Master’s options in humanities & social sciences

Master’s options in humanities & social sciences


Investments in the rural sector as well as opportunities arising out of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives are driving many students to this field, says Mumbaibased counsellor Swati Salunkhe.The discipline is gaining in popularity because rural development is essential for India's economy. It is associated with steps taken to improve living standards in villages.

“Being niche, rural studies programmes attract students with focused goals,“ says Salunkhe. They are designed to help students understand development issues related to (rural) society, specifically in India. R Ramesh, assistant professor, National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD), Hyderabad, says, “Rural development is a multidisciplinary field. You need to have a grasp of several subjects such as economics, sociology, public administration, project management and so on.“ It is important to pursue an MA in the discipline as employers prefer it for jobs with fat pay cheques, says Salunkhe. Besides, a specialisation is at the centre of MA programmes, which give students a leg-up in research.

The job options include programme planning, teaching, research, policy research and analysis, administration, social work and management. In the banking sector, one can become a rural development officer for agribusiness, rural entrepreneurship, micro-finance and rural infrastructure support programmes.


Bangalore University, Indira Gandhi National Open University, Annamalai University, National Institute for Rural Development & Panchayati Raj (Hyderabad), Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Nagpur University.Several universities accept students from any discipline, while some conduct entrance tests


People proficient in French, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, German, Arabic and Spanish are in demand in India, particularly in foreign companies based here. Also, many schools and tertiary-level institutes teach foreign languages.

A Master's degree in one of these languages gives a candidate an edge, says Mahidas Bhattacharya, director, School of Language and Linguistics, Jadavpur University, Kolkata. Foreign language experts are required in all sectors.

“Language courses play a crucial role in developing one's mind. It is important for students to inculcate knowledge oriented towards application. People in this field can either be self-employed like translators or work for companies,“ says Bhattacharya.

Where to study:

University of Calcutta, Jawaharlal Nehru University, University of Delhi and Banaras Hindu University, among others. Universities such as JNU conduct entrance tests, while others have different eligibility criteria. Embassy-backed institutes like Alliance Francaise, Max Mueller Bhavan or Instituto Cervantes do not require any qualification for courses at the beginner's level


There is now growing curiosity about Islamic history and culture; Hindu, Pali and Buddhist, Jain and Christian studies; and comparative religion. Students, particularly women, are keen to educate themselves about their and others' beliefs as misunderstood faiths have given rise to `religious' wars, says Annie Kunnath, assistant professor, Centre for Comparative Religion & Civilisations, Jamia Millia Islamia. “This is a leading cause of interest among those who wish to learn about the root of misinterpretation of religion."

Some religious studies programmes view religion through a specific lens, like death and the afterlife, or pilgrimage. Others offer a broad survey of the foundational aspects of world religions. Still others focus on scripture or the foundation of belief and theology. Siddharth Singh, head, department of Pali and Buddhist studies, Banaras Hindu University, says, “These are not job-oriented, but certainly broaden students' perspective on the religious front.“

After a religious studies programme, students can work primarily in academic institutions and nonprofits.They can become preachers, writers, tourist guides, translators, etc.

Where to study:

Punjabi University (Patiala), Central University of Kashmir, University of Madras, Andhra University, University of Hyderabad, North Eastern Hill University (Shillong) and Indira Gandhi National Open University. In general, graduates with a Bachelor's degree are eligible to apply


This discipline focuses on the scientific study of human social behaviour and society's origin, development, organisation and institutions. Shabeena Yasmin Saikia, associate professor, department of sociology, Tata Institute of Social Science, Guwahati, says, “Students choose sociology for their Master's as it gives them a broader perspective of society. In a developing nation like India, it is important for the younger generation to understand changes, not only from the economic angle but also from the sociological view.Sociological knowledge adds several dimensions to one's understanding of changes around."

The curriculum primarily covers ethnicity, demography, criminology, gender, stratification, caste, class and power, globalisation and research methodology.

After completing a Master's in sociology, one can opt for a career in teaching, research, administrative services, family and child development services, criminology, counselling (in schools), marriage or rehabilitation counselling, health education, etc.

Where to study:

University of Delhi, Jamia Millia Islamia, University of Pune, Bangalore University, University of Kerala, University of Madras and Banaras Hindu University. The eligibility criteria vary from one university to another. For instance, some universities conduct an entrance test while others insist on at least 50% marks at the Bachelor's level

Source: Times of India, Education Times 11 Apr'2016