2022 Best Online Masters in Social Science Programs

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An online masters in social science is a multidisciplinary degree that allows for graduate study of geography, history, political science, psychology, sociology, and more.

Best Online Masters in Social Science Programs

You have the opportunity to develop your cultural understanding, your critical thinking and reasoning skills, and your political and historical knowledge.

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Professionals who pursue an online master in social sciences tend to take on leadership and management roles in societal institutions.

Online Masters in Social Science Programs

Graduate degrees in social science are multidisciplinary degrees, and you may have the opportunity to focus your studies on a specific branch of social science while pursuing your masters. The program you choose to pursue depends on your own research and individual career goals.

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

Regardless of the specialty you select, you will still receive a strong foundation in social science and related courses.


Anthropology program

Anthropology encompasses the study of humans and human civilization. You can learn to analyze societies and cultures, and you can uncover and explore ancient civilizations and their languages, beliefs, and artifacts.

Through your studies, you may even come to better understand what it means to be human. Course topics within this discipline include language and linguistic studies, biological anthropology, sociocultural anthropology, and cultural preservation.

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Some professionals in anthropology work in museum curation, in the genetics department of an academic institution, in marketing or consulting, or in international development.


History programs

This broad discipline looks at the development of the world through time. It observes certain periods more closely to gain a better understanding of past problems. These observations can in turn can be used in application for future solutions.

Students can either pursue a general history focus or specialize in a specific time period, subject, or region of the world. Course topics in this discipline can depend on your specialization. You might study American history, European history, military history, modern world history, or the history of the two world wars. Through a masters program in history, you can develop your critical thinking and research skills.

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A graduate degree in history may lead to community college teaching opportunities. Some professionals in the field work as researchers for museums, while others live in and inform the regions they’ve studied on a governmental level.

Political Science

Political Science programs

Political science encompasses government systems, laws, policies, and political processes. From a social science spectrum, you study political activity and analyze its behavior.

You may be immersed in studying both past and current events, and these real-world case studies can help you analyze and improve policies through research, statistics, and data study. You might be enrolled in courses that teach you to conduct political research, develop professional writing skills, and analyze statistics and data. You can also gain management and leadership skills through political science studies.

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A political science graduate degree can help you develop a broad range of skills that are applicable in journalism, legal organizations, and government institutions. Some professionals in this field work within politics and campaigning or work on international policies.


Psychology programs

Psychology is the discipline that puts the mind at the focus of its studies. In a psychology program, you can study how the mind works and how it behaves from a scientific perspective.

Psychology combines theoretical studies with biological studies. It dives into human consciousness, emotions, and thought processes, and it explores how these influence someone’s personal development and relationships.

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In a psychology graduate program, your coursework might cover topics like biology, counseling and therapy, research labs, clinical psychology, applied psychology, and child development courses. There is typically lab work involved in a psychology master’s degree.

Following graduation, students may find themselves pursuing careers in counseling or furthering lab research for academic institutions.


Sociology programs

Sociology is the study of society. Students look at human society from an individual and structural perspective, and you can research into how groups, institutions, cultures, financial or social statuses, or religions influence these societies.

Sociology differs from social work because it is not as hands-on. Instead it’s driven through collected data. Sociologists use this data to influence their research and come up with conclusions or solutions for the particular society they’re studying.

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Coursework for a graduate degree in sociology can include statistics, research methods, and cultural studies. There may also be fieldwork, where you’re required to gather, organize, and analyze data for a research project. Some sociology professionals work as statisticians or therapists, and others work in community social work organizations or in business and marketing.

Social Sciences Careers & Salaries

Social Sciences Careers & Salaries

Social science graduate programs can lead to a wide variety of careers and industries, depending on the specialization you choose to study.  

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are a few career paths related to social science.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Political Scientists $125,350
Human Resources Managers $121,220
Industrial-Organizational Psychologists $96,270
Sociologists $86,110
Postsecondary Teachers $80,560
Urban and Regional Planners $75,950
Social and Community Service Managers $69,600
Anthropologists and Archeologists $66,130
Historians $63,100
Survey Researchers $59,870

The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently predicts positive job outlooks for social science careers in a multitude of fields. For example, social scientists and related workers are expected to experience 7% job growth over the next ten years.

Social Science Masters Curriculum & Courses

Social Science Masters Curriculum

Whether you choose to pursue a generalized masters in social science or wish to hone in on a specialization, you will encounter a diverse set of fascinating courses in an online masters in social science. Here are some examples of courses you may come across:

  • Research Design: You can develop advanced research method skills and learn to effectively contrast data and theory, combining qualitative and quantitative methods from economics, political science, and sociology.
  • Teaching Apprentice Practicum: Do you wish to pursue a career in education following your masters in social sciences? This course prepares you for that path by allowing you to become a teaching apprentice under a faculty member in the department.
  • Data Evidence and Analysis in Social Sciences: This course usually includes a lab aspect. You can gain advanced training in data analysis and statistics related to real-life case studies or through designing, testing, and analyzing statistical data in a sociology project.
  • Policy and Law: This course takes an advanced look at ethics within a social sciences sphere, including voting rights, civil rights, and gender rights.
  • Mathematics for Social Sciences: This course is a revision of intermediate-level calculus and algebra concepts with social science applications.
  • Basic Statistics: You can master fundamental concepts and the formulas associated with statistics, and you can learn how to properly analyze graphs and tables. You can also learn to master statistical software.
  • Economics: This course teaches economic concepts from a social sciences perspective. You can learn how to apply economic models and analysis in order to provide solutions on consumption, investment, production, and distribution.
  • International Relations: This course introduces advanced concepts in global citizenship. You can evaluate debates on international relations and learn how to use empirical data in order to theorize and analyze foreign issues.
  • Activism in Social Sciences: You can critique activism modalities and engage in advanced comprehension of social justice. You’ll look at a variety of national concerns and their corresponding interventions, and you’ll analyze the human behavior related to demonstrating for change.
  • Political Regimes: This course takes a look at state and national institutions and their influence on political order, both from a historical and modern perspective. You can learn how to identify primary problems that arise during the establishment of a political institution.

These are usually foundational courses, and the courses you encounter can differ if you choose a specialization.

How to Choose an Online Social Sciences Master Degree Program

Social Sciences Master Degree Program

Choosing an online masters in social science degree program is a personal choice that requires careful thought and reflection. You might want to consider these factors prior to selecting a program or school:

  • Career goals. What are your career goals? Does the program include the necessary foundational courses to succeed in that role?
  • Available specializations. Do you require a specialized path for your career goals? Is it offered by the school through this graduate program?
  • Cost. How much will this program cost? Will you qualify for financial assistance?
  • Program options. How long will the program take? Are you able to dedicate time to a full-time course load? Does this school offer part-time programming?
  • Thesis requirement. Does the program have a capstone project, thesis, or practicum? Will you be able to dedicate time and effort to any of these requirements?

In addition, only applying to schools that hold regional accreditation ensures that you are choosing a social science degree online program that meets high quality educational standards. This is the case whether it’s an online masters, online bachelors, or even an online associates degree in social science

Masters in Social Sciences Admissions Requirements

Masters in Social Sciences Admissions

Admission requirements for masters degrees in social sciences vary from school to school, but here are a few you may encounter:

  • GRE or GMAT scores (only some schools require them)
  • Transcripts from undergraduate studies
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0, on average
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of intent

Some schools give preference to individuals applying to their graduate program with previous social science experiences. Other programs allow for equal opportunities for people coming from any undergraduate background.

Master of Social Science Accreditation

Master of Social Science Accreditation

Finding a school with regional accreditation is crucial when you’re searching to enroll in an online graduate program. Accreditation is a precondition for receiving federal aid, and credits are more likely to be transferable if they’re earned at an accredited institution. In addition, many employers check the accreditation status of a university prior to a hire.

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You can visit the US Department of Education’s website to check whether your school is recognized by a registered accrediting agency. Using this resource can help you ensure that your school meets high-quality standards of education.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Master of Social Science financial aid

There are numerous financial aid options for graduate students who qualify. These options include social science scholarships, individual grants from the school you’re applying to, employer credits for pursuing additional education, and government loans and aid.

When you are ready to begin applying to your graduate program, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application to determine your eligibility for government aid. The FAFSA is free to complete with no income cut-off, and it connects directly with schools to let you know how much is covered.

Social Science Professional Organizations

Social Science Professional Organizations

Joining a professional organization is not mandatory, but it can be quite beneficial. Professional organizations can offer networking opportunities, give you access to job boards and postings, keep you connected with individuals in your field. They can also provide you with research sources and materials.

Here are a few social science professional organizations you might consider joining:

Professional organizations can also link you with events in your field and industry.

What Can You Do with a Master’s in Social Science?

Master's in Social Science careers

There are diverse career options available in the social science sector. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also predicts positive job growth for social science occupations in a multitude of fields.

When considering what you can do with a social science degree, careers could include political scientist, sociologist, psychologist, urban planner, archeologist, anthropologist, human resources manager, and survey researcher. Your chosen degree specialization can impact your qualifications for various career paths.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 45% of all professionals employed in the social science field hold an advanced degree.

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

Masters in Social Science Online

A masters degree generally takes 1 to 2 years to complete. A masters program that consists of 36 credit hours and no thesis requirement can typically be completed in 1 year with full-time enrollment, including summer classes.

A thesis, practicum, or capstone project will add some additional time to completion. Attending only part-time can also affect how long it takes for you to complete your masters degree.

Is History a Social Science?

Is History a Social Science

In some circumstances, history is considered a social science. Social sciences observe the human world as it is constructed, and the history of a culture, region, or nation contributes to that examination.

History also falls into the spectrum of humanities. If historians are studying human values or culture, they consider their work to be under this umbrella. If historians are using quantitative tools to understand history, it would fall under the category of social science.

What’s the Difference Between a Masters in Social Studies vs. History?

While there is some foundational coursework overlap between a masters in social studies and a masters in history, there are a few differences worth noting.

History Social Science
  • Studies past events
  • More focused on a person, era, region, or nation
  • Studies humans and their behavior and community features
  • Generally more broad and global

A masters in history could fall under the umbrella of social science, but social sciences are not necessarily under the umbrella of history. Both involve the study of human activities.

What’s the Difference Between Humanities vs. Social Science Master Degree?

While some specializations under the social science umbrella could also fall under humanities, there are a few notable differences between the two graduate degrees.

Masters in Humanities Masters in Social Science
  • Subjective study of humans and human behaviors and cultures
  • Does not involve empirical studies and data
  • Objective study of humans and human behaviors and cultures
  • Includes lab work and scientific research

Both graduate degrees cover topics such as law, politics, culture, tradition, linguistics, and psychology, but they utilize different research methods and applications.

Is a Masters in Social Science Worth It?

Is a Masters in Social Science Worth It

Yes, a masters in social science is worth it for many students. A masters in social science enables you to develop advanced skills in research and data analysis. A masters is often a qualification for upper-level managerial roles as well.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates positive job outlooks for a number of positions in the social science field over the next ten years. These positions include urban and regional planners (7% job growth), political scientists (9%), human resources managers (9%), survey researchers (4%), and social and community service managers (15%).

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.

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University

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

Ohio University

Ohio University

Ohio University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Pennsylvania State University

Pennsylvania State University

The Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

The Citadel

The Citadel

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

University at Buffalo

University at Buffalo

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

University of Alabama

University of Alabama

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

University of Florida

University of Florida

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

University of Missouri

University of Missouri

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

University of Northern Iowa

University of Northern Iowa

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

University of the Cumberlands

University of the Cumberlands

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

Getting Your Masters Degree in Social Science Online

Masters Degree in Social Science Online

There are a number of fascinating spectrums that encompass a graduate degree in social science. Depending on your chosen specialization, a social science masters program can help you develop advanced qualifications for a number of career paths in this growing field.

Getting your master’s degree in social science online allows you to pursue your career goals from the comfort of your home. Online programming can also offer the flexibility of structuring your studies around your personal and professional responsibilities.

If you’re interested in advancing your expertise and improving your job prospects, you can start exploring social science masters degrees from accredited universities today.

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Claudia Amendola Alzraa
Claudia Amendola Alzraa
Claudia has a Master's in Library and Information Studies, a Bachelor's in Education, and a Bachelor's with Honors in English and Philosophy. With a history working in Special Education, Claudia is an advocate for diversified and equitable education, and student success initiatives.