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Associate of Arts in General Studies: Online Degree

Learn about associate degree programs in general studies. Get an overview of course descriptions and class requirements as well as career possibilities and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Associate's degree programs in general studies are available to study online. These programs are available in fully online and hybrid formats, which combine online courses with on-campus requirements; however, students may be required to complete proctored exams. These programs may help prepare the graduate for a wide variety of careers, and credits often transfer to a bachelor's degree program. Specialization options include humanities, history and the social sciences.

Associate of Arts in General Studies

An online Associate of Arts in General Studies is designed to help students who might be unsure about the career they'd like to pursue. The flexible curricula often include a wide variety of electives that can help students become well-versed in various subjects. In fact, students could specialize their degree by choosing specific electives in a particular area of interest that might complement future career goals. Electives typically include a wide range of humanities, social science and natural science areas, including history, communications and biology.

Program Information and Requirements

A program in general studies at the associate's degree level typically requires two years of study. Usually only an updated computer, Internet access and word processing software is required. In most cases these programs can be completed fully online, though some universities require a few campus visits and proctored examinations at local testing sites. In addition, some schools also offer the option to blend on-campus and online courses.

List of Common Courses

All general studies programs include standard education courses, such as English, math, humanities and science, though specific requirements vary by school. However, students can also explore a variety of subjects through a diverse array of electives, which could need to be approved by an advisor.

Art History

Students learn basic artistic concepts through the study of art history, such as prehistoric, Renaissance and contemporary art. This course studies various historical periods and teaches a new vocabulary that's used to examine the works of artistic movements. Through this course, students identify major works of art and styles.

Political Science

Online students examine the fundamental principles, themes and concepts of political systems. During this course, students might study international governments, political philosophy and the U.S. Constitution. The course also examines and analyzes the works of major political leaders, various party systems and social movements.

Earth Science

An online earth science course exposes students to the scientific principles that govern planet Earth. Students learn about the atmosphere, oceans and mountains. This survey course typically includes lessons on the processes of erosion, plate tectonics, weather systems and natural disasters. Students also examine the works of famous scientists, such as Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton and Copernicus.

Western Civilization

General studies students in distance learning programs typically take a number of history courses covering the development and expansion of Western civilization. Students study the roles of historical events and movements, such as the Crusades and various civil wars. The course also examines various developments in literature, architecture and art.


Career Information for Graduates

An associate's degree in general studies can develop critical-thinking and other general skills that applies to several types of careers. Potential occupations often depend heavily upon the area of focus a student chooses during his or her degree program. However, in 2016, Payscale.com reported median salaries for several different professionals who held an associate's degree in general studies. Those included office administrators, earning $15.38 an hour, and production supervisors, who earned a median hourly wage of $15.14.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates of an associate's degree program in general studies could continue their education in nearly any major. Many schools accept the transfer of credit from some or all of a general studies associate's degree program to satisfy general requirements of a bachelor's degree program. A general studies major is also common, and many schools offer this program online.

General studies associate's degree programs are widely available online, though students may be required to sit some on-site exams. These programs are flexible and adaptable with many specialization options, making them perfect for students who are uncertain about their future career path.


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