The University of Massachusetts Amherst

What it means to be a student in SBS at UMass

A tour guide gives a tour on the Metawampe lawn in front of the Integrative Learning Center (ILC).

Students and faculty in the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences study human behavior through the lens of the social sciences, gaining deep knowledge about individuals, societies and cultures to help solve the most pressing issues of the day. The College houses eleven majors, fifteen departments, and an Exploratory Track to help focus your interests. As an SBS major, you are guided by SBS Pathways – our integrative approach to curriculum and advising – ensuring that you become a critical thinker, well-rounded individual, and skilled and innovative professional. 

You’ll receive a rigorous, well-rounded education that will prepare you for a career and for life while leaving you inspired and motivated to make an impact.


Our SBS Pathways approach guides you to make proactive and empowered choices as you pursue academic, co-curricular, experiential, and professional opportunities. We believe that no liberal arts education is complete without an integration of all of these aspects of your college experience, and we offer you the support and the challenge to design your own unique SBS Pathways with a sense of inquiry and purpose.

As an SBS student, start thinking now about how you’ll incorporate these important resources and opportunities into your own SBS Pathways throughout your college years:

Passionate faculty members who are involved in research and production work outside the classroom. Get to know them and ask about opportunities to work alongside them as a teaching or research assistant. Cultivate relationships with your professors, as they can become your mentors, and they’ll challenge your thinking and inspire your journey.

Interdisciplinary exposure to other majors, graduate programs, and schools at UMass. Use your General Education requirements and electives to explore new fields, develop your passion, and mold your studies to fit you. You might want to pursue a secondary major, minor, or certificate to round out your primary major.

Holistic professional advising to help you achieve your academic and professional goals. Call on your advisors to guide you every step of the way or only on occasion, helping you pick your classes and stay on track for graduation. They can help to point you toward internships, study abroad courses, research opportunities, Honors options, Community Engaged Service Learning courses, and professional development resources and opportunities. They have a holistic view of student success, so they can help you to think about how to integrate the various elements of your education.

Experiential learning that takes you outside the UMass classroom, offering you opportunities to apply your learning and then integrate new insights back into your studies.  Think about how you’d like to experience the world so you can make it your own and transform it. Follow your areas of interest and gain real world experience through volunteering, study abroad, domestic exchange, and leadership positions or team-based experiences in organizations that interest you.

Undergraduate research opportunities that will allow you to dive in right now, not just as a graduate student. Even if you’re not planning on graduate school, you’ll need research skills in many careers, from marketing, to policy work, to nonprofit management. In fact, research experience (along with internships, critical thinking, and teambuilding and interpersonal skills) is among the qualifications employers say they’d like to see more of in their job applicants. Past students have developed political science research tools, explored the impacts of poverty on child biology, and coauthored published studies with professors.

Professional development experiences including internships, job shadowing, informational interviews, alumni networking events, and workshops that teach you professional etiquette, interview skills, resume and LinkedIn profile building, and strategies for approaching your internship and job searches. Professional development doesn’t begin at the end of college. It’s an ongoing process of reflecting on your values and interests, building your skills and experience, exploring a variety of fields, and learning how to translate all of that into a strategy that connects you with the career opportunities you find meaningful.

Check out the whole SBS website as well as the departmental pages, and reach out with questions. We’re here to help you as you navigate your educational experience, plan for your future, and build your place within it.

Visit the SBS Pathways page to learn more about the elements of your SBS Pathways and the many forms of support you have throughout SBS.