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Online Social Science Degrees: Overviews by Program Level

Find out about online social science courses and in which degree programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

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Essential Information

Online degree programs are available in a wide range of social science fields of study. This article will look at online bachelor's degree programs in anthropology, economics, and history. These programs may be offered fully online or as hybrid programs that require some on-campus coursework. They rarely have prerequisites other than a high school diploma or the equivalent. Presentation, word processing and other specified software may be necessary to complete the course.

Anthropologists most often earn master's degrees and/or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees. Entry-level economist jobs are available with a bachelor's degree, but most economists have at least a master's degree. Those with a history bachelor's degree can work as elementary and middle school teachers, among other career choices. Teachers in public schools are required to be professionally licensed or certified in all states.

Anthropology Bachelor's Degree

Online bachelor's degree programs in anthropology engage the study of human ancestry, human culture and human behavior within human-created institutions and social organizations. Students develop their analytical and written communications skills while learning about the anthropological concepts and models developed over the decades. Enrollment in an online bachelor's degree program requires, at a minimum, a high school diploma or general education diploma (GED).

Program Information and Requirements

Coursework in an online anthropology bachelor's degree program consists of readings, teleconferences, group discussions, individual projects and group projects. Materials are accessible on a 24-hour basis for the convenience of working students. Programs may be completed exclusively online or as a mix of online and traditional instruction. Bachelor's degrees are typically earned in four years.

Participation in an online program requires a personal computer, word processing software and an Internet connection. Schools may use content management systems such as Blackboard or Desire2Learn.

Common Anthropology Courses

Bachelor's degree programs offered online include general education courses. The subject-specific portion may be structured as a set of core courses and a set of electives.

Cultural Anthropology

This course introduces theories of culture and concepts used in cultural analysis. Topics covered include the history of culture and how families, religions, politics and value systems have changed over time.

Gender and Culture

Students in this class examine the status and roles of woman and men and the relations between them in different cultural contexts. Viewpoints on anatomy and nature in primitive and modern societies are among the topics addressed.

Language and Culture

This course assesses the function of language as a mode of communication and a driver of social relations. Course content also considers the origin, evolution and diversity of language and how it defines the parameters of thought.


Bachelor's Degree in Economics

The production, distribution and consumption of goods and services is explored in an online bachelor's degree program in economics. Students gain fundamental knowledge in not only economics, but also accounting, statistics, behavioral sciences and math. Schools offer programs online at the associate's and master's degree levels as well. A high school diploma or GED is required for enrollment in the bachelor's degree program.

Program Information and Requirements

Online economics bachelor's degree programs may be completed entirely online or as a combination of online and traditional formats. Students typically complete a bachelor's degree in four years. All course content is accessible 24-hours, but assignments must be completed by stated deadlines. A personal computer, presentation software, word processing software and an Internet connection are the minimum technical requirements.

Common Economics Courses

A liberal arts component forms part of the economics course content in online bachelor's degree programs. Thus, schools may require students to take courses in the humanities, natural sciences and the arts.

Introductory Economics

This course surveys fundamental concepts in economics, such as the interaction of supply and demand, markets and opportunity cost. The history of economic thought is also considered.

Microeconomic Fundamentals

Students in this course examine how price and resource availability influence the economic choices of individual households and firms. Core concepts include rational decision-making, market efficiency and marginal profit and cost.

Macroeconomic Fundamentals

The aggregate functioning of economies at the national and global levels are the emphasis of this course. Students are acquainted with the business cycle, inflationary and deflationary forces, forecasting and the objectives of monetary and fiscal policy.


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Bachelor's Degree in History

As an undergraduate history major, students examine past events in human societies and civilizations with the aim of identifying patterns of cause and effect. Students learn to assimilate factual information into coherent narratives about the past, and consider different narratives based on different interpretations of facts. Schools require bachelor's degree candidates to have either a high school diploma or GED.

Program Information and Requirements

Students may earn a bachelor's degree in history entirely online, as an online-traditional hybrid or entirely in a traditional classroom. A personal computer, Internet access and word processing software are required to participate in an online program. Retrieval of all course content, virtual classroom interactions and submission of assignments and exams in an online program are handled through a school's website. Interactions between the students and instructor may take place in online forums, e-mail or telephone. Four years is the typical length of time for completion of an online bachelor's degree program in history.

Common History Courses

Degree requirements for an online bachelor's degree in history may include unrelated courses in art, humanities and math. History programs sometimes allow students to specialize in a particular era of history or a particular region of the world.

U.S. History

The colonization, development and emergence of the United States as a world power are examined in this course. Topics covered include the Revolutionary War, the adoption of constitutional government, the debate over slavery and the Civil War, industrialization and various social movements for change.

Modern European History

This course provides an outline of European developments from the medieval age to the present. The crusades, the Renaissance, the eclipse of feudalism by capitalism, the formation of nation-states and major wars are covered in this online course.

World History

Students in this course survey the forces that have shaped human civilizations over the past 12,000 years. Course content focuses on technological developments that have facilitated population growth, the demands growth has placed on natural resources and how human societies have overcome or failed to overcome resource constraints.


Career Information

Graduates of an online degree program in anthropology can pursue academic careers as field researchers, management consultants and cultural advisors. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) projects employment of anthropologists and archaeologists to grow 4% (slower than the average for all occupations) from 2014-2024. The U.S. Department of Defense is one employer that may need anthropologists to help it function in diverse regions around the world. The BLS reports that as of May 2015 anthropologists and archaeologists as a group earned a median salary of $61,220.

With a bachelor's degree in economics, graduates can pursue positions in business, insurance and finance. Entry-level economist positions with a government agency require a bachelor's degree, with additional course work in accounting, calculus or statistics. The BLS reports that employment of economists will increase 6%, over the years 2014-2024. As of May 2015, the median salary of economists was $99,180 (www.bls.gov).

As a field of study based in the liberal arts, an online bachelor's degree in history can lead to many different careers. The American Historical Association (www.historians.org) suggests that graduates can find careers in advertising and public relations, education, law, journalism and media production. The BLS states that bachelor's degree holders are qualified for positions as a research assistant, writer or teacher at the elementary through high school level. According to the BLS, elementary teachers earned a median salary of $54,890 as of May 2015, while middle school teachers earned $55,860 in the same year.

There are a wide range of social science degree programs available online at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree level. Economics and history programs are typically at the bachelor's level, while anthropology programs are more commonly found at the master's or doctoral degree levels.

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