I am a senior computer science major at a state school in the US. I have done internships at "Big 4" companies in my field as well as CS research with NSF grants.

I am interested in getting a Master's degree in a social science (history, English, or something related) but am not sure how I could get a school to look at my application. They are looking for students who have extensive experience and internships in related fields, which I don't have.

For what it's worth, I write very well and read copiously in my free time. My standardized test scores bear this out; when I took the SAT in high school, I got perfect scores on the reading and writing sections. Professors have also been very impressed with my analyses in humanities classes, though I haven't taken very many of them.

I understand that it probably wouldn't be so hard to get into a state school, but it would be nice to be accepted to a top 10 or so university. Is there a good way to get these schools to consider my application?

  • "State school" and "top 10" are not distinct categories and probably have a large overlap. (e.g. in my field Berkeley, Michigan, and UCLA are certainly top 10.) – Noah Snyder May 21 '19 at 16:52
  • Social science or humanities? Many social science disciplines would be great places to leverage a more analytical background. For the humanities it might be more of a stretch. – Bryan Krause May 21 '19 at 17:19
  • 1
    If you are interested in applying your CS background to social science, or even humanities, you will find many programs consider this a plus because there is a direct connection and they often take students with such a background. If you want to leave all the computing behind, its a tougher sell as you end up being unable to claim any specific background, only a general education. Still doable - especially if you are willing and able to shell out tuition for the masters degree - its just tougher to be seen as a good fit. – BrianH May 21 '19 at 17:45
  • @BrianH What are ways that computing can be applied to history or English? – therxv May 21 '19 at 17:51
  • 6
    That's actually a hot area currently - topic analysis and natural language processing methods for linguistic analysis especially is finding a use in both. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computational_history has a few useful references. Most Information departments are full of people using computational methods for social science, or using social science/humanities methods applied to technology (ethnography applied to social media is big, for example). Deep Learning applied to gender studies in film, computational linguistic analysis of newspaper headlines, big data + linguistics, etc. – BrianH May 21 '19 at 17:58

In the US, the undergraduate education is sufficiently broad that moving to a graduate program in a field other than your major is certainly possible and reasonable.

Of course the competition for entry into top schools is fierce, so any given individual has only a small chance.

But the only way to be certain is to apply. But best to apply to several places with somewhat different characteristics.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    In the US, the undergraduate education is sufficiently broad that moving to a graduate program in a field other than your major is certainly possible and reasonable — Careful. That may be true for small liberal-arts colleges, but it's certainly not true at my own public R1. I would expect most undergraduate engineering majors to be ill-prepared for (and unattractive to) most humanities graduate programs, and vice versa. – JeffE Jun 20 '19 at 22:25
  • Indeed. While the poster is getting a little confused between what is traditionally considered humanities and what is considered social science (and I have a background in both) a US undergraduate CS degree would not prepare the student for humanities graduate research. The style and amount of writing, alone, would be a dive into the deep end, nevermind the complete lack of relevant theory or research methods training. – GrotesqueSI Oct 19 '19 at 8:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.