What Can You Do With a Social Science Degree?

The social sciences bachelor’s program at TROY provides training in leadership, research methods, writing and problem-solving.

The social sciences bachelor’s program at TROY provides training in leadership, research methods, writing and problem-solving.

The social sciences are essential to understanding and evolving our society. Whether studying our origins or analyzing trends in human behavior, social scientists provide critical insights into our world and lives. 

Under the umbrella of social sciences is a broad spectrum of disciplines, including anthropology, criminology, history, geography, political science, psychology and sociology. With such a range of disciplines, the social sciences don’t point to one specific job outcome, begging the question: “What can you do with a social sciences degree?” The answer depends largely on you, your interests and the courses you take for your degree. 

Undergraduates in the social sciences bachelor’s program at Troy University, for example, gain an understanding of the branches of social science as well as training in leadership, research methods, writing and problem-solving. This comprehensive approach can lead graduates to career opportunities in social science in fields such as archaeology, politics, urban and regional planning, policy analysis and research. They’re also prepared for graduate or law school. 

Career possibilities are even more diverse and expansive for those with a graduate degree. Dr. Stephen Carmody, Chair of the Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Criminology at TROY, says a master’s degree in social science opens up a wealth of opportunities in everything from government to business. 

“Whether you want to analyze crime data for the FBI, prevent the spread of diseases or do something else, social science careers generally involve a finite set of skills. We aim to give you those skills so you can be successful in solving problems in your chosen discipline or career, regardless of which one it is,” says Dr. Carmody.

If you’re interested in politics, cultural geography, sociology or another social science field, there are few limits on what you can do with a social science degree, he adds. “The discipline you choose speaks to your personal interests. The skillset we give you will make you successful in solving problems within that interest.”

Learn Crucial Skills for Advanced Social Science Careers

The main advantage of earning your master’s degree in social science is gaining in-depth training in research methods. The master’s program at TROY emphasizes data collection, analysis, critical thinking, writing and problem-solving skills, shares Dr. Carmody. 

“I always tell my students, if you can collect data, analyze data and think critically, you can work anywhere,” he says. “Those are skills almost any employer, institution or agency will need and value. In the graduate program, you’ll hear advanced perspectives from within your discipline, but you’ll also gain advanced training in research methods, theory and statistics. That makes you really marketable, no matter your discipline.”

Alumna Rita Detrick notes that the skills and perspectives she gained in the social sciences graduate program have been incredibly valuable on her professional journey.

“My coursework involved extensive research, critical thinking and data analysis. These skills have translated seamlessly into my current role, where I’m required to gather and interpret data to identify opportunities and develop requirements for new projects and products. The analytical thinking, interdisciplinary approach and communication skills have also played a pivotal role in my career success,” she says.

Advance in Your Current Job or Prepare for Research Roles

A master’s degree in social science can help you advance in your current career or change careers altogether. It can also qualify you for higher-level roles in government agencies, politics, higher education and research — or to apply for doctoral degree programs. Dr. Carmody says TROY’s graduate program attracts students of all ages and backgrounds.

“We have students right out of undergraduate who want to conduct research and students returning from the field who are interested in teaching,” he notes. However, while a master’s in social science prepares students for academia, numerous other sectors seek out graduates with a research background.

Detrick notes, “Early on in my coursework, I noticed that many of my peers were focused on pursuing a career in academia. This is an admirable career path, but I would like to use my own experience as an example of other paths this degree can support. There are a number of private companies, nonprofits, and government entities who are looking for individuals who can help contribute to and carry forward social science related research.”

Dr. Carmody notes that you can also use a master’s degree to advance in your current field or position.

“We have career professionals who need a master’s degree to get a promotion or salary increase. Many students want to advance within law enforcement and federal agencies like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Others want to become a political scientist or sociologist. Some students just want to be more knowledgeable in their discipline so they can be more effective in their current role,” says Dr. Carmody. 

“We also have some students who have always wanted a master’s degree in social science but couldn’t pursue it earlier due to family or other obligations. TROY’s program is really open in terms of to whom it can serve,” he says. 

Discover New Career Opportunities in Social Science

While many students have a job title in mind, others come to TROY to explore different disciplines and career opportunities in social science. Often, they discover social science career options they wouldn’t otherwise know about — or be prepared for — outside of the program. 

Alumna Rita Detrick can speak to this opportunity of discovering new careers. Currently an innovation strategist at Solutions for Information Design (SOLID) in Virginia, Detrick’s career goes beyond what she imagined coming into graduate school. 

She shares, “I, and at least some of my peers, entered the program interested in research or teaching in an academic setting. I am grateful that I kept an open mind, though, because my career has been an exciting journey of growth and exploration. After graduation, I was hired by a small woman-owned business whose work centers on providing subject matter expertise, research and analysis in support of our nation’s military and civilian workforce by strengthening career pathways, guiding skill attainment, and improving communication of worker skills and abilities.”

She continues, “It is a very supportive company that has allowed me to serve in several roles as I gained experience, transitioning from a research assistant to an analyst, team lead and product owner before settling into my current role as an innovation strategist. Now, I can use the fundamental understanding of human behavior and societies that I gained at TROY to develop solutions that resonate with people and consider the human element of innovation.” 

In addition to her role as an innovation strategist, Detrick is also now pursuing a Ph.D. in educational psychology and program evaluation. 

Dr. Carmody notes that many students in the social sciences graduate program come from other disciplines and may not have a specific goal in mind.

“We see people wanting to change careers or direction all the time,” he says. “Many of our students have held careers for a long time and have realized they want to do something else, even if they don’t know exactly what that is. They just have an interest in learning about people, culture, our institutions and how to move them forward.”

As a career-changer himself, Dr. Carmody can relate. “I’m not a career academic,” he shares. “I started my undergraduate degree when I was 30 years old. I had a different career altogether and decided to go back to school because I wanted to do something else.”

This diversity in experiences is part of what makes the master’s program in social science at TROY so advantageous, he shares.

“It’s an interesting student group because you can have a recent college graduate next to someone who’s worked in the secret service for several years but always wanted a master’s degree. Everyone has something unique they can offer to other students, and it creates a community that you don’t often see elsewhere,” Dr. Carmody says.

Social Science Careers by Discipline

TROY’s graduate program allows you to choose a focus area in one of seven social sciences disciplines: anthropology, criminology, history, geography, political science, psychology or sociology. 

“The number of disciplines in the graduate program provides our students with a unique opportunity,” says Dr. Carmody. “Our students have a larger set of academic backgrounds to learn from and can tap into a much larger knowledge base than they could in programs focusing on one discipline.”

This multidisciplinary aspect helps graduates approach their chosen discipline with fresh, diverse perspectives, which helps in their careers. 

For example, Dr. Carmody explains a criminologist who understands psychology will better understand the people behind the crimes. “To understand crime, you have to understand why people commit them. To successfully prevent crime, you have to get to the root cause of it,” he adds.

Regardless of the discipline you choose, this aspect of the program gives you an advantage in the job market — and on the job. The following are some career options for each social science branch at TROY:

Social science careers in anthropology

Graduates specializing in anthropology can work in academia, federal government, nonprofit organizations, museums and corporate settings. Specific job titles include:

  • Cultural resource manager
  • International development worker
  • Ethnographer
  • Archaeologist
  • Archivist
  • Museum curator
  • Forensic anthropologist
  • Paleontologist
  • Research scientist
  • Urban planner
  • Professor 

Social science degree jobs in criminology

Master’s in social sciences graduates with the criminology emphasis go on to work for government agencies such as the ATF, FBI or DEA. They can also work in law enforcement, prisons, and other parts of the justice system at local and state levels. Specific job titles include:

  • Criminologist
  • Crime scene investigator
  • Police detective
  • FBI agent
  • Forensic scientist
  • Forensic psychologist
  • Fraud investigator
  • Private detective
  • Police officer supervisor
  • Profiler
  • Professor
  • Senior corrections officer
  • Warden

Social science degree jobs in history

Social science graduate students who focus on history can work in academia, government, education and media/communications. Specific career options include:

  • Archivist
  • Curator
  • Museum research associate
  • Historian 
  • History teacher
  • Historic preservationist
  • Legislative assistant
  • Policy analyst
  • Research analyst
  • Professor

Social science careers in geography

Social science master’s program graduates who specialize in geography can work in education, government, academia and the private sector. They can also help support urban and regional planning, civil engineering, public policy and research. 

Specific titles include:

  • Climatologist 
  • Director of land protection and stewardship
  • Environmental restoration planner
  • Geospatial analyst
  • Survey researcher
  • Park ranger
  • Professor
  • Regional planner
  • Research scientist
  • Transportation planner

Social science careers in political science

By focusing on political science at TROY, graduates can work in settings such as government agencies, private firms, lobbying agencies, law firms and research organizations. Specific jobs include:

  • Economist
  • Lobbyist 
  • Journalist
  • Political campaign manager
  • Policy analyst
  • Political scientist
  • Legislative assistant
  • Professor
  • Legislative analyst
  • Political consultant
  • International business development analyst

Social science degree jobs in psychology

With the psychology concentration, graduates can work in a wide variety of settings, from behavioral health providers to corporations. Specific jobs include:

  • Social science research assistant
  • Industrial-organizational psychologist
  • Market researcher
  • Mental health case manager
  • Public affairs specialist
  • School psychologist
  • Change management consultant
  • Professor
  • Executive coach

Graduates also go on to pursue doctoral work to become clinical psychologists, forensic psychologists, child psychologists and social psychologists.

Social science degree jobs in sociology

With the sociology concentration, graduates can take on roles in social services, government, education, politics and the private sector. Specific careers include:

  • Research assistant
  • Community researcher
  • Market research analyst
  • Sociologist
  • Sociological researcher
  • Social scientist
  • Sociology teacher
  • Professor
  • Urban developer
  • Diversity coordinator
  • City planner
  • Crime statistician
  • Violence prevention specialist

What Can You Do with a Social Sciences Degree? You Decide.

Whether you’re interested in these social sciences careers or others, the knowledge and skills you’ll gain in the master’s degree in social sciences at TROY are transferable to almost any job in virtually any industry.

“Every discipline provides a unique lens through which to look at an issue,” Dr. Carmody says. “At TROY, regardless of the lens you choose, you’ll develop a skill set that you can use in any job. With a social sciences degree, you’re not pigeonholed. You really can go anywhere.”

Learn More About TROY’s M.S. in Social Sciences Program

Discover what you can do with a social sciences degree. Explore TROY’s master’s degree in social sciences program