The University of Wollongong will offer a bachelor of social science from 2015, after teen focus groups and past graduates showed demand exists for a dedicated degree.
The three-year qualification is the most significant addition to UOW's offerings in decades.
Graduating students are expected to go on to jobs in government policy, community development, psychology, social work, environmental protection, public policy, urban and regional planning and development, foreign aid, health promotion and market research.
UOW students have found jobs in these fields in the past, using qualifications such as the bachelor of science (population health).
The bachelor of social science will reconfigure some existing courses, place new emphasis on others and offer a hefty 10 core subject areas as majors.
At a launch event on Wednesday, Vice-Chancellor Paul Wellings told area high school teachers the new degree program would plug a hole in UOW's existing offerings.
"The social sciences didn't have the coherence around them that you might have expected for a university of the University of Wollongong's standing, or for the kind of social issues we confront here and [around] Australia," he said.
Students will nominate a major during their second year, choosing from social policy, indigenous studies, community, culture and environment, criminology, human geography, public health, sociology, psychology and social marketing.
Lesley Head, head of UOW's Department of Geography and Sustainable Communities, said the field would be at least as important as science in future as social problems such as food scarcity, resulting from over-reliance on fossil fuels, were felt.
"The next 50 to 100 years are really very significant in the future of the species.
"We know for sure the social fabric will be tested to its absolute limit," she said.
John Steele, executive dean of UOW's Faculty of Social Sciences, said focus groups of year 11 and year 12 students had contributed to demonstrating demand for a dedicated social science degree, which was expected to attract 200-250 students next year.
He said the Illawarra would benefit from an influx of locally taught graduates with an interest in community development.
"We live in a complex world, with a lot of technology change, a lot of economic change and global change and we need to think about graduates who are better equipped to understand the world and are better contributors to the world," he said.