Whatever your major, chances are high that you will need to take at least one social science class as part of your degree requirements. Why? Social sciences help us understand society, its structure, and the individuals in them. Students examine how people behave, form relationships, and communicate. Thinking about such matters strengthens us as citizens, workers, and human beings.
The definition of what “counts” as a social science can vary by institution. Here’s a look at five of the most common social sciences and how they match with different careers:
Do you find human behavior fascinating? Gain a better understanding of other people – and yourself – through studying psychology. Areas covered often include personality, memory, motivation, emotions, and cognitive development.
Aspiring teachers may find child psychology particularly relevant to their future career. A class in abnormal psychology proves useful to criminal justice majors. Individuals interested in marketing, advertising, and sales benefit from figuring out how people think. And healthcare professionals turn to psychology both to better understand mind-body connections and for insight on how to deal with patients.
Students interested in changing and understanding the social world often find sociology classes intriguing. Race, religion, gender, family, crime, and organizational structure are just a few of the topics commonly covered. Expect to walk away from a sociology course with new ways of thinking about how society is structured and how that impacts both individuals and groups.
Sociology classes prove useful for individuals majoring in social work or criminal justice. They also provide a good knowledge base for students with either a personal or professional interest in tackling issues such as diversity, equality, poverty, and homelessness.
The American Anthropological Association defines anthropology as “the study of what makes us human.” Through archeology, anthropologists look at how people lived in the past. Anthropology also examines biology and genetics to see how humans differ from other animals and how groups have adapted to their environments over time. Some anthropology courses deal with how different societies communicate. Others take a sociocultural approach to look at how different cultures are structured and what is important to them.
Students interested in a career in science, communications, veterinary medicine, or museum studies particularly may find anthropology courses useful.
All societies face decisions regarding the allocation of resources. Economics looks at issues such as how goods and services are produced, how wealth is distributed, and how consumption patterns vary. It also explores things like the role of government in a nation’s economy and how policies affect the financial well-being of different groups.
Some occupational fields for which learning about economics comes in handy include business, public service, and data science.
Whether comparing government structures around the world or taking a close look at the U.S. democratic process, this discipline encourages thoughtfulness about political institutions and the people they serve. Covering issues such as justice, peace, and fair representation make these classes highly relevant to modern social movements.
Students with career interests in law, politics, journalism, and international relationships may find political science courses particularly interesting.
Whichever social science class you choose, expect to do a good amount of reading. You’ll likely cover theories of notable experts in the field as well as look at results from actual studies conducted. You may even get an opportunity to do some research of your own!