Undergraduate Public Affairs and Social Science Degrees

Public Affairs and Social Science Degrees offer undergraduates many options for initiating or potentially growing a career in a field that entails corporate and social ...

responsibility, including human services and environmental policy. In order to work in a social science occupation, most roles entail at minimum an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree although advancement often requires a graduate degree.[i] Whether you are looking to enter the job market after graduation or are looking at undergraduate degrees in social science and public affairs as a platform for continued education, there are a variety of exciting programs to choose from!

Public-Affairs-Social-Sciences degree programs

Public Affairs and Social Science Degrees: Basics

Public Affairs and Social Science Degrees are offered as 2-year Associate’s degree and 4-year Bachelor’s Degrees in academic disciplines that span issue management, government relations and organizational behavior. Prospective applicants should have obtained a High School Diploma or GED; other requirements vary by school and the type of program. Aside from classroom learning, one might encounter an internship or fieldwork component. 


At all education levels, degrees are offered in human services, counseling, social work, and psychology. Most programs require some fieldwork, such as an internship, in order for students to gain practical experience working with clients. The level of education generally dictates the type of work someone may perform and the amount of responsibility he or she may be given[i]

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What Are Public Affairs?

Public Affairs as an academic discipline is often a sub-field of public relations, but is also concerned with any relationships that are built or developed between organizations and politicians, governments and other decision-makers within communities and societies. Public affairs professionals often study or form public policy[iii] 

What Are Social Science Degrees?

Degrees in Social Sciences span many academic disciplines and are focused around societies and the relationship of people within them. The main social sciences include:[iv]

  • Economics
  • Political Science
  • Human Geography
  • Demography
  • Sociology
  • Humanities (e.g. psychology, anthropology)

Types of Public Affairs & Social Science Programs

Since there are different angles to Public Affairs and Social Science Degrees, meaning you may want to work in a human-centered field or just focus on public administration, one of the things you can do to find the right program for yourself is use our subject selection directory. Here you can search specifically for:

Counseling psychology Undergraduate Degrees: Typically, Counseling Psychologists need a Ph.D. or Psy.D; undergraduate programs may be preliminary degrees or offer basic training in addictions or substance abuse counseling[v]

Human Services Undergraduate Degrees: An interdisciplinary field, some undergraduate programs train students to work as human services assistants. This may involve helping others to become more self-sufficient or evaluating a client’s needs to be able to provide practical assistance to different populations (homeless, elderly, addicts).[vi]

Emergency Management Undergraduate Degrees: A sub-field of public affairs, emergency managers work in public administration and help prepare plans and protocols for responding to natural disasters and other threats to safety.[vii]

Psychology Undergraduate Degrees: If you are interested in studying the brain and behavior, psychologists treat emotional and mental disorders; a bachelor’s degree in psychology is associated with careers in business administration, sales or education and a base for a graduate degree.[viii]

Sociology Undergraduate Degrees: Undergraduate sociology majors may find jobs in social services, education or public policy, sociology research assistants; advanced jobs require a graduate degree.[ix]

Degrees in Social Science & Public Affairs

Once you have located a program, you can select the degree level. Most careers in Community and Social Services require a Bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree, although to work as a social and human services assistant an associate’s degree is fairly common (whether in human services, social or behavioral sciences or gerontology)[x]. In terms of undergraduate degrees, Associates degrees are offered as Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.) and Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.). The A.A. and A.S. are generally considered transfer credit degrees towards a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.). The A.A.S. is considered a vocational degree. Bachelor degrees are typically offered as Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science.

Campus or Online?

You have now found the right program and degree level and are ready to consider whether you are interested in attending classes on-campus or through a distance learning option. Campus programs offer a social learning setting where you can participate in your college activities, grow your networks and learn through face-to-face interaction which may build essential interpersonal skills for human-centered careers. On the other hand, if you are currently a working student or fall in love with a program that is too far to commute to, online Public Affairs and Social Science Degrees may appeal to you for the convenience offered. Another option that may be on the table is a hybrid degree which blends distance-learning with some low-residency intensives (to develop those people skills and leadership abilities). Whatever your needs, search by ‘online’, ‘campus’ or ‘hybrid’ to narrow your results.


Accreditation in the United States can be awarded at both the programmatic and institutional levels. The U.S. Department of education and the Council for Education in Higher Learning are national accreditation agencies who have designated around 6 regional accrediting agencies. In terms of specific programs, check within your field to see what employers or graduate schools are looking for.

Continued Education

The great news is that many different careers may be available to you through continued education and certainly, many options exist for Graduate Public Affairs and Social Science Degrees. Some students may earn a Master in Social Work (MSW), a Master of Public Affairs (MPA), a Masters in Mental Health Counseling, or a Doctoral Degree in Psychology. The type of occupation you are interested in usually has specific degree requirements; think ahead and choose an undergraduate program that supports your next degree.

Take the Next Step

Whether you are interested in helping others as a case worker, analyzing behavior to help a client overcome an addiction, or managing a team of relief workers, Public Affairs and Social Science Degrees span much territory. Initiate your search for an undergraduate program by reviewing our extensive directory of sponsored listings such as B.S. in Human Services-Addictions, A.A. Psychology, Bachelor of Applied Science in Emergency Management or B.S. in Sociology with an emphasis in Social Work among many more options. Remember that each college has unique features and curriculums so reach out to request more information from prospective schools, it will help you make your decision.

sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/home.htm |[ii] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2011/fall/art03.pdf |[iii] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_affairs_industry |[iv] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_science |[v] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/home.htm |[vi] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-and-human-service-assistants.htm |[vii] bls.gov/ooh/management/emergency-management-directors.htm |[viii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm |[ix] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/sociologists.htm |[x] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-and-human-service-assistants.htm 


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