2022 Best Online Masters in Social Science Programs

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A social science masters is a graduate degree in any of several fields concerned with analyzing human thought, behavior, and social interactions.

Online Masters in Social Science Programs

Studying these subjects at a master’s degree level often includes conducting research and completing a thesis to develop your ability to think scientifically about these topics.

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Earning a masters degree in social sciences can prepare you for a variety of careers in your chosen field. Keep reading to learn more about possible social science degree and career options.

Social Science Masters Programs

Social science masters could be broadfield or interdisciplinary programs. You can also pursue a degree in a specific social science field, such as social work, psychology, political science, history, or a related field.

Select the program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:

Both of these fields offer plenty of opportunity for growth, a lot of different job prospects, and plenty of job security.

Social Science

M.S. in Social Sciences

An M.S. in Social Sciences covers psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, political science, history, and more.

This is the broadest type of masters in social science. The goal of this program is for you to become knowledgeable about many different facets of the social sciences and how they relate to one another. This type of degree could be most useful for someone who wants to teach social science at the postsecondary level.

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Social science expertise can also be applied to community and social service occupations as well as some business sectors, such as marketing or human resources.

Social Work

Master of Social Work

A Master of Social Work (MSW) is intended to prepare you to become a social worker. You could apply social work knowledge in other types of social and community service occupations as well.

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While earning your MSW, you’ll likely study counseling techniques, racism and cultural diversity, economics, psychology, sociology, social equality, and other subjects that can help you better serve others. A Master of Social Work program is usually less focused on conducting academic research and more focused on practical applications for social science knowledge.

Psychology

psychology masters program

In a psychology masters program, you’ll study subjects like cognitive and behavioral science, neuroscience, child development, cognitive aging, and counseling.

Some masters-level programs in psychology can help you qualify to become an industrial organizational psychologist or a licensed counselor. A masters program can also prepare you to pursue a doctorate if you want to become a licensed clinical psychologist.

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An understanding of psychology could also be useful in fields like education, community and social service, and even business and management. Psychology master’s degree programs usually provide a strong foundation in both understanding and conducting clinical research.

Political Science

political science graduate program

In a political science graduate program, you can study the details of different types of government systems, their histories, and how they operate.

Course subjects usually include political theory, comparative politics, political history, political economy, public policy, and international relations. You can also gain an understanding of how different types of government systems can affect the people under their authority.

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Many political science programs also want you to participate in internships so you can network and gain real-world professional experience. Political science could be a useful field of study if you want to work on political campaigns, in political consulting, or in policy analysis.

History

master's degree in history

A master’s degree in history includes courses on world history and courses on the history of specific geographic areas, especially the Americas and Europe. Graduate students in history also typically study economics, political systems, and sociology to help them better understand historical events.

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You can learn not only historical facts but also how to think deeply about historical events and how to consider cause and effect relationships between events. Most graduate degree programs in history include a thesis or applied research option. Graduates tend work as teachers, historians, or museum curators. 

Social Science Careers & Salaries

Social Science Careers & Salaries

Social science majors can prepare you for careers in political science, sociology, history, and related fields, depending on your area of focus. Many graduates choose to pursue work in the field of research and academia. Non-academic career options could include working in museums or for social and community service organizations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some lucrative careers related to the social sciences.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Political Scientists $125,350
Industrial-Organizational Psychologists $96,270
Sociologists $86,110
Social and Community Service Managers $69,600
Anthropologists and Archaeologists $66,130
Historians $63,100
Survey Researchers $59,870
Curators $56,990
Archivists $56,760
Social Workers $51,760

Exactly what social science career options are available to you after graduation may depend on what specific type of social science degree you have. For instance, a Master of Social Work can specifically qualify you to become a licensed clinical social worker if you choose a licensure-track program.

Social Science Master’s Curriculum & Courses

Social Science Master's Curriculum

Here are some courses you might come across while earning a master’s degree in social science:

  • Academic Innovation in Industry: In this course, you’ll study how to apply knowledge of social science to solve problems in business.
  • Social Science Research and Perspectives: In this course, you’ll explore how to identify and frame social problems and how to go about studying them scientifically.
  • Quantitative Data Analysis in Social Science: In this course, you’ll study how to analyze the numbers collected while doing research.
  • Qualitative Data Analysis in Social Science: In this course, you’ll study how to analyze information collected in research that cannot be measured with numbers.
  • Community-Based Research: This course will include both lecture and fieldwork components, and it can provide you with the opportunity to complete small-scale research projects.
  • Voting Rights Policy and Law: In this course, you’ll study the history and legal aspects of the US voting system.
  • Engaged Social Science: In this course, you’ll learn about emerging orientation to social science research, in which researchers attempt to be engaged with their subjects rather than distanced from them.
  • Research Analysis and Writing: In this course, you’ll study how to write an academic research paper.
  • Labor Economics: In this course, you’ll study how supply and demand affect the labor market.
  • Historical Sociology: In this course, you’ll study social movements and changes throughout history.

There are many different types of social science degrees, all of which can have different course requirements.

Master of Social Science Admissions Requirements

Master of Social Science Admissions

Here are some common admissions requirements for social science master degree programs:

  • Undergraduate degree, preferably in the social sciences or a related field
  • Undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75, on average
  • Resume or work history
  • Letters of recommendation from instructors or other mentors

Some programs may also ask that you submit GRE or GMAT scores, but this is becoming less common. Admissions requirements can vary significantly from one university to another.

Accreditation for Social Science Graduate Programs

Accreditation for Social Science Graduate Programs

Regional accreditation is a process by which colleges and universities are evaluated on the quality of their academic programs and available student services.

There are many different regional accreditation agencies throughout the country that provide accreditation in their geographic area. Attending an accredited school can help you qualify for financial aid and can make it easier to transfer credits to a new school if needed.

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You can usually find information about a school’s accreditation status and accrediting agency on their website. To learn more about regional accreditation, you can visit the US Department of Education.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial aid for Social Science Graduate Programs

There are many different types of financial aid available for qualifying graduate students. Possible options to explore include state and federal financial aid, employer programs, and scholarships.

You can apply for federal financial aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Scholarships may be available from your university or from an outside organization. When you apply to a degree program, you may also want to find out about their available financial aid.

If you are earning your degree on campus, you may be able to qualify to work as a teaching assistant or in a similar position. Some employers even have tuition reimbursement programs for workers who are pursuing higher education.

What Is a Master’s Degree in Social Science?

Master's Degree in Social Science

A master’s degree in social science is a graduate-level degree program in which students study human interactions. This often includes studying history, economics, sociology, psychology, political science, and related subjects.

You can also learn how to analyze existing research, how to conduct methodologically correct research, and how to think about human interactions scientifically. You can get a broad field social science master’s degree, or you could pursue a master’s degree in a specialized subject, such as psychology or social work.

What Can You Do with a Masters Degree in Social Science?

Masters Degree in Social Science careers

Once you have completed your masters in social science, you can apply your expertise in an applicable field, such as politics, education, or community and social service.

You can also choose to continue your education with social science doctoral programs, either to further your career or to pursue work in research and academia at the postsecondary level. What you can do with a masters in social science depends on what type of degree you get. Certain types of social science degrees are intended to prepare you for specific careers.

For example, a Master of Social Work is intended for those who wish to become licensed clinical social workers. Most masters degrees in the social sciences can prepare you for advanced careers in their respective fields, such as historians, political scientists, and industrial organizational psychologists.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Social Science Masters Degree?

Social Science Masters Degree

How long it will take you to earn your degree can depend on many factors. These factors can include the number of credit hours required by your program, whether your program requires you to complete a thesis, and whether you attend classes part-time or full-time.

For instance, a 36 credit hour program can potentially be completed in as little as 1 year if you take classes year-round and full-time. Many degree programs in the social sciences use a cohort model, in which you and your classmates all take the same classes together each semester.

Is a Masters in Social Science Degree Worth It?

Yes, a masters in social science degree is worth it for many professionals. Employment in social and community service occupations is expected to grow by 12% over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Life, physical, and social science occupations are projected to see 8% job growth over the same time period.

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Graduate degrees in social science can help you advance your career in this growing sector and enable you to think about human interactions in new ways. Earning a master’s degree could also help you qualify for teaching or management positions in your field.

Universities Offering Online Masters in Social Science Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

Arizona State University offers multiple online master’s degrees in the social sciences, including Psychology, Global Technology and Development, Sociology, and more. Each program has different graduation requirements, ranging from 30 to 36 credit hours. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 from a related undergraduate degree to be accepted into a program.

Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Ohio University

Ohio University campus

Ohio University offers an online Master of Social Sciences degree. The program is an interdisciplinary program with classes in history, geography, political science, anthropology, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. Applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher and must submit a personal statement.

Ohio University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

SUNY – Brockport

SUNY Brockport campus

SUNY—Brockport offers a Master of Science in Education with an emphasis in Adolescence Social Studies. The program is designed for those interested in teaching social studies to students in grades 7-12. To graduate, students must obtain 30 credit hours. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

SUNY – Brockport is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

The Citadel

The Citadel campus

The Citadel offers a Master of Arts in Social Science. The online program requires students to complete 36 credit hours to graduate. It allows students to focus on political science, criminal justice, sociology, anthropology, psychology, homeland security, and leadership. Applicants may apply online with official transcripts and test scores.

The Citadel is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Troy University

Troy University campus

Troy University offers a graduate degree in social science. Students must complete 36 credit hours and have the option to complete a focus in History, Geography, Psychology, Political Science, Criminology, Sociology, or Anthropology. Applicants must submit official transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendation when applying.

Troy University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University at Buffalo

University at Buffalo campus

The University at Buffalo offers a Master’s in Social Studies Education. Students must complete 33 credit hours to graduate. The program can typically be completed in 3 full-time semesters. To be eligible for the program, applicants must submit unofficial transcripts and two personal statements with their application.

The University at Buffalo is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of Alabama

University of Alabama campus

The University of Alabama offers a Master of Arts in Secondary Education for General Social Science. Students must complete 30 online credit hours to graduate. Those interested in the program must have an undergraduate degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and GRE or MAT test scores.

The University of Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Memphis

University of Memphis campus

The University of Memphis offers four master programs related to social science. Options include Master of Arts in Criminal Justice, Master of Arts in Journalism and Strategic Media, Master of Nonprofit Management, and Master of Social Work. Each program has its own admissions and graduation requirements.

The University of Memphis is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Missouri

University of Missouri campus

The University of Missouri offers a Master of Education with an emphasis in Social Studies Education. To graduate, students must complete 32 credit hours. Applicants must submit transcripts, a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, and a personal data sheet supplied by the school.

The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Northern Iowa

University of Northern Iowa campus

The University of Northern Iowa offers a Master of Arts in Social Science. The program is designed for those interested in teaching the subject to secondary school students. Students must complete a final research project to graduate.  Applicants should have a GPA of 3.0, but those with a GPA of 2.75 or higher may be considered.

The University of Northern Iowa is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Master’s in Social Science Degree Online

Master's in Social Science Degree Online

If you want to pursue a master’s degree in social science, there are many options available for you to earn your degree either on campus or online. An online degree program may provide you with more scheduling flexibility.

Many online masters in social science programs operate similarly to traditional programs, with set class times and opportunities for discussions with classmates. These kinds of activities can be conducted remotely via online learning platforms. Some online degree programs also include internship opportunities so you can have real-world, interactive experiences in your chosen field.

If you’re ready to advance your education and expertise, you can start exploring accredited universities today to find the social science masters program that’s right for you.

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Amy Wilson
WRITTEN BY
Amy Wilson
While attending the University of Georgia, Amy enrolled in both on-campus and online courses giving her the opportunity to explore the pros and cons of each course delivery system. Amy's research is focused on making education more accessible to everyone and how different education methodologies can affect student outcomes.