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Prospective Students

Why the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts?

UC Merced fosters an integrative environment that draws from various disciplinary research traditions, but is not limited by their boundaries. The School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts offers a broad range of programs dedicated to preparing students for varied roles as responsible and thoughtful citizens and leaders. We offer research and academic programs in anthropology, art, cognitive science, economics, English, foreign languages, global arts studies, history, management, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, Spanish, world heritage and writing to:

  • prepare students for meaningful careers and professions;
  • encourage intellectual and moral growth;
  • promote sound decision making;
  • instill the values of lifelong learning; and
  • encourage civic responsibility, public service and understanding in a diverse, global society.

Culture, society and artistic expression differ widely on the basis of their historical eras and geographical locations. As students learn to understand the ways time and place have shaped lives, institutions and works of the imagination, they develop perspectives that enable them to better understand and shape our futures.

Students have the opportunity to follow personal paths of discovery in disciplinary or interdisciplinary curricula, while at the same time gaining depth and expertise in methodological domains such as social statistics, historiography, geographic information systems, economics, cultural analysis and cognitive science.

What can you do with a degree in the social sciences, humanities or arts?


Anthropological knowledge and skills can be applied to diverse professional settings, while the commitment to service learning and the support of internships within the UC Merced anthropology program enhances career prospects for our students upon graduation.

A bachelor’s degree in anthropology is valuable for a career in law, medicine, education, business government, museums, and various areas of nonprofit, public and international service, including public policy and cultural resource management. For example, anthropological knowledge and skills can be applied to such diverse setting as:

  • Market research
  • Regional planning
  • Product design
  • Legal advocacy
  • Government research
  • Public health 
  • Community organizations
  • News and entertainment media

For more information, visit the Anthropology program.

Cognitive Science

Upon graduation, students with a degree in Cognitive Science will find themselves prepared for a number of career possibilities, including:

  • Attorney
  • Business professional
  • Computational linguist
  • Computer interface designer
  • Computer programmer
  • Data scientist
  • Educator/administrator
  • Human-robot interaction researcher
  • Medical/health professional
  • Neuroscientist
  • Social worker
  • Speech pathologist

For more information, visit the Cognitive Science program.

Critical Race & Ethnic Studies

Critical Race and Ethnic Studies is an exciting and valuable degree that prepares students to enter the workforce as informed citizens in a diverse and challenging society. The major offers a strong liberal arts education for students considering admission to graduate or professional schools and careers in:

  • Secondary or higher education
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Public health
  • Social work
  • Counseling
  • Journalism
  • Business
  • City planning
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • International relations
  • Creative writing
  • The arts

For more information, visit the Critical Race & Ethnic Studies program.


Each student graduating with an economics major will be well prepared for advanced study in economics, management, law, public policy, urban and regional planning or medicine. Career paths include business management, consulting, finance, federal, state and local government service, nongovernmental organization and nonprofit agency service or community development.

RECENT ALUMNI SUCCESS lists average salaries across the US for different majors, and the midcareer salary is higher for those with an ECON degree ($100,000) compared to a MBE degree ($87,500). The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook publication lists several jobs related to economics and business economics degrees in their forecast of the top 20 growing occupations in the near future. These include statisticians; pperations research analysts; personal financial advisors (all of which have mean annual incomes over $79,000) and general and operations managers; customer service representatives; accountants and auditors; and first-line supervisors. Among the list of top 20 jobs in terms of median pay are chief executives and marketing managers.

In the 2017 UC Merced alumni survey, we computed average salaries for ECON graduates in the 2011-2012 cohort as $67,000, and for MBE graduates in that cohort as $63,000, with some people still enrolled in graduate degree programs. Two individuals in the 2011-2012 MBE graduates had started their own businesses and were making in excess of $100,000. This compares to the overall averages for all UC Merced graduates in that cohort of $55,100. Recently, students in both programs have placed into prestigious internships such as at the Pepsi Statistical Analysis Section and the Farm Credit Administration; been admitted to law school at Duke University, and to economics masters’ programs at UC Santa Cruz and Texas A&M; and obtained jobs at Blackrock, Highland Consulting, Merrill Lynch, MGM Resorts, Golden State Warriors, the mayor’s office in Washington, D.C., Lockheed, Vanguard and Foster Farms.

Our department is developing an alumni network on LinkedIn and Facebook to ease the transition to the labor market for future graduates. What sets UC Merced apart is a more personalized approach and direct relationships between students and research faculty.

For more information, visit the Economics program.


An English major is one of the most popular liberal arts degrees in the world; this is a bachelor of arts that is immediately recognizable to employers, graduate schools and law schools. These employers and schools will know that by hiring or accepting an English major, they are hiring someone who can interpret and analyze texts, think critically and view problems from multiple perspectives, have empathy for others, and communicate and write clearly.

Upon graduation, students will find themselves prepared for a number of career possibilities, including:

  • Journalist
  • Television writer
  • Technical writer
  • Lawyer/paralegal
  • Social media manager
  • Public relations representative
  • Entertainer
  • Brand manager
  • Creative director
  • News reporter
  • Communications coordinator
  • Marketing director
  • Translator/interpreter
  • Editor/content manager
  • Advertising manager
  • Teacher
  • Librarian
  • Doctor
  • IT project manager
  • Social worker
  • Marketing researcher
  • Sales account manager
  • Web content developer
  • Fundraiser
  • Politician
  • Nonprofit work
  • Speechwriter
  • Consultant
  • Entrepreneur

For more information, visit the English program.

Global Arts Studies Program

The Global Arts Studies Program has a two-pronged strategy to prepare students for the job market. First, we offer opportunities for practical training in areas such as filmmaking, music production, design, photography, museum curation, musicianship and more. Informed by the social and cultural knowledge that the GASP curriculum also provides, this practical training provides multiple entry points into California’s multi-billion-dollar film, television, gaming, music, and culture industries. The second part of our strategy is a dedication to those aspects of the traditional liberal arts education that employers in almost any field find invaluable. Our students are trained to synthesize evidence from textual, visual and audio sources in their original research and analysis, and to communicate their findings clearly and efficiently in written and spoken language. In so doing they develop fundamental skills of research, analysis and communication critical to almost any career, be it in business, industry, politics, public sector work or any other sphere. Students will be able to prepare themselves for careers in numerous professional spheres, including:

  • Film and television
  • Music industry
  • Arts administration and management
  • Arts criticism
  • Journalism
  • Graphic design
  • Advertising
  • Art and music law
  • Political campaigning


For more information, visit the Global Arts Studies Program.


As a history major, you will learn to read and evaluate evidence, to write both analysis and narrative and to organize significant amounts of information. The history major prepares you for almost any field of work, including:

  • Law
  • Teaching
  • Business
  • Journalism
  • Public service
  • Museums and galleries
  • Arts and music management
  • Publishing
  • Nonprofit cultural institutions

For more information, visit the History program.

Management & Business Economics

Students will learn the analytical tools that are needed to succeed in a modern, volatile business environment. The typical undergraduate student develops skills to build quantitative models of complex operations in competitive and imperfect markets, and is able to use these models to facilitate decision-making. The Management & Business Economics major prepares students for a broad range of careers, including:

  • Market research analyst
  • Operations research analyst
  • Accountant
  • Financial advisor
  • Business operations manager
  • Consulting
  • Compliance officer
  • Accounting and audit clerk
  • Marketing manager
  • Financial manager
  • Meeting and event planner
  • Data analyst


2013 data from showed that the mid-career salary for individuals with Business Economics degrees was $87,500 on average across the U.S. Recent UC Merced MBE and ECON graduates have secured jobs at firms such as Vanguard, Merrill Lynch, Foster Farms, Gallo, Lockheed, Kiva, Blackrock, Golden State Warriors, MGM Resorts, McKinsey & Co. and Wells Fargo. Others have been accepted to graduate programs at institutions such as UC Santa Cruz, Texas A&M and Duke.

Our department has developed an alumni network on LinkedIn and Facebook to ease the transition to the labor market for future graduates.

For more information, visit the Management & Business Economics program.


What can I do with a career in Philosophy?

The critical thinking skills, analytical skills and exposure to fundamental questions associated with a philosophy degree prepare students for many career paths, including:

  • Administrator

  • Attorney

  • Educator

  • Computer scientist

  • Data scientist

  • Information technologist

  • Filmmaker

  • Journalist

  • Management consultant

  • Nonprofit work

  • Physician

  • Publishing

  • Writer

  View interviews with philosophers who have pursued non-academic career paths.

  To view more information about careers for philosophers, please visit the American Philosophical Association.

For more information, visit the Philosophy program.

Political Science

The knowledge and skills acquired through the Political Science program provide a strong foundation for graduate training in law, political science or other social sciences. Students graduating with degrees in political science can also pursue a wide variety of careers, such as public administration, campaign management or consultation, grassroots political organization, corporate governmental affairs, foreign service, journalism, lobbying or teaching.

Student graduates from the Political Science program are working in a variety of professional settings including marketing companies, legislative offices, school districts and international corporations.

For more information, visit the Political Science program.


The psychology major prepares undergraduates for many careers that do not require further graduate training. The American Psychological Association reports that most psychology major graduates — about two thirds — take employment in private-sector business settings.

Graduates with undergraduate psychology majors are highly marketable because they are trained to have good research and writing skills, to be effective problem solvers in both team and individual settings, and to use critical thinking skills to analyze, synthesize and evaluate information. Specific examples of employment include administrative support, public affairs, education, business, sales, service industries, health, the biological sciences, computer programming, employment counselors, correction counselor trainees, interviewers, personnel analysts, probation officers and writers.

For more information, visit the Psychology program.

Public Health

This is an exciting time to pursue a career in public health. The United States and the world face major challenges in meeting the health needs of our populations. Most of these problems are not going to be solved by advances in medical technologies or new treatments alone, but rather require finding new ways of delivering health care to people, changing the way people work and live by promoting healthy lifestyles and empowering communities to make changes. A degree in public health will put you in a good position to make your mark in these areas. Public health is a versatile degree, and students in the Public Health program learn transferable skills that can easily be applied in other non-public health settings. A degree in public health can lead to jobs in health education, public policy, healthcare, and many other fields. Whether you want to help people access better health care, improve the quality of health care services in your community, investigate the causes of different infectious or chronic diseases and/or implement effective interventions to prevent certain illnesses in your community, the field of public health is the right choice for you.

Public health offers rewarding careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • Public health practice/program management
  • Biomedical laboratory
  • Biostatistics
  • Epidemiology
  • Environmental health
  • Health education/behavioral science
  • Health promotion
  • Health services administration
  • International health
  • Nutrition
  • Public policy

For more information, visit the Public Health program.


UC Merced Sociology graduates have pursued careers in both the public and private sectors. Alumni are working in a variety of professional settings including in social services organizations (such as the United Way and public health offices), community-based agencies (e.g. environmental, education, arts, community advocacy), K-12 schools and districts, human resources and marketing and university administration offices. Sociology majors have earned graduate degrees in numerous fields, including public health, nonprofit administration and higher education. They are also pursuing careers in academia at top sociology graduate programs.

The sociology major also prepares students for a variety of other careers, including:

  • Public policy
  • Education
  • Law
  • Social work
  • Human resources
  • Research
  • Politics
  • Criminal justice
  • Student affairs

For more information, visit the Sociology program.


Spanish is particularly useful in international business and trade, community and social service, healthcare and in the foreign service. Spanish majors interested in becoming professional writers may seek positions in publishing, journalism or editing. Majoring in Spanish also provides excellent preparation for graduate and professional studies of law, social welfare, library science, business, public administration, education, international relations and journalism, among other fields.

Most employers appreciate employees with knowledge of a second language; Spanish in particular is frequently demanded. In order to use a language in an efficient manner, the speaker should be familiar with the main social traits that define the native speakers of such a language, as well as with their cultural manifestations, literature and history. Knowledge of the particularities of the language associated with professions is also a relevant tool to relate to and work with native speakers.

For more information, visit the Spanish program.