your subject area using an interdisciplinary approach, meaning your program will weave together multiple perspectives to provide an expansive education. These programs often encourage critical thinking and problem solving, so graduates can enter many different industries and make an impact. 

Let’s go over some of the more popular social science majors, the key skills you will develop with each one, and the possible career options available to you. 

1. Anthropology

Anthropology examines the history of humankind. It’s a broad subject with a few different options to narrow your focus—for example, you may have the option to concentrate in archaeology or cultural anthropology. 

Major skills: 

  • Research 

  • Analysis

  • Foreign language

  • Collaboration

Possible career paths: 

  • Environmental anthropologist

  • Public policy analyst 

  • Localization specialist 

  • Translator

2. Communication studies

Communication studies sits somewhere between the social sciences and humanities. It involves studying how people communicate with one another, including the messages they craft and share, and what makes for effective communication.   

Major skills: 

  • Research

  • Writing

  • Communicating

  • Listening 

Possible career paths: 

  • Communications specialist 

  • Human relations specialist 

  • Social media coordinator 

  • Sales representative  

3. Criminal justice

Criminal justice majors dive deep into the justice system and spend time investigating the psychology of criminal behavior. The major tends to combine several different approaches, including history, psychology, and communications.  

Major skills: 

  • Evaluating 

  • Collaborating 

  • Decision making

Potential career paths: 

  • Case manager

  • Community advocate 

  • Forensic accountant

  • Paralegal

  • State trooper

4. Economics

Economics majors study how local, national, and international economic systems operate and topics like wealth and resources. They may have the option of choosing between a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Science (BS). The former tends to focus on the history and theory of economics, while the latter tends to focus on quantitative research methods. 

Major skills: 

  • Mathematics 

  • Statistics 

  • Critical thinking

  • Problem-solving 

Potential career paths: 

  • Actuary 

  • Financial analyst 

  • Public policy analyst 

  • Market research analyst 

  • Benefits manager 

Learn more: What is the Difference Between a BA and BS Degree?

5. Environmental studies

Environmental studies looks closely at society’s impact on the environment, including resource shortages and environmental issues like climate change.As with economics, you may have the option of earning your BA or BS in environmental studies, depending on whether you’d prefer a more theoretical or quantitative approach. 

Major skills: 

  • Geographic Information System (GIS)

  • Statistics 

  • Data collection 

  • Critical thinking 

Potential career paths:

  • City planning aide

  • Water resource specialist

  • Occupational health and safety specialist

  • Environmental journalist 

6. Geography

Geography investigates physical and human environments and how one can affect the other. The major pulls from the physical and natural sciences and mathematics. Additionally, some programs may incorporate coursework on geospatial representation and analysis.   

Major skills: 

  • Geographic Information System (GIS)

  • Statistics 

  • Data collection

  • Critical thinking 

Potential career paths: 

  • Geospatial analyst 

  • Surveyor

  • Park ranger

  • Landscape architect 

7. International relations

International relations majors study different countries and how they relate to one another, be that culturally, politically, economically, or another system. Within the broad study of international relations, you may choose to narrow your focus to areas like the environment, human rights, national security, or global health. 

Major skills:

  • Empathy

  • Foreign languages

  • Communicating

  • Data collection

Potential career paths: 

  • Political consultant 

  • Interpreter

  • Localization assistant

  • Marketing coordinator

8. Political science

Political science is the study of governments and how they function. You may find that your coursework draws from international relations, political theory, governance, economics, and an array of other subjects. 

Major skills:

  • Writing

  • Analysis 

  • Critical thinking 

Potential career paths: 

  • Policy analyst

  • Public affairs specialist

  • Communications specialist 

  • Political journalist

9. Psychology

Psychology explores human behavior to better understand people’s motivations, actions, conduct, and more. Psychology majors may be able to focus on an aspect of psychology, such as child or developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, or cognitive psychology. 

Major skills:

  • Communicating 

  • Research 

  • Analysis

Potential career paths:

10. Sociology

Sociology examines the systems that humans construct and how people relate to one another—often through those very systems. Although sociology programs have a similar interest in human behavior to psychology programs, they tend to focus on group-level behavior, such as by age, race, or gender. 

Major skills:

  • Research

  • Analysis

  • Critical thinking

Potential career paths: 

  • HR specialist 

  • Community health worker

  • Market research analyst 

  • Data analyst

11. Urban planning

Urban planning studies major metropolitan areas' design, construction, and everyday use. Many programs aim to prepare urban planning majors to improve people’s lives in cities by identifying solutions to pressing issues.

Major skills:

  • Planning

  • Organization

  • Problem-solving

Potential career paths: 

  • Cartographer

  • Policy analyst 

  • Building inspector

  • Urban landscaper

Is a social science major right for you? 

If you enjoy learning about a subject from an interdisciplinary approach while developing a wide array of skills, then a social science major may be good. Take time to think about your larger goals—whether they’re career-oriented or not—and how you can achieve them with a social sciences major. 

There are many reasons why people earn an undergraduate degree, and not all have to be career-focused. You may choose to use your bachelor’s degree as an opportunity to study a subject that already interests you, broaden your knowledge in a new area, or develop a versatile skill set that will support your future endeavors. Having a clear understanding of what you want to gain from your time in college can help determine what you should major in.   

Learn more: What Should I Major In?

Explore further

Apply to earn your Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences from the University of North Texas, which is available in eight concentrations, including social wellness and community, media innovation, and consumer behavior. Plus, you may qualify to transfer between 30 and 90 credit hours toward the 120 hours required to earn the degree. 

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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