Bob Litt
Written By - Bob Litt

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The social sciences cover a range of academic disciplines that explore human behavior, studying interactions, cultures, and global effects. Fields such as anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, and sociology make up this diverse area, investigating everything from economic drivers to factors influencing happiness. These insights play a crucial role in shaping corporate strategies and government policies. An online master’s program in Social Science promotes cross-disciplinary learning, allowing students to customize their studies without traditional limitations. Subjects covered range from anthropology to sociology, with integration opportunities in fields like public policy, gender studies, educational reform, cross-cultural studies, and politics, fostering interdisciplinary perspectives for students pursuing the online degree.

Masters in Social Science Online

Table Of Contents

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online MBA in Public Administration

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Best Master’s in Social Science Online Programs

One of the toughest decisions to make while selecting a master’s program is determining which program to pursue, which school to attend, and which university to enroll in. Cost, placements, starting pay, employment rates, acceptance rates, and other aspects should also be considered. There is no such thing as the best online master’s in social science programs since there are no absolutes as the finest or best programs; instead, it all relies on what qualities a student decides are most essential and how they choose a school. These elements may include travel time, annual fees, or an appealing asynchronous program for the student.

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
University at Buffalo
12 Capen Hall, Buffalo, New York 14260
Drew University
36 Madison Ave, Madison, New Jersey 07940
University of Missouri-Columbia
105 Jesse Hall, Columbia, Missouri 65211
Citadel Military College of South Carolina
171 Moultrie St, Charleston, South Carolina 29409
The University of Alabama
739 University Blvd, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487
Seton Hall University
400 S Orange Ave, South Orange, New Jersey 07079
University of San Diego
5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, California 92110
University of Northern Iowa
1227 W 27th St, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614
Ohio University
020 Chubb Hall, Athens, Ohio 45701
SUNY Brockport
350 New Campus Dr, Brockport, New York 14420
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Ave, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33314
University of Memphis
Southern Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38152
Troy University
University Avenue, Troy, Alabama 36082
Eastern Kentucky University
521 Lancaster Ave, Richmond, Kentucky 40475
Arizona State University
1365 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, Arizona 85257

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Master’s in Social Science Online Programs

A Master’s in Social Science involves an in-depth study of human societies, behaviors, and global issues. Students delve into subjects like political science, anthropology, and international relations, gaining advanced research skills. The program integrates synchronous and asynchronous learning methods to accommodate diverse schedules. Typically spanning 30-36 credits, completion duration varies, with many programs spanning 1.5 to 2 years. Emphasizing critical thinking and cultural understanding, this master’s equips graduates for impactful roles in research, policy analysis, and advocacy within the complex landscape of social sciences.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Master’s in Social Science Online Programs

The subjects and curricula will vary depending on the area of specialization and study in the selected social science field. Below are some of the subjects and abilities addressed in an online master’s program in social science:

Introduction to Anthropology
To identify and explain the similarities and differences between the various peoples of the world, comparative studies of humanity use information from as many different peoples, cultures, and historical periods as is practical. This course integrates the views of cultural anthropology, archeology, linguistics, and biological anthropology into the study of humanity.

Human Growth & Development
In this course, students explore psychological and sociological perspectives on individual and societal growth. Exploring lifespan changes, this program equips graduates for careers in counseling, education, social work, and research on human behavior and development.

Social Psychology
This course explores the study of how individuals’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by social interactions. By exploring topics such as group dynamics and attitudes, graduates are prepared for research, counseling, organizational behavior, and social advocacy careers.

Behavioral Neuroscience
This course explores the intersection of social behavior and neurological processes. Integrating psychology and biology, students investigate the neural mechanisms underlying human behavior, preparing for careers in research, clinical psychology, neuropsychology, and behavioral intervention.

Introduction to Social Psychology
This course provides a foundational understanding of how social interactions shape individual behavior. Exploring topics such as attitudes, social influence, and group dynamics, students gain insights applicable to diverse fields, including research, counseling, and organizational behavior.

Upon completing master’s programs in social science, graduates will be well-prepared to assume diverse roles in human services. They will have honed skills such as:

  • In-depth understanding of human behavior and societal dynamics
  • Advanced research and analytical skills
  • Proficiency in applying social science theories to real-world issues
  • Effective communication and interpersonal skills
  • Cultural competence and sensitivity
  • Policy analysis and development capabilities
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving abilities
  • Ethical decision-making in diverse contexts
  • Quantitative and qualitative research methodologies
  • Collaboration and teamwork in interdisciplinary settings
  • Competence in utilizing technology for social science research

Master’s in Social Science Degree Types

Master’s in Social Science degrees come in two primary types: Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS). While MA programs often emphasize humanities and research, MS programs typically focus on quantitative methods and scientific approaches. Both degrees provide comprehensive education and open doors to diverse career paths in social sciences.

Master of Arts in Social Science

The MA program prepares graduates for professional research careers. The curriculum combines rigorous academic training with the opportunity to conduct community-engaged research. Students who choose the MA Social Science program often develop interdisciplinary perspectives in areas like public policy, gender and identity studies, educational reform, cross-cultural studies, or politics.

Master of Science in Social Science

An MS program introduces research methodologies in its graduate program. It places a strong emphasis on theoretical and practical knowledge in the fields of sociology, anthropology, and criminal justice. It strongly focuses on learning social science research techniques, applying theory, and gaining practical experience. The curriculum equips students with the skills necessary to conduct evaluation studies of organizational policies, programs, and research initiatives that are theoretically sound and empirically sophisticated.

Read more about the differences and similarities between MA vs. MS

Specializations in Master’s in Social Science Programs

Selecting a specialization in a graduate education program is crucial for aligning academic pursuits with professional goals. Whether aspiring to teach, administrate, or work as a professional, the chosen concentration shapes one’s role and interactions within the education sector. Specializations are focused areas of study that empower students with specialized knowledge and skills, enhancing employability and making them stand out in the competitive job market. Ultimately, the choice of specialization is influenced by individual interests and market demands, contributing to a well-rounded and career-oriented educational experience.

Area of Specialization Description Career Options 
Political ScienceThis specialization explores government systems, political behavior, and policy analysis. Students gain a subtle understanding of political structures, international relations, and the impact of political decisions on societies, preparing them for roles in research, public policy, and advocacy.• Political Analyst
• Policy Researcher
• Public Affairs Specialist
• Government Affairs Consultant
AnthropologyThis specialization explores the holistic study of human societies, cultures, and behaviors. Students analyze cultural diversity, archaeological evidence, and social dynamics, gaining insights into human evolution and contemporary global issues. This prepares them for careers in research, academia, and cultural consulting.• Cultural Anthropologist
• Archaeologist
• Researcher
• Museum Curator
Terrorism & Homeland Security PolicyThis specialization trains students to tackle the problems of terrorism and other threats that endanger the country’s security. Students will approach security issues informed by social science, focusing on criminology and criminal justice perspectives. This program emphasizes the development of strategic, policy-based security solutions at the federal, state, and local levels of government• Homeland Security Analyst
• Intelligence Analyst
• Emergency Management Specialist
• Security Consultant
 Global and Environmental StudiesThis specialization helps students examine the intricate interplay between human societies and the environment. Students explore sustainable development, environmental policy, and global issues, preparing them for roles in international organizations, environmental advocacy, and sustainable resource management.• Environmental Policy Analyst
• International Development Specialist
• Sustainability Consultant
• Climate Change Analyst
 International RelationsThis specialization focuses on the complex interactions between nations. Students delve into diplomacy, global governance, and geopolitical issues, acquiring skills for careers in international affairs, diplomacy, and policy analysis in governmental and non-governmental sectors.• Diplomat
• International Relations Specialist
• Political Risk Analyst
• Global Affairs Analyst

Timeline for graduation from Master’s in Social Science Online Programs

The timeline for a master’s in social studies might differ considerably. They often have 30 to 45 credits, lasting between one and two years. These programs require students to study various social concerns, movements, and developments in addition to several contexts and group structures.

There are different ways that an online master’s in social science is delivered – full-time or part-time. One significant benefit of online master’s programs is varied delivery modes like hybrid, asynchronous, synchronous, etc. These modes bring many benefits and options for working professionals to pursue studies further and grow in their respective professions.

Accelerated Master’s in Social Science Online Programs

For full-time, highly motivated students, enrolling in an accelerated master’s program in social science may be helpful. As one can expect, these accelerated programs are very rigorous and move quickly. It allows top students to obtain graduate credits while pursuing undergraduate studies. Students should complete their research before applying because these programs are unsuitable for everyone. However, the apparent benefits of these programs are that students can complete their master’s programs in less time, which would call for lower tuition fees. Michigan Tech’s1 Master’s in Social  Science is one such program.

Master’s in Social Science Online Programs Admission Requirements

The admission requirements for an online master’s in social studies are often the same as those for on-campus programs. Typically, prospective students must possess a bachelor’s degree or higher to be eligible. A minimum GPA and certain degrees or qualifications may be required by some programs. Below are the typical requirements for admission into a master in social science online program:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Transcripts demonstrating a strong academic record
  • Letters of Recommendation highlighting the applicant’s suitability for the program
  • Statement of Purpose outlining career goals and motivation
  • Résumé showcasing relevant experience
  • Standardized test scores (e.g., GRE or equivalent, if required)
  • Online application form completed with accurate information
  • Application fee payment

Master’s in Social Science Online No GRE Programs

For entrance to graduate schools, including the master of social science degree, a GRE score is frequently needed. However, most colleges no longer require GRE scores for admission to their online graduate programs. Most graduate students today are working professionals who are enrolled in full-time jobs and do not have the time to study for the GRE, so their undergraduate GPA and work experience serve as the primary grading criteria for graduate admission, according to many schools explaining this shift. Because there are no restrictions on who can enroll in online courses, universities have become much more friendly to students interested in pursuing higher education. Examples of universities with no GRE social science master’s programs are:

Accreditation for Master’s in Social Science Online Programs

An institution’s educational standards are evaluated as part of the accreditation process using the standards and guidelines established by the certifying authority. Accreditation is necessary for a student’s degree to be recognized by the field they are entering or by institutions for entrance to graduate programs. More crucially, to qualify for U.S. federal student aid, one must ensure that the institution they are enrolling in has acquired accreditation from a recognized accrediting body. Therefore, accreditation fundamentally represents the enforcement of quality. 

There are predominantly two types of accreditation in the United States – Regional and National Accreditation. Colleges are commonly accredited by regional accrediting bodies, which are:

Free Social Science Courses Online

In the digital age, students increasingly utilize free online courses for flexibility and cost-effectiveness, finding these courses appealing. Yet, it’s important to note that they often lack official certifications. Nevertheless, students benefit from learning at their own pace, acquiring new skills, and personal enrichment. This contributes to a more inclusive and flexible global education.
Some of these free master’s in social science online courses are reviewed below:

Course Provided by Description 
Exploring Humans’ Space4EdX Together, the students in this course will explore the city, urbanization, urbanity, and urbanism, as well as the role of the individual in a world that is becoming more globalized, emerging digital spatialities, the space-time couple, and the complex relationship between societies and bio-physical worlds. We shall also see that cartography is an effective tool.
Managing Conflict and Polarization in the Workplace and Beyond5EdX This course will equip students to cross those gaps when they arise. Students will better understand the frequently hostile effects of our primal human urges to join social groups. They will leave knowing their part in this phenomenon, how to control their conduct, and how to help others find common ground.
Introduction to Social Psychology6EdX The topics covered in this social psychology course span from how we think about ourselves and others to how we interact and communicate with others. It also talks about how we can affect others and how others can influence us. Students examine some negative facets of human behavior, like prejudice and aggressiveness.

How to Pay for Master’s in Social Science Online Programs

It is crucial to think carefully about how one will pay for one’s online master’s in social science tuition, especially considering the current situation of student debt, the cost of tuition, and the typical debt each student owes. Here are some ways that master’s in social science students can fund their program:


Scholarships are the best way to alleviate financial burdens on students pursuing higher education. These merit-based awards provide valuable support, enabling individuals to focus on academic excellence without excessive financial constraints.


Grants are instrumental in facilitating students’ academic pursuits by offering financial assistance. These need-based awards alleviate the burden of tuition and related expenses, ensuring greater accessibility to education and empowering students to achieve their educational goals.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships offer valuable opportunities for graduate students to gain hands-on experience in teaching, research, or administrative roles. In exchange for their work, students receive financial support, helping to offset educational expenses while enhancing their professional skills.


The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial form for students seeking financial assistance for higher education. Completing the FAFSA determines eligibility for federal grants, loans, and work-study programs, making it a vital step in securing financial aid.

Read the Financial Aid Guide for more information on funding higher education.

Scholarships for Master’s in Social Science Online Programs

Scholarships are grants given to students for their education based on their academic standing or other criteria, which may also consider their financial circumstances. Merit-based scholarships and need-based scholarships are the two most popular types of scholarships. Two scholarships for an online master’s in social science are listed below:

ScholarshipJ.W. Saxe Memorial Scholarship7
DescriptionThe J.W. Saxe Memorial Scholarship is an annual grant given to one or more college or university students engaged in public service. Preference is given to those undergoing an internship or working on a project in public service. With the help of the grant, students can work an unpaid or low-paying internship or job during the summer or another term to obtain experience in the public sector.
Award/Amount$2,000 each year
Application DeadlineVaries
ScholarshipIntercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) Graduate Fellowships8
DescriptionThe Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) awards graduate fellowships to outstanding students pursuing advanced social sciences or humanities studies. The foremost requirement to be eligible is that students should intend to teach at the college level.
Award/AmountUp to to $15,000 
Application DeadlineFebruary, Annually

Careers and Salary Outlook for Master’s in Social Science Graduates

Master’s in Social Science graduates can anticipate diverse career opportunities with competitive salaries. The outlook is promising, with roles in research, analysis, and policy formulation across various sectors. Salaries vary based on specialization and industry, ranging from mid to high levels. The demand for social science expertise highlights the potential for fulfilling careers and financial stability in this field. Some positions available include:

Occupation Median Annual Salary Job Growth (up to 2030) Job Description 
Political Scientists9$128,0207% (faster than average)Political scientists research the history, structure, and functioning of political systems. They investigate political theories and examine political movements, regimes, and related problems. Political scientists frequently investigate governmental policies’ local and global impacts on a given region or people. As a result, they offer data and analysis that support the creation, development, and implementation of policies.
Curators10$53,42010%  (much faster than average)Archivists appraise, process, catalog, and preserve permanent records and historically valuable documents. Curators oversee collections of artwork and historical items and may conduct public service activities for an institution. Museum technicians and conservators prepare and restore objects and documents in museum collections and exhibits.
Economists11$113,9406% (faster than average)The production and distribution of resources, goods, and services are studied by economists through data collection and analysis, trend research, and evaluation of economic concerns. Forecasts by economists are frequently based on their analysis of previous trends. They use a range of software packages for their research and data analysis. They occasionally convey their findings to a variety of audiences.
Post Secondary Teachers12$80,8408% (faster than average)Postsecondary teachers instruct students in various academic subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books.

Certifications and Licensing for Social Science Graduates

Certifications and licensing for social science graduates are generally not mandatory, as the field often prioritizes academic qualifications. However, some specialized roles or industries may require certifications for specific job positions. Graduates may pursue relevant certifications to enhance their skills, credibility, and employability, but it depends on individual career goals and the requirements of potential employers in their chosen field.

Additional Resources for Social Science Professionals

Social science professionals pursuing an online master’s degree can benefit from the resources within professional organizations. These groups provide career support and certification programs, aiding in skill development, exploring social science topics such as policy analysis, research methodologies, and community development, and enhancing understanding and expertise. Professional organizations help professionals advance in their fields of study and serve as evidence of the legitimacy of their skills. Below are a few such organizations

  1. Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology
    The “science, practice, and teaching” of industrial and organizational psychology are promoted by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology professional organization. Division 14 of the American Psychological Association is another name for SIOP.
  2. American Psychological Association
    The American Psychological Association (APA), with over 150,000 members, is the largest association of psychologists in the U.S. Committed to advancing psychological science, APA addresses critical societal issues, enhances public understanding of psychology, prepares for the future, and solidifies its role as a respected voice in the field.
  3. American Social Science Association
    Established in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1865, the American Social Science Association is a professional organization fostering interdisciplinary research and collaboration. With a commitment to advancing social sciences, it provides a platform for scholars, researchers, and professionals to exchange ideas. The association aims to contribute to the broader understanding and application of social science principles.
  4. National Social Science Association (NSSA)
    The New Social Science Association, a non-profit corporation, addresses the needs of college faculty worldwide through virtual conferences. Since 2020, the directors have organized and recorded conferences, offering virtual proceedings for ongoing access. Recognizing the future trend, this initiative provides a valuable platform for social science faculty to engage in collaborative learning and discussion.

FAQs About Master’s in Social Science Online Programs

What is a Master’s in Social Science program?

A Master’s in Social Science program is a graduate-level academic course that spans a range of disciplines, such as sociology, psychology, economics, and political science. It provides advanced theoretical and practical knowledge, equipping students with critical thinking skills to analyze and address complex social issues, preparing them for various career paths.

How long does it take to complete a Master’s in Social Science?

Is a master’s in social science worth it?

Can I pursue a Master’s in Social Science if my undergraduate degree is not in a related field?

What is the difference between a Master’s in Social Science and a Master’s in Social Work?

Is it possible to work while completing a Master’s in Social Science?