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Best universities for social sciences degrees in the US 2023

Explore the best universities in the US for social sciences degrees, using data from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023

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January 16 2023
Best universities in the US for social sciences degrees


Top 10 universities in the US for social science degrees 2023

US Social Sciences Rank 2023 WUR Social Sciences Rank 2023 University State
1 1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts
2 2 Stanford University California
3 4 Harvard University Massachusetts
4 5 University of California, Berkeley California
5 6 Princeton University New Jersey
6 9 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Michigan
7 10 Yale University Connecticut
8 11 University of California, Los Angeles California
=9 =12 The University of Chicago Illinois
=9 =12 University of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania

As the home to some of the top universities in the world, the US is a great place to study for a social science degree.

Undergraduate programmes in the US are typically four years long and include the opportunity to study multiple subjects in the first two years, before specialising in the second half of your degree.

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Subjects you study alongside your specialisation are known as minors, and your specialisation is your major, or special concentration. This format allows for a level of flexibility and allows students to get a grounding across the social sciences.

There are also a huge range of postgraduate options at US universities for students interested in pursuing further research in the social sciences. 

Below are the top universities for social sciences in the US, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023.

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5. Princeton University

Princeton University offers four main areas of study: humanities, engineering and applied science, natural sciences and social sciences. A key feature of a Princeton education is independent research, whether that is carried out by undergraduate seniors writing their thesis or graduate students completing their dissertation.

There are both undergraduate and graduate degree programmes available in the social sciences at the university. Students can choose to study courses from a range of disciplines such as American studies, economics, European cultural studies, gender and sexuality studies, and health policy.

Princeton has a number of institutes, centres and schools that facilitate research into society and politics, including the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and the Kahneman-Treisman Center for Behavioral Science and Public Policy.

4. University of California, Berkeley

The social sciences division at the University of California, Berkeley is the university’s largest division and is home to around 25 per cent of student enrolments and 20 per cent of faculty. 

Social science programmes at Berkeley encourage students to consider real-world issues such as how refugees, population displacement and inequality affect human society or the impacts of technology on cognition and how citizens can become more informed and responsible. 

There are 15 departments within the social sciences division, ranging from African American studies to cognitive science, economics to global studies. Courses are available at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

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3. Harvard University

Social sciences courses at Harvard University are largely interdisciplinary. Students are encouraged to study a broad range of subjects at the undergraduate level before specialising in their chosen major, or concentration as it’s known at Harvard.

Common fields of study for Harvard undergraduates include economics, government, sociology, gender studies and psychology. For all these subjects, both undergraduates and graduates are expected to conduct empirical research and analyse data. Senior thesis projects can involve qualitative or quantitative research methods, or both.

One initiative central to the division of social science at Harvard University is the Donald T. Regan Fund. This was established to support programmes that bring diverse speakers to the university to lecture to undergraduates. Speakers discuss economics, government and social problems both nationally and internationally and provide students with new ways of thinking about and seeing the world.

2. Stanford University

The School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University offers social sciences courses in anthropology, communication, economics, political science, psychology and sociology.

In political science classes, undergraduates study US politics and international political systems in relation to conflict, social activism, ideology and race issues. The department of anthropology is known for an innovative approach where the subject must be studied in relation to contemporary affairs.

A range of interdisciplinary degree programmes join together traditionally disparate subjects in the humanities and sciences; these include African studies, biophysics, comparative studies in race and ethnicity, international relations and more.

Stanford is also home to globally renowned centres and institutes that facilitate social sciences research. These include the Center for Computational, Evolutionary and Human Genomics, the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences, and the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has five academic schools, including the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences offers a range of courses at both undergraduate and graduate level. Fields include anthropology, economics, global languages, history and philosophy. All undergraduate students at MIT take classes in the arts and social sciences and many end up taking joint degrees between the sciences and the social sciences. 

There are also a number of PhD programmes available. 

Research is carried out in areas including human health, the health of the planet and social innovation. There are four Nobel laureates, seven MacArthur fellows and five Pulitzer prize-winners who are current faculty members.

Top universities in the US for social sciences degrees 2023

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2023 results. 

US Social Sciences Rank 2023 WUR Social Sciences Rank 2023 University State
1 1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts
2 2 Stanford University California
3 4 Harvard University Massachusetts
4 5 University of California, Berkeley California
5 6 Princeton University New Jersey
6 9 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Michigan
7 10 Yale University Connecticut
8 11 University of California, Los Angeles California
=9 =12 The University of Chicago Illinois
=9 =12 University of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania
11 15 Columbia University New York
12 18 University of Washington Washington
13 20 Cornell University New York
=14 =23 Duke University North Carolina
=14 =23 Johns Hopkins University Maryland
16 25 New York University New York
17 28 Northwestern University Illinois
18 29 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill North Carolina
19 30 University of Wisconsin-Madison Wisconsin
20 34 University of Texas at Austin Texas
21 =42 University of Southern California California
22 45 University of California, San Diego California
23 50 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Illinois
24 =51 Arizona State University (Tempe) Arizona
25 =53 Ohio State University (Main campus) Ohio
26 58 Indiana University Indiana
27 =60 University of Maryland, College Park Maryland
28 69 Brown University Rhode Island
29 70 Michigan State University Michigan
30 71 University of California, Santa Barbara California
31 73 Washington University in St Louis Missouri
32 78 University of Minnesota Minnesota
33 82 Carnegie Mellon University Pennsylvania
34 86 Georgetown University Washington DC
35 87 University of California, Irvine California
36 =91 Penn State (Main campus) Pennsylvania
37 =94 University of Arizona Arizona
=38 =96 University of California, Davis California
=38 =96 Vanderbilt University Tennessee
=40 101–125 Boston University Massachusetts
=40 101–125 Emory University Georgia
=40 101–125 University of Florida Florida
=40 101–125 Georgia Institute of Technology Georgia
=40 101–125 University of Massachusetts Massachusetts
=40 101–125 Rutgers University – New Brunswick New Jersey
=40 101–125 Texas A&M University Texas
=47 126–150 Boston College Massachusetts
=47 126–150 University of Colorado Boulder Colorado
=47 126–150 Dartmouth College New Hampshire
=47 126–150 Florida State University Florida
=47 126–150 George Washington University Washington DC
=47 126–150 Northeastern University Illinois
=47 126–150 University of Notre Dame Indiana
=47 126–150 Purdue University West Lafayette Indiana
=47 126–150 Syracuse University New York
=56 151–175 University of California, Santa Cruz California
=56 151–175 University of Georgia Georgia
=58 176–200 George Mason University Virginia
=58 176–200 The New School New York
=58 176–200 North Carolina State University North Carolina
=58 176–200 Rice University Texas
=58 176–200 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Virginia
=63 201–250 University of Hawai’i at Mānoa Hawaii
=63 201–250 University of Miami Florida
=63 201–250 University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh campus Pennsylvania
=63 201–250 University of South Florida Florida
=63 201–250 SUNY University at Albany New York
=63 201–250 Tufts University Massachusetts
=63 201–250 University of Utah Utah
=63 201–250 University of Virginia (Main campus) Virginia
=71 251–300 University of California, Merced California
=71 251–300 University of California, Riverside California
=71 251–300 Clark University Massachusetts
=71 251–300 Colorado State University, Fort Collins Colorado
=71 251–300 University of Connecticut Connecticut
=71 251–300 Drexel University Pennsylvania
=71 251–300 Georgia State University Georgia
=71 251–300 University of Illinois at Chicago Illinois
=71 251–300 University of Iowa Iowa
=71 251–300 Stony Brook University New York
=81 301–400 University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska
=81 301–400 American University Washington
=81 301–400 University at Buffalo New York
=81 301–400 University of Central Florida Florida
=81 301–400 University of Colorado Denver /Anschutz Medical Campus Colorado
=81 301–400 University of Denver Colorado
=81 301–400 University of Kansas Kansas
=81 301–400 University of Kentucky Kentucky
=81 301–400 University of Nevada, Las Vegas Nevada
=81 301–400 University of South Carolina-Columbia South Carolina
=81 301–400 Temple University Pennsylvania
=81 301–400 The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Tennessee
=81 301–400 University of Toledo Ohio
=81 301–400 Washington State University Washington
=95 401–500 University of Arkansas Arkansas
=95 401–500 Chapman University California
=95 401–500 Clemson University South Carolina
=95 401–500 University of Delaware Delaware
=95 401–500 Florida International University Florida
=95 401–500 Iowa State University Iowa
=95 401–500 Mizzou - University of Missouri Missouri
=95 401–500 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Nebraska
=95 401–500 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute New York
=95 401–500 SUNY Binghamton University New York
=95 401–500 University of Texas at Dallas Texas
=95 401–500 Wake Forest University North Carolina
=95 401–500 William & Mary Virginia
=108 501–600 The University of Alabama Alabama
=108 501–600 Auburn University Alabama
=108 501–600 Case Western Reserve University Ohio
=108 501–600 Colorado School of Mines Colorado
=108 501–600 Lehigh University Pennsylvania
=108 501–600 University of North Carolina at Greensboro North Carolina
=108 501–600 Northern Illinois University Illinois
=108 501–600 Oklahoma State University Oklahoma
=108 501–600 Old Dominion University Virginia
=108 501–600 Portland State University Ohio
=108 501–600 San Diego State University California
=108 501–600 University of Texas at Arlington Texas
=108 501–600 University of Texas at El Paso Texas
=108 501–600 The University of Texas at San Antonio Texas
=108 501–600 Texas Tech University Texas
=108 501–600 Virginia Commonwealth University Virginia
=108 501–600 University of Wyoming Wyoming
=125 601–800 Baylor University Texas
=125 601–800 Bowling Green State University Ohio
=125 601–800 Brandeis University Massachusetts
=125 601–800 University of Colorado Colorado Springs Colorado
=125 601–800 Florida Atlantic University Florida
=125 601–800 University of Houston Texas
=125 601–800 Howard University Washington DC
=125 601–800 Kansas State University Kansas
=125 601–800 Louisiana State University Louisiana
=125 601–800 Marquette University Wisconsin
=125 601–800 University of Maryland, Baltimore County Maryland
=125 601–800 University of Memphis Tennessee
=125 601–800 Mississippi State University Mississippi
=125 601–800 University of Missouri-St Louis Missouri
=125 601–800 Montana State University Montana
=125 601–800 New Mexico State University (Main campus) New Mexico
=125 601–800 University of North Carolina at Charlotte North Carolina
=125 601–800 Ohio University (Main campus) Ohio
=125 601–800 University of Rhode Island Rhode Island
=125 601–800 Rochester Institute of Technology New York
=125 601–800 Rowan University New Jersey
=125 601–800 Saint Louis University Missouri
=125 601–800 Southern Illinois University Carbondale Illinois
=125 601–800 Texas State University Texas
=125 601–800 Tulane University Louisiana
=125 601–800 Wayne State University Michigan
=125 601–800 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Wisconsin
=125 601–800 Worcester Polytechnic Institute Massachusetts
=153 801+ University of Dayton Ohio
=153 801+ Georgia Southern University Georgia
=153 801+ Grand Valley State University Michigan
=153 801+ Morgan State University Baltimore
=153 801+ University of North Carolina Wilmington North Carolina
=153 801+ Oakland University Michigan
=153 801+ University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Texas
=153 801+ Western Michigan University Michigan

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