Is a General Studies Degree Worth It? [2021 Guide]
If you’re college-bound but haven’t yet chosen a major, you may be considering general studies, but is a General Studies degree worth it? Actually, it is for many students.
Just having a degree can put you ahead in the job market, and an online general studies degree can lead to many different career fields.
What Is a General Studies Degree?
When speaking of a general studies degree, other terms, such as liberal arts, multidisciplinary studies, or interdisciplinary studies, may be used. If you’re curious as to what the difference is, there really isn’t much of one at all.
The terms general studies and liberal arts are practically interchangeable. If you receive a degree in general studies, you can just as honestly tell people you’ve received a liberal arts degree.
The important point is that earning a general studies/liberal arts degree actually gives you one of the most well-rounded, balanced educations possible because you learn about so many different subjects.
Multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary studies are two other terms often used interchangeably with general studies. All four terms are used by people to say basically the same thing. The important thing to remember is that with these degrees, you’re taking a wide variety of classes that should center around one or two subject areas.
For instance, if you aren’t sure of your career path, but you’re leaning towards something business-related, instead of working towards an associate degree in business, you can take a wide selection of business-themed classes.
They may be taken from various degree programs, such as accounting, management, human resources, etc., but they all have a common theme: business. This is an example of multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, general studies.
What Does a General Studies Degree Mean?
A general studies degree is just as relevant and respectable as any other associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a specified concentration.
The only difference is that a degree in general studies means you’ve taken a wide variety of classes in many fields, while still taking all the specific general requirements required to earn a degree.
Is General Studies a Waste of Time?
General studies are definitely not a waste of time. In fact, people with general studies degrees are actually quite sought after by many employers because those people have impressive understandings of a multitude of different subjects.
Furthermore, a general studies degree can lend itself nicely to tons of different specializations if you choose to major in something specific later on in life. As a result, this makes both bachelor’s and associate’s in general studies worth it.
Is a Degree in General Studies Good?
Not only can a degree in general studies be good, it can actually be great. In addition to giving you an acceptable knowledge base in a wide variety of different subjects, which in turn can make you more employable, a degree in general studies also offers many additional benefits.
To a certain extent, a degree in general studies allows you to design your own curriculum around your particular interests. There will still be mandatory core education classes you’ll have to take, but you’ll also be able to indulge many varied interests, no matter how different they may be.
Furthermore, an associates degree in general studies can help students determine a more specialized path for their bachelor’s degree. Likewise, a bachelor’s degree in general studies can lead to many different specialized fields at the graduate level.
If you earn your undergrad in general studies, you can use it to go into education, law school, medical school, social services and more.
What Do You Learn in a General Studies Program?
The great thing about a general studies program is that there are so many different potential options as to what you could learn. You’ll be able to choose from nearly an entire catalog of college courses. You’ll take core education classes, of course.
These include things like English comp, math classes, science and science labs, public speaking and other courses every college student has to take. Beyond that, though, you have many choices when it comes to your electives and your general coursework.
You can choose from communications courses, art, theater and music courses, social science courses, humanities and more.
You may even choose to add in classes from fields such as business, religion, finance, CIS, psychology or others. Another great thing about general studies is that you can mix together some fields that don’t usually go together and make it work.
Some general studies degree paths that students have successfully completed at various universities include:
- Counseling and Food and Nutrition
- English and Gender Studies
- Art and African American Studies
- Social Welfare and Psychology
- Marketing and Communications
- Music and Secondary Education
- Criminology and Elementary Education
- Human Development and Family Studies
- Sociology and Public Health
- Nursing and Human Resources
As you can see from this list, even a degree in nursing can fall under the category of a general studies degree.
What Can You Do With a Degree in General Studies?
What you can do with your general studies degree depends heavily on which fields you put emphasis on in your curriculum. As we’ve already mentioned, though, there are a number of options available to you. The most common fields people put their focus on with a general studies degree are as follows:
- Human Resources
- Social Science
As you can see, there are plenty of jobs that require associate’s degree credentials only.
You could potentially go on to become a nurse, technical writer, brand manager, public relations director, copywriter, software consultant, executive assistant, nonprofit program manager, social media specialist, software developer, executive chef, marketing manager and much, much more.
If you decide you want to continue your education into graduate school, the list of potential career options becomes even longer and includes such prestigious job titles as doctor, lawyer, teacher, higher education professor, CEO, Vice President, systems analyst and more.
However, you don’t have to continue on to graduate school if you don’t wish to do so. There are several jobs that pay $50,000 a year with an associate’s degree in general studies. Some of these job titles include computer programmer, web developer, network manager, payroll manager and more.
Can I Teach With a General Studies Degree?
The easiest way to become a teacher is to go into the education path from the beginning. However, if you’ve already started down the general studies path for whatever reason, then yes, it’s still possible that you can teach with a general studies degree.
This is because a general studies degree gives you the foundation you need to teach in K-12 schools. Different states require different criteria for teachers though, so check the state requirements for becoming a teacher specific to your state to see if you have any additional things to do.
The other option is to finish up your general studies undergrad and then focus your graduate degree on education so that you can come out of graduate school ready to teach. This way usually means you get paid more as well.
General Studies Degree Salary
Here we’ve compiled a list of some of the highest paying jobs with a degree in general studies.
All salary information is listed as annual median salary and comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some employers may prefer you to have a bachelor’s degree to qualify for these careers.
|Careers||Annual Median Salary|
|Human Resources Managers||$116,720|
|Administrative Services Managers||$96,940|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$83,510|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$67,150|
|Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists||$64,560|
|High School Teachers||$61,660|
|Public Relations Specialists||$61,150|
|Computer Support Specialists||$54,760|
If you go on to graduate school, the job opportunities can get even larger and pay even more.
What to Do After a General Studies Degree
If you decide to continue on to graduate school after receiving your general studies degree, this is when you’ll really have to narrow your focus. Although the options for grad school are numerous, there are a few programs that could work especially well for you with your general studies undergrad.
Going to grad school for education is a fairly smooth transition from a general studies undergrad. If you focused heavily on humanities classes, graduate programs for library science, journalism and sociology are also good choices.
If your general studies undergraduate degree was more business-oriented, then you might want to pursue grad school programs in advertising, marketing, business, human resources, finance or accounting. You can also potentially be accepted into law school or medical school with an undergrad in general studies.
Accreditation for an Online General Studies Degree
No matter what your major is, it’s important that your school is accredited. The best accreditation a school can receive is regional accreditation. If your school has regional accreditation, then your degree will likely be accepted just about anywhere in the United States.
Employers are usually more likely to hire you if your degree comes from a regionally accredited university. Furthermore, credits from a regionally accredited university will usually transfer to any other university in the United States.
There are other types of accreditation – national and programmatic – but they’re lesser forms of accreditation that aren’t as widely accepted or as distinguished. These accreditations aren’t often accepted outside of a specific state or area.
Financial Aid for a General Studies Degree Online
Financial aid for an accredited general studies degree program, whether it’s online or on-campus, is much the same as financial aid for any other accredited program. The three main ones to look for are federal grants, scholarships and loans.
Of these three, the best types of financial aid are federal grants and scholarships because they don’t usually have to be repaid. You can find scholarships many places online, including dedicated scholarship websites. Your specific college usually has merit and talent-based scholarships listed on its website, as well.
The most common grant for associate’s and bachelor’s level courses is the federal Pell Grant. You can apply for it by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is money given to people who fall into a certain income bracket.
Loans can be either federal or personal. However, loans always have to be paid back with interest, so use them only when you need them.
Is a General Studies Degree Worth It?
A general studies degree is a great degree to work towards if you want a college education but aren’t sure exactly what type of degree or career you’re interested in pursuing. There are general studies programs both online and on-campus to fit any schedule and budget.
There are also numerous financial aid options available for you if you need financial assistance.
Don’t let being unsure of your future plans deter you from enrolling in college now. There is a general studies degree out there just waiting for you to earn it. Whether your vision of your future is crystal clear or still a little hazy, a degree in general studies can get you where you need to be.