Online Colleges for General Studies

Online colleges offering degrees 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. There are many paths that lead students to major in general studies. For example, some students do not want to declare a disciplinary major because their interests are so broad. Other students switch majors several times and eventually accumulate enough credits across a range of fields that a general studies major makes the most sense. Still others change institutions multiple times, in which case a general studies major could resolve transfer credit issues. Or someone might leave school without a degree only to return at a later date with new interests, but still wanting to make use of their prior credits.

While there are few careers that explicitly require a degree in general studies, the broad knowledge base of these majors may prove useful in a variety of fields. It is increasingly common for today's jobs to value skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and effective communication over a narrow disciplinary skill set. In fact, the American Association of Colleges and Universities stated in a 2013 report that 93 percent of surveyed business and nonprofit leaders say these skills outweigh the importance of an undergraduate's major, while 74 percent say they would recommend a 21st century liberal education to students. Check out other liberal arts degrees here.

Find Online Bachelor Programs for General Studies

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, common careers for students with liberal arts majors include management, sales, teaching and social work (bls.gov/opub, 2007). Students choosing to major in general studies should be go-getters who can clearly articulate the skills they have gained as the result of their educational experience.

Job Options After Earning an Online Degree in General Studies

Online degrees in general studies provide students with the opportunity to learn how different disciplines approach problems and solutions. Students can take coursework from several areas to gain knowledge that may help them achieve their career goals. For example, someone might take coursework in accounting, nutrition and management with the goal of managing a restaurant. Another person might take courses in psychology, economics and communication in order to move into a career in sales. Yet another student might take history, education and developmental psychology because they want to pursue a career as a high school teacher. While some careers, such as teaching, require additional education and/or certification, majoring in general studies may still provide a strong foundation. It can also help prepare undergrad students for more advanced degree programs.

Job Outlook for Graduates With Online Degrees in General Studies

Because potential career opportunities are so varied, it's a good idea to look at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website to get an idea of the salary and projected growth in the area you're interested in. Food service managers, for example, had a national median annual salary of $47,960 as of May 2012. However, employment in this area is projected to decrease 3 percent nationally between 2010 and 2020. Insurance sales agents had a slightly higher national median annual salary of $48,150 in May 2012, and national job growth in that field is projected to be 22 percent from 2010 to 2020. The national median annual wage of secondary teachers was higher than either of these in May 2012, at $55,050. On the other hand, employment of high school teachers is projected to grow slower than average during these years, at 7 percent nationally.

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of a degree in general studies is that you are not locked into a particular career path. It has become increasingly common for workers to hold numerous positions at different employers during their working years, rather than staying with a single employer until retirement. By offering such a versatile major, online colleges for degrees in general studies may help prepare students transition into several different careers over their lifetime.


  1. "Employers More Interested in Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Than College Major," Association of American Colleges and Universities, April 10, 2013, http://www.aacu.org/press_room/press_releases/2013/leapcompactandemployersurvey.cfm
  2. "Food Service Managers," May 2012 Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes119051.htm
  3. "Food Service Managers," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/food-service-managers.htm
  4. "High School Teachers," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 5, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm
  5. "Insurance Sales Agents," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/insurance-sales-agents.htm
  6. "Insurance Sales Agents," May 2012 Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252031.htm
  7. "Secondary School Teachers," May 2012 Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252031.htm
  8. "What can I do with my liberal arts degree?" Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2007-08, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/2007/winter/art01.pdf

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