Public and Social Services Majors and Degrees

Public and Social Services refers to the group of majors focused on analyzing and managing public programs and services. These entities exist to support local communities and improve the lives of their members. Public and Social Services programs cover a range of topics, including public administration, legal/prelaw studies, social services, and protective services. Pursuing a major in this subject area gives you the tools to directly support underresourced populations.

Who might enjoy a Public and Social Services program?

If you want to make a meaningful impact in your community, a Public and Social Services program could be an important step toward achieving that goal. You’d thrive in this area if you’re patient, perceptive, empathetic, and social justice oriented. You might also enjoy this type of degree program if you spend your free time volunteering, mentoring others, or participating in community organizing.

What kinds of classes do Public and Social Services majors take?

Public and Social Services majors are trained to understand and support people in their community, particularly those who are facing challenging circumstances. Your courses will focus on teaching you how to best approach these situations and work through them—on behalf of individuals and large groups. Example courses might include Introduction to Social Work, Social Policy Analysis, Health Equity and Health Disparities, Congress and the Legislative Process, or Local Government Management. 

What jobs can a Public and Social Services degree prepare you for?

A degree in Public and Social Services can lead to a wide range of jobs. You might work as a counselor or social worker to directly support youth and families seeking assistance. You might work in legislation or public policy to create systemic change. Or you might pursue a career in security or protective services to help keep people in your community safe.

How long does it take people who major in Public and Social Services to graduate from college?

Students who pursue majors in Public and Social Services may need a full four years to complete their degree requirements—though this depends on the individual. In addition to traditional classroom experience, some degrees in this subject area may also require field work or experiential learning. 

Are additional degrees needed for related jobs?

This depends on the specific job you want to pursue. Some jobs, like security or nonprofit management, don’t usually require additional degrees. If you want to become a lawyer, counselor, or social worker, however, graduate degrees and additional certifications are typically required.