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Social Science vs Social Studies: Difference to know

Updated on 05 June, 2023

Shivangi Mishra

Shivangi Mishra

Sr. Content Editor

The study of Humanities is increasingly becoming relevant, even in the STEM era. Don’t you agree? Liberal arts degrees are hugely valuable, even for those venturing into STEM fields. A George Anders book ‘You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Education states how workplaces need a human touch today and how it is essential to infuse human judgment even faster in our tech-powered lives. 

This is where we come to the growing value of social science, which may have originated from ancient Greece, developing as an academic field throughout the 18th century across Europe, nourished by intellectuals like Immanuel Kant, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, David Hume, Adam Smith, and countless others. However, you  may end up confusing it with social studies, the key objective of which is enabling learners to take logical, reasoned, and informed decisions for the good of the public or community amidst a democratic, independent, and diverse society, as defined by the National Council for the Social Studies. What is the difference between social science and social studies? Here’s what you need to know in this regard. 

What is Social Science? 

Social science deals with individuals, society, and systems that structure societies, covering religious, social, economic, and political frameworks. Social science includes economics, geography, anthropology, history, politics/political science, and many other related fields. Social science's main objective is examining human relationships and behavior throughout several environments. Some other aspects related to social science include linguistics, sexuality, gender, sociology, and ethnicity. The difference between sociology and social science is also clear- sociology is a branch of social science which studies the functioning, structure, and development of human society and its problems. This is an important aspect to remember, since many of us often end up confusing these terms as well. 

Career opportunities in social science 

Social science offers promising career opportunities in diverse areas of work. Some of the top opportunities (with their average salaries in the US) include the following: 

  • Intelligence Analyst- $41,689 annually 
  • Police Officer- $53,451 annually 
  • Human Resources Manager- $49,330 annually 
  • Public Relations Manager- $56,759 annually 
  • Lawyer- $53,791 annually 
  • Social Worker- $60,212 annually 
  • Political Consultant- $58,449 annually 
  • Professor- $65,314 annually 
  • Marketing Manager- $66,760 annually 
  • Designer- $67,721 annually 
  • Urban Planner- $68,954 annually 
  • Financial Analyst- $69,642 annually 
  • Psychologist- $104,922 annually 
  • Geographer- $83,067 annually 
  • Economist- $112,448 annually 

What is Social Studies?

Social studies is an academic field that revolves around studying human behavior and interpersonal interactions, cultural development, and its impact at a global level. It may be the study of both humanities and social sciences. The American National Council for Social Studies defines social studies as the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence. The term gained popularity in the 20th century, becoming a preferred educational arena for several  learners worldwide ever since. 

Career Opportunities in Social Studies

Here are some of the career opportunities (with their average salaries in the US) available for social studies aspirants along with their average salaries: 

  • Journalist- $37,829 per year
  • Probation Officer- $43,691 per year 
  • Professor- $54,760 per year
  • Librarian- $54,662 per year
  • Social Worker- $56,692 per year
  • Market Research Analyst- $58,140 per year
  • Urban Planner- $65,988 per year
  • Human resources manager- $69,962 per year
  • Historian- $81,370 per year
  • Psychologist- $95,023 per year

Social Science vs. Social Studies: Key Differences

So what is the difference between social science and social studies? Here’s outlining the same below: 

Social Sciences Social Studies
Social sciences are knowledge-driven fields that evaluate society and individuals' interactions, covering disciplines like economics, history, and geography, which analyze these societal relations.Social studies is the systematic study of an integrated knowledge base that derives from the humanities and social sciences. It is focused study and offers better comprehension of the dynamic nature of society and its diversity along with the interactions across environments, cultures, and societies.
Social science is more focused on studying society through the analysis and collection of data.Social studies, however, is more focused on social observations.
Social sciences are enclosed within a higher academic curriculum.Social studies help learners understand how to be more effective citizens in society and are part of the early school curriculum.
Social science means the inference of various studies for resolving societal issues, which may lead to societal development overall.Social studies, however, is the study of all stages of these societies. 
Social science is divided into several branches like history, geography, economics, sociology, anthropology, and so on. Social studies is usually divided into the broader categories of social sciences and humanities.


Now that you have a basic idea about the difference between social science and social studies, you should observe the core orientation of both. Social studies has a unique slant, although it makes use of disciplines from social science. Social studies are included as a core offering at several educational levels, while social sciences can be studied as specializations at several academic levels as well. To conclude, it can be stated that society and human development would have been impossible, unless there was a seamless amalgamation and collaboration between social sciences and social studies. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does social science mean social studies?

Social sciences do not equate to social studies. Social studies is a broader field which emphasizes on social observation and fuses both humanities and social sciences. Social sciences, on the other hand, are more concerned about analyzing society through the analysis and collection of data, while being divided into several branches like anthropology, geography, economics, and so on. 

Why is it called social studies?

The field is known as social studies, since it encompasses the study of both the humanities and social sciences. It covers several aspects of both fields en route towards studying society from an observational perspective. 

Shivangi Mishra

Sr. Content Editor

She is an experienced writer and journalist who has extensively covered the education sector in India and Abroad. Now helping Indian aspirants realise their foreign education dream by providing them with relevant content and information through upGrad Abroad. Amateur traveller, loves to read Architectural Digest!

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