Similar to a major in liberal studies or liberal arts, a general studies degree does not train students for a specific career upon graduation, but it provides them with highly valued job qualifications, such as leadership, communication and critical thinking. Students can find these programs at many traditional four-year schools as well as some private online institutions. Most programs are fully available online, and they can lead to either a bachelor's or an associate's degree.
Several universities give students credit toward the online general studies program for military service, work experience, completed college certificate programs or successful completion of exams, such as Advanced Placement (AP), College-Level Examination Programs (CLEP) and Defense Activity for Nontraditional Education Support (DANTES).
Bachelor's in General Studies
Online bachelor's degrees in general studies can vary widely depending on the school, but students can typically tailor programs to their interests and goals. Some programs offer distance learners the option to focus their studies in multiple areas, such as business, education, sociology or English, among others.
Schools usually require students in these programs to complete general education coursework, two to three minors and then fulfill the rest of the degree requirements with electives. Bachelor's degrees take around four years to earn, but some programs will award an associate's degree in general studies after two years of study.
Curricula in general studies programs encompass a wide range of disciplines. Students usually take one or more classes in arts and humanities, behavioral sciences, business administration, education, science and mathematics. A sample curriculum might include:
- Classical studies
- College mathematics
- Political science
Most distance learning general studies programs can be completed totally online. Schools often target working adults when designing these programs, which can allow flexibility with not only course options but also scheduling. For instance, online classes may be offered for a standard 16 weeks or in a more condensed 8-week format; others may be self-paced. These courses are usually interactive, allowing students to communicate with classmates and the instructor and submit assignments electronically via Blackboard or a similar content management system.
In online bachelor's degree programs in general studies, students have the opportunity to get a broad liberal arts education with a focus on a particular discipline of interest. The distance learning format is ideal for students with external scheduling constraints, like a full-time job.