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About the Division of Social Sciences

Research, teaching and service in the public interest – that’s what drives UC San Diego’s Division of Social Sciences. We do the science of society. We focus on some of the most pressing and important issues of our time (most of the time). We do things a little bit differently, and we make a big difference. That’s for sure.

There are 15 departments and programs that make up the Division of Social Sciences at UC San Diego. Together, we do work that matters, now and for the long term. Founded in 1986 with the goal of increasing interdisciplinary collaboration, our division celebrates diversity of ideas and of peoples.

We take seriously our mission to educate citizens of the future. We are committed to serving society.

Did you know?

2019 Degrees Awarded by DivisionMore than 1/3 of all undergraduate degrees awarded at UC San Diego in 2019 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

Division of Social Sciences by the numbers 2020

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)
Learn more about all our degree programs and research centers.