Fastest Online Social Sciences Degree Programs

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According to a BestColleges study, social sciences and history is the third most popular college major. During the 2019-2020 school year, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that 161,200 degrees, or approximately 8% of degrees, were conferred in social sciences or history.

Social sciences is a popular major for good reason. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), life, physical, and social sciences professionals earned a median annual wage of $72,740 as of May 2021. This eclipses the median annual salary for all occupations by approximately $27,000.

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There is an additional appeal for students seeking an accelerated degree in social sciences. In most cases, students with some prior postsecondary education or experience can finish accelerated bachelor's programs within two years. These programs often draw on students' prior knowledge to allow them to graduate more quickly.

Read on to learn more about the top online bachelor's in social sciences programs, including admission requirements, common courses, and potential postgraduate careers.

How Fast Can I Get an Online Bachelor's in Social Sciences Degree?

Accelerated social science bachelor's programs allow students to earn degrees that often take four years to complete in 2-3 years. These online programs cover the same amount of coursework as four-year programs, but in a more concentrated, often asynchronous format.

Accelerated bachelor's programs differ slightly from degree completion programs, which allow students who have started (but not finished) a bachelor's degree to complete their studies. These programs usually require incoming students to have already completed 30-60 credits. Some degree completion programs in social sciences may offer accelerated options.

Prospective students should expect accelerated programs to be rigorous and move at a quick pace. Weekly requirements vary by program and delivery method.

What Can I Expect From an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Social Sciences Degree Program?

Social sciences is an umbrella term that encompasses disciplines like anthropology, psychology, political science, sociology, and sometimes economics and public health. These fields can be a good fit for any students who are empathetic and interested in qualitative research. However, no matter your natural orientation, you can gain the knowledge and hard skills you need to succeed in social sciences careers over the course of these programs.

Students who can keep up with rigorous and fast-paced coursework are the best fit for accelerated online social sciences programs. Most social sciences programs include plenty of opportunities for customization through concentrations since social sciences is such a broad term. Possible concentrations in these programs include psychology, anthropology, sociology, and political science.

Online social sciences programs often culminate in some sort of experiential requirement, such as an internship or capstone project, or a thesis.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs.

What Courses Will I Take in an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Social Sciences Degree Program?

Basic Statistics

Students in social science programs usually need to complete either a basic statistics course or a statistics course in a specific discipline like political science, psychology, or sociology.

Professional Ethics

No matter the specific discipline, many online social sciences programs include a course in professional ethics, presenting students with case studies of situations they may encounter in a postgraduate workplace.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is an essential element of scholarship in fields like anthropology, psychology, and sociology. This course provides students with foundational skills and methodology in quantitative research.

Cultural Anthropology

Many social sciences students choose to pursue a concentration in anthropology. Cultural anthropology deals with ethnographic descriptions based on social and cultural factors.

Capstone or Portfolio

Some social sciences programs require students to complete a capstone course or project as a culminating experience. Others require learners to create a professional portfolio of their best work.

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What Are Admission Requirements for an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Social Sciences Degree Program?

Admission requirements are generally the same for on-campus and online bachelor's in social sciences programs. In rare cases, because of the rigorous nature of an accelerated program, prospective students may need to complete an interview with a member of the admissions department or a professor before enrolling.

Application

All online social sciences programs require applicants to fill out an online application form, which captures basic contact and background information. Students can sometimes just fill out one form and apply to multiple schools at once through application systems like the Common App and Coalition App.

Test Scores

Some undergraduate social sciences programs require applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores. While this requirement is often rarer among accelerated programs, some schools may still ask you to submit your standardized test scores. Others may maintain test-optional policies, allowing you to submit your scores only if they strengthen your application.

Letters of Recommendation

Most undergraduate programs, no matter the discipline, ask applicants to send in 2-3 letters of recommendation, often from former high school teachers. If you have been out of high school for several years, you can ask professional supervisors to write these letters for you. In both cases, ask your recommenders several months in advance to provide them with time to write.

Essays

Most undergraduate social science programs require applicants to submit 1-3 short essays, often of 500-700 words. Possible prompts include a statement of purpose, values, or career goals; a time you overcame a challenge; and what draws you to social sciences.

Official Transcripts

Undergraduate programs in every discipline require prospective students to submit official transcripts from all the secondary and postsecondary schools they have attended. If you have already completed an associate degree at a community college, you should earn approximately 60 transfer credits at your new four-year school.

What Can I Do With an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Social Sciences Degree?

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, as of May 2021, professionals in life, physical, and social sciences careers earned a median annual wage of $72,740. This is more than $25,000 higher than the median annual wage for all careers. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects 8% job growth for these occupations, which is comparable to the average projected growth rate for all careers during that period.

As such, accelerated online bachelor's in social sciences programs can lead to lucrative and desirable careers. Perhaps, for this reason, social sciences and history is the third most popular college major. Employers make no distinction between accelerated bachelor's degree-holders and traditional bachelor's degree-holders.

Graduates of these programs can apply for positions like social or community service manager, health educator, human resources specialist, or teacher.

See where a bachelor's in social sciences can take you. Learn more about social science careers.

Career Paths

Social or Community Service Manager

Social and community service managers take charge of day-to-day operations for nonprofit organizations, faith-based groups, and social services agencies. Tasks might include organizing events, speaking with major donors, and liaising with boards. These positions usually require a bachelor's degree and significant relevant experience.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $74,000


Health Education Specialist or Community Health Worker

Health education specialists and community health workers create programs to inform communities about health and well-being. They can work for government agencies, healthcare facilities, and nonprofit organizations. Job candidates usually need a relevant bachelor's degree to qualify for positions.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $48,860


Human Resources Specialist

These professionals serve as entry-level workers in human resources departments. They often participate in hiring, onboarding, screening, compensation, and benefits. They usually need a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, although companies also hire candidates with degrees in social science fields like political science and economics.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $62,290


High School Teacher

Teaching students in grades 9-12 of ages 14-18, high school teachers usually give lessons, create assessments, and provide mentorship in a specific subject area. Bachelor's degree-holders in social sciences can teach lessons in their major. If you want to teach in a public high school, you must also earn a state-issued teaching license.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $61,820


Counselor

Counselors provide treatment and support to patients dealing with issues like stress, anxiety, substance misuse, behavioral disorders, and addiction. These professionals can work in private practice, counseling centers, and other healthcare facilities. Most positions require a bachelor's degree and a state-issued license, although some jobs require a master's degree.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $48,520

Social Sciences Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

Continuing education is an option for bachelor's degree-holders in any social science field. Graduates can choose to pursue professional paths by earning master's degrees in fields like teaching or counseling. They can also pursue careers in academia by enrolling in Ph.D. programs in relevant fields like psychology, sociology, and political science.

It's fairly common for social science graduates to pursue further education. Advanced degrees can make them more competitive for entry-level careers and open up additional options, including positions like psychologist, political scientist, economist, and professor.

How Do I Choose an Accelerated Online Bachelor's in Social Sciences Degree Program?

Cost

Average costs for social science programs vary widely, as there are many different social science fields that students can pursue. No matter the field, for the lowest tuition rates, consider enrolling online at an in-state public university as opposed to an out-of-state private school. Online students often save on fees for room and board, transportation, and parking.

Program Format

Distance learners should determine whether they prefer synchronous or asynchronous learning. Synchronous learning involves live, scheduled online sessions at specific times of the week, while asynchronous learning does not. You should also consider whether you prefer full-time, part-time, or accelerated enrollment.

Location

Even if you enroll in an online bachelor's in social sciences program, you may want to choose a school close to you. Some of these programs include in-person requirements, which are easier to fulfill if you live near campus. Furthermore, many schools maintain relationships with local employers for internships and jobs.

Accreditation

Accreditation is a third-party review process that verifies the quality of a school's programs, services, and general offerings. You should only enroll at schools that hold accreditation. Otherwise, you cannot receive federal financial aid, and employers may not want to hire you.

Student Support

Student support can make a huge difference in the quality of a program, especially for online learners. Before enrolling in any program, check for student services like mentorship opportunities, internship placements, tutoring, advising, career services, and networking events.

Fastest Accredited Online Bachelor's in Social Sciences Degree Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1 Fastest Online Social Sciences Degree Programs

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $455

Out of State | $455

Credits to Graduate

120

Liberty's online BS in political science explores politics and government from a Christian perspective. Students can transfer up to 75% of the program's total credits. The accelerated degree in social sciences takes less than four years to complete. 

Online students enjoy eight-week courses, asynchronous course delivery, and eight starts per year. Applicants must submit official transcripts and the FAFSA, if applicable, for admission consideration. Credits for college experience, certificates, or military training may qualify for transfer.

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,417
Out-of-state
$15,417
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
51%
Students Enrolled
85,586
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#2 Fastest Online Social Sciences Degree Programs

University of Northern Colorado

  • Greeley, CO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $403

Out of State | $403

Credits to Graduate

120

UNCO offers its BA in sociology as a degree-completion program. The curriculum includes concentrations in inequality and institutions; deviance and social control; or social psychology, family, and the life course. Students close the degree with a senior seminar.

Preferred applicants hold at least 60 transferable college credits and a cumulative GPA of at least 2.4. Strong candidates also possess experience in liberal arts core and sociology coursework. The accelerated degree in social sciences takes two years to complete.

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,596
Out-of-state
$19,854
Retention Rate
72%
Admission Rate
91%
Students Enrolled
12,930
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#3 Fastest Online Social Sciences Degree Programs

Oregon State University

  • Corvallis, OR
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $346

Out of State | $346

Credits to Graduate

180

OSU students can earn a BA or BS in sociology online. The accelerated degree in social sciences includes concentrations in crime and justice or environmental and natural resources. The BA includes a foreign language prerequisite, while the BS includes requisite coursework in science, computer science, and math.

Applicants must submit transcripts previously attended schools and SAT or ACT scores. OSU prefers applicants with a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA. OSU also considers high school class rank, application essays, and AP or college-level coursework.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,846
Out-of-state
$29,445
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
82%
Students Enrolled
31,719
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
#4 Fastest Online Social Sciences Degree Programs

Ottawa University-Ottawa

  • Ottawa, KS
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Semester

In State | $15,440

Out of State | $15,440

Credits to Graduate

42

OU's accelerated degree in social sciences builds the skills to research, interpret, and think critically about human behavior. The program offers a concentration in anthropology, social justice, or social change, culminating in a comprehensive sociology project or exam.

Enrollees in the online bachelor's in sociology enjoy accelerated eight-week courses. Applicants must submit official transcripts from all schools previously attended. OU accepts up to 80 credits toward the online undergraduate degree.

Average Tuition
In-state
$28,980
Out-of-state
$28,980
Retention Rate
50%
Admission Rate
15%
Students Enrolled
731
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#5 Fastest Online Social Sciences Degree Programs

University of Houston-Clear Lake

  • Houston, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Year

In State | $9,226

Out of State | $25,876

Credits to Graduate

120

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

UHCL's online BS in anthropology suits students seeking a degree-completion program. The curriculum includes upper-level coursework for students who previously completed 60 credits. Students may choose from seven concentrations including international and global studies, social justice, and women, gender, and sexuality. 

Applicants must submit their official transcripts with their application for admission. UHCL accepts applications in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. The university has a test-optional admissions policy.

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,740
Out-of-state
$19,176
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
74%
Students Enrolled
9,082
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
42% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

#6 Fastest Online Social Sciences Degree Programs

University of Nebraska at Kearney

  • Kearney, NE
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $259

Out of State | $396

Credits to Graduate

36

UNK offers its online BS in sociology as a degree-completion program for students with an associate degree or general studies experience. Students may start the accelerated degree in social sciences in the fall, spring, or summer semester.

UNK also offers dual BS/BA and grades 7-12 subject teaching endorsements in sociology. Applicants to the accelerated online bachelor's degree must submit transcripts from all previously attended schools with at least a 2.0 GPA.

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,090
Out-of-state
$13,290
Retention Rate
77%
Admission Rate
85%
Students Enrolled
6,279
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
65% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#7 Fastest Online Social Sciences Degree Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Manchester, NH
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $320

Out of State | $320

Credits to Graduate

120

SNHU's online anthropology degree stresses diverse experiential learning opportunities. Students can include a concentration in environmental sustainability. SNHU's generous transfer policy enables students to transfer up to 90 credits toward this accelerated degree in social sciences.

SNHU accepts applications on a rolling basis throughout the year. Students enrolled in the online BA in anthropology program enjoy eight-week courses across six online terms per year. Applicants require official transcripts but do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores.

Average Tuition
In-state
$30,756
Out-of-state
$30,756
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
88%
Students Enrolled
113,514
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
94% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
#8 Fastest Online Social Sciences Degree Programs

National University

  • La Jolla, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Quarter-Credit

In State | $370

Out of State | $370

Quarter-Credits to Graduate

180

National University's online bachelor's in social sciences emphasizes hands-on experience and career skills. The curriculum explores multiple aspects of human relationships at the micro- and macro-level. Students must complete a senior sociology capstone to finish the degree.

Applicants must hold a high school diploma or equivalent with a minimum 2.0 GPA and demonstrate completion of college-level English and math coursework. Students who do not meet prerequisite course requirements must take the ACCUPLACER evaluation exam.

Average Tuition
In-state
$13,320
Out-of-state
$13,320
Retention Rate
50%
Admission Rate
89%
Students Enrolled
16,670
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
53% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#9 Fastest Online Social Sciences Degree Programs

Northern Kentucky University

  • Highland Heights, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $275 or $452

Out of State | $275 or $452

Credits to Graduate

120

NKU's online bachelor’s in sociology features six start dates per year and seven-week courses. The curriculum explores topics like global inequalities, social research, and classic sociological theory, culminating in a senior seminar. 

NKU requires prospective students to apply online and provide official transcripts from high school and/or any colleges previously attended. Applicants also need a minimum 2.0 GPA for admission consideration.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,912
Out-of-state
$19,872
Retention Rate
72%
Admission Rate
90%
Students Enrolled
15,664
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#10 Fastest Online Social Sciences Degree Programs

Columbia College

  • Columbia, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $375

Out of State | $375

Credits to Graduate

120

CC's accelerated degree in social sciences features near-monthly start dates and eight-week courses. Students may choose an emphasis in culture and globalization, crime and social inequality, or gender and identity.

The online BA in sociology culminates in an integrative seminar course. Applicants can submit their undergraduate application online and must provide official high school transcripts or complete a high school attestation form.

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,912
Out-of-state
$10,912
Retention Rate
64%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
9,913
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
76% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

Popular Online Social Sciences Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How We Rank Schools

Each year, the BestColleges Ranking Team evaluates hundreds of programs to produce our annual Best Online Bachelor's in [SUBJECT] ranking. In 2022, the team sourced the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. We identified [NUMBER OF SCHOOLS] schools that qualify for our ranking list based on the following criteria.

  • Each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution.
  • Must offer a bachelor's degree program in the given subject.
  • Must submit an annual report to the National Center for Education Statistics.

To ensure the accuracy and quality of our final ranked list, the ranking team reviewed each qualifying school to ensure it met the criteria for our ranking, and then applied our proprietary ranking methodology to identify the best schools offering this program in the nation. Each school is ranked based on a formula measuring academic factors (60%) and affordability (40%).

The BestColleges Ranking Team is made up of contributors from our data science and product management teams. These contributors operate independently from the editorial team. All BestColleges school rankings are produced by the ranking team and are free of editorial influence. Read our Editorial Policy and Standards to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Fastest Online Social Sciences Degree Programs

Can I get a bachelor's degree in one year?

In rare cases, yes. To earn a bachelor's degree in one year, you must have already completed significant college credits. If you are starting from square one, with no prior college education, you may be able to complete certain accelerated online bachelor's programs in two years.

Two-year bachelor's programs are most common at schools like Western Governors University, which offers competency-based education. This means that you move through coursework at the speed of mastery. You can move through material you already understand by passing assessments and tests.

Are accelerated degree classes worth it?

The value of any degree is subjective and depends on the goals and strengths of each individual student. Nevertheless, for the right type of student, pursuing an accelerated bachelor's degree is worth it.

Accelerated programs, while occasionally stressful and often rigorous, allow students to enter the workforce more quickly, which may increase their lifetime earning potential. Furthermore, students who pursue accelerated programs at schools that charge tuition by semester often save money by spending less time enrolled.

Are accelerated bachelor's degrees as valuable as traditional degrees?

Yes, accelerated bachelor's degrees are as valuable as traditional degrees. Employers do not distinguish between accelerated degrees and degrees earned over the course of four years. In most cases, accelerated degrees and their traditional counterparts cover the exact same course material.

Some employers may even be impressed by your ability to earn a degree in such a compressed time frame. They may read this commitment as an ability to complete high-leverage work on deadline, a valuable skill in almost any career.

Is an accelerated bachelor's degree in social sciences right for me?

It depends. If you do not have any other significant commitments and have the capacity to take multiple rigorous courses each semester, an accelerated bachelor's degree in social sciences might be right for you. Prospective social science students should make sure they want to study a field like anthropology, sociology, or political science, all of which require critical thinking and qualitative research skills.

If you have a job or significant family commitments, full-time or part-time enrollment might provide a better fit. It may be tough to keep up with accelerated coursework if you have other obligations to fulfill.

Are accelerated degree programs affordable?

While rates can vary widely by school and by program, average tuition costs for accelerated bachelor's programs often range from $300-$600 per credit. This tuition rate is comparable to average costs for full-time and part-time bachelor's programs, meaning that there usually isn't a significant difference in affordability based on delivery method.

Accelerated programs provide the highest savings at schools that charge tuition by semester instead of by credit. Since you spend fewer semesters enrolled in accelerated programs, the total bill is often lower than it would be if you enrolled full time or part time.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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