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Social Sciences Division at a Glance

The Science of Society:
Research, Teaching and Service in the Public Interest

A vibrant collection of departments, programs and research units that focus on some of the most pressing and important social issues of our time.

Did you know?

Pie chart showing undergraduate degrees awarded

Nearly 40 percent of all undergraduate degrees awarded at UC San Diego in 2017 were in the Social Sciences.

Faculty members have included three Nobel Laureates and six MacArthur “Genius Grant” winners.

Our students and faculty have connections to almost 500 community programs in Southern California and beyond.

Our Department of Cognitive Science was the first of its kind in the world.

The Department of Ethnic Studies was the first in the country to study race and ethnicity comparatively, relationally and globally.

In the San Diego region, 15 current and former school district superintendents are UC San Diego alumni – nine of whom are Education Studies alumni.

One of the longest-running primate studies on record, focused on baboon society in Kenya, is headed by a professor of Anthropology.

A UC San Diego sociologist was part of the Ford Foundation project to revive the discipline of sociology in China.

An alumnus of Linguistics created the languages on the hit TV series “Game of Thrones.”

By the numbers

217 Faculty  230 Faculty

675+ Graduate Students  640+ Graduate Students

800+ Undergraduate Courses Taught per Year  1,400+ Undergraduate Courses Taught per Year

7,300 Undergraduate Majors 7,600+ Undergraduate Majors

67,000+ Alumni  72,000+ Alumni

77,000+ Undergraduate Course Enrollments per Year  89,000+ Undergraduate Course Enrollments per Year

Social Sciences faculty and students make a difference in the world by:

  • Preserving endangered languages and cultural sites
  • Removing barriers to upward mobility
  • Increasing civic engagement and electoral representation
  • Harnessing the power of technology and social networks
  • Leveraging community partnerships
  • Improving educational outcomes
  • Discovering secrets of the brain
  • Helping reduce harmful social practices
  • Reinventing policy solutions
  • Addressing disparities

Graduate program rankings

Cognitive Science

  • Ranked among top 5 percent of programs in the field (National Academics)


  • Ranked 2nd among U.S. programs in the area of Critical Cultural/Media Studies (National Communication Association)
  • Ranked 5th in diversity and 12th in research output (National Communication Association)


  • Ranked 12th best program overall (U.S. News and World Report)
  • Econometrics, Public Finance, and Development Economics are ranked 4th, 8th and 10th, respectively (U.S. News and World Report)


  • Ranked 13th best program overall (U.S. News and World Report)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience and Cognitive Psychology ranked 4th and 8th, respectively (U.S. News and World Report)
  • Ranked 4th for institutional research productivity (Association for Psychological Science)

Political Science

  • Ranked 6th best program in the world (London School of Economics and Political Sciences)
  • Ranked 9th best program overall (U.S. News and World Report)
  • International Politics, Comparative Politics, American Politics and Political methodology are ranked 4th, 10th, 11th and 12th, respectively (U.S. News and World Report)

Social Sciences at UC San Diego

Ten Academic Departments

  • Anthropology
  • Cognitive Science
  • Communication
  • Economics
  • Education Studies
  • Ethnic Studies
  • Linguistics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

Interdisciplinary Degree Programs include:

  • Critical Gender Studies
  • Global Health
  • Human Development
  • Urban Studies and Planning

Research Centers include:

  • African and African-American Studies Research Center
  • American Politics and Institutions Project
  • Bioregional Center for Sustainability Science, Planning and Design
  • Black Studies Project
  • Center for African Political Economy
  • Center for Comparative Immigration Studies
  • Center for Environmental Economics
  • Center for Human Development
  • Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies
  • Center for Peace and Security Studies
  • Center for Research in Language
  • Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment and Teaching Excellence (CREATE)
  • Center for Research on Gender in STEMM
  • Center for Tomorrow’s California
  • Center for Urban Economics
  • Center on Global Justice
  • Institute for Applied Economics
  • Institute for Neural Computation (with the Jacobs School of Engineering)
  • International Institute
  • Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind (with the Division of Biological Sciences)
  • Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition
  • Project in Cognitive and Neural Development
  • San Diego Education Research Alliance
  • Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research

Learn more about all our departments, programs and research centers.