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Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Social Science and Public Affairs

For many students, pursuing a bachelor’s degree marks a significant expedition. Earning a degree requires a great deal of fortitude and inevitably delivers both challenges

and a sense of accomplishment. Students who want to embark on this potentially life- and career-enhancing journey might prefer to do so online, such as with an Online Bachelors Degree in Social Science. Online education, much of which may be offered through accredited colleges and universities, may give students who work fulltime, have a calendar full of obligations, live distant from the program of their choice, or otherwise prefer digital programming, an opportunity to fulfill their dreams.

Online bachelors degree in social science and public affairs programs may be appealing to students in the situations mentioned above, or they might appeal to students who want to be free. Perhaps they travel extensively, work or live in countries without English-language curricula, or otherwise prefer a non-traditional form of education. To learn more about online bachelor’s degree programs in social science and public affairs, read on.  

Online Bachelors Degree in Social Science and Public Affairs: The Essentials

Public affairs and the social science cover a broad range of fields and disciplines. When you think of public affairs and social science, think of fields and disciplines concerned with society, individuals, and the relationship between the two. Everything from government and political science to psychology and sociology could fit within these categories. Programs in these categories could focus on the individual and how the individual relates to other individuals or groups of people in society, or they could focus on society and how the construction of society (whether through family, communities, or government, for example) interacts with the individual. If you’re interested in this type of inquiry, online public affairs and social science bachelor’s degree programs could be perfect for you.  

Online public affairs and social sciences bachelor’s degree programs may help you develop the knowledge and skills you need to pursue a career in these kinds of areas. In many cases, students pursue an online bachelors degree in social science in four to five years of fulltime study. They may complete anywhere from 110 to 130 credits including their general education, major, elective, and internship requirements. Some programs offer fast-track options where students complete the same number of credits but in two to three years of intensive study.

Hot tip: Online education may free you up to travel, work, and otherwise live life even while you pursue a degree. Perhaps you can head to Geneva as you study international relations, the Galapagos as you study environmental science, or Washington D.C. as you study political science. Maybe you can find internship or volunteer opportunities that help you enhance your learning and skillset. Or perhaps you can simply enjoy a more flexible schedule so that you can pursue other areas of life that are important to you. Online education may provide you the freedom to design school around life instead of designing life around school.  

The Nitty Gritty of Online Social Science and Public Affairs Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Types of Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Social Science and Public Affairs

There are several types of bachelor’s degrees you might pursue in public affairs and the social sciences online. Some primary ones include the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), the Bachelor of Science (B.S.), the Bachelor of Social Science (B.Soc.Sc.), and the Bachelor of Public Administration (B.P.A.). While students typically pursue a B.P.A. or B.Soc.Sc. in very specific areas (public administration or the field of social science itself, for example), students might pursue a B.A. or B.S. in a variety of subjects, such as psychology, sociology, human services, government, and others.

Perhaps obvious given their titles, Bachelor of Arts programs generally emphasize the social sciences and humanities (sometimes referred to as the “arts”). Bachelor of Science programs generally emphasize the physical and biological sciences. In a B.S. in psychology program, for example, your studies might focus on the biological components of psychology. In a B.A. in psychology program, your studies might focus on the social component of psychology. B.S. programs tend to be less interdisciplinary and include more science and math courses. B.A. programs tend to be more interdisciplinary. These differences between a B.A. and B.S. program are typical, but not all B.A. and B.S. programs fit the profile. Ultimately, you’ll have to read about a B.A. or B.S. program’s curriculum and objectives to determine what you’ll study and what type of knowledge you might pursue.

Potential Curricula in Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Social Science and Public Affairs 

Bachelor of Public Affairs and Social Sciences programs generally emphasize an interdisciplinary or science-based exploration of areas of public administration and social sciences. When you pursue a bachelor’s degree in public affairs or the social sciences, you’ll likely take core and elective courses to complete your major. To complete your core coursework, you might study the key theories, philosophies, and applications of your primary field or discipline (such as psychology, sociology, government, human development, and others). Depending on your degree type and discipline, you might also study subjects such as research methodologies, scientific inquiry, statistics, and economics as part of your core curriculum. Core curricula is typically designed to give students a sense of their discipline overall. Here are some specific examples of what you might study as part of your core curriculum:

  • Introduction to psychology, sociology, human development, environmental science, or another subject based on your major
  • Research methodologies (qualitative and quantitative) in your discipline and field
  • Different leveled courses in your discipline (psychology 100, 200, and 300, for example) that progressively build your knowledge in key areas (such as developmental, abnormal, and health psychology in a psychology program; comparative politics, political economy, and international relations in a political science program; or biology, chemistry, and physics in an environmental science program)
  • A seminar or capstone course that brings together the many subjects you’ve studied within your discipline (students typically take courses like these their last semester)

To complete your elective coursework, you’ll likely study more nuanced and specific areas of your discipline and field. You might dive deeper into subjects you already studied as part of your core curriculum, or you might study completely new areas. Elective curricula typically helps students develop their knowledge in an area of interest and pursue concentrated knowledge and skills in a particular area. Here are some examples of what you might study as part of your elective curriculum:

  • In a psychology program: memory and cognition, learning and motivation, or sensation and perception, for example
  • In a political science program: conflict resolution, mass communication, or law and ethics, for example
  • In an environmental sciences program: world geography, environmental law and politics of a particular region, or conservation biology, for example

These are just some of numerous subjects you might study as part of your elective curricula. To determine whether or not a program covers the types of subjects you would like to study, look carefully at its core and elective curriculum.

How Might an Online Bachelors Degree in Social Science and Public Affairs Be Structured?

Whether you pursue an online Bachelors Degree in Social Science, a Bachelor of the Arts, or a Bachelor of Science, some aspects of your online program are likely to be similar if not the same. For example, online programs are typically offered 100 percent online or in a hybrid format in which students spend some time online and some time on campus. In hybrid programs, students might have to take courses or otherwise meet with classmates and teachers on a weekly, monthly, once-per-semester, or annual basis. To determine a given program’s on-campus requirements, read its description closely and talk to an academic advisor.

Another thing to consider when looking for an online program is whether or not the program requires lab work, an internship, or another component that requires non-digital work or interaction. In programs with requirements like these, you might work with an academic advisor to set up an internship in your home city, or you might work with a partner college to complete lab work. In some programs, you might utilize advanced or specialized technology to fulfill these types of obligations. Ask any schools you’re interested in for more details on what technology or options they might offer to their online learners.

As you browse through your online options, you might notice that some programs are asynchronous while others are synchronous. Asynchronous programs, perhaps the majority, enable students to access course materials at times convenient to them. While students might still be obligated to complete assignments and courses by a certain time and date, they are able to access the coursework whenever they want. In synchronous programs, perhaps the minority, students must access coursework at scheduled times from their own locations.i  If you want a completely flexible, free schedule, check with an advisor to confirm that an online program is asynchronous. 

Finally, pay close attention to a school’s accreditation status. Some careers require students to acquire certification or licensure to work in particular capacities. If you study in one of those fields, you might need to do so at an accredited school to be able to apply or test for certification. Also, if you plan to one day pursue a graduate degree, you might need to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. You can check a school’s accreditation status through the college or university itself and the U.S. Department of Education.ii

Did you know? 24 percent of online students never set foot on a college campus during their degree program. 32 percent did just 1 to 2 times, and 25 percent did just 3 to 5 times. In programs with little to no requirement to set foot on a college campus, you’ll find yourself free from the constraints of driving to campus, finding parking (and paying for it!), navigating buildings on campus, and otherwise devoting time to on-campus education. Instead, you could just login! How simple is that?

How Do I Find an Online Bachelors Degree in Social Sciences or Public Affairs?

If you want to pursue your bachelors degree in social sciences or public affairs online, it’s time to take action. eLearners makes it easy. Here you’ll find a list of sponsored programs across disciplines. Whether you want to pursue a bachelor’s of social science, a bachelor’s of arts, a bachelor’s of science, or another bachelor’s degree, we likely have options for you. You can begin your search by browsing the sponsored listings on this page, or you can refine your search using our search tool. When you find a program of interest, click the hyperlink or request additional information. Through those functions, you can learn more details and contact a program directly. Feel free to contact as many programs as you like: Knowledge is power when it comes to finding your perfect online program. Begin your search now. Good luck!


[i]nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009044.pdf [ii]ope.ed.gov/accreditation/

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