Book on a table with a General Studies Degree rolled up

What Is A General Studies Degree & Is It Right For You?

A General Studies Degree is a diverse academic path that allows students to explore a broad range of subjects, tailor-made to fit their unique interests and goals.


This degree isn’t just about skimming the surface but delving into specific areas, gaining a breadth of knowledge, and preparing for a myriad of professional opportunities.


Whether you’re looking to embark on an associate degree in general studies or considering pursuing a bachelor’s degree, understanding the scope and benefits of this academic program is essential.

Key Takeaways:

  • A General Studies Degree (GSD) offers flexibility, allowing students to design a course of study around their areas of interest.
  • Both associate and bachelor’s degree options are available.
  • Graduates with a GSD often possess an array of knowledge and skills.
  • Online learning provides opportunities for those with demanding schedules.

What is a General Studies Degree?

A General Studies Degree (GSD) provides students with a broad education spanning multiple disciplines. Unlike specialized majors, this program emphasizes a wide exploration of subjects from the arts to sciences.

Definition and Scope of General Studies:

  • It’s multidisciplinary: Encompassing areas such as arts, sciences, and interdisciplinary studies.
  • It’s flexible: Students can individualize their coursework, often incorporating transfer credits.
  • Skills acquired: Beyond specific subject knowledge, students develop communication skills and problem-solving abilities.

How It Differs from Other Specific Majors:

  • Depth vs. Breadth: While a specific major, like a bachelor of science, dives deep into one field, general studies covers a broader range.

  • Requirements: General studies often has more flexible graduation requirements, allowing students to:

  • Choose diverse introductory courses.
  • Fulfill general education requirements tailored to their interests.
  • Career Opportunities: The versatility of a degree in general studies can lead to varied job opportunities and lower unemployment rates.

In essence, a GSD degree offers a well-rounded education, equipping students for diverse sectors or specialized graduate programs.

A crowd of students outside a official building holding their General studies degrees

Is General Studies a Good Fit for You?

Embarking on a journey towards a degree is a significant decision. If you’re considering a major in general studies, it’s essential to assess if it aligns with your unique aspirations and strengths.

Characteristics of Students Who Thrive in General Studies:

  • Curiosity: Those who are naturally inquisitive and wish to explore an array of subjects often find general studies fulfilling.
  • Flexibility: This degree allows students to tailor their education based on evolving interests.
  • Multidisciplinary Thinkers: If you have a passion for the arts and sciences, and you relish the idea of not being confined to one discipline, this could be the perfect fit.
  • Goal-Oriented: While the program offers freedom, students may need to be self-directed to ensure they complete the degree requirements.
  • Value Versatility: GSD teach diverse skills that can be applied across various professions, leading to multiple job opportunities.

Determining Alignment with Career and Personal Goals:

  • Career Aspirations: A bachelor’s in general studies provides students with a broad foundation, preparing them for diverse sectors or even for more specialized graduate degree programs. Assess if such versatility aligns with your desired career path.
  • Personal Interests: Does the idea of diving into liberal studies excite you? Do you value having the freedom to select courses from a wide array of subjects?
  • Educational Journey: Considering the number of transfer credits you have, or if you’re aiming for a bachelor’s degree at the associate level, can help determine if general studies make the most sense for your academic trajectory.
  • Professional Goals: Think about your long-term objectives. A GSD may make you more adaptable in a rapidly changing job market, potentially experiencing lower unemployment rates.

The general studies program is designed for students who crave knowledge from various fields and seek flexibility in their academic pursuits. If this resonates with you, then this degree might just be the ideal choice.

What is a General Studies Degree Good for?

Many people wonder about the real-world applicability of a General Studies degree. While it’s broad in its scope, this doesn’t make it any less valuable.


A major in general studies is versatile and opens doors to a variety of career opportunities.

Possible Career Paths and Fields:

  • Education: Become a teacher, especially if you pursue further certifications or specializations.
  • Business & Management: The multidisciplinary nature of the degree prepares students for roles in management, sales, or human resources.
  • Public Relations & Media: Utilize the communication skills honed in the program.
  • Government & Public Service: Work in various local or federal government positions.
  • Arts & Design: With courses often spanning the bachelor of arts and science in general studies, many graduates find roles in design, arts administration, and more.

Transferable Skills Gained from a General Studies Major:

  • Adaptability: The diverse coursework allows you to explore and adapt to various subjects and scenarios.
  • Critical Thinking: Tackling a range of subjects sharpens analytical skills.
  • Effective Communication: Engaging in different fields, from arts to sciences, hones both written and verbal communication.
  • Problem-Solving: The breadth of the general studies degree comes with challenges that cultivate solution-oriented thinking.
  • Interdisciplinary Knowledge: Grasping concepts across multiple academic fields can be a significant asset in industries that value diverse knowledge.

Pursuing a general studies degree equips students with a unique set of skills and a broad knowledge base, making them adaptable to many sectors.


The general education classes coupled with specialized courses ensure that graduates are well-prepared for various career paths or further academic endeavors.

Is It Hard to Find a Job with a General Studies Degree?

One common query that arises when considering a General Studies degree is its viability in the job market. Does a broad academic foundation hinder or help graduates when they’re ready to embark on their professional journey?

The Reality of the Job Market for General Studies:

  • Versatility is an Asset: General Studies graduates have a unique edge—versatility. This broad educational background can be pitched as an ability to understand and work across diverse fields.
  • Competition: Like any degree, competition exists. However, people with a bachelor’s degree, including those in general studies, often have higher employment rates than those without.
  • Field-Specific Jobs: Some jobs may require specialized knowledge, but many roles value the breadth of skills and understanding that a General Studies degree provides.

Tips for Positioning Yourself in the Job Market:

  • Highlight Transferable Skills: Emphasize the wide range of skills you’ve acquired. From problem-solving to adaptability, general studies lets graduates navigate various challenges.
  • Networking: Connecting with alumni, attending University events, or other networking opportunities can open doors. Word-of-mouth can lead to job leads that might not be publicly advertised.
  • Further Education: Consider if further specialization might benefit you. For instance, pairing your bachelor’s degree in general studies with a certification in a specific field can make you more marketable.
  • Tailored Resumes: Rather than a one-size-fits-all resume, tailor it for each job application. Highlight relevant courses or projects from your general studies degree programs that align with the job description.
  • Career Services: Leverage resources provided by your institution. Many universities offer career services that assist in resume building, mock interviews, and job placements.

While the path might not be as predefined as some specialized fields, a general studies major certainly doesn’t close doors in the job market.


Instead, with the right positioning and perseverance, it may make the most sense for a diverse range of career aspirations.

Highest Paying Jobs with a General Studies Degree

While a General Studies degree offers a vast array of knowledge across disciplines, many students often wonder about the lucrative career options available post-graduation. Here’s a look at some of the highest-paying roles that value the diverse skill set of general studies grads.

  1. Management Analyst:

    • Description: Analyze and recommend ways to improve an organization’s structure, efficiency, or profits.
    • Requirements: Strong analytical skills, ability to understand diverse business operations, and often, a few years of relevant experience.
    • Potential Salary: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median range is around $95,290 annually.
  2. Public Relations Manager:

    • Description: Oversee the public image and communications of companies or individuals.
    • Requirements: Exceptional communication skills, understanding of media trends, and ability to strategize and implement PR campaigns.
    • Potential Salary: On average, PR Managers can earn upwards of $115,000 per year.
  3. Political Scientist:

    • Description: Study the origin, development, and operation of political systems.
    • Requirements: An in-depth understanding of political theories, research methodologies, and often, a master’s degree or higher in political science or a related field.
    • Potential Salary: The median for political scientists is approximately $122,000 annually.
  4. Information Technology Manager:

    • Description: Oversee the IT department of an organization, ensuring that systems, networks, and processes run smoothly.
    • Requirements: Knowledge in information technology, leadership skills, and often, several years of IT experience.
    • Potential Salary: IT Managers can earn an average of around $146,000 per year.
  5. Human Resources Manager:

    • Description: Plan, direct, and coordinate the administrative functions of an organization.
    • Requirements: Strong interpersonal skills, understanding of labor laws, and experience in hiring, training, and performance reviews.
    • Potential Salary: The median for HR managers is close to $116,000 annually.

It’s worth noting that while a bachelor’s degree in GS can be a stepping stone to these careers, supplementary courses, certifications, or advanced degrees might be necessary for some of these roles.


Salaries can vary based on experience, location, company size, and other factors.

Accreditation for General Studies Programs

A bachelor in GS is a significant investment in terms of both time and money. Hence, it’s essential to ensure that your chosen general studies program meets the highest educational standards. That’s where accreditation comes into play.

Importance of Accreditation:

  • Standard of Quality: Accreditation is a mark of quality assurance. It signifies that a general studies program adheres to established academic standards, ensuring you receive a meaningful and valuable education.

  • Financial Aid Eligibility: Many financial aid opportunities, including federal grants and loans, are available only to students attending accredited institutions.

  • Employment Opportunities: Employers often give preference to candidates who have graduated from accredited programs. It indicates that grads have received a standardized level of education.

  • Transfer Credits: If you plan on furthering your education or transferring to another institution, accredited degrees are more likely to have their credits accepted by other accredited institutions.

How to Check if a Program is Accredited:

  1. Visit the University’s Official Website: Most institutions proudly display their accreditation status on their website, usually in the “About” or “Accreditation” section.

  2. Database Check: The U.S. Department of Education maintains a database of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs, which is an excellent resource for verifying an institution’s accreditation status.

  3. Contact the Program Directly: If in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out to the admissions or academic department of the university or college. They can provide details about their accreditation.

  4. Accreditation Bodies: There are regional and national accrediting bodies, such as the Higher Learning Commission or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. You can check their directories to find out if a program is listed.

While a general studies degree provides a broad academic foundation, the accreditation of the program ensures its quality and acceptance in the professional and academic worlds. Always prioritize accredited programs to ensure the best return on your educational investment.

How to Maximize a Degree In General Studies

our journey with a general studies degree doesn’t have to end once you graduate. In fact, with the diverse knowledge and broad skill set you’ll acquire, there are numerous ways to elevate your degree’s value in the professional world. Here are some strategic steps you can take:


  • Tap into Alumni Networks: Connect with graduates from your program or university to explore job openings, mentorship, or collaborative opportunities.
  • Attend Conferences & Seminars: Not only will this expand your knowledge, but it’s also an excellent way to meet industry professionals and establish connections.

Continuing Education:

  • Specialized Certifications: While your general studies degree offers breadth, consider obtaining certifications in specific areas of interest to provide depth to your qualifications.
  • Advanced Degrees: Depending on your career aspirations, consider pursuing a master’s or other graduate degree to further hone your expertise in a chosen field.

Further Specialization:

  • Focus Areas: If you found a particular subject or field especially intriguing during your general studies program, consider diving deeper into that area. Whether it’s social science, natural science, or any other domain, mastering a niche can give you an edge.
  • Online Courses: With the rise of online learning platforms, you can easily access specialized courses to enhance your skills and knowledge.

Extracurricular Activities:

  • Join Campus Organizations: Involvement in clubs or societies related to your interests can bolster both your resume and your hands-on experience.
  • Leadership Roles: Taking on leadership positions can help you develop management and organizational skills crucial in the professional world.


  • Seek Opportunities Early: Don’t wait until your final year. Start seeking internships early to gather real-world experience, which is invaluable when entering the job market.
  • Diverse Placements: Since your degree is broad, consider interning in various sectors. This can give you a clearer picture of where your passions truly lie.


The journey through a general studies program offers a diverse educational landscape, a chance to explore an array of subjects, and the opportunity to mold a unique academic experience.


Throughout this article, we’ve traversed the multiple facets for general studies students:


  • Understanding the Degree: At its core, a GSD is an interdisciplinary approach to education, allowing students to delve into various fields, from social science to liberal arts, without being confined to a singular focus.

  • Career Prospects: While the degree is broad, it equips students with transferable skills that can be applied to various sectors. Whether in the arts, sciences, or the corporate world, the foundational knowledge gained can open doors to multiple avenues.

  • Making the Most of It: Success with a GSD isn’t solely dependent on classroom learning. Embracing extracurricular activities, networking, and further specialization can elevate the value of the degree in the professional realm.

For those considering embarking on this academic path, it’s essential to weigh your options. Understand your aspirations, consider how this degree aligns with your professional goals, and be proactive in maximizing its potential.


With the right approach, a GS major can be the stepping stone to a vibrant and fulfilling career. Remember, education is a canvas, and with a general studies degree, you’re free to paint your masterpiece.

Is a general studies degree too broad for specialized careers?

No, a general studies degree provides foundational knowledge in various disciplines. While it’s broad, the transferable skills acquired can be applied to specialized careers. Moreover, many graduates often pursue further specialization or certifications based on their desired career path.

Can I pursue graduate studies with a bachelor's in general studies?

Absolutely! A bachelor’s in general studies can serve as a foundation for many graduate programs. It’s essential to ensure that any prerequisites for specific graduate programs are met, which may sometimes require additional coursework.

Is online learning available for general studies programs?

Yes, many institutions offer online general studies degree programs. These online programs provide flexibility for students who may be balancing other responsibilities, and they maintain similar academic rigor and quality as their on-campus counterparts.

How does a general studies degree differ from a liberal arts degree?

While both degrees offer interdisciplinary education, a general studies degree often provides more flexibility in course selection, allowing students to tailor their education based on interests. In contrast, a liberal arts degree typically has a more defined curriculum focusing on humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.