STS at UWB - Frequently Asked Questions

What is STS?

Here at UW Bothell, we think of STS as being the study of how science and technology are made, and how they form part of social and political life. For us, STS stands for “Science, Technology and Society,” but it can also mean “Science and Technology Studies,” or even “Social Studies of Science and Technology.” 

Who should choose STS?

The students who will most enjoy majoring in STS are those who are curious about the history of science and technology, who are concerned about ethical and policy issues related to new developments in science and technology, who want to understand the technical controversies they hear about in the news, or who are committed to making complicated technical subjects comprehensible to others.  

What will I study as an STS major?

STS majors take courses that examine science and technology from a broad range of perspectives. In Understanding Statistics (BIS 315) and Science Methods and Practice (BES 301), students learn to think like a scientist – to formulate research hypotheses, collect data, and reason with numbers. In Science, Technology, and Society (BISSTS 307), the core class in the STS major, students learn to think like a social scientist, and to approach science as a social, cultural, and political practice. For their remaining STS courses, students choose classes that examine how social, scientific, and technological factors intertwine in areas ranging from environmental restoration to global health.   

How is STS different from S&T?

STS is a major field of study within the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (IAS) Program. STS majors primarily take courses offered through the IAS program, including Interdisciplinary Inquiry (BIS 300) and the Portfolio Capstone (BIS 499). S&T refers to the Science and Technology Program, which has its own majors (like Biology and Electrical Engineering) and an independent set of degree requirements. Students in the STS program may take S&T classes to fulfill General Elective and Natural World requirements – just as S&T students may take STS courses to fulfill some of the requirements for their majors.

Will I learn to be a scientist in the STS major?

No. While students graduate with an excellent understanding of scientific reasoning and practices, the STS major is not designed for students wanting to work in a laboratory or go to graduate school in the natural sciences. Rather than mastering the principles and findings of a technical discipline, students learn the skills of social scientific analysis and how they can be applied to science, technology, medicine, and mathematics.

What kind of job can I get with a degree in STS?

STS majors are ideally suited for jobs that require the ability to both understand technical reasoning and analyze human behavior and social interactions. Depending on their interests, course choices, and other experiences such as internships, an STS major might pursue a career in sales and marketing for a high-tech company, become a policy analyst of a non-profit activist around issues of health, transportation, or the environment, or go into science education or journalism.

Can I go to graduate school with an STS degree?

Yes! Many U.S. universities (not to mention a larger number of European ones) offer master’s degrees and doctorates in Science and Technology Studies or closely related fields like History and Philosophy of Science. But STS majors are also well equipped for graduate programs in the social sciences and humanities, including anthropology, sociology, history, and policy studies, as well as for law school and M.B.A. programs.