Associate of Arts (AA): General Studies Degree Overview

An Associate of Arts in General Studies program provides instruction in a wide range of subjects. Explore program details, common coursework, employment options and continuing education opportunities.

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Essential Information

An Associate of Arts in General Studies program allows students to choose courses from multiple fields of interest while fulfilling core course requirements, like college algebra or English composition. This type of 2-year program provides a broad educational foundation and typically prepares students for transfer to bachelor's degree programs or for entry-level careers.

Some community colleges that offer Associate of Arts programs do not require a high school diploma or the equivalent for entry, while others do. Placement exams may be necessary for applicants to prove relevant skills, and necessary remedial classes may be assigned to those who don't qualify to bypass them.


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Associate of Arts in General Studies

Students in this degree program learn how to think critically, communicate well and synthesize knowledge from many disciplines. Common course topics generally include:

  • Biology
  • Communications
  • Foreign language
  • Lab science
  • Sociology
  • U.S. history

Career Information

Many students who earn an Associate of Arts in General Studies continue on to baccalaureate programs. Even for those who do not, career opportunities are varied and include administrative assistant, office manager, customer service representative, sales associate and receptionist.

Salaries may also be varied. In 2016, PayScale.com reported the median hourly wage for administrative assistants with a general studies associate's degree was $14.00, while sales associates earned a median hourly wage of $9.62.

Continuing Education

Many general studies programs prepare students to discover their career interests and choose a goal for further training or educational studies. Depending on their niche career interests, this may lead to enrolling in a bachelor's degree program or short-term certificate program. Graduates may seek vocational training, internships or certifications relevant to their potential job area. Prospective students may wish to seek out schools with strong job counseling divisions where advisors can help them decide what their upcoming path should be and complete the necessary steps to achieve it.

An Associate of Arts in General Studies program allows students to study a wide array of subjects to help narrow down their interests and find a career path. Many graduates pursue a bachelor's degree, but graduates can also find work in various entry-level jobs.

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