Social Sciences and Public Affairs

A mural by Judy Baca at the UCLA Community School depicts the societal issues deemed most important by Robert F. Kennedy.

If cultures, social structure and the complexity of the sociopolitical world excite you, this field may be a good fit. Students in social and political sciences thrive in multidisciplinary, multicultural environments as they confront the challenges of humanity.

Academic Majors and Minors

Here are some of the majors and minors available in this field of study:

Most Popular Majors

  • Anthropology
  • Communication
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Sociology


Trending Majors

  • Chicana and Chicano Studies
  • Environmental Science
  • Gender Studies
  • Geography/Environmental Studies
  • International Development Studies
  • Public Affairs

Intriguing Minors

  • Civic Engagement
  • Digital Humanities
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Global Studies
  • International Migration Studies

in the nation for history

U.S. News & World Report (2021)

in the nation for sociology

U.S. News & World Report (2023)

World University Rankings for social sciences

World University Rankings for social sciences (2022)

Noteworthy Faculty

Here are just a few of the many professors in this field of study who’ve had a remarkable impact in their area of expertise.

A headshot of Professor Jason De Léon

Jason De Léon

Professor of Anthropology and Chicana/o Studies

De Léon directs the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP), a long-term study of clandestine border crossing that uses a combination of approaches to understand this phenomenon. He’s also a MacArthur Fellow and an award-winning author.

A headshot of Professor Kelly Lytle Hernandez

Kelly Lytle Hernandez

Professor of History, African American Studies and Urban Planning

Lytle Hernandez is a MacArthur Fellow and one of the nation’s leading experts on race, immigration and mass incarceration. She is currently leading Million Dollar Hoods, a research project that maps the fiscal and human cost of mass incarceration in L.A.

A headshot of Professor Lynn Vavreck

Lynn Vavreck

Professor of Political Science and Communication Studies

An expert on campaigns, elections and public opinion, Vavreck’s work on political messaging is considered required reading for presidential candidates by political consultants from both sides of the aisle.

Notable Alumni

Bruins have achieved great heights in all walks of life — health, sports, entertainment, public service, science and technology, and arts and letters. Here are some alumni in this field of study who have had a noticeable impact on the world.

A headshot of UCLA alum Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

History ’69

NBA superstar, historian and 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient


A headshot of UCLA alum Giada De Laurentiis

Giada De Laurentiis

Anthropology ’96

Celebrity chef, restaurateur, cookbook author and television personality

A headshot of UCLA alum Will Forte

Will Forte

History ’93

American comedic actor, writer, producer and impressionist

Growth Careers in the Field

Here are a few examples of areas where this exciting field of study is growing and developing.

Management Analysts

Demand for consulting services is expected to grow as organizations seek ways to improve efficiency and cut costs. This field is projected to experience 11% growth by 2031.

Market Research Analysts

An increased use of data and market research across all industries is expected to drive 19% growth in this profession by 2031.

Social and Community Service Managers

Due to increases in the elderly population and a greater demand for substance abuse and mental health services, these career options are projected to grow 12% by 2031.

Related Careers

Below, find examples of additional careers related to this field of study:

  • Activist
  • Brand Strategist
  • Campaign Manager
  • Compliance Specialist
  • Community Development
  • Environmental Policy Analyst
  • Foreign Service Officer
  • Government Affairs Director
  • Human Rights and Social Justice Advocacy
  • Intelligence Officer
  • Media Consultant
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Social Worker, Counselor
  • Sports Information Director
  • Urban or Regional Planner


A headshot of UCLA student Jimmy Aguilar

I came in with the mindset that I would go to law school and become a lawyer ... I discovered that working in higher education and education policy was where my true passions were. I wanted to provide forms of access to high school students seeking a higher education regardless of their unclear paths – I want to help students who came from backgrounds like me.

See What This Field is Like at UCLA

A UCLA law student discusses her ideas for California environmental legislation and policy.

Through sociopolitical clubs and student organizations, undergrads can learn firsthand about current issues and interact with students and professors from the UCLA School of Law.

An image of Haines Hall, one of the four original buildings on UCLA’s Westwood campus.

Haines Hall is home to the Lemelson Anthropological Honors Program, which helps foster research and mentoring partnerships among anthropology undergraduates and faculty.

Students hold signs that encourage phasing out single-use plastic utensils and straws.

UCLA is one of the largest universities in the nation to pursue phasing out environmentally harmful single-use plastics from campus food service.

Erika Hirugami poses in front of photos that are part of the art show she curated.

Erika Hirugami, who earned degrees in Chicano and Chicana studies and art history, curated this exhibit at a Los Angeles gallery to spotlight the work and ideas of Latinx artists.

UCLA Professor of History Sarah Stein smiles for the camera.

The latest book by Professor of History Sarah Stein explores a Sephardic Jewish family’s journey through the 20th century. Her work has reshaped our understanding of Jewish history.

Glass doors and windows brighten the entryway of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

The UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs consists of an undergraduate program in public affairs and graduate programs in the following areas: public policy, social welfare and urban planning.

Professor Lynn Vavreck sits between political reporters Sasha Issenberg and Dylan Byers.

Professor Lynn Vavreck (center) teaches courses and writes about campaigns, elections and public opinions. She’s a contributing columnist to The Upshot at The New York Times.

Institutes and Research

UCLA offers many resources for deepening your knowledge in your chosen field, including hundreds of research centers, institutes and labs that encourage collaboration across disciplines. Here are a few of the many options in this area:

UCLA Center for American Politics and Public Policy

CAPPP is committed to promoting significant research on American politics and public policy. The center develops programs that educate students about our nation’s governmental processes and provide ideas, scholarship and knowledge to policymakers.

UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability

IoES generates knowledge and provides solutions for regional and global environmental problems. Its research programs focus on critical environmental challenges including climate change, air and water quality and urban sustainability.

UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center

The CSRC plays a pivotal role in the development of scholarly research on the Chicanx-Latinx population, now the largest minority group in the United States. The center’s many offerings include a library with a special collections archive, public programs and collaborative research projects.

UCLA International Institute

The Institute is the central hub for global and area studies on campus. It supports innovative research on specific regions and pressing global issues. A cluster of more than 25 multidisciplinary centers and programs are at its core.


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