Social Science (Interdisciplinary Studies)

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Dean: Joel Kassiola

Social Science Program
HSS 336
Director: Marjorie Seashore

Graduate Coordinator: Stanley Bailis


Professors—Bailis, Curtin, Flynne, Miller, R.

Associate Professors—Busacca, Keith


B.A. in Social Science (Interdisciplinary Studies)
Minor in Social Science (Interdisciplinary Studies)
M.A. in Social Science (Interdisciplinary Studies)

Program Scope and Career Outlook

This major provides an opportunity for students to construct an individually designed program which crosses disciplinary boundaries in the social and behavioral sciences and related fields. Programs can be designed to emphasize special theoretical and practical interests, including preparation for community-action oriented careers, secondary teaching credentials, and specialized graduate training.

The core sequence in the major (SS 300, 301, 600, 697, 698) is designed to complement the student's individual program in two ways. First (in SS 300 and 301), it provides an upper division, interdisciplinary introduction to the full range of the social sciences and their connections. Second (in SS 600, 697, 698), it gives the opportunity for the student to draw together what he/she has learned in a senior project focused upon his or her individually designed program.

The major also provides an excellent way for students to couple a major program with one of the many interdisciplinary minors; for example, American Studies, Child and Adolescent Development, Criminal Justice, Critical Social Thought, Human Sexuality Studies, Urban Studies, World Development Studies, etc.

The Master of Arts in Social Science, Interdisciplinary Studies is intended for students who want an inter-departmental program. Each student's program is planned around a topic or problem chosen in consultation with an adviser and committee. The degree program provides for students who are interested in: studying human phenomena through the integrated perspectives of several social and behavioral science disciplines; preparing for careers in public agencies or private concerns which require a broad and coherent preparation in the social and behavioral sciences; expanding their backgrounds for more advanced graduate study; and seeking secondary, single subject, or community college teaching credentials.


Each student's program is developed in consultation with the department advisers, in accordance with the patterns below. On-line course descriptions are available.

Required Courses Units
S S 300 Social Sciences Core I 3
S S 301 Social Sciences Core II 3
S S 600 Seminar in Method and Interdisciplinary Analysis 3
S S 697 Senior Project Seminar 1
S S 698 Senior Project in the Social Sciences 2
Total required units 12
Individually Chosen Courses
Nine upper division courses in the social and behavioral sciences and related fields must be selected around a focus, theme, concentration, or integrating principle to form a coherent program based upon the individual student's interest. Approval of department adviser is mandatory. At least 2 of the 9 upper division electives must bear the social science prefix, and not more than 4 of the 9 courses can be from any one department or program. The total number of units will vary according to whether courses carry 3 or 4 units of credit.
Total 39-48


Program Requirements Units
S S 300 Social Sciences Core I 3
S S 301 Social Sciences Core II 3
S S 600 Seminar in Method and Interdisciplinary Analysis or 3-4
  An equivalent methods course from another discipline in the behavioral 
  and social sciences
Upper division courses from 3 different disciplines in the behavioral and social sciences and related fields. These courses must be chosen in consultation with an adviser, and students majoring in a behavioral or social science may not double count courses taken in their major discipline to meet this requirement 9-12
Minimum total 18-22


Admission to Program

Students must (1) complete the aptitude sections of the Graduate Record Examination; (2) complete a minimum of 24 upper division units of undergraduate study in the social and behavioral sciences with a 3.0 grade point average; (3) identify a core objective in pursuing a program of interdisciplinary study at the graduate level so that the graduate adviser may help to plan a coherent degree program. In exceptional cases, students who do not meet these criteria may be conditionally admitted subject to the approval of the departmental graduate advisers. These faculty members have final authority to determine the admissibility of students to this program in terms of all factors relevant to success in graduate study. With this in mind, applicants should send the following items to the graduate coordinator by March 1 for Fall semester admission or October 1 for Spring semester admission: (1) Report of G.R.E. aptitude scores; (2) Complete transcripts; (3) Department application, consisting of a statement of reasons describing core topic or theme and a sample curriculum pursuant thereto, academic and/or career goals and relation between past employment and proposed graduate program, summary of all past course work and grades categorized by academic level and area, two letters of academic and/or professional recommendation, and Applicant Information Sheet. Department applications can be obtained by contacting the Center for Interdisciplinary Programs at (415) 338-2055, located in HSS 382. It should be noted that the student must file an application for admission to the university and that none of the above items are substitutes for the materials directly required by the university Graduate Admissions Office.

After the student has completed between nine and fifteen units of work toward the degree, the graduate adviser will assist in choosing a two- or three-member faculty committee. This committee will normally include at least one member of the Social Science Program (Interdisciplinary Studies) and at least one member from the faculty of a specialized discipline who has an interest in the core topic around which the student plans the degree program. The full committee is responsible for guiding and supervising the student's graduate study.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One: completed by written work in S S 710. Level Two: completed by written work in S S 800.

Advancement to Candidacy

Before filing the Graduate Approved Program (GAP) students must have successfully completed at least nine units of course work including S S 710. Students must file their GAP before enrollment in S S 800.

Except for S S 600, 650, and 698, all upper division and graduate courses offered by all departments within the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, as well as certain courses offered elsewhere in the university, may be considered as potentially applicable to the student's program. At least one half of all units included on the GAP must be earned in graduate-level courses. On-line course descriptions are available.

Program Units
S S 710 Interdisciplinarity in the Social Sciences 3
S S 800 Seminar in Interdisciplinary Applications 3
Graduate seminars in each of 2 social science disciplines relevant to focus of student's program 6
An advanced course in research methods and techniques 3
Additional upper division/graduate courses in 2 or more disciplines selected in consultation with adviser which are relevant to the topic or problem of student's program focus. 15
S S 898 Master's Thesis 3
Minimum total 33
and Master's Comprehensive Written Examination

Thesis. The student is expected to select his/her thesis topic with the help of his/her faculty committee and file the thesis topic form as soon as possible but prior to enrollment in S S 800. Though filing a thesis topic form is required prior to enrollment in the thesis course (S S 898), the filing is a totally separate act from enrollment or registration in the course. The thesis proposal should be detailed enough to present a clear idea of the nature of the research effort. The thesis should be a serious effort to analyze an aspect of the problem or topic around which the student is focusing his/her program. Its primary objective is to serve as a training experience in gathering, evaluating and manipulating data within an interdisciplinary frame of reference. The completed thesis must be read and approved by at least a two-member committee, the chair of which must be a member of the social science faculty.

Examinations. The candidate will take a six-hour written examination after completing 24 units of course work and before enrolling for the thesis. Each member of the candidate's three-person committee will prepare questions designed to take the candidate approximately two hours to complete. The chair of the committee, who must be a member of the social science faculty, is responsible for coordinating the administration of the examination. The examination will cover knowledge of theory and method in the social sciences, both disciplinary and interdisciplinary, and substantive knowledge relevant to the individualized program of courses taken by the student. The candidate must pass all three segments of the examination as evaluated by the committee members. In the event of failure, the committee may at its discretion invite the student to take part or all of the examination a second time, but this may only be done once.

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