Social Sciences: The Study of Human Experience

The social sciences encompass a variety of fields vital to understanding human activities. In general, social science explores aspects of human society, studying and verifying through observed behaviors. Like natural scientists, social scientists conduct studies, isolate variables, and use the scientific method to draw their conclusions.

Their work is especially critical today, as we navigate the challenges of globalization, social inequality, advancing technology, and more. Social science contributes to our understanding of the intricacies of human behavior, relationships, and societies, thus playing a crucial role in shaping and influencing policy decisions, social reforms, and human interactions. It provides the framework for understanding the complex dynamics that underpin socioeconomic structures, political systems, and cultural practices.

Representation and DEI in Social Sciences

In this field, as in other realms of academia, Black and Brown scientists have historically been underrepresented. While pioneers like W.E.B. Du Bois, Patricia Hill Collins, and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva have made lasting impacts on sociology and beyond, systemic barriers and societal disparities in education and opportunities have excluded many people of color from the social sciences.

Yet diversity is a crucial need. Given that social sciences aim to comprehend the entire spectrum of human experience, it is imperative to include diverse perspectives. Without them, we risk forming a narrow, homogeneous, and often biased understanding of human societies. Diversity encourages the consideration of varied cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, socioeconomic statuses, and more, leading to richer research findings and theories.

Fostering diversity is a scholarly necessity to ensure a holistic understanding of our complex, diverse world. It’s an important step toward enhancing the depth and breadth of scientific inquiry—and toward rectifying historic imbalances. Read on to see how you can pursue a future in the social sciences and add your voice and view to our understanding of the human experience. Or, donate today to help support students’ strides toward equity and achievement in the social sciences and beyond.

How to Get Started in the Social Sciences

If you are thinking about an academic future in social science, it’s a good idea to explore the various branches of the field. This exploration can include online research, attending relevant classes or workshops, or talking to teachers and professionals in the field. This can help you discover your individual interests, skills, and affinities.

Some of the common branches of social science include the following:

  • Psychology studies the human mind and draws conclusions about the human psyche. 
  • Economics is the study of trade, resource accumulation, and production. Economics aims to understand how societies make their economic decisions and manage scarce resources.
  • Sociology is the study of human interaction, culture, and institutions. It examines the ways that various social groups interact and the problems created and solved by this interaction.
  • Political Science studies the relationships of power and government within societies. The field is concerned with how governments function, how power changes hands, and studying the behavior of citizens.

Note that these branches are rich academic fields. As such, they each have their own subdivisions depending on the university you attend. Be sure to consult our UNCF resources on each of these fields and talk to the faculty in the department.

High schoolers exploring the social sciences can also benefit from actively engaging in research projects, internships, or part-time jobs relevant to their field to gain practical experience and understand the real-world application of their theoretical knowledge. Participating in extracurricular activities, such as debate clubs, volunteer work, or social science clubs, can further enhance your understanding and skills.

Careers in Social Science

Social science graduates have a wealth of career opportunities to explore. Examples of careers in the social sciences include:

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  • Teacher: Social science is an important part of education. Whether at a primary school or post-secondary institution, you can make a career out of being a teacher. While working at a university will require a higher level degree, many primary school teachers are able to get started with just a bachelor’s degree.
  • Data Analyst: Since many of the social sciences are empirical, your education will involve working with large amounts of data. This skill can be employed as a data analyst. Data analysts interpret, model, and present data for an organization. 
  • Researcher: Success in the social sciences requires excellent research skills. Good researchers can collect, analyze, and interpret data and draw conclusions. Researchers work in various fields including marketing. Market research is a rapidly growing field, expected to see 18% growth over the next decade.

Want to learn more about this possible career path and college major? Have questions about which UNCF colleges and universities offer degrees in social science? Looking for help with financing this degree? 

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How to Prepare for Success

All social scientists need to have some basic, foundational understanding of math, critical thinking, and statistics. Supplemental fields include natural science and humanities. You should also work on developing essential skills, including research, communication, and problem solving. Building your knowledge in the realms of ethics and cultural competency will also be incredibly valuable as you pursue your social science studies.

UNCF Schools to Consider

Three UNCF-member schools offer programs for students wishing to work in the general field of social science, including:


If you have a specific social science you want to study, see if your desired university offers a major in that field.

Professional Organizations

There are thousands of organizations in various social science fields that offer more insight into different specializations. A sample list includes:

Scholarships Available

There’s no better way to start on your path to a successful career in the social sciences than with a solid financial foundation. Fortunately, many scholarships are available through UNCF, including some specifically for social science majors. Keep an eye on the UNCF website for current scholarship opportunities and announcements.

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Search for specific scholarships and view those that are currently accepting applications here! Students should also check with each college or university to see if there are additional scholarships available to study social science.

As you explore your options, be sure to use our guide to applying for scholarships and grants. You can also receive guidance by submitting a major interest form if you are interested in a career in social science. Submit the form on our website to get started. And follow us on UNCF social media channels to receive notifications about our scholarships and member HBCUs. Reach out today!

You can also show your support for students pursuing careers and furthering equity in the social sciences by making a contribution to UNCF member schools. Education is the greatest tool we have in creating a just and equitable society in which economic mobility is available to all. Help us achieve this future by donating today!