3

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?

7
  • 2
    "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.) May 21 '19 at 16:52
  • 4
    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
  • 2
    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
  • 10
    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
  • 2
    As far as humanities go, the history of science would readily accept your background Oct 18 '19 at 19:37
1

I am not totally familiar with how social science graduate programs work. But, in general, in order to have success with grad school applications after your undergraduate: (1) you should show you have the theoretical knowledge needed to succeed in your research and graduate studies (2) AND you should show some hands-on experience, at least tangentially, related to the area of research and study you want to pursue.

If you want to get into some interdisciplinary areas like computational social science, e.g. social network data analysis, your computer science background is a definite asset that definitely helps you both get into the program and get ahead in your studies. If a program of choice is interdisciplinary enough, they may not care about your lack of coursework in humanity or suggest you take prerequisites as part of their program.

However, if you don't want to "beat around the bush", so to speak, and get into more theoretical and pure social science fields, I think you need to take the essential coursework similar to what students with those majors take. Having research in social science beforehand also would work if you can allocate some time for that. It may require you to take an extra year to take all the extra credits but I argue that it also benefits you and increases your success in grad school, even considering the fact that you are a self-studied and well-versed person in social science. Grad school is not often a good place to catch up with fundamentals. I think it is important to take your time and build the foundations before starting your grad school studies.

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.