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Northwestern University

Area III: Social and Behavioral Sciences

NOTE: Students who start taking classes at Northwestern after Spring 2023 should refer to the FD-SBS: Social and Behavioral Sciences page. The information below pertains to students who started at Northwestern Spring 2023 or earlier.

The area of social and behavioral sciences introduces you to theories, methods, and empirical research findings focusing on human behavior and its relation to social, cultural, economic, and political groups and institutions. Courses examine the evidence for generally applicable statements about individual and group behavior, as well as social actions, policies, and institutions.

Why study social and behavioral sciences?

It is vital to understand your social and institutional environment. What are the relationships between money supply, interest rates, and government spending on the one hand and unemployment, inflation, and balance-of-payment deficits on the other? What are the impacts of race, class, and gender on the social system? What factors influence human behavior and development? In confronting questions such as these, you learn how social and behavioral scientists form hypotheses, construct models, and test their validity. You will then be able to make more reasoned judgments about complex problems of modern society.

Choosing courses

Review the list of approved courses in social sciences. Each social science department offers one or more introductory survey courses, most of which can be followed by other approved courses that introduce major sub-fields or that provide an in-depth look at more specific areas of study.

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