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Online Colleges for General Studies

Online colleges offering degree programs in general studies allow students to select coursework from a wide variety of disciplines, rather than the single discipline usually required for a traditional major. Many paths could lead a student to major in general studies. Here are three common ones:

  • A student has accumulated enough credits across such a range of fields so that choosing a general studies major makes the most sense
  • A student has changed schools multiple times and selecting a general studies major could resolve transfer credit issues
  • A student has left school without a degree, but returned at a later date with new interests, and wants to make use of prior credits earned

While few careers explicitly require a degree in general studies, the broad knowledge base of these majors may prove useful in a variety of fields. In many jobs, general-studies-relevant skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and effective communication can be more beneficial than a narrow disciplinary skill set. In addition, as it has become increasingly common for workers to hold numerous positions at different employers during their working years, the versatility of an online degree in general studies may make it easier for students to make those transitions.

Best Online Colleges for General Studies

In compiling our list of the best colleges to earn online general studies degrees, we considered a wide range of data. We primarily used data provided by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), part of the National Center for Education Statistics, to create an overview of the best online colleges for general studies from all U.S. colleges. You can read more about the methodology used to create the list below. The list of the top 10 colleges for general education can help students narrow down their selection when seeking a school that fits their educational needs.

1

Garden City Community College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$1,824
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
1
Accredited
School Type
2-year

Garden City Community College serves the residents of Finney County, Kan. and distance learners through EduKan, a statewide distance education collaboration of six Kansas community colleges and two state universities. There are 16 different degree programs offered through EduKan. The Associate of General Studies degree at Garden City Community College (and four other community colleges in Kansas not in our top 10) prepares students for lifelong learning by developing the skills and knowledge necessary for further education. GCCC tops our list as the leader in graduation rate, with 37 percent of enrolled students completing the general studies degree program. Students need a total of 64 credit hours to complete degree requirements.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

801 Campus Dr.
Garden City, KS 67846-6333
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2

Jamestown Community College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$4,520
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
12
Accredited
School Type
2-year

Founded in 1950, Jamestown Community College is part of the State University of New York system. Enrollment is roughly 3,500 between campus locations in Jamestown and Olean and through online enrollment. JCC offers 35 different degree paths, including 12 fully online degrees. The college's online A.S. in Individual Studies degree is intended for students interested in pursing a bachelor's degree and wish to transfer to a four-year university, but are undecided on their career path. Jamestown Community College in 2014 ranked second in our top 10 list for graduation rate. Like all schools in our list, JCC has an open admissions policy and tied for first in admissions rate.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

525 Falconer St.
Jamestown, NY 14701
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3

Genesee Community College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$3,900
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
13
Accredited
School Type
2-year

Located in Batavia, New York, Genesee Community College was third in our list of top 10 colleges for general education in terms of graduation rate in 2014. Another member of the State University of New York system, Genesee Community College offers a total of 15 online degrees. It's associate's degree in Liberal Arts and Science: General Studies can be completed 100-percent through online study, the college notes. Students who enroll in the school's general studies program can work with an academic advisor to design a course of study that meets their interests and possible career choices, the college reports. The college has transfer agreements with 19 different fully accredited four-year universities. GCC also is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

One College Rd.
Batavia, NY 14020
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4

Erie Community College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$4,595
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
13
Accredited
School Type
2-year

Erie Community College primarily serves students Buffalo, Orchard Park and Williamsville, New York, as well as online students through 13 different associate's degree programs. Erie Community College has 57 different associate's degree programs in total. Erie Community College's AS in General Studies degree serves two purposes, the college notes. First, it provides students with a well-rounded educational foundation. Second, it prepares them for transfer to a four-year university to complete requirements for a bachelor's degree. The program provides an equal balance between study in mathematics and laboratory sciences, the school notes. Graduates of the program are well suited for entry-level positions in banking, real estate, sales, health and human services, the college adds. ECC also is a member of the State University of New York system.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

121 Ellicott St.
Buffalo, NY 14203-2698
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5

Fulton-Montgomery Community College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$3,900
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
2
Accredited
School Type
2-year

This small college about an hour north of Albany serves 1,426 full-time students and offers 27 associate's degree programs, including three fully online degree paths. Fulton-Montgomery Community College's fully online associate's degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences -- General Studies is primarily for students who intend to transfer to a four-year university to complete additional educational requirements for a bachelor's degree, the college notes. Fulton-Montgomery Community College is part of the State University of New York system. It has an open admissions policy, and tied for first in admissions rate with the other schools on this list.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

2805 State Hwy. 67
Johnston, NY 12095-3790
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6

Jefferson Community College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$4,176
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
4
Accredited
School Type
2-year

Students attending Jefferson Community College in Watertown can choose from an AA, AS or AAS degree in General Studies depending on their area of concentration. The fully online degree paths all provide a solid educational foundation in communications, social sciences, humanities and mathematics, the college notes. Educational choices can be tailored to suit each student's needs or interests. Career opportunities can be very diverse and typically depend upon the core educational options students chose, the college reports. The college, part of the State University of New York system, has an open admissions policy and tied for first with 10 other schools for college admissions for 2014. It also has transfer agreements in place with select colleges and universities for students who wish to continue their educational journeys.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

1220 Coffeen St.
Watertown, NY 13601-1897
Go to School Website 
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7

Glen Oaks Community College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$3,984
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
3
Accredited
School Type
2-year

Located in Centreville, Mich., Glen Oaks Community College has an enrollment of approximately 1,200 students. With its open admissions policy, GOCC tied for first with the 10 other colleges in our rankings in admissions rate. Glen Oaks Community College offers 18 different associate's degree programs, including its Associate of General Studies degree. The general studies degree at GOCC is offered through Michigan Colleges Online, a consortium of colleges throughout the state. The degree combines a broad range of core courses that student's can tailor to their specific academic or professional needs, the college notes. It's designed for students who are unsure of their career or educational goals. Students who complete the degree requirements often transfer to four-year universities and pursue additional study in education, religion, literature, and many other areas of study, the college reports.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Comission 

Location:

62249 Shimmel Rd.
Centreville, MI 49032-9719
Go to School Website 
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8

Bristol Community College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$576
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
9
Accredited
School Type
2-year

Serving the greater Fall River area through four campus locations, Bristol Community College offers nine different fully online degrees. BCC tied with the other schools on our list for first in admissions rate due to its open admissions policy. BCC has two options for general studies: career or transfer or mass transfer. The first option is for students who wish to complete a general studies program to satisfy associate's degree requirements and enter the workforce. Students who earn this degree are well positioned for possible entry into a broad range of careers, including work with medical records, corrections, clerical office and many other careers, the college notes. The mass transfer option is for students who want to earn credits that transfer directly to a four-year university, where they can complete a bachelor's degree program.

Accreditation:

  • Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges

Location:

777 Elsbree St.
Fall River, MA 02720-7395
Go to School Website 
GO
9

Hudson Valley Community College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$4,100
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
23
Accredited
School Type
2-year

Hudson Valley Community College serves more than 13,000 students each semester, the college reports. It offers 23 online degree programs, including its AA and AS in Individual Studies degree paths. HVCC tied for first in admission rate with the other schools on this list. The individual studies degree is for distance learners who prefer to self-structure their education, the college notes. While many general studies programs are a good fit for students who are unsure of their career or educational goals, HVCC advises that students who enroll in its individual studies program should have clearly articulated career or college transfer plans, the college notes. Students who live outside of New York state but take 100 percent of coursework online through Hudson Valley Community College meet criteria for in-state tuition rates, the college notes.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

80 Vandenburgh Ave.
Troy, NY 12180
Go to School Website 
GO
10

Yavapai College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$2,064
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
23
Accredited
School Type
2-year

Yavapai College is located in Prescott and has four other campus locations or education centers. The final college in our top 10, Yavapai College makes our list with its high admissions rank. Yavapai College offers 23 different distance learning courses. It's Associate of General Studies degree requires a minimum of 60 credit hours to complete. It's a good educational path for students who aren't yet sure about their career, educational or transfer plans, the college notes. Students can work with an academic advisor to define course selection and areas of study, the college adds. However, 28 credit hours are required in general education courses.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

100 E. Sheldon St.
Prescott AZ 86301
Go to School Website 
GO
Sources and Methodologies

Methodology

To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:

  1. Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor's) in that subject online
  2. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2014-15

Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on five criteria:

  1. In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  2. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  3. Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  4. Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  5. Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015

Sources:

  1. About Us, Garden City Community College, Accessed Feb. 2017, https://www.gcccks.edu/about/
  2. About EduKan, Accessed Feb. 2017, http://edukan.org/
  3. About JCC, Jamestown Community College, Accessed Feb. 2017, https://www.sunyjcc.edu/about
  4. Individual Studies (A.S.), Jamestown Community College, accessed Feb. 2017, http://www.sunyjcc.edu/program-offering/individual-studies-0
  5. General Studies, Genesee Community College, Accessed Feb. 2017, http://www.genesee.edu/academics/programs/Liberal/GenStud/
  6. Liberal Arts and Science -- General Studies, Erie Community College, Accessed Feb. 2017, https://www.ecc.edu/client/programdetail.aspx?ID=4059
  7. General Studies (Liberal Arts) AA, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, accessed Feb. 2017, http://www.fmcc.edu/academics/academic_programs/general-studies-liberal-arts-aa-%E2%80%93-0250/
  8. Individual Studies AA, AS, AAS, Jefferson Community College, accessed Feb. 2017,
  9. http://www.sunyjefferson.edu/academics/programs-study/individual-studies-aa-aas
  10. Associate of General Studies, Michigan Colleges Online, accessed Feb. 2017, https://www.micollegesonline.org/degrees.html#/degree-detail
  11. Quick Facts, Glen Oaks Community College, accessed Feb. 2017, https://www.glenoaks.edu/quick-facts/
  12. General Studies or Career Transfer, Bristol Community College, accessed Feb. 2017, http://bristolcc.smartcatalogiq.com/en/2016-2017/Catalog/Programs-of-Study/General-Studies-Transfer-or-Career/General-Studies-Career-or-Transfer-ANB
  13. General Studies/Mass Transfer, Bristol Community College, accessed Feb. 2017, http://bristolcc.smartcatalogiq.com/en/2016-2017/Catalog/Programs-of-Study/General-Studies-Transfer-or-Career/MassTransfer-A-NB
  14. Individual Studies (AA and AS), Hudson Valley Community College, accessed Feb. 2017, http://www.hvcc.edu/las/ind/online.html
  15. About Hudson Valley Community College, accessed Feb. 2017,
  16. http://www.hvcc.edu/about/index.html
  17. About the Associate of General Studies, Yavapai College, accessed Feb. 2017, https://www.yc.edu/academics/degrees-and-certificates/associate-of-general-studies/36
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Sources and Methodologies