Humanities and Social Sciences in College

woman sitting on ottoman in front of three paintings
Madeleine Karydes
Madeleine Karydes

Madeleine attended UC Berkeley and double-majored in English and Media Studies. She is now an integral part of the Empowerly team.

High school students, do you want to know more about humanities and social sciences in college? Let’s explore! This fluid topic area includes fascinating fields, combined methodologies, and even solid career prospects. However, on first glance, it can be hard to understand what you’re signing up for. We’ll take a closer look at how liberal arts, humanities, and the social sciences overlap in college and beyond.

First Things First

Which is which? According to Best Colleges, the term humanities includes topics like “philosophy, languages and literature, and the arts.” On the other hand, the social sciences focuses on topics like “economics, psychology, and history.” Still a little unclear? Check out these course descriptions for more detailed possibilities!

Sourced from
Sourced from

So, what makes them so different? Both provide insight into human behavior, communication and critical thinking skills, and a nuanced understanding of cultural differences. But while the subject matter will likely be similar between these two categories, we can also take a look at the methodologies used. To put it this way, “one of the major differences between the two is that humanities involve a more critical and analytical approach whereas social sciences deal with more of a scientific approach.” 

In fact, one of the best parts about collegiate academics is the customization available! You can truly find the method of investigation and study that you understand (and like) best.

Career Futures

You can view the Best Colleges website for a tour of possible career paths in both disciplines. Just remember, these are only suggestions–the world is your oyster! In fact, the Humanities Commission points out that the skills gained from studying humanities and the social sciences are applicable to nearly every field. Starting salaries vary widely by profession, depending on the route you ultimately follow.

Worthwhile Skills

Ultimately, as many of our counselors will tell you, the major you choose going into undergraduate schooling? It’s far less important than following your passions and developing useful skills. In fact, the University of Pennsylvania actually has a whole department dedicated to the study of SSH (Social Studies and Humanities) that forms a graduation requirement for engineers, because they value the addition to general education so much.


The humanities and social sciences in college offer plenty of fascinating material to dedicate four years of your education to. Today, we discussed the widely-agreed-upon differences and similarities between the two disciplines. If you’re interested in learning more about how these two subjects help you in life, we looked at the skills gained from studying each; we also quickly looked at a few job prospects that await graduates.

If you’d like to connect with an expert counselor who has experience helping students in the humanities in college, social science experience, or advice on how to improve, reach out to Empowerly! We have a team of outstanding counselors who would be happy to help you on your path to the best-fit education and a great future. Book a consultation today.

Questions? Let us know!