The social sciences include a broad array of academic areas that all focus on how individuals and groups act and interact within society. Bachelor's degree programs in this area typically include fields such as anthropology, sociology and other similar culturally-focused disciplines. At the undergraduate level, social science degrees prepare students for entry-level research positions or, more often, provide an educational foundation for further gradate study.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, entry-level anthropologist positions typically require a minimum of a graduate degree in this social science field. Although you may need a master's or doctoral degree to work as an anthropologist, a bachelor's degree is the first step in starting your career. Anthropologists work in academic institutions -- such as universities -- or in the field, studying human behaviors and the development of societies and cultures. Required classes may include basic introductory courses, archaeology, cultural studies or research methods. For example, the Florida Atlantic University's bachelor's degree in anthropology includes basic classes such as introduction to anthropology, upper level courses -- with a specific focus -- such as forensic anthropology, archaeology classes such as Native American culture and society, sociocultural anthropology offerings such as gender and culture and research methods classes.
Like anthropologists, sociologists -- according to the BLS -- typically need a graduate degree to find viable employment in this field. Working in academic or research environments, sociologists study people, society and cultural forces. Sociology programs, at the undergraduate level, typically focus on providing a broad knowledge of the subject that will prepare you for subsequent study at the master's and doctoral levels. For example, the Bachelor of Arts in sociology program at Penn State University starts with basics such as introduction to sociology and moves into more advanced courses such as social science field work or research methods.
Depending on your specific area of interest, social science degree programs can provide the opportunity to study the basics of a particular culture or group of people. For example, the University of California Irvine's School of Social Sciences offers a bachelor's level degree in Chicano/Latino studies. This undergraduate curriculum includes classes in the history of Chicano and Latino cultures -- with content that focuses on societies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador -- as well as contemporary culture. Like other cultural studies majors, this concentration provides students with the chance to learn about the history, language, politics and other societal facets of the people who live and come from these countries.
General Degree Programs
If you have an interest in the social sciences, but aren't sure exactly which focus is right for you, a general major provides the opportunity to explore the field without committing to a specific concentration such as anthropology. Often thought of as an interdisciplinary program, a bachelor's in social sciences may pull content from an array of areas such as economics, politics, religious studies and cultural studies. For example, students in Washington State University's major in social sciences must choose at least two -- sometimes more -- areas to form the bulk of their classes. This provides a solid basis for extending their social sciences studies into a more specific graduate program later on.
- University of California: Social Sciences
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Anthropologists and Archeologists
- Florida Atlantic University: Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Sociologists
- Penn State University: Sociology B.S.
- University of California, Irvine: Chicano-Latino Studies
- Washington State University: Social Sciences: General Studies
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