Public Affairs and Social Sciences both focus on the concerns of society. These include economics, government, public health, and human relationships.
Public Affairs deals with relationships among governments, organizations, and the public. This field includes topics like corporate ethics, social responsibility, and lobbying.
The Social Sciences cover a much broader area. They include everything from anthropology (the study of humans) to social work. In general, the Social Sciences include disciplines concerned with the individual and society.
written by Rana Waxman
The Master of Public Affairs (MPA) is a common graduate degree in this field. The program covers policy, economics, analysis, and more. You can also find other graduate programs that relate to public affairs. Examples include degrees in public administration, public policy, or political science.
Most social sciences graduate programs focus on one discipline in this broad category. For example, you could pursue a Master of Public Health or Master of Social Work program. Other social sciences include psychology, sociology, history…and the list goes on!
A Social Sciences degree or Public Affairs degree could help you prepare for diverse career paths. Many careers fit under the category of Life, Physical, and Social Sciences. These roles are projected to grow 10% by 2026. That means about 124,800 new jobs could be added to this field.
The social sciences may see growth due to an increased need for scientific expertise. That’s particularly true for fields like psychology. Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists may be in demand for a couple of reasons. For one, more people are seeking mental health treatment. For two, growing populations like aging adults need specialized services.
When it comes to public affairs, Urban and Regional Planners may be in demand. This career path could see 13% more roles by 2026. Changes to demographics, plus the need to revitalize urban areas, may lead to growth in this occupation.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Degree programs in social sciences and public affairs span diverse career areas. So, you could take your studies in many different directions.
Careers in the social sciences range from archeologist to sociologist. But in between are some more common career paths that could have an impact on many lives. These include:
Earning a Master’s in Public Affairs could help you prepare for career paths in public service. For example, Political Scientists often earn an MPA or a related degree, like a Master of Public Policy.
Some Political Scientists work as policy analysts for organizations like labor unions or political groups. Others conduct research in national politics or international relations. The largest employer of Political Scientists is the federal government. But, these professionals could work for nonprofits, education institutions, and more.
|Urban and Regional Planners||$71,490||36,000|
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|District of Columbia||3,220||$120,610|
|Social Work||Delaware State University||MSW|
|Certificate in Developing World Bioethics||Institute for Indigenous People's Rights||N/A|
|Political Science and International Relations||University of Delaware||MS|
|Doctor of Business Administration - Public Administration||Northcentral University||DBA|
|Master of Science in Psychology||Purdue University Global||MSCP|
|Master of Social Work – Advanced Standing||Widener University||MS|
A Master of Public Affairs focuses on how policy impacts world problems. You may learn everything from data analysis to leadership. And, you may take an interdisciplinary approach to tackling urgent issues.
You could also pursue Master’s programs related to public affairs. Disciplines could include political science, public administration, and more.
Technically, these disciplines belong in the social sciences category. In other words, you could think of public affairs as a subset of social sciences degrees.
But, many Master’s programs in the social sciences go beyond policy and government. In fact, they deal with all areas of the human social world. For example, a Master of Social Work program covers how to work with individuals and populations who need services. You could study mental health, human development, and more.
Public Affairs & Social Sciences Degree Guide
Master of Public Affairs
Master's in Social Sciences
Length of Program: 36 credits
Length of Program: 57 credits (Foundation program) or 30 credits (Advanced Standing)
The MPA program is designed to help students find solutions for social issues. You’ll study areas like management, financial administration, and ethics. You could apply these concepts to nonprofits, government agencies, educational institutions, and more.
The MSW program helps students prepare to serve children and families who need social services. The program covers topics like diversity, social and economic justice, and ethics. You could bring these ideas to direct practice, leadership, and more.
No specific program accreditation
The institution is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
The main Social Science subjects include:
Other subjects may also fit under the umbrella of the social sciences. For example, the field of environmental studies looks at social and human impact on nature. Gender studies explores gender identity and sexuality. And Marketing uses the social sciences to understand consumer choices.
Many social sciences programs are interdisciplinary. So, they could touch on several of the subjects listed above. For example, the field of Management may include the study of economics, communications, and even psychology.
Social science classes could cover everything from human behavior to econometrics. In other words, your coursework depends on your discipline.
In a typical Master’s in Psychology program, you could take courses like:
In a Master’s in Economics program, your classes may include:
You could find public affairs graduate programs in areas like:
These subjects fall under the umbrella of the social sciences. But, they may specifically pertain to relationships among governments, organizations, and the public.
Public Affairs classes could be quite wide-ranging. In a Master of Public Administration program, you could take courses like:
In a Master of Public Relations program, you could study:
NASPAA stands for the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration. They are the global accreditor of Master’s programs in the following areas:
NASPAA-accredited Master’s programs must meet global standards within their discipline. They must practice continuous improvement and live up to their claims. And, they must take part in peer review.
Accreditation could assure students they are pursuing a high-quality education. And, potential employers may look for graduates of NASPAA-accredited programs.
Full-time students may be able to earn a Master’s degree in social science or public affairs in about two years. Programs are at least 30 to 36 credits or more, depending on the subject.
Doctoral programs may have a bit more variation. For instance, a public administration doctorate may be earned in two or three years. A psychology doctorate program may take as many as five or six years. Often, that includes a one-year internship.
|University||# Of Credits Required||Start Dates||Minimum Months to Complete|
|Saint Leo University||62||1 (Fall)||24 months|
|Purdue University||42||3||24 months|
|Widener University||41||N/A||24 months|
|American University||36||3||24 months|
The average cost of a of a graduate degree from a public institution is $11,617 per year. This means you could find programs both more affordable and more expensive than the average.
This visualization shows graduate tuition costs of 4 institutions with Social Sciences and Public Affairs programs, as reported by NCES. We compared those costs to the typically most affordable and most expensive college options, also reported by NCES.
Instate/Out Of State Tuition
Many schools charge per credit for graduate programs in public affairs and the social sciences. These costs vary widely, depending on the type of institution. Here are some examples of what you could pay:
Cost per credit of course is different at every College or University. State Universities are also likely to have in state costs vs out of state costs. Below are a few examples of the cost per credit as reported by each one of these institutions.
|University||# Of Credits Required||Cost Per Credit||Total Tuition Cost|
|Capella University||52 (Advanced Standing)||$505||$26,260|
|St. John’s University||45||$1,230||$55,350|