I am almost done with my bachelor's degree in a STEM field (Computer Science).

I wanted to ask if it is possible to transition into the social sciences, after I am done with my bachelor's? I'm interested in Political Science, and especially International Relations.

If yes, how easy is it? Will I need to enroll for another bachelor's degree or will it be feasible to directly apply for a Master's?

Background: I have done introductory courses in Economics, Sociology and Environmental Politics. And I am doing my bachelor's thesis for a research experience but it is in CS.


3 Answers 3


One option would be to find a master that is "half-way" between computer science and social science. For example, there are a number of master programs focusing on applying data science on social science problems, like this one https://www.uni-konstanz.de/en/study/before-you-study/study-programmes/masters-degree/social-and-economic-data-science-msc/ .


Questions of the "can I get into?" type usually come down to what a university will let you do. And that usually comes down to a letter of recommendation from a prof or two.

My prof got into a PhD program in physics at Cambridge. This was because he had a letter of recommendation from Einstein. He had no undergrad degree.

There was a co-student of mine when in my PhD in particle physics. He had a degree in linguistics. But he took a bunch of math and physics classes because he was interested. And he got a good recommendation. So he was doing just fine in his PhD in particle physics. It was a little intimidating when he would be reading three different languages before lunch.

These days, the contact info and course catalog should be on the net for many schools. Scope out what universities there are that might be interesting to you. Find the departments that have programs you might like to take. Send them some emails asking what their requirements are and if your case specifically would qualify.

You may be able to contact the support staff. Be very nice to them. They can help you a lot. The secretary of the department chair will likely know every detail of what you need.

Try to be specific in your email. Say what you are in now, when you expect to finish, and the degree you are interested in. Ask specifically if you meet the requirements.

Possibly you will come very near to meeting the requirements. Consider whether you would be willing to do a couple classes at the new university before you start your degree. Maybe a year with a smaller class load but some kind of employment would work. Maybe some sort of TA job at the university can be arranged. Then start the real degree, maybe only one semester late.


For entry into a Masters program, the usual expectation is that the student already has an undergraduate-level understanding of the field, either from having already done an undergraduate degree in that field or from related study or demonstrated self-learning. From your description, you have done some introductory courses, but it does not sound like you have a full undergraduate education in your desired field. Even with a sprinkling of electives in introductory social science topics, your existing undergraduate degree in computer science would not have much cross-over with social science. Unless you have undertaken substantial self-learning in the latter field it is unlikely that you would have the background for direct entry to a Masters program, and it would be unusual for a university to admit you directly.

The usual process in cases like this is that a student will undertake a bachelor's degree in the field of interest before progression to a Masters program, or possibly a lower-level graduate program. In some cases the university might offer an accelerated bachelors program (e.g., cutting down certain course requirements) based on the fact that the student has already done an undergraduate degree in another field, or even something like a Graduate Diploma program to act as a bridging program at graduate level. This would depend on the policies and programs in the particular university, and you should talk directly to the Graduate Coordinator in the relevant Department of interest to you to get more information. (You might also be interested in this related question by another student seeking entry to a PhD program in another field from their present area of study.)

As to whether it is "easy" to transition from STEM into social science, well, it is no harder (and possibly a bit easier) than going into a social science degree directly from school. Plenty of 18 year-olds manage to go directly into undergraduate social science degrees and succeed, with no previous university background. I see no reason that an older university graduate with an existing STEM degree would have any more trouble entering the field than a bunch of people in their late teens.

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