The career paths and branches of social science majors

September 06, 2022 · 3 min read · By ASU Online
The social sciences are a broad and diverse group of disciplines that can lead to career paths in service to individuals, groups and society as a whole. To determine if a major in social science is right for you, consider information about the branches of social science, what majoring in them might look like, and where these different branches might lead you professionally.

The branches of social science

Traditionally, social science refers to any discipline that deals with the sociocultural aspects of human behavior. Fields comprising social science include anthropology, economics, political science, psychology and sociology. In addition to those general areas, today's social science majors also have a wider and more specialized choice of degrees to pursue.

Social science has expanded to include programs that examine groups of people who have been marginalized throughout history, such as majors in women and gender studies and African and African American studies. Some branches also focus on human behavior from the perspective of social change, such as innovation in society, justice studies, community advocacy and social policy. In short, if a field of study focuses on understanding human interactions within broader society, it's likely part of the social sciences.


Social science majors

Depending on the course, you may find yourself attending traditional lectures, participating in discussion sections, writing papers, taking exams or completing hands-on projects related to your field. For example, a typical week when pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in innovation in society might include classes in politics and economics, the philosophy of research and the methods of foresight exercises. These are traditional classes with lectures, discussion groups and a final exam or essay.

You would also attend a studio course, where you would observe your field's relevance to technology and sustainability through real-world experience. This involves meeting with current leaders in technological innovation and forming a team for a project. This type of group work differs from a traditional final exam, as it's expected to be the result of collaboration with your fellow students and stakeholders. This is similar to how a real-life project in your future career in technological innovation might be.

If you enjoy traditional and hands-on learning methods and intellectually challenging coursework with tangible applications, a major in social science might be a good fit for you.


Social science careers

The social sciences can be a starting point for a wide variety of careers, either immediately after earning your degree or after pursuing postgraduate studies. Many social science graduates choose to attend law school or continue their education with a master's degree. If your social science degree specializes in crime, justice or law enforcement, or the experiences of marginalized people, law and politics are particularly appealing fields to apply your knowledge and advocate for a more just society.

There are many career opportunities for social science majors who want to enter the workforce immediately. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the most common career sectors for social science majors are management, education, and business and finance. Other popular areas include sales and legal occupations, with the median annual salary for all social science majors standing at $64,000. This is higher than the median annual salary of $60,000 for bachelor's degree holders across all fields.


Earn your social science degree online from Arizona State University

Majoring in social science aids in developing skills that employers value, like insight into how people relate to each other. Furthermore, an education in social science can demonstrate that you can manage your time, complete long-term projects, work in self-directed and collaborative environments, and are prepared for a wide variety of situations that you may encounter on the job.

ASU Online offers a number of social science undergraduate degree programs online, including:

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