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What Is a General Studies Degree?

For students who don't wish to choose a major but still want to earn a college degree, a general studies degree program may be a good choice. General studies degree programs typically provide the breadth and flexibility not commonly found in traditional degree sequences. Read on to find out more about this course of study.

A Degree in General Studies - The Basics

College students who are having difficulty deciding on a course of study may pursue a degree in general studies. This relatively new degree program, offered at both associate and bachelor's degree levels, provides students with the flexibility to explore a variety of subjects. Offering study in many fields, the program can help prepare students for work in numerous settings, as well as readying them for advanced study in a specific field. Most programs require students to complete a set number of course hours in broad fields of study, along with several hours of general electives. Students may also be able to choose an area of concentration, for which they must complete additional course hours.

Important Facts About General Studies Degrees

Prerequisites High school diploma or GED equivalent
Degrees Associate of Arts (A.A.); Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
Online Availability Yes, coursework from a variety of fields available
Possible Careers Administrative Assistant, Copywriter, Software Consultant
Median Salary (2018)$38,880 (Secretaries and Administrative Assistants)
$62,170 (Writers and Authors)
$88,740 (Computer Systems Analysts)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)-5% decline (Secretaries and Administrative Assistants)
8% (Writers and Authors)
9% (Computer Systems Analysts)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

General Studies Subject Areas

The following list contains a few examples of subject areas encountered in a general studies degree program:

Arts and Humanities

The arts and humanities portion of a general studies program offers students the chance to explore many different aesthetic and historical topics. The majority of the courses in this portion explore human expression and thought. A variety of subjects are examined, such as comparative literature, history, philosophy, world languages and anthropology.

Specific courses in these disciplines may cover topics like mass media, visual arts, creative writing, musical genres, theatre, critical thinking and literary masterpieces. Students may also study a foreign language or even, in some bachelor's degree program curricula, encounter opportunities to study abroad.

Creative Arts

This portion of the degree program introduces students to a variety of topics related to the creative arts. To fulfill this area's requirements, students may undergo specific courses on topics like dance, creative writing, music, and theater. Specific courses can cover jazz, poetry, and film.

Social and Behavioral Sciences

The courses in this section of the program examine the way individuals relate to one another. Students explore many current sociological theories and are introduced to fields including anthropology, geography, psychology and political science. Specifically, students may undertake classes in subjects such as economic policy, interpersonal relationships, society and technology, archaeology, and international politics.