The 20 Best Online Bachelor’s in Social Science Degree Programs

by TBS Staff
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An online bachelor’s degree in social science covers all aspects of human society and social life, from small groups to large–scale institutions. In this age of globalization and diversity, the multidisciplinary field of social science provides clarity about issues of culture, class, race, and gender, with an emphasis on research and data analysis. Graduates with a social science bachelor’s degree pursue many interesting career paths, including teaching, social services, survey research, and market analysis. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment in social science occupations will grow by 10% from 2016 to 2026.

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Online Bachelor’s in Social Science Degree Program Ranking Guidelines

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We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

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Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

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The Best Online Bachelor's in Social Science Degree Programs

  1. University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $14386

    Situated 13 miles east of downtown Orlando, UCF’s main campus boasts a student body of more than 66,000 individuals — the largest single-campus enrollment in the United States. Offering more than 200 majors through 13 colleges, the university also maintains 10 regional campuses throughout the state, as well as a robust online education program.

    UCF’s web-based BS in social science takes a multidisciplinary approach to the field, providing a solid foundation of broadly-applicable theoretical knowledge, communication strategies, and research skills. After declaring a major from 13 available options, candidates must select three minors from different departments, which include anthropology, communications, political science, psychology, and sociology. Prior to graduation, students must complete one research methods course and one statistics course. Learners are also required to take an exit exam, although they do not need to receive a passing score. Program graduates are prepared to pursue entry-level positions in a variety of fields, or apply to a master’s program at UCF or beyond.

    Along with their application, prospective students should provide high school or home school transcripts, any relevant college transcripts, and SAT or ACT scores. Like their on-campus counterparts, online students can earn honors awards, join undergraduate research teams, and pursue internships in the social sciences. Distance learners also receive access to UCF’s library, academic resources, advisors, writing center, and career services office.

  2. University of Washington-Seattle Campus
    Location

    Seattle, WA

    Tuition

    $14196

    Located in the heart of the Puget Sound metro area, UW’s main campus serves more than 46,000 students every year. Home to seven Nobel Prize winners and 15 MacArthur Fellows, UW is also widely recognized for maintaining one of the world’s largest university libraries. Learners may pursue one of 606 degree options available at three campus locations and online.

    Combining asynchronous and cohort learning formats, UW’s 185-credit bachelor of arts in integrated social sciences program lets distance learners complete assignments and review course materials at their convenience. Coursework is divided into seven core thematic areas that explore various aspects of the field, from technology and health practices to intercultural power relations. Classes address a variety of unique and engaging topics, including social science theory in context, black cultural studies, Filipino histories, and social justice in the city. Prior to graduation, learners complete a capstone experience, in which they create, publish, and present a comprehensive portfolio that demonstrates their acquired knowledge and skills. Part-time students typically earn their bachelor of social science in three to four years, while those enrolled full-time may complete the program in as little as one year.

    Prospective students must hold at least 75 transferable quarter credits from a regionally accredited college or university and a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. UW operates on a quarter system, and new cohorts begin every spring and fall.

  3. Dickinson State University
    Location

    Dickinson, ND

    Tuition

    $10592

    Dickinson State University was established in 1918 with the goal of training teachers in rural North Dakota. Today, DSU is a public four-year institution and a member of the North Dakota University System. DSU serves just over 2,700 students and offers majors in more than 75 fields, including an online bachelor of arts in composite social science [PDF].

    The 120-credit social science bachelor’s degree curriculum introduces foundational critical thinking skills, social science theories, and quantitative and qualitative research methods. In addition to completing mandatory general, major, and elective coursework, students must declare a minor and fulfill a foreign language requirement. Over 60 hours of major-related coursework, learners explore the major principles of sociology, modern American culture and government, and microeconomics. Other classes address geography, world civilizations, and basic concepts in political science. The program culminates in a research-focused capstone seminar. Full-time students typically earn their degree in around four years.

    Prospective DSU students must provide documentation of having completed four units of English, three units of mathematics (Algebra one and above), three units of laboratory science, and three units of social studies at the high school level. Applicants under the age of 25 must also hold an ACT score of at least 18 or an SAT score of 940 or higher. Tuition rates vary considerably, depending on the student’s state of residence. DSU maintains a tuition reciprocity agreement with the state of Minnesota, and residents of states contiguous to North Dakota receive a significant tuition discount.

  4. New York University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $35110

    Known for offering world-class academic programs, this private university counts 36 Nobel Laureates, 30 Academy Award winners, and 30 Pulitzer Prize winners among its alumni. NYU serves a combined student body of 50,000 at campus locations in New York City, Shanghai, and Abu Dhabi, while its School of Professional Studies offers accessible online and hybrid programs.

    Based on a solid liberal arts foundation, NYU’s bachelor of arts in social sciences develops analytical, critical thinking, and writing skills. Building upon prior knowledge, the core curriculum strengthens fundamental competencies in expository writing, critical thinking, and mathematical reasoning. Degree candidates also complete 20 credit hours of concentration coursework related to their chosen sub-field of social science. Students may select from 12 available concentrations, including anthropology, international studies, economics, and organizational behavior and change. While program length varies slightly according to concentration, most students complete 128 to 130 credit hours before earning a bachelor’s degree in social science. Most NYU’s online courses are presented in an asynchronous format, although some may require virtual meetings and discussion sessions.

    Program applicants must hold an associate degree or 60 transferable college credits. A minimum GPA of 3.3 is preferred, but not required. Along with an application, prospective students should submit a current resume, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Students may receive prior learning credit by submitting a portfolio, undergoing proficiency exams, or demonstrating sufficient knowledge of a foreign language.

  5. Troy University
    Location

    Troy, AL

    Tuition

    $13123

    Troy is one of the Alabama’s fastest growing cities, and Troy University is expanding right along with it. As the state’s third-largest higher education institution, Troy educates more than 18,000 students at its four Alabama campuses and 60 teaching sites scattered across 17 states and 11 foreign countries. Along with many traditional and hybrid programs at multiple degree levels, the university offers numerous web-based degrees in a variety of disciplines. Distance learners have a diverse selection of undergraduate majors to choose from, and many pursue degrees in European history, criminal justice, business, or a bachelor’s degree in social science.

    Consisting of 120 credits, the social science bachelor’s degree program incorporates concepts from multiple disciplines, including anthropology, economics, and geography. Major coursework emphasizes critical thinking, the statistical and spatial applications of social science inquiry, and scholarly research methodologies. Learners also complete 21 credit hours within one of three concentrations. In addition to a general social science concentration, students may pursue a geography track, or a leadership concentration intended for prospective educators. Full-time learners typically complete the program in around four years, and many graduates go on to pursue entry-level roles in public affairs, social work, and criminal justice.

    Freshman applicants must hold a high school diploma or a GED, and prospective students under the age of 25 should also provide official ACT or SAT scores. Troy accepts an unlimited number of transfer credits earned at accredited institutions.

  6. Washington State University
    Location

    Pullman, WA

    Tuition

    $17663

    WSU’s reputation as a top-tier research university stretches back to 1890, when this land-grant school was established to provide residents of southeastern Washington with agricultural and industrial training. Today, WSU is the second-largest higher education institution in the state, with four research facilities, one campus extension location in every county, and a thriving eLearning division.

    One of WSU’s most flexible web-based programs, the bachelor in social science online degree curriculum presents numerous specialization opportunities. Candidates may select up to three concentrations in areas such as anthropology, comparative ethnic studies, criminal justice, and economics. Students have the option of choosing two concentrations and completing 24 credits in the primary area and 15 in the secondary, or three nine-credit concentrations and 12 elective credits in the social sciences. Learners must also fulfill a foreign language requirement, and complete 12 credits in the humanities and eight hours of lab-based natural science coursework.

    Distance learners enjoy numerous resources, including personalized academic assistance through the Virtual Mentor program and round-the-clock access to streaming media archives. Lab materials are automatically mailed to students at the start of each semester, ensuring that online learners are fully prepared to participate in classes.

    While the program normally takes four years to complete, individuals who have earned an associate degree at select institutions may finish their degree in two years or less. Distance Tuition rates are based on state of residence and overall course load.

  7. Brandman University
    Location

    Irvine, CA

    Tuition

    $17042

    Brandman University is a private, non-profit institution that specializes in creating flexible, affordable academic programs for working adults. Operating according to a competency-based education model, Brandman encourages learners to draw on their life experiences and professional backgrounds for course credit and academic inspiration. The California-based university’s robust distance learning division offers 31 web-based undergraduate programs, many of which feature accelerated curriculums and self-paced coursework.

    Using cutting-edge technology, students pursuing a BA in integrated social sciences acquire crucial data analysis skills as they explore the connections between people, culture, and geography. Major requirements for the 45-credit curriculum emphasize research design, quantitative methods, and statistical models used across multiple disciplines. Building upon this base knowledge, elective courses provide opportunities for the in-depth study of two or more specialized fields. Learners may personalize their experience by selecting courses in social work, marketing, legal studies, and seven other areas before synthesizing their acquired knowledge in a final capstone course.

    Prospective social science bachelor’s degree candidates must hold 12 or more undergraduate course credits with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 from a regionally accredited school. Those without sufficient college experience may earn the required credits through the Brandman Track program, which offers traditional online and self-paced options. The four-course curriculum takes eight or four weeks to complete, depending on format. Per-credit unit tuition rates are identical for in- and out-of-state students.

  8. Excelsior College
    Location

    Albany, NY

    Tuition

    $15500

    This Albany, New York institution got its start in 1971 as an external degree program and continues to offer most of its programs through distance education. A large percentage of Excelsior’s 36,000 students are employed full-time, and more than half are over the age of 30. The university offers over 30 degrees in five fields of study, including a web-based bachelor of science in social sciences.

    Degree candidates complete 60 credits of arts and sciences coursework and 60 in applied professional courses, along with at least 33 elective credits. Core requirements include one course related to social or economic organization, two research-based classes, and a 3-credit capstone course. Elective options cover a variety of engaging topics, from social contemporary social problems and globalization to lifespan developmental psychology. Students must maintain a cumulative 2.0 GPA throughout the program to graduate, and most full-time distance learners earn their degree in just under three years.

    Transfer students pursuing a bachelor of social science online degree at Excelsior may count up to 117 credits toward program requirements. The university also grants credit for completing college-level exams such as AP or CLEP, professional education, work experience, and military training. Excelsior offers interest-free monthly tuition payment plans, and active-duty military personnel and their families receive significant tuition discounts. Students employed at partner organizations are also eligible for reduced rates.

  9. Kansas State University
    Location

    Manhattan, KS

    Tuition

    $15821

    Located between Kansas City and Salina, KSU is the state’s oldest public university. Established in 1858 as a land- and space-grant agricultural institute, KSU now educates almost 23,000 students in 65 academic departments. The university’s Global Campus initiative features over 70 online degrees and professional programs, including a bachelor of science in interdisciplinary social science.

    This 120-credit curriculum encompasses nine related content areas, including economics, history, anthropology, geography, and mass communications. Learners examine societal institutions and culture through the lens of each discipline, acquiring a solid foundation of broadly-applicable theoretical knowledge. General education coursework underscores themes introduced by major courses, presenting research methodologies and developing competencies in academic writing, quantitative reasoning, and statistical analysis. After receiving full admission to the university, students may enroll in up to 21 credits per semester. A cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher is required to graduate.

    Courses are presented in several different formats, and often include teleconferences, live streaming lectures, and virtual group discussions. A few classes may require students to arrange proctored exams at local facilities.

    KSU accepts applications during the spring, summer, and fall semesters. Applicants with more than 24 transfer credits must hold a GPA of 2.0 or higher, while prospective students transferring fewer than 24 college credits are required to meet KSU’s admissions standards for incoming freshmen. All students pay the same tuition costs per credit regardless of Kansas residency status.

  10. Colorado State University-Global Campus
    Location

    Greenwood Village, CO

    Tuition

    $15747

    CSU Global was founded in 2007 to educate adult learners throughout Colorado and beyond. Committed to providing quality academic programs in flexible formats, CSU Global strives to make higher education affordable as well as accessible. The university has not raised the cost of tuition in over six years, and prior to enrollment, every student’s tuition rates are frozen for the duration of their education. Today, more than 19,000 distance learners pursue one of CSU Global’s 14 bachelor’s degrees and 12 master’s degrees every year.

    Intended for applicants with at least 12 transferable credit hours from another accredited institution, CSU Global’s bachelor in applied social sciences completion program offers a rigorous introduction to the field. Over the course of 120 credit hours, learners explore a variety of pertinent topics, such as applied organizational psychology, community development, and ethnic relations. Students are also encouraged to select an area of specialization from 22 options that include criminal forensics, marketing, and public and non-profit management. Before earning a bachelor’s degree in social science, candidates complete both a research-based capstone course and a practicum experience at a nearby setting.

    Prospective CSU Global students with fewer than 12 college-level credits, or whose GPA falls below a 2.3 should contact the university about alternative admissions options. Tuition rates are identical for in- and out-of-state learners, and numerous institutional scholarships are available to students who demonstrate significant financial need or academic excellence.

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Choosing an Online Bachelor’s in Social Science Program

A bachelor of social science online degree exposes students to social science disciplines, research applications, and tools for analysis most commonly used in these perspectives. Coursework in economics, sociology, anthropology, history, political science, research methods, and statistics make up some of the coursework within these programs, typically requiring four years of full–time study to complete. The social science curriculum emphasizes the acquisition of skills like verbal and written communication, critical thinking, decision making, and problem solving. Some programs may require students to complete an internship, an independent research project, or some other practical experience prior to graduation.

A bachelor’s degree in social science creates a steppingstone to a variety of career opportunities. While many social science majors decide to pursue graduate education or a professional degree, others choose to enter the job market directly after earning their bachelor’s degree, finding entry–level positions in many occupational fields related to their major. A bachelor of social science degree provides a strong foundation for master’s and doctoral programs in social science–related fields, such as anthropology, psychology, sociology, or political science. A social science online degree can benefit students planning to continue in professional programs like law, social work, and health sciences.

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What Will I Learn in an Online Bachelor’s in Social Science Program?

Featured Online Schools

Each school offering a bachelor of social science online degree establishes its own distinctive requirements and curriculum. However, all programs provide students with a comprehensive overview of the major, including core social sciences courses and specialized fields of study. Many programs also allow students to select areas of interest within one or more of the social science perspectives.

Research Methods in the Social Sciences
This course introduces students to the common research methods in the social sciences, principles of social science research, and ethical responsibilities of researchers. A major section of the course includes an independent research project that requires students to define a research problem, write a proposal, collect empirical data, and analyze and report findings.
Race and Ethnic Relations
The intersection of race and ethnicity with other structures of identity formation, such as gender, class, and nationality, occupies a central place in the study of social science with relevance to many professional and organizational environments. This course examines race and ethnicity as social constructions, stereotypes, prejudice and institutional discrimination, color–blind racism, immigration, and global racial and ethnic conflict.
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Online Bachelor’s in Social Science Careers

With its focus on all aspects of human behavior, a bachelor’s degree in social science leads to many career opportunities. The social science degree provides a foundation for employment in teaching or social work, and it delivers a solid preparation for graduate school. Graduates with research and data analysis skills may find employment in marketing research and related fields.

Market Research Analyst
Market research analysts gather and interpret data on consumer behavior and market conditions. They also review and forecast potential demand for a company’s products or services, using statistical software packages. This career requires at least a bachelor’s degree with training in social science, research methods, and statistics. Some positions require a master’s degree in marketing, statistics, or a related field.
  • Median Annual Salary: $63,230
  • Projected Growth Rate: 23%
High School Teacher
These teachers instruct students from grades 9-12, preparing them to enter the workforce or attend college. Most states require that high school teachers possess a bachelor’s degree with a major in a teachable subject area, such as the social sciences along with education courses. Public school teachers must also possess a state-issued certification.
  • Median Annual Salary: $59,170
  • Projected Growth Rate: 8%
Social Worker
Social workers may be employed as family specialists, school advisors, health care advocates and substance abuse counselors. Entry-level positions are available for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in social work or the social sciences. Clinical social workers must complete an MSW degree and obtain a license in the state where they practice.
  • Median Annual Salary: $47,980
  • Projected Growth Rate: 16%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Accreditation for Online Bachelor’s in Social Science Degrees

When deciding on a school for your bachelor of social science online degree, be sure to investigate the institution’s accreditation. The process of accreditation verifies that schools have been evaluated by independent, external agencies to ensure that these colleges and universities deliver quality programs and continue to meet appropriate performance standards.

Two types of accreditation are available to institutions of higher education: regional and national. Most schools — nearly 85% — seek regional accreditation, more widely respected and generally considered more prestigious than national accreditation. Both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation provide useful information and links to help you determine if a school, department, or program has received accreditation.

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Social Science Professional Organizations

The most successful students take the time to learn about career opportunities and what it takes to stand out in the competitive job market. Professional organizations allow students to network with others in the field and acquire the skills needed to enter a career or pursue graduate work. These associations in social science often offer membership discounts for undergraduate students and provide access to educational workshops, employment services, and resume help.

Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management
APPAM hosts a network of educators and researchers in public policy fields. Social science students considering a career in public policy may apply for a student membership that includes a mentor program, job placement, and conference attendance.
American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences
AABSS provides networking opportunities for faculty, scholars, and students through a forum to share social science research. The association hosts an annual conference that showcases behavioral and social science scholarships.
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