General Studies

A general studies program may be pursued by students who don't yet know what to study, or by those who want to design a program around their particular goals. Read on to learn more about areas of specialization, careers and potential earnings for general studies students.

Is General Studies for Me?

Overview of the Field

Some general studies programs are geared toward nontraditional students, while others are designed for those who want a broad education in a variety of subjects. You may be able to earn either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in General Studies, depending on the direction you choose to pursue. The majority of programs are interdisciplinary in nature and include courses in the physical and social sciences, humanities and literature. Instruction in a foreign language, such as French, may also be required.

Career Options

A general studies program can lay the foundation for additional education and a career in business, health services, law or social services. For example, you may apply to a Master of Business Administration program or medical school. The critical thinking skills acquired in a general studies program may qualify you for admission to law school and the opportunity to earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.). If your curriculum included a specialization in religious studies, you might enter a seminary and pursue a career in ministry.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2013, those employed in business and financial operations occupations earned a mean annual wage of $71,020. In the same year, mean annual salaries for legal professionals ranged from $51,170 for a legal assistant or paralegal to $131,990 for a lawyer. As of May 2013 healthcare practitioners and technical occupations earned a mean annual wage of $74,740 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in General Studies?

Degree Programs and Concentrations

Undergraduate general studies programs typically require core coursework in communication arts, English composition, literature and mathematics. Additional requirements include concentrations in the arts and humanities or the behavioral sciences. You could also choose a specialization in applied sciences or natural sciences.

Some schools offer or require one or more minors, which may allow for a more in-depth study of biology, health sciences, sports studies or psychology. In these individualized courses of study, you might compliment a concentration in the performing arts and/or writing with one or more minors in English, film, media arts or theatre. Along with personal enjoyment, a diverse and interdisciplinary education may provide you with the advantage in the job market.

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