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high school history and social science classes

Complete List of High School History and Social Science Classes

Keep reading to learn more about high school history and social science classes available in the school's curriculum and decide which classes will be suitable for your interest and your four-year high school plan!
What are Social Sciences classes?   

We’ve been seeing the phrase “Social Science” being thrown around a lot. However, students who haven’t started or had newly entered the high school world may not fully understand what Social Science entails.   

Social Science is a major category of academic disciplines that focuses on studying human society and social relationships within a complex national and global context. Economics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, etc., are all within the category of “Social Sciences”.  

Choose classes from high school and college's perspective

When choosing high school classes, students are required to take at least two years of high school social science and history classes. This requirement may be different for private schools, but generally speaking, 2-3 years of history and social science classes will fulfill the requirements. Therefore, before making a decision, you should ask yourself these questions:  

  • Am I planning to pursue History & Social Science in college further?   
  • Do I feel challenged by the classes that I am taking?  
  • Are my classes among the more rigorous ones available to me at my school?  
  • Am I seeking a challenge or avoiding it?   

From a college admissions perspective, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of social science classes when applying to a liberal arts college. American Liberal Arts colleges “impart a broad general knowledge and develop general intellectual capacities, in contrast to a professional, vocational, or technical curriculum.”  

Generally speaking, colleges have different requirements and suggestions when it comes to social science classes. For example, Harvard University emphasizes students choose the most rigorous curricula available. Ideally, students are recommended to take “three years of History, including American and European history.”   

Another example is Pomona College, a school with a top-ranking liberal arts program. Pomona strongly recommends students take three years of social science classes. Even though this is not a requirement due to the unpredictable movement of the current pandemic, taking into consideration Pomona’s suggestion will help you navigate and do proper planning for colleges.   

We’ve also written a great article about guiding students to create a four-year high school plan focusing on college admission.   

High School History and Social Science Classes
World History

In the World History class, you will be introduced to critical moments in the world’s History, from historical figures, events, and ideas that shaped the past, the present, and future. You will also learn to understand and analyze the rise and fall of civilization and life challenges in a globalized world.  

U.S History

This course surveys the history of the United States, the origin of American civilization. Students will learn topics and events that lead to the United States’ historical moments, for example, The Civil War, The Great Depression, and The Cold War, etc.  

European History

European History course introduces students to study social, economic, cultural, intellectual, political, and diplomatic History of Modern Europe from approximately 1450 (the high Renaissance) to the present.  

Economics (Macroeconomics and Microeconomics)

In the economics class, students will learn how society chooses to use its limited resources. You will study U.S. Economic institutions, international trade, the stock market and personal finance, environmental economics, money, and banking. Areas of topics covered can range from Microeconomics to Macroeconomics. 

U.S. Government and Politics

The topics covered in a high school U.S. government course are designed to prepare students to be competent citizens who understand and are capable of participating in the nation’s political processes. Additionally, students should practice the skills needed to think critically, weigh evidence, make informed decisions, and participate in political processes. 

Human Geography

This is more of a preparation course for AP Human Geography because Human Geography will prepare you with knowledge about how humans have understood, used, and changed Earth’s surface. Students use geographers’ tools and thinking processes to examine patterns of human population, migration, and land use. 


In this course, students will learn about different psychology areas, but not limited to traditional areas of learning, memory, development, personalities, behaviors, psychopathology, psychotherapy, and the modern regions of forensic psychology, terrorism, gender psychology, and much more. Students will also learn the practical application of psychology in everyday life.  

AP Classes

  • AP History: World History – Covers the cultural, economic, political, and social developments that have shaped the world from c. 1200 to the present 
  • AP History: European History – Covers the cultural, economic, political, and social developments that have shaped Europe from c. 1450 to the present 
  • AP History: United States History – Covers the cultural, economic, political, and social developments that have shaped the United States from c. 1491 to the present.  

In addition to History, there are several AP Classes that students can take in the area of High School Social Sciences:

  • AP Comparative Government and Politics – Examines the political institutions and processes of six different countries—China, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and the United Kingdom—and compares the ways they address problems.   
  • AP Human Geography – Explores how humans have understood, used, and changed the surface of Earth. 
  • AP Macroeconomics – Covers the principles of economics that apply to an economic system. 
  • AP Microeconomics – Covers the principles of economics that apply to the behavior of individuals.   
  • AP Psychology – Understand the ideas, theories, and methods of the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. 
  • AP US Government and Politics – study the key concepts and institutions of the political system and culture of the United States

IB Classes

IB offers various classes within the area of History that focuses on different topics such as Society and Economy (750-1400), Causes and Effects of Wars (750-1500), etc. Overall, the IB history courses require students to study and compare examples from different world regions, helping to foster international-mindedness.  

More information about the class list is available on the IB website.   

Take your interest in Social Science further...

If you’re interested in this subject and way to discover ways to advance your knowledge, consider

Design your own course

Many high schools offer the option of independent study, where you take your topic of interest in a subject and conduct research/study 1-on-1 with a teacher. If you want to learn more about, for example, the Vietnam War during 1975 and the social impact post-war, you can reach out to a History teacher at school to express your interest and ask for mentorship in the independent study. The initiative and drive to advance your study will help you in college and in your career and create a great impression with the college admission when you submit your application.  

Participate in a social science summer program

Check out our guide to the top social science summer programs, with programs at Ivy League schools such as Columbia University, Harvard University, Yale University, and Stanford University as well as other top schools.

Take an online class

Online classes are available anywhere and anytime on different platforms such as Aralia. At Aralia, we offer four history classes for beginners and advanced students. Aralia’s history tutors are inspired teachers and professors who are committed to student success. They are recognized in their field or are currently teaching at top high schools and colleges/universities in the US. More information is provided below: 

Signature Courses
History Research and Writing

Through Historical Research and Writing, students will learn about choosing a topic, composing research questions, effective research methods, drafting, composing, and revising. These skills will be taught with an emphasis on historical research, allowing students to engage in analysis of primary and secondary sources, discover interesting insights in history, and partake in the active pursuit of understanding the importance of historical study.

Academic Turoring
European History

In this course, we will cover a period from the height of Ancient Greece to the middle of the sixteenth century, as we study the emergence of the first civilizations around modern day Europe and the trajectory of their development into Western society. We will examine the contributions of Greece and Rome and how they expanded their empires; how ideas are conceived, put into practice, and have social consequences; how and why their empires collapsed; how people and societies existed during the Middle Ages; how numerous cultures developed values and coexisted/clashed with others; and how a broken Europe, after several starts, reinvigorated itself with the Renaissance, and split again in the Reformation.

World History

This course will allow students to discover important moments in World History while developing academic, writing, and communication skills. By studying, reading, and writing about World History, students will gain a better understanding of how the modern world came to be and how past events dictate current ones.

American History

Explore the rise and fall of empires, the clash, and encounter of cultures, plagues, religious fervor, and political intrigue and war. This course aims to discover the complex interactions between Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans in different regions of North America across more than 500 years of history​.


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