Social Sciences and Liberal Arts -Liberal Studies Programs with a Concentration in the Social and Behavioral Sciences

Social science student interviewing woman

Social and behavioral studies focus on how the human elements of the arts and sciences come together to shape culture and society. Liberal arts already has a leg up on many other disciplines when it comes to interpreting human behaviors. It involves the science of human psychology but also goes further by seeking to understand the cultural and emotional motivations that drive us.

A psychologist can explain to you the thought processes that drive racism by explaining lack of empathy and personal insecurity as driving hatred of members of other racial groups. Liberal studies paints the picture of a history of defining and blaming The Other and identifies the cultural touchstones that enable racists.

A liberal studies approach to social and behavioral science includes psychology and scientific data on behaviorism. But it also brings in the cultural artifacts that both shape social movements and are shaped by them.

Your interest in getting a liberal arts degree with a concentration in social and behavioral sciences may be because you are interested in some specific social phenomena, like racism. Or you might be interested in the whole big picture of social and cultural anthropology.

Where civilization has come from and where it is heading are all studied under the umbrella of social and behavioral liberal arts.

Exploring Society and Motivation in a Liberal Studies Program with a Concentration in the Social and Behavioral Sciences

Woman thinking and gazing out office windowThe kind of wealth of knowledge and understanding you will find in this liberal arts concentration is both a journey and a reward of its own. Some people just want to know what makes the world tick. The courses you’ll find in these programs can make you one of them.

But they also help prepare you for all kinds of other paths where understanding people and society are key. Politicians can go a long way with the kind of things they will learn in social and behavioral sciences. A counselor, psychologist, or therapist will come out of these programs with a solid footing for learning more specialized psychological principles. Lawyers and priests, each in their own way, could certainly use what they might find in these concentrations.

Find your own motivations for exploring society and the humanities through a social and behavioral arts concentration in liberal arts.

The Most Liberal of Liberal Arts Curriculum Comes Into Social and Behavioral Science Concentrations

Most liberal arts degrees already focus heavily on social and behavioral sciences. Exploring history, culture, and literature all offer insights into society and human psychology. So you can expect the usual slate of courses in those topics and subjects such as:

A social sciences focus will double down on that solid core of liberal arts coursework with more in-depth classes, too. Because many liberal arts degrees, particularly at the graduate level, are driven by the ideas and interests of individual students, you’ll usually get plenty of latitude in choosing electives.

Ethnographic Studies

Ethnography is the science of researching and describing people and their cultures through behaviors, opinions, and rituals. You’d better believe understanding how ethnographic research is performed and documented is important for social and behavioral concentrations in liberal arts! These courses will lay out the theory and methods of ethnography, sometimes in the abstract and sometimes through case studies that offer a window on cultures and allow you to compare them.

Politics and Governance

Governments arise in all societies to handle the inevitable conflicts and requirements of public welfare. You’ll learn about the various forms of governance that have emerged over the ages and how they compare to one another. You’ll learn how culture can be shaped by governance models. Finally, the political process and hidden levers of power in society that grow up around government will be explored.


Sociology studies are obviously a major part of any social sciences concentration. They cover social institutions, inequality, and change through studies of minority status, religion, crime, and social stratification. Whether it is wealth, class, or skin color, the organizing events in society have a tremendous impact on individuals and the arts. You’ll learn to break through your own perceptions to view society at its current point in history.


Cultures are shaped by the climate and landscape they inhabit. They also have various attitudes and perspectives on the use of land, of borders, of possession. Learning geography not only helps you identify where difference cultures come from, but to understand the forces that have helped mold them.


Although the liberal arts are known for softer subjects, you’ll find both social and behavioral studies are meaningfully impacted by science and technology. In order to make sense of the late nineteenth century waves of Irish emigration to the Americas, for example, you might have to spend some time studying nutrition and crop science to understand the drivers of the Irish Potato Famine.

A Bachelor in Liberal Arts with a Concentration in Social and Behavioral Science Offers Foundations for Social Services and More

At the bachelor’s level, a concentration in these areas is great preparation for advanced degrees required for licensed practice as a psychologist, counselor, or social worker. You can find undergraduate programs that are specific to those fields, but a liberal arts degree offers you a broader perspective on those practices than a professional degree.

You might also find a bachelor’s concentration in social and behavioral science a gateway drug to politics or community organizing. With all the historical examples laid out for you, plus the communications skills a liberal arts degree brings, you’re well-equipped to lead everything from union organizing drives to legal initiatives supporting bathroom access for transgender individuals.

Either way, you’ll have an excellent education in thinking creatively, bringing people together, and solving problems that will work for you in any industry.

Liberal Arts Master’s Programs with Social and Behavioral Science Concentrations Let You Chart Your Own Course

Master’s degree studies in social and behavioral sciences in liberal arts programs will usually concentrate in an even more narrow specialty within those fields. There’s a wealth of scientific and historical data to draw on to support almost any kind of expert investigation in any related subject.

Master’s programs in liberal arts allow a great deal of customization around your thesis project. In effect, every student’s curriculum is unique, and shaped by your goals and research requirements. You might choose sub-specializations in history, sociology, government and politics, anthropology, or more as they line up with your interests in social and behavioral science.

You’re expected to engage in original research and develop your own ideas at the master’s degree level of liberal arts, contributing meaningful new perspectives in your field of study.

Your thesis will explore those ideas, and have to be defended against a panel of scholars and professors who will challenge your reasoning and make sure every angle of your argument is crystal-clear and well-supported.

If learning what makes people tick and understanding the hidden rules of modern society are your jam, you won’t go wrong with a liberal studies program in social and behavioral science.