General Science Degree: Requirements & Programs

While some occupations may require a very narrow scope of postsecondary studies, a general science degree allows students to tailor their coursework and can lead to many career options. This article looks at how to qualify for a general science major and the types of courses student will take.

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Overview of Bachelor's Degree in General Science Programs

A degree in general science allows students to pursue a broad range of science classes in all areas of science. While those who major in biology or chemistry will find that their course load is heavily concentrated with courses in their chosen major, those who study general science will be able to pick from all science courses to ensure that their studies suit their specific areas of interest.

This is a common degree option for individuals who are interested in pursuing a medical or veterinary degree because students get a solid foundation of scientific studies to prepare them for their professional graduate degree programs. Individuals who are interested in teaching science will also find that this degree option provides them with a strong academic foundation to teach courses in biology, chemistry and physics.

Admission Requirements for General Science Programs

Colleges and universities review high school transcripts and standardized test scores when considering applications. They usually require students to complete a predetermined number of courses in specific subject areas in high school, such as three years of science and three years of mathematics. SAT or ACT scores must be submitted with applications. Some schools also require students to have a letter of recommendation from their guidance counselor. Other schools may offer the option of including an application essay or other reference letters when applying for acceptance.

Once students have been accepted by a college or university, they must check the specific application process for pursuing the major of their choice. Some majors require students to apply at the end of their first year and to complete specific classes as part of their first year of studies to qualify for the major.

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General Science Program Coursework

A general science degree offers students a lot of flexibility with their studies. It would be common for students to take foundational courses in some of the key scientific subjects and then pursue advanced courses that relate to their specific interests.

Introductory Biology

Students will explore the structure and nature of cells. They will learn about how cells function and what they do, as well as how genetics works. Students will complete practical laboratory work as part of their studies. They also study evolution and bioenergetics.

Introductory Chemistry

What is an atom? What are molecules? How do chemicals react to substances? What determines how a gaseous substance will behave in a specific environment? Students who take foundational courses in chemistry are introduced to the structural components of chemicals and learn about the principles of chemistry. They will learn practical information and apply that information in laboratory assignments.

Introductory Physics

Introductory studies in physics include topics in heat, electricity, and magnetism, among other physical phenomena. Students will learn about Galileo and his contributions to science, as well as other groundbreaking scientists, such as Isaac Newton.


Students who pursue a general science degree need to have strong mathematical skills. Studies in algebra ensure that students are familiar with the principles of algebra, the formulas used for algebraic equations and how to solve algebraic equations. An introductory algebra course prepares students to pursue more advanced mathematical courses.


Why does one person get sick from a contagious illness while another person is unaffected, even after being exposed? How can people build immunology to illnesses? How does the immune system work? Students pursuing a general science degree with the intention of continuing studies for a medical degree may be particularly interested in learning how the human body responds to diseases and the biological mechanisms in place to fight illness.

Environmental Science

The components that are part of the environment will be explored in an introductory course in environmental science, including ecosystems and their functions. Students will also learn about environmental issues, such as pollution. They will also gain practical knowledge about how to test the health of the environment.

How to Choose a Bachelor's Degree in General Science Program

A degree in general science is fairly flexible and allows students to complete a wide range of classes instead of focusing on one area of science. However, a student's career goals may help inform the program they select. While programs can be tailored, some are designed for prospective teachers. Programs may also require or encourage the selection of a second concentration major or minor in a specific science. Students may be able to take coursework outside of scientific disciplines if it fits with career goals. Graduates are awarded either a bachelor or arts or bachelor of science degree.

Some programs offer internship opportunities, which may help develop skills needed to pursue employment after graduation. There are schools throughout the country that offer this major, so location may also be a consideration for some students. In some cases it may be possible to take some courses online, and students who plan to work while pursuing their degree may prefer the flexibility of incorporating online studies when possible.

Career Options with a General Science Degree

General science bachelor's degree holders can use their degree to pursue a career as a high school science teacher. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that high school teachers earned $58,030 in 2016. The BLS also indicated that from 2016 to 2026 the job growth rate for high school teachers would be 8%. The options for general science degree holders vary depending on how they tailor their degree and may include:

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