An online bachelor of social science degree prepares students for a range of careers in a number of fields. Social sciences include academic areas such as sociology, psychology, geography, political science, history, economics, and linguistics, among others. Although these fields cover an array of careers and subject matter, all fundamentally deal with human interactions and society.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average annual salary for social scientists and related workers is $80,860. A social science online degree prepares you to join a rapidly developing world of human studies by using data, statistics, and history to learn about our shared future.

What are the best social science programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
2 University of Hawai'i - West O'ahu Kapolei, HI
3 University of Washington Seattle, WA
4 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE
5 New York University New York, NY
6 California State University, Chico Chico, CA
7 Dickinson State University Dickinson, ND
8 Washington State University Pullman, WA
9 University of Alaska Southeast Juneau, AK
10 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA

Choosing a Program

The content of a bachelor of social science degree varies significantly from school to school. Most social science online degrees have specific majors or disciplines like economics, political science, or history. Within a specific major, the coursework, program focus, and career outcomes also vary. A general bachelor's degree in social science covers topics and material common in the disciplines, such as statistics, research methods, sociology, basic economics, history, professional communication, and philosophy. These common core classes are helpful to any student who pursues a career where professional analysis and communication are necessary, or where data and research are required.

A bachelor of social science degree helps you pursue a number of careers. Choosing a political science subfield can lead to careers in state politics or placement in a top law school. Concentrating in sociology can lead to scientific research on human nature or market research for a major commercial business. A bachelor of science in social science specializing in psychology could lead to a career as a therapist or consultant. Social science degrees are designed to deliver a set of broad knowledge and an area of specialization applicable to a wide set of problems and careers. Many programs have senior projects or theses to cement these ideas in a final capstone.

2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Social Science Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University of Central Florida

Orlando, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

UCF's bachelor's in social sciences program includes required classes like American national government, general psychology, and communication research methods. Students must choose one of six minors, selecting from options like anthropology, psychology, political science, and gender studies. Required coursework can be completed online, although some elective options and prerequisites may be unavailable to distance learners.

Nearly half of all UCF undergraduate students receive at least one job offer before graduation. UCF provides learners with career advisors, a job planning guide, and internship opportunities.

Admission requirements include high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. UCF also recommends that applicants submit a personal essay. Although out-of-state students pay a higher tuition rate, they may qualify for a full scholarship.

2

University of Hawai'i - West O'ahu

Kapolei, HI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 32%

At UH West O'ahu, students can choose from three online bachelor's degrees in social sciences: early childhood education, political science, and psychology. Each program requires 120 credits and uses 15-week courses. The early childhood education and political science program require or strongly recommend that learners complete an internship.

Students can explore internship opportunities, receive career advising, and attend virtual events on the university's career services website. This website also provides career and interest assessments.

First-year applicants should have a minimum 2.7 GPA and meet course prerequisite requirements. Additional requirements include ACT or SAT scores. Incoming students can apply for institutional financial aid by submitting their FAFSA results.

3

University of Washington

Seattle, WA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 84%

UW's bachelor's in integrated social sciences program offers full-time and part-time enrollment options. The curriculum includes courses in seven thematic areas of inquiry, including information and technology, conflict and cooperation, and societies and environments. The program culminates in a capstone course, in which learners create an academic portfolio.

Approximately 80% of UW alumni experience a positive outcome within 180 days of earning their degree. The university's career center offers resources that help learners turn career goals into a reality, such as webinars and a resume review service.

Transfer students with at least 75 quarter credits may apply. Once accepted, incoming transfer students may apply for the Martin Family Foundation Scholarship. International and out-of-state online learners pay slightly higher tuition rates than Washington residents.

4

Bellevue University

Bellevue, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 0%

BU's online bachelor's degree in behavioral science combines coursework in psychology, sociology, and counseling. This program operates as a degree completion pathway. Students complete 40 major-related credits, including a capstone. All undergraduate students also take the Kirkpatrick Signature Series — three courses unique to BU.

In addition to providing resume and cover letter assistance, BU's career advisors work one-on-one with degree-seekers to teach networking and interviewing skills. The university also provides personalized job hunting advice and resume templates for veterans returning to civilian life.

Prospective students must hold an associate degree or at least 60 transferable credits. The university accepts applications for institutional scholarships at five points throughout the year.

5

New York University

New York, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 85%

Aspiring lawyers may be interested in NYU's bachelor's in social sciences program. The entirely online curriculum of this degree completion program features nine concentrations in areas like politics, sociology, and organizational behavior and change.

Nearly 60% of NYU students accept a job offer in the weeks leading up to graduation. NYU achieves this result by providing students with virtual career services that include internship boards, 30-minute coaching sessions, and career events.

Applicants must hold an associate degree or at least 45 transferable credits. The university prefers applicants with a minimum 3.3 undergraduate GPA. NYU offers several financial aid opportunities to incoming students, including the Dean's Scholarship Program.

6

California State University, Chico

Chico, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 66%

Chico State's bachelor's in social science degree completion program features two concentrations: multidisciplinary studies and specialization studies. The multidisciplinary major features classes that discuss various social sciences topics, while the specialization studies major focuses on sociology. Both tracks can be completed online and require a capstone course.

Nearly 80% of Chico State graduates achieve a positive career or education outcome shortly after earning their degree. The university facilitates alumni's success by offering virtual career workshops and resume guidance.

Applicants should complete lower-division credits before applying to this social science program. Prospective students can attend an online information session. Incoming degree-seekers with good grades and excellent standardized test scores can apply for a Wildcat Scholarship.

7

Dickinson State University

Dickinson, ND Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 34%

DSU's online bachelor of applied science offers a 36-credit major curriculum with required courses in business law, business communication, and the principles of marketing. Through over 30 elective credits, students can complete many minors, including a minor in social sciences. The program attracts first-time college learners and transfer students.

DSU's career advisors provide students with a career exploration guide, resume brainstorming tips, and cover letter templates. Students can also review typical interview questions and personal finance best practices.

Admission requirements include high school transcripts or GED scores and standardized test scores. Transfer applicants can research course equivalencies online. Full-time students can apply for the university's Presidential Scholarship.

8

Washington State University

Pullman, WA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

WSU's bachelor's in social sciences program features 12 concentrations in areas such as administrative studies, comparative ethnic studies, and human development. The flexible curriculum allows students to complete 2-3 concentrations. Additional requirements include two years of an approved foreign language.

WSU's career center provides many useful resources, including virtual career coaching sessions, Handshake software, and internships through Parker Dewey. The center also offers online workshops that cover topics like learning strategies and time management.

WSU admits new students in the spring, summer, and fall semesters. Out-of-state online learners pay approximately 10% more on tuition than Washington residents.

9

University of Alaska Southeast

Juneau, AK Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 36%

Learners who want to gain knowledge and skills in multiple social science fields can pursue an online bachelor's degree in social sciences at UAS. Students choose from five concentration areas: anthropology, history, psychology, political science/government, and sociology. The program's general education coursework hones writing, research, and analytical skills.

UAS offers many career resources — including interview opportunities, resume critiques, and mock interviews — through Handshake. The university's career services website also posts volunteer opportunities.

Applicants must have a high school diploma and submit ACT or SAT scores. Full-time students who maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA.

10

Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 29%

Through its World Campus, Penn State offers a bachelor's degree in integrated social sciences. This program features a flexible, asynchronous curriculum that prepares graduates to pursue entry-level employment or enroll in a master's program. Learners complete courses in anthropology, economics, and history. During their senior year, students create an experiential learning portfolio.

The university's career advisors help learners write resumes and prepare for interviews. These resources help more than 70% of alumni find a job immediately after graduation.

The social sciences program admits first-year and transfer students. The program accepts applications at three points throughout the year. Penn State's World Campus does not charge out-of-state tuition, and full-time students pay a semester-based tuition rate. Incoming learners must submit FAFSA results to apply for institutional scholarships.

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Social Science Program?

Social science is a broad field, so it's no surprise that most social science online degrees are different from each other. Programs range in the type of content they cover, the number of concentrations they offer, and the size of their programs. The number of credits, average completion time, and access to faculty may also vary depending on the program and school. You should spend some time learning about the details of the program and its admissions process before submitting your application.

CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN SOCIAL SCIENCE

Economics

Economics is the study of the production and consumption goods, services, and labor in large and small communities.

Economics encompasses an enormous amount of material under its umbrella. You can become a data analyst, statistician, or economist for agriculture organizations, universities, the government, law firms, or countless other businesses.

Political Science

Political Science is the study of people, ideas, and governments that create and organize society.

Poli Sci majors often go into careers in politics, public policy, or governance. Law school or journalism are also popular options.

Psychology

Psychology is the study of mind, thought, and behavior.

Becoming a psychologist or therapist is a popular career path for many psychology majors. Others may work in social services, mental health services, or as behavioral experts and market researchers. There are many research positions available as well.

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN SOCIAL SCIENCE

The specific courses and their subject matter can vary from school to school. However, most bachelor's of social science degrees offer the same core areas of study.

  • Research Methods: Although social sciences are not natural sciences, there are a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods for gathering and analyzing data on everything from voter turnout to the macroeconomic consumption of cheeseburgers.
  • Statistics: Introductory or intermediate statistics courses are common to help students analyze their data in any field. Statistics are necessary for modern data analysis and a popular choice for undergraduate students.
  • Philosophy: Before the 19th century, social sciences were covered within the disciplines of philosophy. Many social science programs interact with the writings of Aristotle, Descartes, and Adam Smith for social science theory and history.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN SOCIAL SCIENCE?

Most social science online degrees are completed in four years -- or eight traditional semesters. Like a bachelor's degree program, social science BA or BS degrees require major courses as well as university and general education requirements. Most programs require about 120 credits, although some vary slightly.

Students may be able to complete their degree more quickly by enrolling in an accelerated, competency-based learning, or individually paced program. Transfer students also may be able to complete the program more quickly by transferring general education credits. Overloading on credits each semester can help lower completion time, as well.

Some programs are taught in cohort models, where students matriculate at the same time and take the same classes at the same times. This model allows for greater peer interaction and academic support. Others use an individually paced model, which lets students move through courses quickly or at their own speed.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Social Science Degrees

A bachelor of social science online degree should be accredited. Accreditation is a set of standards decided upon by member institutions for what constitutes quality education, administration, and student support. When you earn a degree from an accredited institution, you signal to other accredited schools -- and employers -- that you hold a quality degree.

Universities and colleges can be nationally or regionally accredited. Regional accreditation is much more common and typically seen as more prestigious. National accreditation is usually granted to for-profit, vocational, career-oriented, or some religious schools. Most nonprofit, academic college and universities are accredited by one of the six regional accrediting agencies. Both online and brick-and-mortar schools can be regionally accredited, and this should be one of the first things you look for when selecting an online program. Aside from national and regional accreditation, many individual programs are accredited by industry groups. This is less common among social science degrees, but some programs are accredited by public policy organizations.

It is important to note that accrediting agencies are not run by the government. Rather, they are groups composed of universities and colleges, which set the standards for other programs. These agencies are recognized by the Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education as legitimate accrediting agencies. The DOE is a government agency that sets academic policy goals, but does not accredit schools itself. The CHEA is comprised of schools and also functions as an oversight body to ensure proper accreditation procedures. Check out the list of all accredited schools on the DOE's website or the CHEA's before finding deciding on a social science online degree.

Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Social Science Graduates

JOB PLACEMENT

According to Payscale, in the first one to four years after graduation, a bachelor's of social science degree holder makes an average of about $10,000 more per year than a high school graduate. A high school graduate can expect to make about $39,000 per year in the first several years following graduation, whereas the median annual salary of a bachelor of social sciences graduate is about $49,000. Ten to 20 years after graduation the pay gap remains higher, with the BA degree holder earning about $11,000 more.

Years Experience High School Graduate BA in Social Science Graduate
1-4 Years $39,000 $49,000
5-9 Years $47,000 $35,000
10-19 Years $45,000 $56,000

Source: Payscale

BACHELOR's IN SOCIAL SCIENCE SALARY

The highest paying jobs for social science bachelor's degree graduates are in economics and political science. These areas of specialization allow students to pursue careers as analytics managers, consultants, financial service experts, political campaign management, and government managers. There are more than a dozen jobs for social science majors with a median salary above $100,000.

Careers Social Science Major Median Salary
Management Consultant Economics $142,000
Chief of Staff Political Science $141,000
Intelligence Analyst Political Science $84,100
Geographic Information Systems Manager Geography $77,000
Employee Relations Specialist Sociology $57,700

BACHELOR'S IN SOCIAL SCIENCE CAREERS

Social science graduates pursue careers in literally hundreds of fields. Many of these, such as psychology, require graduate degrees and additional certifications. Others, such as positions in social science, can be started directly following undergraduate education. Although many careers in social science are related to a student's area of concentration, social science graduates thrive in other areas including journalism, marketing, sales, and consulting.

Social Science Researcher

Any social science bachelor's degree students can become a researcher in his or her field. Researchers excel in statistics, research methods, and other math classes.

Median Annual Salary - $43,000
Projected Growth Rate - 6%

Economist

Social science students who specialize in economics can become economists as consultants or experts in a specific area. Classes in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and statistics are important.

Median Annual Salary - $101,000
Projected Growth Rate - 6%

Social Scientist

A social scientist is similar to a social science researcher, and can mean one is an expert in any of several fields. Social scientists, typically in sociology or anthropology, study human interaction.

Median Annual Salary - $77,000
Projected Growth Rate - -2%

Political Scientist

A political scientist is an expert in politics and can be a consultant for political campaigns, government offices, and political action groups. Political scientists may also conduct research or work closely with politicians.

Median Annual Salary - $114,000
Projected Growth Rate - -2%

Social Worker

Social workers typically work for the government to provide social services to those who need them. There are private organizations that provide similar services and may be a smart opportunity for social science students as well.

Median Annual Salary - $46,000
Projected Growth Rate - 12%

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Regardless of your career interests, you'll be able to find a professional organization that help you get started. These organizations facilitate networking opportunities, host conferences, and offer career services and job boards. Many organizations also help students with continuing education.

Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Social Science Program

Paying for an online degree is similar to paying for a degree at a traditional campus. All students who need financial aid should first complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to learn their eligibility for federal loans, work-study jobs, scholarship, grants, or more. Students can also work directly with schools to apply for grants, scholarships, and work opportunities.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.