2021 Best Online Associates Degrees in Social Science

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If you’re looking for a practical and valuable degree with a lot of long-term potential, you may want to consider an online associates degree in social science.

Associates Degrees in Social Science

This degree covers a lot of subjects, so you may build an educational foundation that can prepare you for many different types of work.

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Additionally, since a social science degree can be earned online, you can enroll, study and complete the program all from the comfort of your own home.

Online Associates Degrees in Social Science

Social science is a wide-ranging field that can encompass everything from life sciences to arts and humanities. Before becoming a social sciences major, you might want to explore its different areas of focus.

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.

Criminology

Police Detective examining the crime scene

Criminology is the study of crime and punishment. Depending on your degree program, you might learn about corrections, forensics, social order, legal procedures, and the cultures and economics of crime as a whole.

An online social science degree in criminology can help prepare you for many jobs in law enforcement, including police officer, parole officer, and prison guard. You may also find employment in law offices or within the court system as a paraprofessional.

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Another, lesser-known track for criminology majors is prevention and rehabilitation. Instead of punishing criminals after they get caught, you may try to stop crime before it happens through social services centered around education and public health.

Human Services

Legal Assistant talking to a client

If you like to help people, you might enjoy a career in human services. It’s an interdisciplinary field of study that can incorporate everything from social work to health education.

You’ll likely have many options in terms of degrees, careers, and certification programs, so it all depends on what you want to learn and where you want to work.

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Do you like the idea of directly helping vulnerable communities? You may become an outreach advocate at a nonprofit. Do you work best behind the scenes? You may become a fundraiser, administrator, case worker, or benefits coordinator.

Human services is a gigantic field. Some schools even offer it as a separate major. You may want to explore your various options within human services if you’re keen to make the world a better place.

History

Librarian working

A common misconception about history degrees is that they’re only useful to historians. In reality, a history degree can also lead to jobs in museums, libraries, art galleries, research departments, publishing firms, and more.

Some of these careers will require advanced education. If you want to become a librarian, for example, most places will ask for a bachelors degree in library and information sciences.

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An associate degree in history can be a good start, though. You may learn necessary skills like researching and archiving. It can also introduce you to globe-spanning topics that may give you a strong foundation in the humanities.

As a bonus, associate degree credits often carry over to a bachelors or masters degree. So, an associates may give you a 2 year head start if you ever decide to go back to school for more advanced credentials.

Legal Assistants in a meeting

If you’re interested in law and order, an associate degree in legal studies may develop your writing, editing, and researching skills while also giving you a general framework of the legal profession.

Depending on the classes that you take, you may learn about everything from trial procedures to crime statistics and economics. Something to note about a legal studies associate degree is that it may only qualify you for entry-level jobs. As with other careers, though, an associate degree can be a stepping stone toward a more advanced degree.

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In some cases, an associates might be all that you need for a lifelong career. For example, the positions of paralegal and legal assistant are open to associate degree holders with no further education requirements.

Liberal Arts

Author writing in a cafe

Liberal arts is another broad field. Its core curriculum is usually designed to giving students a well-rounded education in the humanities, sciences, and language arts. You can also choose a specialization if you have an interest in a particular field.

Potential specializations include everything from art and music to political science and psychology. You can get creative with music, dance, and theater, or you can hunker down in science books with geology and sociology.

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You may want to ask potential schools about their liberal arts degrees. Since it’s such a wide-spanning area of study, it can be helpful to get the specifics about how a particular school classifies things before you make any decisions about your future.

Social Science Careers & Salaries

Social Science Careers & Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for life, physical, and social science jobs is $69,760 per year. The projected growth rate for the industry is 5% through the next decade, which is higher than the national average for all occupations.

Here are just a few examples of social science careers:

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Police and Detectives $67,290
Writers and Authors $67,120
Paralegals and Legal Assistants $52,920
Interpreters and Translators $52,330
Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers $52,140
Health Educators and Community Health Workers $48,140
Correctional Officers and Bailiffs $47,440
Agricultural and Food Science Technicians $41,970
Social and Human Service Assistants $35,960
Teacher Assistants $28,900

Some employers may prefer you to have a bachelor’s degree to qualify for some of these careers. You may want to keep in mind that social science majors often have a wide variety of career prospects, including many that are not listed here.

Associate’s in Social Science Curriculum

Teacher Assistant teaching in a university

Social sciences degrees can cover a lot of ground. In addition to their general education requirements, programs usually offer electives in many different disciplines so that students can pick and choose their focus.

Here’s just a small sample of what you might see in a program’s curriculum offerings:

  • English Composition: This is a core requirement for most degrees. You’ll learn how to write essays, analyze texts, explore research topics, and provide peer feedback to others.
  • Western Civilization: Many schools have history as part of their general educational requirements. Western Civilization is a common class, but there can be many others as well.
  • Literature: Depending on your school, your literature classes might cover everything from medieval classics to diverse contemporary novels.
  • Life and Physical Sciences: Biology is a core class, but if you’re interested in other sciences, you can also study subjects like chemistry, geology, astronomy, and even agriculture.
  • Linguistics: The study of linguistics is the study of language. These classes can prepare you for everything from translator jobs to educational work with diverse K-12 students.
  • Communications: Communications is an entire field of study on its own, but even if you aren’t interested in majoring in it, you can dip into its classes to fulfill reading, writing, and speaking requirements at your school.
  • Anthropology: Anthropology is commonly offered as part of a social science curriculum. Classes can include everything from cultural anthropology to human evolution and study.
  • Research Methods: Research can be a necessity in many fields, including law, history, healthcare, politics, and more. This class will help you develop the tools that you need to succeed.
  • Psychology: Psychology classes take a scientific approach to topics like minds, emotions, and communication methods between people, so they’re well suited for any career that deals with the public.
  • Fine Arts: Fine arts classes can include art, music, dance, theater, poetry, and more.

Additionally, a large part of your curriculum will depend on your specializations. If you’re studying criminology, for example, your classes might include Police and Society as well as Administrative Procedures in the Legal System.

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If you’re specializing in global studies, your classes might include World Regional Geography and Religions Across Cultures.

Admissions Requirements

Associate’s in Social Science student studying in a library

An associate degree is usually earned at a community college or trade school, and these institutions have less stringent requirements than your typical 4 year school. There are still a few items, though, that you’ll need for admission.

  • High school diploma or GED. If you haven’t earned this yet, you may ask the community college if they have any preparatory programs for it.
  • SAT or ACT test scores. These aren’t usually required by 2 year colleges, but you might need them if you’re applying to a 4 year college. You may also want to look into “test-optional” colleges that don’t ask for the SAT or ACT at all.
  • Application. The typical application will ask for basic information about you, your finances, your educational background, and your future goals.

If you don’t meet any of these requirements, you can still reach out to a community college to see what they can do for you. Many schools offer prep courses, remedial programs, and “pre-enrollment plans” that can help students qualify for college admission.

Accreditation

Associates Degrees in Social Science Accreditation

Accreditation is a voluntary process that schools undertake to prove their educational standards. These standards are set forth by the US Department of Education and recognized authorities, such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Accreditation is voluntary, but many institutions and employers don’t recognize the legitimacy of an unaccredited degree. This can especially become an issue if you were to try to transfer credits from an unaccredited school to an accredited one.

Attending an accredited college ensures that you’re getting a high-quality education, and an accredited degree is widely acknowledged and respected.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Associates Degrees in Social Science Financial Aid

Financial aid is available for qualifying students seeking every type of degree, including associate degrees.

The most common type of financial aid is offered by the government and is called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It offers grants, loans, and work-study opportunities to eligible students. Eligibility is determined by your income level.

You can also pursue scholarships, and you don’t have to be an academic superstar. There are scholarships based on age, gender, nationality, income level, field of study, and more. You might also consider looking into opportunities like tuition reimbursement. This is offered by some employers, and it can offset some of the costs of your schooling.

What Can You Do with an Associates Degree in Social Science?

Writer working in a cafe

Social science degrees may launch many different careers. If you enjoy working with people, for instance, you might find a job in education, social work, healthcare, or human services.

If you prefer to stay behind the scenes, you may become a writer, researcher, or archivist. If you have an artistic soul, you may find fulfillment in the creative and fine arts. If you like being in the thick of the action, you may study criminal justice.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Associates Degree in Social Science Online?

It usually takes 2 years to earn an associate degree if you’re a full-time student. Most associate degrees require 60 credits, so if you take 15 credits per semester at a school that operates on a traditional, 2 semester year, you may be finished in 4 semesters or 2 years.

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You may speed up this timeline if you take more than 15 credits per semester or if your school offers summer or winter courses in addition to spring and fall.

What Jobs Can You Get with an Associate’s in Social Science?

police officers working

You may find a wide variety of jobs with an associate degree in social science. Potential careers include everything from teacher’s assistant to police officer to healthcare administrator.

Since an associate degree is usually an entry-level qualification, for highly specialized careers, you might need to go on to earn a bachelors or masters degree.

What Is the Difference Between Humanities vs. Social Science?

Social Science student studying in a library

There’s a lot of overlap between humanities and social sciences since they both cover subjects like history, language, and culture.

In fact, some colleges consider them interchangeable, and some only offer one or the other as a degree program since they cover such similar ground.

At the end of the day, the difference is a small one. A humanities degree usually takes a more philosophical approach to its subjects while a social sciences degree takes a more scientific approach.

This doesn’t have much real-world impact in terms of choosing a degree program, but it’s something to keep in mind if you plan on studying social sciences on a deep level.

What Is the Difference Between Sociology vs. Social Science?

Social Science students studying online

Sociology is usually considered a part of social sciences. While social sciences is the major, sociology can be a concentration within the major.

That said, sociology is also a major in its own right, and it has a lot of crossover with social sciences in terms of subjects, themes, classes, and careers. It’s another area with significant overlap between the disciplines.

What Is the Difference Between an AA in Social Science vs. AS in Social Science?

Social Science students studying together

You’ll have several options when pursuing an online associate’s degree in social science. The most common degree options are the Associate of Arts (AA) and the Associate of Science (AS).

While they both require the same amount of credits, they can differ in terms of focus. They might also have different class requirements for graduation. The AA is usually more arts- and humanities-based while the AS is usually more science-based.

A third option is the Associate of Applied Science degree (AAS). This is a degree with a more vocational bent that’s usually designed for specific, skill-based careers.

Is Psychology a Social Science?

Psychologist with clients during a consultation

Yes, psychology is a social science. It takes a science- and research-based approach to the inner workings of the mind.

Even though it isn’t a traditional STEM science, it’s still considered a scientific discipline.

Is Economics a Social Science?

Economists in a meeting

Yes, economics is a social science.

It has its roots in mathematics, but it’s usually considered a social science since it uses scientific methods to explain the behaviors and movements of human interests.

Is Political Science a Social Science?

Yes, political science is a social science. It’s another field of study with a lot of crossover potential, so you’ll also see it listed with law and government majors.

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It’s considered a social science since it’s based on the behaviors of people and their politics.

Is an Associates Degree in Social Science Worth It?

paralegal working

Yes, an associate’s degree in social science is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 5% job growth in life, physical, and social science occupations for the next 10 years, faster than the average for all occupations.

Common social science careers in this field include writer, parole office, paralegal, teacher’s assistant, and human services coordinator. For more specialized, higher-paying jobs, a bachelors or masters degree is often required.

Universities Offering Online Associate’s 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.

Brookdale Community College

Brookdale Community College

The Associate of Arts in Social Sciences program at Brookdale Community College provides students with a general overview of the social science field and prepares them for transferring to 4 year universities.

There are several concentrations from which students can choose, including philosophy, anthropology, psychology, economics, history, or human geography.

Brookdale is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Broward College

Broward College

Students interested in social science at Broward College have plenty of options from which to choose. The school offers both Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees in a myriad of different social science-related fields. These include degrees in social work, political science, anthropology, human services, and international relations.

Broward College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Central Texas College

Central Texas College

There are eight concentration options offered as part of Central Texas College’s Associate of Arts in Social Science program.

Each concentration’s curriculum is both innovative and comprehensive and puts strong focus on good citizenship, global awareness, integrity, and ethics. Graduates can transfer to 4 year universities or immediately enter into the workforce.

Central Texas College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Clinton Community College

Clinton Community College

Clinton Community College offers a liberal arts associates degree with a humanities and social science concentration.

It’s a 60 credit program that blends several general education and elective courses with additional courses in social science-related fields. Students interested in art can take advantage of the SUNY Seamless Transfer Pathway option.

CCC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Colorado Mesa University

Colorado Mesa University

Students in the Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts program at Colorado Mesa University can select the social science concentration and earn degrees that can act as terminal degrees or can prepare them to transfer to 4 year universities. Required courses include various literature, fine arts, and social science courses.

Colorado Mesa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Community College of Allegheny

Community College of Allegheny County

Community College of Allegheny offers an Associate of Arts in Social Sciences program that provides students with the first and second years of a baccalaureate degree while also allowing them to take courses related to their future specializations in the field. It requires between 60 to 64 credits for completion.

The Community College of Allegheny County is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Community College of Philadelphia

Community College of Philadelphia

The liberal arts associates program at Community College of Philadelphia features a concentration in social and behavioral science.

Students should learn about the evolution and development of cultures, societies, and human behavior over time. Students can largely customize their programs by taking courses in a variety of social and behavioral science-related fields.

Community College of Philadelphia is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Crafton Hills College

Crafton Hills College

Students enrolled in the Associate of Arts in Social Science program from Crafton Hills College will learn all about the social institutions, customs, and behaviors that shape the world. It’s a multidisciplinary program that incorporates courses from disciplines such as history, philosophy and religion, behavioral science, and political and social institutions.

Crafton Hills College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Foothill College

Foothill College

Foothill College’s Associate of Arts in General Studies program features a concentration in social science that’s mainly designed for students planning to transfer to 4 year universities as opposed to entering the workforce. It teaches them to identify connections between various fields of study and to analyze primary and secondary sources.

Foothill College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Greenfield Community College

Greenfield Community College

The social science associates degree program at Greenfield Community College is good for students who hope to pursue higher education degrees or careers in social science fields. It also gives students a broad overview of social sciences with an in-depth understanding of one or two more specific, student-chosen disciplines.

Greenfield Community College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University

Students in Louisiana State University’s Associate of General Studies program can choose to focus their elective classes in multiple social science-related fields.

Students’ course curricula will vary depending on which specific disciplines they choose to pursue. Most classes are taken from the psychology, philosophy, English, sociology, and geography and history departments.

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

Minnesota State Community and Technical College

Minnesota State Community and Technical College

At Minnesota State Community and Technical College, students can earn their Associate of Arts in Social Science degrees entirely online. The degree is meant for students interested in transferring to sociology, social work, or human services programs at 4 year universities. Students learn about human behavior and how to communicate effectively.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Monterey Peninsula College

Monterey Peninsula College

Monterey Peninsula College offers several options for students interested in earning their associates degrees in social science.

The school has an entire social sciences department that houses their anthropology, administration of justice, ethnic studies, political science, and history programs, among others. Courses for the degree are pulled from these programs.

Monterey Peninsula College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Northern Virginia Community College

Northern Virginia Community College

Northern Virginia Community College’s Associate of Science in Social Sciences program teaches students about the intricacies of human behavior and human interaction. A premium is put on learning to conduct, analyze, and interpret research. Students will also study the institutions, organizations, customs, and beliefs that make up various societies.

Northern Virginia Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Ohio University

Ohio University

The Associate of Arts in Social Sciences program at Ohio University is a 60 credit program that can be taken online, allowing students to take advantage of the school’s asynchronous coursework and flexible advising schedules.

Common courses include those related to African American studies, international studies, linguistics, sociology, and anthropology.

Ohio University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Reading Area Community College

Reading Area Community College

Reading Area Community College offers an associate-level social science program that features a concentration in the human services division.

Upon completion, students should be able to explain research methods used in social science fields, demonstrate understanding of Western civilization or American history, and have working knowledge of anthropology or sociology.

Reading Area Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Roger Williams University

Roger Williams University

The 60 credit Associate of Science in Social Science program from Roger Williams University requires students to take various skills courses, at least two core curriculum courses, and at least six courses in one or two social science disciplines. The school does sometimes award credit for relevant military experience.

Roger Williams University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Seminole State College of Florida

Seminole State College of Florida

Students who take the Associate of Arts pathway at Seminole State College of Florida can focus their studies in the field of social sciences. There are ten main pathways that fall under the social science umbrella. These include anthropology, global citizenship, international and global studies, humanities, political science, and history.

Seminole State College of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University offers several online programs in social science-related fields at both the bachelors and masters levels. The only associate-level program they offer in social science is in criminal justice. It’s a 60 credit program, and students aren’t required to submit ACT or SAT scores for admission.

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

SUNY – Adirondack

SUNY - Adirondack

The 2 year Associate of Arts in Humanities and Social Science program at SUNY – Adirondack provides students with a comprehensive, diverse education in psychology, literature, theater, history, philosophy, economics, and fine arts.

It’s primarily a transfer degree, but some job opportunities should open up to students after completing their degrees.

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

SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College

Students interested in careers in social ministry, social services, education, law, policy-making, or the government can earn their foundations in these fields in SUNY Empire State College’s social science associates program. The school offers both Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees in the field, along with bachelors degrees.

SUNY Empire State College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

SUNY Ulster

SUNY Ulster

SUNY Ulster’s Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences program allows students to focus their courses in the humanities and social sciences.

The curriculum includes plenty of transfer-friendly general education courses as well as courses from the following disciplines: social and behavioral science, psychology, English, history, and the natural sciences.

SUNY Ulster is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Tidewater Community College

Tidewater Community College

The Associate of Science in Social Sciences program at Tidewater Community College is specifically designed for students planning to transfer into social science-related fields at 4 year universities.

The degree can also provide foundational classes for students interested in pursuing careers in education who are hoping to earn their teaching certifications.

Tidewater Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Utah Valley University

Utah Valley University

Utah Valley University offers both Associate of Science and Associate of Arts degrees in the dual fields of humanities and social science. It’s a 60 credit program that consists of 12 humanities and social science credits, 35 general education credits, and 13 free electives that students choose based on interest.

Utah Valley University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

West Los Angeles College

West Los Angeles College

West Los Angeles College features a diverse liberal arts and sciences associates program with an emphasis in behavioral and social sciences. It’s a transfer-friendly degree program that’s great for students who haven’t narrowed down a specific focus and instead want to explore different disciplines to find what’s right for them.

West Los Angeles College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Getting Your Associates Degree in Social Science Online

Getting Your Associates Degree in Social Science Online

Maybe you want to increase your earning potential. Maybe you want the personal and professional development that a college degree can offer. Either way, an associate degree in social science can be a strategic choice.

With this degree, you may earn the needed credentials to enter the workforce, and you can even choose to complete the degree program online from the comfort of your own home. An associates degree in social sciences may also serve as a foundation for further study if you decide to go back to school for a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, you may begin your academic journey by exploring accredited colleges and learning more about their social science degree programs.

Ready to start your journey?
Jordan Meeks
WRITTEN BY
Jordan Meeks
Jordan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and earned her Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and her Bachelor's in Business Administration. Jordan's research focuses on adults returning to college and online degree programs.