Distance Learning General Studies Degree Program Overviews

Dec 04, 2019

Learn about online degree programs with general studies courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

Several colleges and universities offer distance learning degrees in general studies at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels. These programs can be completed entirely online, and students usually access course materials through a website, viewing lectures and completing assignments as their schedules permit, within set time limits. Sometimes classes are offered through live videoconferencing. Students can communicate with their instructors and classmates through e-mail, chat functions and online message boards. Required equipment and materials may include a CD- and DVD-capable computer with webcam, QuickTime, RealPlayer, Adobe Reader, Microsoft Office and other specified software.

These degree programs are designed to give students a broad foundation in many subjects. Courses cover the arts, sciences, mathematics and social sciences. In a bachelor's degree program, students may choose a concentration in which to base their studies.

Associate's in General Studies

Through this distance learning degree program, students investigate concepts in the humanities, arts, natural sciences, behavioral sciences, mathematics and social sciences. Students gain skills in these and other fields, which allows them to explore their abilities and establish individual career goals. The program is intensive in the sciences, although it also incorporates studies in the arts. In order to be eligible for the associate's program, students must have a high school diploma or a GED. A distance learning associate's degree program in general studies is available at many colleges and universities in the United States.

Information and Requirements

The distance learning associate's degree takes about two years to complete. Although the majority of the program is web-based, some programs incorporate other methods of distance learning, including videoconferencing, CDs and DVDs. Students are not required to spend any time on-campus. They typically take online courses by accessing the school's web-based server to watch lectures, read teacher's notes, interact with other students via chat and turn in assignments. Some of the programs require that students are online for every class while others allow students to work on their own.

For this program, students must be able to access the program's site, so reliable Internet access is required. They also may need a webcam to participate in class discussions. Other computer programs and software, including QuickTime, RealPlayer, Adobe Reader and Microsoft Office, could be required.

Common Courses

Through an associate's degree program in general studies, students can take a variety of general education courses and classes specific to a concentration or elective of interest. Possible concentrations include computer science, business and social sciences.

English Composition

Students investigate college-level writing, including acceptable punctuation and grammar usage. They learn to conduct research and to think critically.


An elective for the general sciences, this course covers the basics of human, plant and animal cells. They study the major bodily systems and the way diseases spread.


Part of the social science elective, students examine people and the way they interact with one another. They also study people groups, including race and gender, to determine how groups and their responsibilities have changed over time.

Bachelor's in General Studies

The distance learning Bachelor of Science in General Studies is available at many colleges and universities in the United States. Through the program, students develop skills that enhance their ability to think critically and explore a problem from a variety of angles. Concepts introduced in this general studies degree vary and provide a solid understanding of many subjects, providing a sound educational foundation. The program is available online, but not as frequently as associate's degrees in general studies.

Program Information and Requirements

In general, the distance learning general studies program takes four years at the bachelor's level. Although some programs are available entirely online, others use additional distance learning formats, such as videoconferencing and online chat. Students may need to complete an internship or some other portion of the program either on-campus or in person. In most cases, students log onto the school's web-based educational server, where they can access courses, connect with other students, participate in lectures and turn in assignments.

To complete the distance learning program, students need a computer and reliable Internet access. Students could also be required to have a webcam, CD or DVD player and computer software programs, including Microsoft Word, Adobe Flash and Acrobat Reader.

Common Courses

Distance learning general studies bachelor's programs are designed to provide students with a taste of everything. Students complete general education courses and then complete courses in a concentration of their choosing, designed to familiarize them more completely with the area of their interest.

European History

Students learn about the prominent religious and social institutions that were present in Europe between the Renaissance Age and the French Revolution. They investigate scientific and political changes and advances made during the period.

Comparative Politics

Students examine politics in Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States, comparing the different political processes, ideologies and changes that occur over time.

Introductory Physics

Students study fluids, heat waves and the properties of matter in this introductory course. The course is rich in the sciences and the mathematics.

Career Information

Associate's in General Studies

Upon completion of an associate's degree in general studies, students are prepared for entry-level positions as secretaries, bank tellers, customer service representatives or office managers. The demand secretaries and administrative assistants is expected to decline by 7% for the 2018-2028 decade according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that the demand for bank tellers is expected to decline by 12% during the same period, while the demand for customer service representatives is also expected to decline by 2% and first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers is expected to show little or no change.

The BLS stated that in 2018 the median annual salary was $36,630 for secretaries, $29,450 for bank tellers, $33,750 for customer service representatives, and $55,810 for first-line supervisors.

Bachelor's in General Studies

Possible career options include working as substitute teachers, business owners, public relations specialists or real estate agents. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), the median annual salary for public relations specialists was $60,000 in May 2018. Job demand is expected to grow by 6% over the next decade (2018-2028), which is average. Real estate agents made a median of $48,690, and the expected job growth rate is 7% over the same period.

Continuing Education Information

Students who are interested in continuing their education can do so by completing a master's degree in the arts or the sciences in a field most interesting to them or obtain certification. Individuals who want to be teachers, for instance, can obtain a master's degree in education. There are very few master's available in general studies. Students must focus their studies on a particular discipline at the master's level.

General studies programs at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels are commonly found in a fully online format. These programs typically cover a wide range of fields in the humanities, arts, natural sciences, behavioral sciences, mathematics and social studies.

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