Master's Degree in Social Science: Program Information

At the master's degree level, social science programs combine broad interdisciplinary study with specialized research in a particular field. Find out more about curriculum options in these programs, as well as future opportunities for graduates.

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Essential Information

Master's degree programs in social science employ an interdisciplinary approach to examine the relationship of culture to society, integrating advanced studies in history, economics, political science, anthropology, and sociology. In addition to this broad curriculum, most programs give students the freedom to specialize in a particular area of interest. Specialization options include family systems, global politics, war, and international studies. Most programs require students to submit a thesis or capstone project prior to graduation.

Applicants to social science master's degree programs are usually required to have a bachelor's degree. Some schools give preference to candidates who have had previous coursework in social and behavioral sciences, research, and statistics. A few programs have orientation residency sessions that students are required to attend before beginning classes.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Anthropology
  • Archeology
  • Criminology and Criminalistics - General
  • Global Studies
  • Multidisciplinary or Interdisciplinary Studies, Other
  • Peace Studies
  • Physical Anthropology
  • Population Studies
  • Science, Technology, and Society, General
  • Sociology, General
  • Systems Science and Theory
  • Urban Studies
  • Work and Family Studies

Master's Degree in Social Science

Coursework in these programs can be extremely varied, depending on the student's specialization. Possible course titles include:

  • Cultural analysis of Asia
  • Quantitative and qualitative family research techniques
  • European politics
  • Ancient civilizations
  • Society and armed conflicts

Career Information

Social science master's degree programs prepare students for a variety of careers, including those in anthropology, history, law, public policy, social work, public health, and business.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has stated that employment growth within the field of social sciences is likely to vary depending on the individual's specialty ( For example, the BLS projected employment for anthropologists to grow 4% between the years 2014 and 2024, while job growth for historians would be around 2%.

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for anthropologists in 2015 was $61,220. Historians earned a median annual salary slightly less than anthropologists, at $55,800 a year in 2015.

Continuing Education Information

A master's degree in social science is usually considered suitable for entry-level positions in government and private industry. Research positions may require further training in statistics or math. Those wishing to pursue academic careers enroll in a Ph.D. program in one of the social sciences, which may qualify them for a tenure-track position at a college or university.

Overall, the curriculum in a master's degree in social science depends on the student's field of concentration. After graduation, students can pursue careers in related industries or earn a Ph.D.

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