Online Social Science Degree Programs

ASO Staff Writers
Updated March 12, 2024
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The term “social sciences” refers to a group of several academic subjects concerning human beings, their relationship to the world, and to each other. Anthropology, communications, cultural studies, sociology, and linguistics are just a few of the disciplines that fall under the social sciences umbrella. The following guide serves as a comprehensive introduction to the social sciences field, the types of academic degree programs available, and the variety of career paths students may pursue after completing a program of study.

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As with traditional colleges and universities, degree programs in the social sciences are among the most popular offerings of postsecondary distance learning providers in the United States. This is not surprising given that, with a few exceptions, courses of study in social science subjects easily lend themselves to the online education format. Many primarily online institutions and traditional colleges now offer degree programs that allow students to earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees in several social science fields completely online. Others programs are offered in hybrid formats that combine online classes with additional on-site laboratory and course work.


Learning about the social sciences prepares graduates for work in anthropology, cultural studies, languages and even higher education. Students can earn a two-year, four-year and graduate degree in one of these fields to further their career or simply get their foot in the door. To help students choose the best school for their needs, we took a close look at the degrees available, the student services offered, the cost and the availability of qualified instructors to put together our list of best colleges for social sciences in 2017.

Southwestern College
LocationWinfield, KS

Students at Southwestern College can earn an online bachelor’s degree in psychology at an accelerated pace. Distance courses are six weeks long, allowing students to graduate more quickly than their on-campus counterparts. The program was designed for working adults, giving them the flexibility needed to complete a degree while maintaining professional or personal responsibilities. Prospective students are invited to test drive an online course. This demo allows them to try the various sections of an online classroom and explore the distance learning environment. Both the demo course and the school’s credit-earning online courses are delivered through the Blackboard learning management system.

SUNY Empire State College
LocationSaratoga Springs, NY

Students of social science at SUNY Empire State College study social, political, and economic structures, exploring their effects on humans around the world. Learners work with a faculty mentor to create an individualized program that meets their career goals and suits their interests, with concentrations available in African American studies, women’s studies, social theory, public policy, and a number of other areas. Students can also combine concentrations for an interdisciplinary approach to the field. Additionally, curriculum is designed to build each learner’s skills in research, communications, and analytics, preparing them to enter the workforce or continue their studies in graduate school.

Judson College
LocationMarion, AL

The social science division at Judson College includes degree programs in accounting, business administration, criminal justice, history, psychology and web design. Students can enjoy smaller class sizes and the opportunity for internships, field experience placements, guest speakers, field trips, networking and learning experiences as a bonus to classroom learning. Graduates of Judson’s social services programs have entered careers in the armed forces, United States Secret Services, teaching, entrepreneurship, as well as enrolled in graduate and doctoral programs. The distance learning program at Judson allows students to complete their undergraduate degrees from anywhere and during times that are convenient to them.

Chaminade University of Honolulu
LocationHonolulu, HI

Students interested in the online degree programs at Chaminade University of Honolulu can pursue either a bachelor’s degree in historical and political studies or psychology, or a master’s degree in criminal justice administration (MSCJA), education (MED) or counseling psychology (MSCP). The MSCP is a hybrid program where students can complete courses through a combination of online and in-class lectures. Graduates of these programs can look for careers in research, social services, education, law, international affairs, and public service. Eligible students may qualify for scholarships, financial aid or other need-based programs to help with tuition costs.

Colorado Christian University
LocationLakewood, CO

Colorado Christian University has developed a comprehensive online degree program that offers students the chance to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees on their own time and from wherever. The university offers 10 different associate programs, 21 bachelor degree programs and 21 different master’s programs. Areas of concentration include business, criminal justice, computer information technology, education, nursing, communication studies, public administration, etc. In addition, students can obtain several certificate to count toward continuing education. Colorado Christian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC).

Dickinson State University
LocationDickinson, ND

Dickinson State University is a four-year institution located in North Dakota, and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Students who wish to pursue a degree in social sciences can choose from social sciences, history, political science, geography or transfer curriculum as their intended area of focus. The undergraduate social science degree program prepares students to enter careers within law, economic, politics, public administration, urban planning, gerontology, family health, environmental issues, sports, military, law enforcement and criminal justice. In addition, interested students can participate in the Science and Humanities Festival at DSU, an annual celebration of history and science that includes presentations and speakers.

Southwestern Adventist University
LocationKeene, TX

Southwestern Adventist University is located in Keen, Texas, and gives students interested in social sciences a variety of undergraduate degree programs to choose from, including history, international relations and public policy, teaching history, teaching social studies, and social science. Graduates of these programs can find work as a public servant, politician, government worker, teacher, diplomat, journalist, author, analyst, consultant or editor. The social sciences teaching field is seeing 13% growth each year. Plus, students can do a study abroad program at Southwestern Adventist and choose from 12 different locations around the world.

Troy University
LocationTroy, AL

Students interested in pursuing a social science degree program at Troy University can elect to do either an undergraduate degree program or a graduate degree program. The program includes the following areas of discipline: anthropology, geography, sociology, psychology, history, economics and political science. As a social science major, you can choose from general social science, geography or leadership as an area of concentration. Graduates of the degree program go on to become police officers, nonprofit organization officials, human resource administrators, public survey workers, statisticians, private detectives, researchers, etc. Troy University students can also elect to pursue a social science teaching degree.

Dominican College of Blauvelt
LocationOrangeburg, NY

Online learning through Dominican College gives students a variety of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs to choose from. Students who wish to pursue a social science degree online can earn a bachelor’s degree from Dominican, which will prepare them for a career in mental health, criminal justice, political science and human resources. The degree program includes 90 semester hours and students choose either psychology or criminal justice as their area of concentration. Tuition deferment is available for students who receive reimbursement of tuition through an employer or a union.

SUNY College at Plattsburgh
LocationPlattsburgh, NY

The State University of New York (SUNY) College at Plattsburgh enjoys a 95% placement rate for students entering occupations upon graduation. The college has three academic schools: arts and science, education, health and human services and the school of business and economics. The arts and science school offers more than 50 different degree programs for students to choose from, including a number of classes that are taught online. The school uses Moodle as their online learning course management system. Various scholarships and financial aid options are available for tuition assistance for qualified students.

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Social science degree programs are among the most popular offered on college and university campuses, available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Associate’s degrees are available in most specific social science subjects, with many schools additionally offering a general Associate of Arts in Social Science degree option. Bachelor degree programs are offered in all social science fields and provide a solid educational foundation for career advancement. Graduate programs are typically for those individuals who intend to pursue careers in teaching, research, management, or in other highly-specialized occupations.

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Online bachelor’s in social science degree programs offer interdisciplinary programs of study, bringing together multiple disciplines, including anthropology, behavioral sciences, psychology, gerontology, and sociology. Curriculum examines human experience and investigates how social structures, relationships, and ideas relate to and affect human behavior and communities. Students gain critical and creative thinking skills, communication skills, and theoretical knowledge, and also learn how to effectively apply their knowledge to complex social problems in order to develop realistic solutions. Online programs are require between 120 and 140 credit hours to complete and consist of courses such as race, gender and ethnic relations, organizational psychology, social science theory, and anthropology. Some online programs also offer career-relevant specializations to allow students to pursue a personal or professional interest, such as criminology, public and non-profit management, and strategic communication. Graduates of an online bachelor’s in social sciences degree program will be prepared for entry-level careers in such sectors as business administration, elder care, government, health services, social work, law enforcement, human resources, and community service.


Associate’s degree programs are commonly two years in length and offered primarily at local community colleges and by some distance learning schools. Students interested in pursuing an associate’s degree in the social sciences will normally have the option of choosing between a program in a specific subject area, such as sociology, psychology, or political science, or a more generalized social science course of study. In either case, an associate’s degree curriculum includes a core of general education classes along with a series of subject-related electives, such as the following:

Introduction to Cultural AnthropologyStudy of the role of society and culture in human adaptation to a variety of environments. Topics include religion, political organization, and theories of cultural evolution.
Introduction to PsychologyGeneral survey of psychology and its approaches to gathering and evaluating evidence regarding the causes and correlates of behavior.
Introductory SociologyBasics of the study of human group behavior through social interaction.
Principles of MacroeconomicsIntroduction to basic macroeconomic concepts and theories, and their application to current economic problems, policies and issues.


Four-year bachelor degree programs in the social sciences are extremely popular with students. Each comes with its own set of unique course requirements, but all provide a solid educational foundation in its given subject. A typical course curriculum includes a block of general education courses followed by a series of required core subject matter classes and a varying number of electives. This list offers prospective students insight into the the types of courses they will encounter in their bachelor’s degree programs:

Advanced Research WritingInstruction and practice in academic research skills.
Anthropology of Language and CommunicationAnthropological study of language, communication and culture. Topics include language as social action and speech communities.
Concepts and Applications of Information TechnologyExploration of the applications of information technology for personal and professional productivity.
Economics in the Information AgeExamination of the basic concepts and principles of micro- and macro-economics, and how the economy is affected by technology.
Introduction to Social SciencesInterdisciplinary introduction to the study of society that addresses the question, “What does it mean to be a social scientist?”
Introduction to SociologySurvey of the basic concepts, theoretical perspectives and research methods in sociology.
Introduction to Statistical Methods for the Behavioral SciencesIntroduction to quantitative methods in behavioral science and psychological research.
The Sociology of GenderInquiry into how gender is socially constructed and reconstructed in contemporary society.


Master’s degree programs in the social sciences typically require an additional two-year commitment beyond that of a bachelor’s degree. While there are a few colleges and universities that offer Master of Science in Social Science degrees, such as Ohio University, University of Colorado Denver, and Towson University, such programs are few and far between, and are usually designed for students currently employed as teachers who are seeking to advance in their careers. Much more common are master’s programs specific to individual social science subjects, such as the Master of Science in Psychology or Master of Arts in Cultural Studies.

The advantages of obtaining a master’s degree (compared to an associate’s or bachelor’s degree) depend greatly on the individual field. In many cases, students seeking a graduate degree in one of the social sciences do so in contemplation of an academic career as a researcher, teacher, or professor. Whatever the reason for pursuing their degree, master’s students participate in training focused on more advanced and specialized aspects of their subject in courses such as the following:

American Politics in the 21st CenturySurvey of the change and continuity in American politics and American political science in the last 50 years.
Anthropological Field MethodsExploration of field methods of anthropology through experience-based workshops and relevant literature.
Comparative History and HistoriographyExamination of selected topics in comparative history with consideration of the developed and less developed world.
Geographer’s ViewExplores the role of geography within the social sciences through an examination of recent trends in the discipline.
International Politics and SecurityFocus on the development of analytic tools for understanding international relations with applications to contemporary problems.
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Global ProblemsExamination of interdisciplinary approaches to global problems, including issues of economic integration, urbanization and environment.
Social PsychologyFocuses on the interrelationships between individuals and the social environment through topics such as attitude formation and change, and stereotyping and prejudice.
Social Work Leadership and ManagementEmphasis on providing students with an overview of basic supervisory and human resource development concepts.
SociolinguisticsIntroduction to language in its social context. Linguistic variation in relation to issues such as situation, gender, class and ethnicity.
Sociological InsightFocuses on theories, methods, and issues in sociology, as well as recent advances in sociological research.


Doctorate degrees are often described as the terminal degree in their particular fields, and that is certainly true when it comes to the social sciences. As with master’s degrees, social science doctorate degree programs are almost exclusively offered by specific subject. The Doctor of Social Science degree is extremely rare in the United States, and specifically relates to academic work in the social sciences field as a whole. Individuals who pursue the terminal degree in any of the social sciences do so almost entirely for the purpose of advancing into a career in academia as teachers or researchers. Doctorate degree programs often require a commitment of as much as six or more years (following completion of a bachelor’s degree). Coursework is similar to that for a master’s degree, with additional research and practicum experience requirements. With a few exceptions, a doctorate degree course of study will be completed with a presentation and defense of a dissertation.


The number of occupational fields that fall under the umbrella heading of the social sciences is quite large, and the depth and breadth of career opportunities is even larger. Specific job opportunities for social scientists depend greatly on an individual’s specific field of interest. The following list provides basic career information for four of the most popular social science subject fields:

Other potential career fields for social scientists include: anthropology, archeology, art history, environmental studies, geography, international relations, library science, linguistics, and public administration.

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