Best Online Social Science Programs

Thinking about majoring in social science? The experts at BestColleges have ranked the the best online bachelor's in social science programs. Read on to discover what you can do with this degree.

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by Michelle Kelley

Updated April 29, 2022

Edited by Darlene Earnest
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The social sciences include sociology, psychology, political science, and other disciplines. Students majoring in social science study the concepts and methodologies social scientists use to understand society and human behavior.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2019-2020, full-time, first-year students at four-year public colleges paid an average of $9,400 in tuition and fees. Students attending private schools spent an average of $36,700. The cost of attending a top online school is comparable to the cost of earning a degree on campus. However, some online programs may be more affordable.

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Some graduates of social science bachelor's degree programs go on to pursue careers in education or social services. Others earn graduate degrees in social science disciplines, such as political science or anthropology. PayScale reports that graduates of bachelor's in social science programs earn an average annual salary of $65,000, as of November 2021.

Keep reading to find out about the best online bachelor's in social science programs, how to apply, and career options once you graduate.

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

During the 2018-2019 academic year, postsecondary schools in the United States gave out 160,628 social science and history bachelor's degrees. History and social science degrees were the third most frequently awarded bachelor's degrees that year. Only health professions and business degrees were more popular.

If you have a broad interest in social dynamics, a bachelor's in social science may be right for you. Both on-campus and online bachelor's degree programs in social science include at least 120 credits of coursework. Most students earn their degrees within four years. Many social science bachelor's programs allow students to concentrate in a specific discipline, such as anthropology, sociology, women's studies, or criminal justice.

Typically, social science majors earn either a bachelor of arts (BA) or bachelor of science (BS) degree. BA programs often feature general education courses in the humanities, such as history and communication. In contrast, BS programs frequently require students to complete general education courses in math, biology, and the physical sciences.

In general, BA programs emphasize qualitative skills, such as observational research and critical thinking. In contrast, BS programs help develop students' quantitative skills, such as the ability to work with and interpret numerical data.

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Related Programs That Might Interest You

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

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Social Science Program?

Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

In this survey course, students study the social and cultural principles informing ethnographic descriptions. Students also learn how to apply anthropological concepts and methods to the study of everyday life.

Introduction to Social Science

Students learn about various social scientific disciplines, their methods, and how they relate to each other. Additionally, students consider ethical issues in social science and how social scientists integrate insights derived from different disciplines.

Diversity Awareness

This course encourages students to think critically about prejudice, discrimination, and stereotypes and the impact they have on society. Students also reflect on how social science might help solve problems related to discrimination and social biases.

Contemporary Issues in Aging

Students study how evidence-based approaches in healthcare and social services facilitate healthy aging in older adults. The course also addresses how students can advocate for this population.

Research Methods in the Social Sciences

Students learn how to conduct social scientific research. The course covers the distinction between quantitative and qualitative research. It teaches students how to use various methods within specific disciplines.

What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Social Science Program?

Admission requirements for online and on-campus programs are typically similar. Some schools request college entrance exams from all applicants, while others do not. Also, some programs ask each applicant to submit a personal statement or participate in an interview with an admissions counselor.

Review the websites of the schools you're interested in to find out their specific requirements.

Application

The college application process involves filling out one or more online forms. Many colleges ask prospective students to apply through a centralized application system, such as the Common App. These systems streamline the application process, allowing you to apply to multiple schools using a single platform.

Test Scores

Schools that require college entrance exams typically accept both SAT and ACT scores. However, you only need to submit results from one exam. The SAT is primarily a skills-based exam, while the ACT is mainly curriculum-based. If you aren't sure which exam to take, consider completing practice tests in each exam. This early step can help you determine which exam you'll perform best on.

Letters of Recommendation

Some schools request that applicants submit recommendation letters with their application materials. Typically, applicants request recommendation letters from recent teachers, advisors, and mentors. When deciding who to ask for a recommendation, consider individuals who can attest to your potential to succeed in school.

Essays

Some schools request application essays from prospective students. Usually, schools provide applicants with open-ended essay prompts. For example, a prompt may ask you to describe a major life event and how it changed you. Your essay should demonstrate your strength of character while also showcasing your writing skills.

Official Transcripts

Most colleges require applicants to submit their official high school or GED transcripts. If you're transferring from a community college or other postsecondary institution, you'll need to send transcripts from your current school as well. Providing your academic transcripts helps admission committees determine your eligibility for transfer credits.

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

Career Outlook

Social science is consistently one of the most popular college majors. This may be because the degree opens up many different career opportunities.

For example, many social science graduates assume management positions in social service agencies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for social and community service managers will increase 15% between 2020 and 2030.

This is faster than the average job growth rate across all U.S. industries. Social and community service managers earn a median annual salary of $69,600, as of May 2020.

Social science graduates also may decide to work in fields requiring an understanding of human psychology, such as human resources and education. The BLS projects that jobs for human resource specialists will see a 10% increase between 2020 and 2030, while jobs for high school teachers may increase 8% during this period.

High school teachers earn a median yearly income of $62,870, as of May 2020. Human resource specialists earn a median salary of $63,490 per year.

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

Career Paths

High School Teacher

High school teachers instruct students in grades 9-12. Some cover core subjects, such as math and science, while others teach electives, including music, art, and physical education. Public school teachers must hold state licenses. However, states typically do not require private school teachers to obtain licenses.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $62,870

Social or Community Service Manager

Social and community service managers oversee social programs. They write grants, meet with donors, and assess the effectiveness of programs and outreach efforts. Social and community service managers work for government agencies, religious organizations, hospitals, and residential care facilities.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $69,600

Health Education Specialist or Community Health Worker

Health education specialists develop social programs to promote public health and well-being. They also secure funding for programs and create educational materials. Community health workers work closely with individuals and groups, addressing health concerns and serving as an intermediary between communities and healthcare providers.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $48,140

Human Resource Specialist

Human resource specialists recruit, screen, and interview new employees. They also perform administrative tasks related to employee compensation and benefits. Bachelor's in social science programs can prepare students for careers in human resources by developing their communication skills and understanding of cultural differences.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $63,490

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, or Mental Health Counselor

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors treat people struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction, and psychological issues. They evaluate clients, develop treatment plans, and provide counseling. Most mental health counseling roles require a master's degree. However, a bachelor's degree is sufficient for some positions.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $47,660

Social Science Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

Some graduates go on to earn master's or doctoral degrees in sociology, anthropology, political science, and other social science disciplines. According to a 2013 study of social science majors in the U.K., 10.1% of graduates surveyed pursued further education.

Some graduates of bachelor's in social science programs choose to become social workers. Typically, a bachelor's in social work is necessary to obtain entry-level roles in this field. However, social science graduates may be eligible for some positions. They may also earn their master's degrees in social work and pursue state licensure as clinical social workers. Licensing requirements vary by state.

How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Social Science Program?

Cost

Some colleges charge online and on-campus students the same tuition rates. However, when comparing the cost of online and on-campus programs, it's essential to consider factors besides tuition. For example, will enrolling in an online program help you save on transportation and housing costs? Taking these and other details into account will help you estimate the true cost of earning your degree online.

Program Format

Do you want to enroll in courses that allow for real-time interaction between teachers and students? Or, would you rather enroll in courses that don't require you to log on at specific times? When choosing an online bachelor's in social science program, consider which online learning format you prefer. You may also want to look into accelerated programs, which can help you earn your degree in less time.

Location

Consider the location of the schools you apply to, even if you decide to enroll in an online program rather than attend classes on campus. Some online programs have limited on-campus requirements, so you may need to visit the school on occasion. Also, by attending a public school in your home state, you may be eligible for in-state tuition rates.

Accreditation

Several agencies award academic accreditation to schools and programs meeting high educational standards. The accreditation status of the school and program you attend can have an impact on your eligibility for financial aid. It can also affect credit transferability if you decide to change schools.

Student Support

Look for bachelor's in social science programs at schools offering special services for remote learners. These student services may include online tutoring, job placement and career planning assistance, and faculty mentoring. Some schools also help online students find internships close to home.

Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Social Science Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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Best Online Bachelor's in Social Science Programs

  1. University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $13016

    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
    Location

    Kapolei, HI

    Tuition

    $9851

    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
    Location

    Seattle, WA

    Tuition

    $9765

    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
    Location

    Bellevue, NE

    Tuition

    $9635

    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
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $39935

    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
    Location

    Chico, CA

    Tuition

    $14156

    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
    Location

    Dickinson, ND

    Tuition

    $6768

    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
    Location

    Pullman, WA

    Tuition

    $17297

    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
    Location

    Juneau, AK

    Tuition

    $8927

    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
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Tuition

    $21678

    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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Social Science Programs

Is a bachelor's in social science worth it?

Earning a bachelor's degree in any subject is probably worth it if you want a higher salary. According to the BLS, in 2020, graduates of bachelor's degree programs earned a median income of $1,305 per week. In contrast, workers who had not attended college earned a median weekly wage of $781.

Enrolling in an online bachelor's in social science program may be a good option if you want a career helping others. Many social service professions require a bachelor's degree. And online programs are typically just as rigorous as on-campus programs.

What can I do with a bachelor's in social science?

Many graduates of bachelor's in social science programs work in education or social services. Some become health educators, while others pursue careers as substance abuse counselors or high school teachers. A smaller percentage of graduates earn master's and doctoral degrees in sociology, social work, and related disciplines.

However, social science graduates aren't limited to careers as educators or social service providers. According to the Campaign for Social Science's 2013 study, 7.1% of social science graduates worked in finance and insurance. In contrast, the study found that only 3.7% of workers with STEM degrees worked in this field.

Are social science majors in demand?

The social sciences fall under the category of the liberal arts. Earning a liberal arts degree can help you develop in-demand skills, including communication, creativity, and critical thinking. According to one study, 4 out of 5 employers believe in the value of a liberal arts education.

What's more, according to the Campaign for Social Science, social science graduates enjoy higher employment rates than both arts and humanities graduates and graduates with STEM degrees. In 2013, researchers found that 84% of social science graduates were working 3.5 years after graduating. Only 79% of arts and humanities graduates and 78% of STEM graduates had found employment.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in social science?

According to PayScale, college graduates with bachelor of arts in social science earn an average annual salary of $65,000, as of November 2021. Professionals with this degree work in many different fields, so earnings vary greatly.

Salaries also vary by location. For example, The BLS reports that high school teachers earn a median annual salary of $62,870 nationwide. However, in New York state, they earn an annual mean income of $88,890, making New York secondary school teachers the highest-paid workers in their profession.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in social science?

Social and community service managers enjoy a median annual salary of $69,600, as of May 2020. However, average salaries vary by location. In Washington, D.C., social and community service managers earn an annual mean income of $105,560.

Individuals with bachelor's degrees in social science sometimes go to graduate school. Doing so can qualify them for higher-paying roles, such as clinical social worker, sociologist, or political scientist. Of these professions, political scientists are the highest earners. The BLS reports that political scientists earn a median annual income of $125,350, as of May 2020.

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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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