With the constant evolution that the job market is witnessing today, it’s no surprise that you need to have a variety of skills and knowledge to work in many industries. Employers are looking for adaptable candidates who possess a plethora of skills that can be put to good use in different fields of work.

If you’re someone who has some professional experience, is returning to college to complete your degree, and are not sure how to match your education to your professional interests, then a degree in general studies may be a good fit for you. A program as flexible as a general studies degree allows you to tailor your coursework as per your interests, and leverage the existing skills you may have picked up and honed in your professional journey.  

In this article, we’ll answer the basics of a general studies degree and help you understand how you can make the most out of this program.

Typically designed for degree completers or adult learners, a general studies degree is a multidisciplinary program that allows you to explore a variety of subjects without specializing in one particular area. It may include courses from humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics.

This degree is ideal for students who have diverse interests, want to develop a broad knowledge base, and may have previous college experience that has earned them transfer credits. It can also be a good option for those who are unsure of their career path, as it offers a well-rounded education that can be applied to many different fields. 

Benefits of a General Studies Degree

A degree in general studies comes with numerous benefits. Let’s look at some of them.

  1. Flexibility and Versatility: A general studies degree allows you to tailor your education to your interests, combining courses from various disciplines. This kind of flexibility is beneficial in a rapidly changing job market where diverse skills and knowledge are valued.
  1. Offers a broad course of study and transfer credits: A general studies degree is specially designed for students who are not looking to specialize in a particular field, and are comfortable with a broad study course. Additionally, this degree allows students to transfer credits from previous educational degrees, in order to earn their current degree faster than usual.
  2. Broadened Perspective: By studying a range of subjects, you develop a broader understanding of the world, including its cultures, histories, and systems. This leads to greater empathy, better critical thinking skills, and the ability to see connections between different fields.
  1. Preparation for Multiple Career Paths: With the diverse skill set and broadened knowledge gained with a general studies degree, you would be prepared for a wide range of career paths. Upon graduation, you may pursue careers in education, business, communications, government, or non-profit sectors, among others.
  1. Personal and Professional Development: The versatility of a general studies degree fosters creativity, adaptability, and problem-solving skills, which are valuable in any profession. Additionally, you develop strong communication and teamwork skills through collaborative projects and diverse coursework.
  1. Foundation for Further Education: A general studies degree serves as a solid foundation for further education in specialized fields. Many students may use it as a stepping stone to graduate or professional programs, where their broad knowledge base can be an asset.

In a nutshell, a degree in general studies offers a unique opportunity to customize your education, gain a broad perspective, prepare for diverse career paths, develop valuable skills, and establish a strong foundation for future academic and professional pursuits.

Now that we have a fair understanding of what a general studies degree is and how you could benefit from it, let’s look at the different levels through which you could pursue this degree.

General studies degrees are typically offered at the undergraduate level, although some schools may offer graduate-level programs with a similar interdisciplinary focus. Here are the common undergraduate levels for a general studies degree:

Associate’s Degree (AA or AS):

An associate’s degree (AA or AS) in general studies is a two-year undergraduate program that offers a broad foundation in liberal arts and sciences. This degree requires around 60 credits and is designed for students who want to explore a variety of subjects before committing to a specific major or career path. The curriculum typically includes general education courses in areas such as English, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. In addition to these core requirements, students have the flexibility to choose elective courses based on their interests and goals. 

The admission requirements for an associate’s degree in general studies include a high school diploma or equivalent. Some colleges may also require standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT, while others may have placement tests for English and math. Additionally, certain schools may have specific GPA requirements for admission.

An associate’s degree in general studies is a great stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree, as many of the credits earned during this program can transfer to a four-year institution. It also  prepares you for entry-level positions in fields that value a broad educational background and strong critical thinking skills. 

Bachelor’s Degree (BA or BS):

A bachelor’s degree (BA or BS) in general studies is a four-year undergraduate program that requires around 120-130 credits, including general education, major, and elective courses. This degree is designed for students who have diverse interests and want to explore multiple fields of study without specializing in a single major.

The usual admission requirements for a bachelor’s degree in general studies include a high school diploma or equivalent, while some colleges may require standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT, and a minimum GPA. Additionally, some programs may have specific prerequisites or recommend coursework in high school to prepare for the program.

The curriculum for this program typically includes a combination of general education courses, elective courses, and a concentration or focus area. General education courses cover foundational subjects such as English, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. There are also a few elective courses that allow you to further customize your degree by selecting classes that align with your interests and career goals. In addition to these requirements, some programs may require you to choose a concentration or focus area within the general studies major. 

A bachelor’s in general studies opens doors to a number of career paths in various fields such as education, business, government, healthcare, or non-profit organizations. Additionally, this degree can serve as a foundation for further education at the graduate level.

Graduate-level general studies programs may vary widely in their credit requirements and time to complete, depending on the institution and program structure. However, they generally require a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite for admission.

The course requirements and elective options for a general studies undergraduate degree can vary depending on the specific program and institution. However, here is a general overview of what you could expect:

General Education Requirements:
These are typically foundational courses that all students must take to develop essential skills and knowledge. They often include:

  • English Composition: Courses focusing on writing, reading, and critical thinking.
  • Mathematics: Courses ranging from basic math to calculus, depending on the program’s requirements.
  • Natural Sciences: Courses in biology, chemistry, physics, or environmental science.
  • Social Sciences: Courses in psychology, sociology, anthropology, or political science.
  • Humanities: Courses in literature, philosophy, history, or cultural studies.

Major Requirements:
While general studies is a broad major, some programs may expect you to choose a concentration or focus area within the major. This involves taking a series of courses in a specific subject area, such as business, communication, or social science.

Elective Courses:
General studies degrees often include a significant number of elective credits, allowing you to explore your interests and customize your degree. Elective options may include:

  • Additional courses in the arts, humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences.
  • Courses in areas like business, computer science, education, or health sciences.
  • Internships, independent study projects, or study abroad opportunities.

Capstone Experience:
Certain programs may require a capstone experience, such as a senior project, thesis, or seminar, where you get the opportunity to demonstrate your cumulative learning and knowledge from different courses.

Before you begin your higher education journey in general studies, it is a good idea to consult with your academic advisor or review the specific program requirements for the degree.

The ongoing debate of whether you should choose to pursue your degree online or in-person may never come to a definite conclusion. Why? Because the mode of education differs for each student. What works for you, may not be the best fit for another person. Let’s check out the pros and cons of getting an online degree in general studies vs pursuing the degree on-campus.


Online Degree in General StudiesOffline Degree in General Studies
Has a flexible schedule, allowing you to learn at your own pace.Provides opportunities for in-person discussions and networking.
No need to commute to campus.Direct access to libraries, labs, and other facilities available on campus.
An online degree is often cheaper due to lower overhead costs.Some students may prefer a traditional learning environment and the structure of in-person classes.
Can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.Offers the ability to ask questions and get immediate answers from professors.
May offer access to professors and students from around the world.Offers a hands-on learning experience as some subjects are better taught through practical, in-person demonstrations.
Can help in balancing work, life, and education.Provides opportunities to build relationships with classmates and professors.
Exposure to various online tools and resources.Potential for friendships and social connections.


Online Degree in General StudiesOffline Degree in General Studies
Limited personal interaction with professors, and limited access to campus facilities and resources.Classes are scheduled at specific times.
Heavy dependence on technology, which can sometimes be unreliable.Tuition and fees for on-campus programs can be higher, as compared with online programs.
Requires strong time management skills to balance coursework with other responsibilities.May be challenging for students in remote areas or with limited transportation.

Career Options with a General Studies Degree

With a degree in general studies, you gain a versatile set of skills, making you an excellent candidate for employers across industries. Right from your vast knowledge base across vertices to your interpersonal skills, this degree can open doors to a wide range of career opportunities. Let’s take a quick look at some of the avenues you could explore with this degree:

Education Coordinator
As a general studies graduate, you can work as an education coordinator who helps develop and implement educational programs in schools, non-profits, or corporate settings. Your responsibility would include designing curricula, training staff, and assessing program effectiveness. On average, an education coordinator earns anywhere between $47,920 and $60,556 annually.

Social Media Manager
As a social media manager, you would get to create content, engage with audiences, and analyze data to improve social media strategies for businesses and organizations. The average salary of a social media manager is $114,550. The range, however, typically falls between $100,800 and $127,870.

Human Resources Specialist
Most general studies graduates build strong communication and interpersonal skills, making them well-suited for human resources roles. If you become a human resource specialist, you would be recruiting, interviewing, and training employees. The salary range for a human resources specialist falls between $57,517 and $71,346. The average salary has been determined at $64,060 per annum.

Community Outreach Coordinator
Another profession after graduating with a general studies degree could be working as a community outreach coordinator. As a coordinator, you would work for non-profits, government agencies, or businesses and help them organize events, manage partnerships, and promote programs that meet community needs. As of 2024, the average salary for this profession is $75,701 per annum. 

Sales Representative
If you choose to be a sales representative, you would be required to sell products or services, manage client accounts, and meet sales targets in various industries. The salaries of sales representatives vary as per products, services offered and industries.

Administrative Assistant
Most general studies graduates excel in administrative roles, and make for good administrative assistants. In this role, you would be responsible for managing schedules, coordinating meetings, and handling correspondence for your managers. On average, the salary of an administrative assistant is around $46,160.

Public Relations Specialist
With strong communication and coordination skills, public relations becomes yet another lucrative opportunity that you could explore. As a PR specialist, you would be required to manage communication between organizations and the public, by creating press releases, managing media inquiries, and maintaining a positive public image for your clients. The average salary of a PR specialist is $60,749.

Customer Service Manager
Upon graduation, you could consider becoming a customer service manager where you would ensure that customers receive excellent service and resolve any issues or complaints. Most general studies graduates excel in this role due to their strong communication and interpersonal skills. As a customer service manager, you could expect to earn an average salary of about $99,443.

Research Assistant
With a degree in general studies, most students develop great analytical and research skills. These skills would come in handy if you aspire to become a research assistant. You would get to work in academic institutions, think tanks, or research organizations, and help them conduct research, collect and analyze data. The average base pay of a research assistant is about $43,212 per year.

Event Planner
If you’re interested in organizing and coordinating events, you could consider becoming an event planner. General Studies graduates can use their organizational skills to plan logistics, manage budgets, and ensure events run smoothly.

Healthcare Administrator
Your degree in general studies can help you gain an administrative position in healthcare. As a healthcare administrator, your main responsibility would be to manage the operations of healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. The typical average base pay for this role has been determined at $76,447 per annum.

Recruitment Specialist
As a general studies graduate, you could use your communication skills to attract candidates, conduct interviews, and make hiring decisions. In this role, you would be required to find and hire qualified candidates that are suitable for various job openings. On average, a recruitment specialist can expect to earn $46,852 per year. 

To sum up, a degree in general studies offers a solid foundation to multidisciplinary knowledge that can help students expand their career into different areas or qualify for higher levels of responsibility in their current occupation.

The adaptability and value offered by a general studies degree allows you to explore opportunities in various industries and settings, and lets you leverage your broad knowledge base, critical thinking skills, and communication abilities to excel in your chosen professions. With the flexibility to customize your education and the skills to navigate diverse work environments, this degree helps you become well-equipped to meet the challenges of today’s dynamic job market and make meaningful contributions to your community.

Who should take general studies as a major?

General studies is ideal for students who have existring college credits, and are returning to college with a basic understanding of the subject. Also, students who have diverse interests and are unsure of a specific career path can pick general studies as their major. Additionally, it’s a good fit for those who value flexibility and want to explore various subjects before committing to a specialized major. Those who excel in communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving may also benefit from a general studies major, as these skills are essential in many professions. General studies is also a good choice for students who plan to pursue graduate or professional studies in fields that accept a broad undergraduate background.

What can you do with a general studies degree?

Employers tend to skew towards individuals with a degree more naturally, as compared to a high school graduate. A degree in general studies can help you further your career in your current line of work by opening various career paths for you to explore.
With a general studies degree, you can pursue various career paths across industries such as education, business, communications, government, and non-profits. You can work in roles such as education coordinator, social media manager, human resources specialist, community outreach coordinator, sales representative, administrative assistant, and content writer. Additionally, you may explore opportunities as public relations specialists, project coordinators, customer service managers, research assistants, event planners, healthcare administrators, and recruitment specialists.