If you are not sure exactly what you want to study but know you want to pursue a degree that will give you a solid foundation, a general studies degree is a great option. But, what is a general studies degree?
The answer is that general studies degrees can be many things, but first and foremost, they are liberal arts programs designed to teach you how to read, think, and speak critically. These are applicable skills for almost any discipline or profession.
General studies graduates typically pursue a variety of career paths, including government, finance, human services, and communications. Again, this is because the degree prepares students with a wide range of skills they can apply to different fields.
Online General Studies Degree Programs
Many general studies degree programs are offered online. This is great news because online programs offer optimal flexibility. Online programs also typically save students a lot of money. Between not moving away for college and not having to commute or pay for a dorm room, online students can save quite a bit of money. You also don’t have to drop what you’re doing to pursue a college degree, meaning you can keep your job.
If you are in an asynchronous program (classes are not live), you can watch lectures and log in to your online classroom on your own time. This means you have all of the flexibility in the world to keep your schedule as it is while making some space for your degree.
General studies is a great online degree option for students who have many transferable credits. This is because most general studies degree programs are likely to accept substantial credits from a previous program. Most other coursework will be transferable to general studies programs because they are so broad and encompass so many different fields.
General Studies Degree Program Curriculum
General studies curricula are very flexible for each student and their interests. Online students can usually choose from a vast course catalog each semester as they work on their general studies course requirements and electives. Here is a sample of some of the areas of study that a general studies degree requires:
- Social Sciences
- English Composition
- Natural Sciences
You might notice that these are very broad topics. They are broad or “general” on purpose. A general studies program lets students build a broad academic foundation before focusing their studies on career goals. That said, most bachelor’s degree programs in general studies require students to eventually choose a concentration. This is so students have a more concrete path to follow during their last two years of the program.
General studies degree programs are built to help students acquire valuable and in-demand skills they can apply to many different jobs. Let’s now look into each degree level available for general studies degrees in more detail.
Online Associate Degree in General Studies
An Associate Degree in General Studies is perfect for someone who intends to get a bachelor’s degree but is still on the fence about what they want to study. An academic advisor would suggest general studies to some students who want to enter a degree program but who are still undecided about what career path to choose.
If they decide they truly enjoy general studies, they can move on to a Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies. However, students will likely hone in on their interests during their time in a general studies associate degree program and go on to a more focused bachelor of arts program.
Top Online Associate Degree in General Studies Programs
There are a good amount of reputable, accredited online associate general studies degree programs to choose from. Many of them are at community colleges or junior colleges. Many colleges that offer an Associate Degree in General Studies strive to make their programs accessible to all, especially non-traditional students.
Here are just a few of the best online general studies degree programs:
Pierce College is a small college in Philadelphia that caters to non-traditional, career-oriented students. It specializes in education programs and in making its programs easily accessible to all students: from traditional college-age students to working parents.
Its online associate degree program in general studies is an excellent introduction to higher education. It is flexible, customizable, and intended for first-time college students who are still dipping their toes into the world of higher education. It is so flexible that students can build their own programs based on their interests in general studies. The program is 61 credits and based entirely online. It is designed for learners who intend to eventually pursue four-year degrees.
Utah State University offers two different online associate degrees in general studies: an Associate of Arts in General Studies and an Associate of Science in General Studies. Students can customize their programs through different interdisciplinary course offerings.
This Wyoming-based online Associate Degree in General Studies requires 62 credits. Half of those credits are in general studies disciplines including communication, exploration and participation, and physical education.
This program is designed for students who have different life experiences. Whether you just graduated from high school or you’re returning to college after many years, this 60-credit program offers an even playing field.
Online Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies
A Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies is the next and most advanced degree option in general studies. As previously mentioned, a bachelor’s degree is a great option for students who know they would benefit from a general degree to finish their studies. This is especially true for transfer students, who for a variety of reasons may not have gotten a chance to finish their degree. If this is you and you have started coursework at one or more institutions, general studies might be your fastest and most efficient path toward finishing your bachelor’s degree.
Because a Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies is 120 credits, it gives students more time to deepen their studies in the interdisciplinary program. General studies bachelor’s degree programs typically require students to choose a concentration so that they can prepare for a particular career track. Some concentrations may include:
- Criminal Justice
- Information Science
- Public Health
Top Online Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies Programs
SNHU’s online Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies is specifically designed with transfer students in mind. Students can transfer up to 90 transfer credits from unfinished programs at other institutions.
This two-year online program is one of the most reputable in the country. It is intended for transfer students with 52 to 64 transferable credits from a regionally-accredited institution. Students can transfer to BU and then complete their online Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies.
Applicants to this Tampa-based, fully online program are required to hold an associate degree or hold 60 transferable credits in order to be admitted into the program. The program is 60-credits and is a great option for those looking to complete their Bachelor of Arts in General Studies.
Accreditation and Financial Aid
Remember that accreditation is one of the most important factors you should be researching during your school and program search. Make sure that the college and the program it offers are accredited. Be sure to do your research thoroughly when looking at online school ranking resource guides and confirm that the program you are applying to is regionally accredited by an accrediting body.
Having a plan for how to finance your education is almost as important as accreditation. Make sure to look into the exact cost of each program you’re considering. Remember that every program is different, and depending on what kind of college or university is offering the program, it may be very affordable or very expensive. Look into colleges in your state that may offer lower online tuition for in-state residents. Also, be sure to apply for financial aid to make sure that you are in the running for federal and state grants and scholarships.
Career Prospects for General Studies Degree Graduates
General studies graduates have many career tracks available to them after completing their studies. The applicable skills you gain in this interdisciplinary degree allow you the flexibility to pursue jobs and careers that most interest you.
The career outlook for general studies graduates is favorable because it is so broad. Here are a few of the major career paths that general studies graduates pursue.
Social and Human Services
Human services is a versatile field focused on improving the quality and accessibility of social services to the people who need them. Human services professionals need the kind of applicable skills that general studies graduates have. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, human services jobs are set to increase by 13 percent by 2028.
Job titles in the broad human services field include:
- Human Services Assistant
- Social Worker
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Criminal Justice Professional
- Case Manager
Finance and business jobs are always in demand. It’s exciting that general studies graduates can jump into one of the largest and most high-paying fields out there. General studies bachelor’s degree graduates who concentrate in finance or a related field will have the math and accounting skills needed to enter this career path.
This path for general studies degree holders has the highest earning potential. For example, financial analysts earn a median annual salary of over $85,000 per year. Job titles in the finance and business fields include:
- Sales Manager
- Personal Finance Advisor
- Market Research Analyst
- Financial Analyst
- Business Development Representative/Manager
General studies graduates make excellent marketing professionals because they are well-rounded and have dipped their toes into many different disciplines. Marketing is all about understanding the consumer, the brand, and the product, and general studies degree holders are well-positioned to do that well. According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, a marketing manager makes an average annual salary of $149,200.
Communications is a vast field with many subfields, including public relations, mass communications, journalism, and other media. The field is an excellent fit for general studies graduates for the same reasons that marketing is a good fit for general studies graduates. Students have the kind of interdisciplinary critical thinking skills to thrive in diverse fields.
Job titles in marketing and communications include:
- Marketing Manager
- Public Relations Manager
- Market Research Analyst
- Communications Specialist
Other Potential Career Paths
Some graduates go in other directions and focus more directly on one of the disciplines that they explored in their general studies program. For example, graduates can pursue their interest in the natural sciences, like biology or chemistry, and pursue entry-level research jobs in those fields. Similarly, students can pursue an additional degree program and work toward other related careers like teaching and public health.
General studies can be everything you want it to be. You can build a solid academic foundation, learn applicable skills, and eventually, in a bachelor of arts program, hone in on a professional concentration.
Consider opting for an online degree to keep your options open and make your degree program as flexible as possible. If you are just getting started in your higher education journey, an associate degree is the way to go.
An online Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies is a great option for students who already hold an associate degree or who are interested in going back to school to complete a previously unfinished degree.
Use this guide as an opportunity to explore what’s out there and earn your online general studies degree.