Humanities vs Social Science. Which Degree to Study in 2021?

Ready to study abroad, but don’t know what to choose between Humanities and Social Science? If you’re not sure about the differences between these two disciplines, you’re not alone. The fact that both disciplines have the same focus is what creates problems.

The key is to understand the different approaches of Humanities and Social Science. And that’s what we’ll describe in this article, together with other relevant points.

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Humanities vs Social Science – What’s the difference?

Humanities and Social Science focus on the same topic: humans and our evolution and behaviour in social and cultural contexts. That’s great but… what’s the difference?

Humanities is a discipline that uses an analytical and critical approach. Humanities is the subjective study of humans, our history, culture, and societies. During a Humanities degree, you won’t need to conduct any scientific research.

Social Science uses a scientific and evidence-based approach. Social Science is the objective study of humanity and its past, present, and future (based on trends and predictions). During a Social Science degree, you will conduct scientific research because all findings are based on empirical data.

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Humanities vs Social Science specialisations

Both Humanities and Social Science have a wide range of branches. To get you started, we’ve listed some of them below, but keep in mind that other specialisations are available:

Humanities specialisations

Social Science specialisations

Humanities vs Social Science classes

The classes you’ll take during a Humanities or Social Science degree will depend on your specialisation. We’ll list a few courses as examples, but the curriculum won’t be the same for each study programme or university.

Humanities classes

  • History: Historical Theory, World History, Roman History, Medieval History, etc.
  • Philosophy: Philosophical Ethics, Metaphysics and Epistemology, Human Rights, etc.
  • Literature: Medieval Literature, Renaissance Literature, Contemporary Fiction, etc.
  • Languages: Applied Modern Languages, Cultural Translation, Speech Analysis, etc.
  • Religious Studies: Interreligious Studies, Sacred Texts, Foundations of Worship, etc.

Social Science classes

  • Anthropology: Social Thought, Writing Cultures, Social and Cultural Theory, etc.
  • Economics: Statistics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Economic Methods, etc.
  • Political Science: Comparative Politics, Political Theory, Conflict and Power, etc.
  • Psychology: Personalities Theory, Cognitive Psychology, Psychology Ethics, etc.
  • Sociology: Quantitative and Qualitative Methods, Social Research Strategies, etc.

Top universities where you can study Humanities or Social Science

Based on criteria like academic reputation, employer reputation, and citations per published papers, the following are the top-ranked universities and colleges for Humanities and Social Science studies:

Best Humanities universities

Check out other top-ranked Humanities schools.

Best Social Science universities

Explore the full Social Science ranking created by Times Higher Education.

Of course, these are only a few examples. There are other rankings and top-ranked universities out there, so feel free to check them out:

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Skills you’ll develop with a Humanities or Social Science degree

The skills and abilities you’ll develop will once again vary based on — you’ve guessed it — the subdiscipline you choose. Depending on which one you choose, you can develop skills like:

  • Analysis and synthesis of data
  • Creation of reports and detailed presentations, summaries
  • Clear and effective communication (oral and written)
  • Creative and critical thinking
  • Performance evaluation and feedback sharing
  • Empirical and quantitative reasoning
  • Time management, tasks assignment and delegation

Humanities vs Social Science jobs and salaries

Regardless of what some people say, Humanities — just like Social Science — open the doors to exciting careers and well-paid jobs.

The soft skills you’ll develop during classes are appreciated and sought after in any field; combine that with digital skills and advanced knowledge in your favourite discipline, and you have a winning combination.

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Here are only some of the most popular jobs for Humanities and Social Science graduates. We’ve also included the average salaries in the US based on PayScale data:

Humanities jobs and salaries

  • Copywriter – 52,830 USD/year
  • Public Relations (PR) Specialist – 49,500 USD/year
  • Journalist – 40,800 USD/year
  • Human Resources (HR) Specialist – 51,510 USD/year
  • Professor (higher education) – 88,500 USD/year

Social Science jobs and salaries

  • Political Scientist – 55,990 USD/year
  • Economist – 77,300 USD/year
  • Sociologist – 56,050 USD/year
  • Psychologist – 78,240 USD/year
  • Anthropologist – 52,130 USD/year

Conclusions

Both Humanities and Social Science study human beings, our cultures, and societies. However, Humanities have a subjective, critical-thinking or opinion-based approach. Social Science has an objective approach based on research and scientific evidence.

Due to the way these disciplines overlap, some specialisations like Archaeology or Linguistics could fall in either the Humanities or the Social Science category.

Despite popular misconceptions, the soft skills developed during Humanities courses can help graduates develop lucrative careers in various fields.

To succeed in either discipline, you’ll need an honest passion and curiosity for our species, behaviour, and society as a whole.

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