Social Studies and Sciences

A program in social studies or science may lead to a career in anthropology, archaeology, political science or sociology, among other areas of study. Find information about degree requirements for social scientists or social studies experts here, as well as what you can earn in your specialized field.

Is Study in Social Studies and Sciences for Me?

Career Overview

Majors and advanced degree programs in social studies and the social sciences can help you prepare for specialized work in geography, sociology or political science. You might also pursue a career as an archaeologist, an anthropologist, a historian or a social scientist. Both the social sciences and social studies are primarily concerned with the impact of past events, group relationships and human behaviors on society. Due to the large amount of research and writing associated with these fields, excellent oral and written skills are often essential to working in one of these areas.

Professional Duties

Social scientists research the ways that individuals, institutions and groups exercise power, make decisions and respond to change. They analyze their research to create solutions for societal difficulties in business, government and everyday life. Social scientists use experiments, interviews and questionnaires to collect data and gain demographic knowledge.

In more specialized fields, archaeologists and anthropologists study the remains of ancient civilizations in order to understand human origins, behavior and lifestyles. By comparison, sociologists examine how humans behave in organizations and society, while historians use recorded information to analyze the past. As a political scientist, you'll study governmental systems, which may include a specialization in decision-making or ideology.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the BLS in May 2013, the mean annual salary for archaeologists and anthropologists was $61,420, while sociologists earned an average of $78,120 a year. As of May 2013, historians and political scientists earned mean annual salaries of $60,010 and $100,900 respectively, while social scientists had an average yearly income of $80,450.

The BLS predicted that employment of anthropologists, archaeologists, political scientists and sociologists would grow by a faster-than-average rate nationwide from 2012-2022. During the same period, a slower-than-average growth in employment was expected for historians (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Social Studies and Sciences?

Educational Requirements

According to the BLS, graduates of a 4-year program in the social sciences may be limited to entry-level positions; more specialized work might require a master's degree. A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is usually required for high-level teaching and research positions at universities (www.bls.gov). In general, students choose an area of focus, such as sociology or political science, in order to increase their employment options.

Undergraduate Programs

For undergraduates, a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology program may cover topics in community organization, criminology, social theory and gender studies. A Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology or Archaeology program might include coursework in human variation and adaptation, cultural studies and religion. You might also learn about specific peoples, such as Native Americans, Europeans or Africans. If you decide to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, you may have the chance to specialize in international relations or pre-law, while studying world politics, political philosophy, foreign policy and political campaigns.

Graduate Programs

Master's degree programs in social science are usually research-based courses of study that may be used to prepare for a Ph.D. program. For instance, if you want to become a historian, you'll most likely pursue a Master of Arts (M.A.) in History or the Philosophy of History with a specialization. As a Ph.D. candidate, your program emphasis will also be in your special area of interest. While many master's degree programs require a thesis, doctoral students usually research and write an original dissertation.

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