25 Best General Studies Degree Online Programs [2020 Guide]

Are you thinking about getting a general studies degree online?

General Studies Degree Online

This degree option creates a phenomenal bedrock for pursuing future professional and education aspirations.

Best Online General Studies Degrees

You’re looking at two options after deciding that a general studies degree is for you. Do you see yourself going fully independent or veering toward a more “classic” degree path?

Select the program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:

Although there may be some crossover between general and liberal studies careers, there are some important distinctions to consider.

General Studies

business professionals in a meeting

A general studies degree program offers exactly what the name implies. A general studies program typically requires you to take the same core undergraduate courses as students of all majors.

The big difference is that you have more freedom to explore different topics and dive into elective courses as you progress.

You may study topics that cover politics, history, and business as a general studies major. Many people who graduate with degrees in general studies go on to work in fields like business, research development, and education.

This could be a good fit for you if you love the idea of taking a mixture of undergraduate courses that will allow you to carve a unique academic path.

General studies is a good fit if you’re looking to balance the freedom to explore complex, interesting topics with the structure of an undergraduate program.

In addition, this degree satisfies the requirement for applying to many different types of graduate programs that will allow you to refine your career path.

Liberal Studies

male writer working from home

A liberal studies degree provides a broad liberal arts education without a specific concentration. Graduates of these programs often go on to work as writers, journalists, lobbyists, politicians, speechwriters, museum managers, publicists, and political analysts.

Liberal studies programs often go heavy on literature and history classes. In a way, this can feel like a hybrid degree that contains elements of an English degree, history degree, and business degree.

No, you won’t generally be “building” your own curriculum when you pursue a general or liberal studies degree. You will still be given the same structure and support from instructors and advisers as students in other majors.

However, you will have more room to satisfy credit requirements using interesting and emerging course topics.

Both general studies and liberal studies majors have room to pivot their course selections toward the arts and humanities, the sciences, business, or technology.

Curriculum & Courses for a Bachelor of General Studies Degree

general studies degree students studying online

Let’s talk about the specific courses you might take as a general studies major.

  • Biology examines the origins and mechanisms of living organisms. An introductory biology course can serve as a great foundation for a career that pivots toward environmental or health activism, research, or policymaking.
  • Business Management dives into the proven strategies for motivating and managing staff. Emphasis is placed on meeting project goals and innovating.
  • Communications breaks open the philosophies and techniques behind effectively communicating messages. Students often learn how to use classic and emerging modes of communication in corporate and public settings.
  • Economics exposes learners to the how, why, and mechanisms behind the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services around the world. This can give a student with an interest in business a solid foundation for exploring practical business principles.
  • English Literature will expose you to great authors like Shakespeare, Joyce, Rossetti, Tennyson, and Chaucer. In addition to creating a foundation for understanding classic works of literature, this course provides instruction for how to read, discuss, and analyze culture-changing publications.
  • Introduction to Technology invites students to explore practical applications for developing and using technology.
  • Language courses can be included as electives in general studies programs. Studying a language like Spanish could give you a professional advantage if you intend to work in a sector that serves Spanish-speaking communities.
  • Public Speaking is a highly practical and participatory course that explores effective methods for presentations and debates.
  • Sociology explores the study of societal patterns and relationships across history and geographic location.
  • World History explores world events that have shaped the globe. Most college-level history courses focus on specific chunks of the global timeline.

A general studies curriculum creates a well-rounded educational experience that prepares a student to perform in settings that require them to draw from deep wells of knowledge.

In addition, a passion that is sparked by a course often leads a student to pursue a more specific graduate degree or career path.

General Studies Careers & Salaries

General Studies Careers & Salaries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ”Bachelor’s-level occupations are projected to grow by 10 percent from 2016 to 2026.” That means that your general studies degree is going to potentially place you at an advantage when applying to jobs that require undergraduate degrees.

Here’s a glimpse at some salary expectations for people with this degree:

Careers Average Annual Salary
Sales Managers $121,060
General Operations Managers $100,410
Management Analysts $82,450
Market Research Analysts $63,230
Public Relations Specialists $59,300
Public/Private health Educators $53,940
Interpreters and Translators $47,190
Community and Social Services Specialists $41,570

Yes, general studies majors end up in important roles in many different industries. The balance of communication-oriented and research-based courses within the general studies curriculum enables graduates to fit nicely into a broad array of niches within both the public and private sectors.

What Can You Do With a Degree in General Studies?

sales manager talking to a client

We’ve already discussed some specific salaries that might be expected after graduating with a general studies degree. However, it’s important to note that this degree is by no means limiting. There are some additional roles that general studies graduates often occupy.

  • Account managers often become the “point person” and liaison in the relationship between a company and client.
  • Criminal justice professionals handle investigations, forensics, public safety, and emergency management while working for municipalities and federal agencies.
  • Information studies experts oversee and analyze the collection, classification, manipulation, storage, and protection of data and information.
  • Marketing professionals handle all sides of branding, promotion, and consumer engagement.
  • Operations managers are responsible for designing, controlling, and monitoring of production processes.
  • Project managers design and delegate strategic steps for bringing products or projects to market.
  • Real estate brokers arrange property transactions between commercial and residential buyers and sellers.
  • Paralegals provide administrative support and document handling at law firms, corporations, and government agencies.
  • Pharmaceutical consultants provide business support to pharmacies by securing contracts for medical products, sourcing equipment, and negotiating supply deals.
  • Public health educators serve as liaisons between physicians or agencies and the public by disseminating information.

Many exciting, meaningful roles can be obtained with just a general studies degree as your credential. However, there is plenty of room to pursue additional degrees or training once you’ve found a specialty that offers room for growth.

Choosing a General Studies Degree Online Program

general studies degree student studying online

It’s important to choose a program that offers the balance of flexibility and structure you desire while pursuing your undergraduate degree. Let’s discuss some of the characteristics to consider when making your decisions about where to apply.

  • School size and type will be important to consider as you weigh your comfort level in terms of class size, instructor availability, and alumni connections.
  • Degree program length is a factor that may be important to you if you’re trying to complete a program within a certain window to satisfy a job requirement.
  • Program costs must be looked at on a per-credit level to get a good idea of how much your total education will cost.
  • College credit transfer policies can affect your decision to change schools due to personal or logistical reasons.
  • On-campus requirements may impact your decision if you’ll be taking courses that simply require live participation due to lab work or practicums.

With the right degree program, all of these factors come together to create a robust, actionable educational experience.

General Studies Degree Specializations & Concentrations

general studies student asking advice from adviser

Many students feel that focusing on a degree specialization or concentration when pursuing a general studies degree adds more weight and direction to their studies. Once enrolled, you will be able to discuss potential specializations with an adviser.

  • An Allied Health focus could put you on a team of professionals responsible for identifying, evaluating, and preventing health issues and diseases through the use of special services and health systems management.
  • A Business Administration concentration places you on a path to manage people and projects in corporate and public institutions.
  • A Communications focus prepares you to work in media or corporate relations.
  • A Criminal Justice concentration is ideal if you have a passion for law because it often leads to investigative roles at local, state, and federal agencies.
  • General Administration is a good fit if you’re interested in playing a support role at an organization or corporation.
  • Individualized Studies is an interdisciplinary major option that allows you to combine courses from several departments to create a custom, targeted curriculum that reflects your interests or career goals.
  • Information Technology is a focus that prepares you to develop, maintain, and manage the use of technology and systems.
  • Natural Sciences students are trained to understand, predict, and explain natural phenomena using original data or peer-reviewed research.

Again, these specialties represent the way that a general studies degree uniquely prepares each learner to enter the field they find appealing. You’re likely to discover that your curious, self-starting personality is satisfied by a degree path with so few restraints.

Online Bachelor’s in General Studies Requirements for Admissions

general studies degree student searching online in library

What does it take to get accepted into an undergraduate general studies program? Each school has its own criteria. However, we can take a look at some general requirements that are nearly universal among college admission departments.

GPA

Colleges will be looking at your collective GPA across all four years of high school. Some colleges place a higher degree of importance on the GPAs for your junior and senior years. Some schools will only consider applicants with GPAs that reach specific thresholds.

Exam Scores

Most colleges look at standardized test scores when vetting applications for admission. The two tests that are primarily considered are the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and the American College Testing (ACT).

The rules are not the same across the board. For instance, one college may weigh test scores and GPAs nearly equally. Others may only assign significance to test scores for students with GPAs that are on the cusp.

general studies student submitting her portfolio

Transferring College Credits

If you’re transferring schools, your transcripts may be reviewed during the admissions process.

The school you’re applying to will want to see if the credits you’re hoping to transfer demonstrate your ability to succeed while pursuing similar or related coursework.

Personal Statement

You will probably be required to submit a personal statement along with your application. A personal statement is typically a short essay that gives you an opportunity to demonstrate why you believe you belong at a school.

Most students share an overview of their skills, experiences, and achievements.

Letters of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation is an endorsement that someone in your life constructs to highlight why you would be an asset to a school. This letter is meant to highlight your credibility, integrity, and capability.

You would typically ask a teacher, coach, employer, or guidance counselor to draft a letter of recommendation on your behalf.

Accreditation

General Studies Accreditation

Regional accreditation is something to have on your mind when looking for schools that offer general studies programs. Regional accreditation isn’t a requirement. However, it could bolster some specific objectives you have.

A school with regional accreditation has been deemed worthy of recognition by one of the nation’s seven regional accrediting agencies based on educational or experiential merits.

The big benefit of regional accreditation is that it’s typically easier to transfer credits from recognized schools. Regionally accredited colleges are also considered to be more prestigious.

General Studies Professional Organizations

business professionals in a meeting

General studies professionals can belong to a number of professional organizations that provide networking, career, and skill-development opportunities. Here’s your look at the most popular ones:

Organizations that offer pathways to training and certification are particularly attractive to general studies professionals because they align with the “always learning” mindset that this major attracts.

Financial Aid & Scholarships for a Bachelor’s in General Studies

Financial Aid & Scholarships for a Bachelor's in General Studies

Very few students complete undergraduate programs without some type of financial aid. Enrolling in a four-year undergraduate program will entitle you to student aid through FAFSA.

Many students use a combination of federal loans, work-study opportunities, and scholarships to fund their educations. Many colleges that offer general studies degrees offer institutional scholarships for students pursuing general or liberal studies.

General Studies Online

Can You Do General Studies Online?

Yes, there are many programs that allow you to complete your curriculum fully online through both passive and interactive course work.

Is a General Studies Degree Worth it?

Yes, this degree creates an excellent foundation for moving into professional roles that require four-year undergraduate degrees or pursuing graduate degrees.

What is the General Studies Major?

A general studies major is a broad, cross-discipline degree path that teaches you how to think critically, analyze information, and apply practical skills in a variety of professional fields.

Being a general studies major is not the same thing as having an undeclared major.

What Can I Do With a General Studies Degree?

human resource managers interviewing a job applicant

A general studies degree can be used to pursue job opportunities that require bachelor’s degrees. You can use your degree to jump right into a job role after graduation or apply to graduate programs for business, teaching, technology, human resources, science, communications, and nearly any other specialty that interests you.

Can I Transfer with a General Studies Degree?

This will vary by school. However, the very fundamental nature of most of the courses contained within a general studies curriculum makes it likely that the bulk of your credits will transfer.

How Long Does it Take to Earn a General Studies Degree Online?

An undergraduate degree in general studies typically takes four years for a student who is taking a “traditional” credit load each semester.

It may be possible to shave time from your degree path by taking extra classes.

What Do You Study in General Studies?

general studies student studying online

A general studies major covers English, communications, business, science, social sciences, business, and technology.

General studies majors have the benefit of being able to “dip” into several disciplines without “wasting” credits.

Can I Teach With a Bachelor’s in General Studies?

This varies by the school district. Some districts will allow you to teach as long as you fulfill additional training or credentialing within a certain window of time.

However, your degree may be fully sufficient in a private school setting. A bachelor’s in general studies will qualify you to be a substitute teacher in nearly every public school district.

What is General Studies?

General studies simply mean that a student is pursuing coursework that covers several disciplines instead of following a narrow, highly concentrated degree path.

Universities Offering Online General Studies Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Each of the universities included below are regionally accredited and offer general studies bachelor’s degree online.

#1  American Public University

American Public University campus

American Military University began in 1919 and prides itself on serving military members and civilians all over the world with an affordable public education through distance learning. APU has more than 200-degree programs for those seeking to obtain an associate, bachelor, or master’s degree.

APU is a steppingstone for educational needs for career advancement.

  • BA in General Studies

APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#2  Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University campus

Arkansas State University is a public research post-secondary school that started in 1909. ASU has a plethora of programs that lead to an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. With many notable alumni that include politicians, judges, and professors, ASU’s academic programs set an example for many other universities.

  • Bachelor of General Studies

Arkansas State University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#3  Baker College

Baker College campus

Beginning in 1911, Baker College is a private educational facility with twelve campuses around the state of Michigan. It also provides a flexible program for military members to receive their degrees entirely online. Baker College has programs that lead to an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate. International students are welcome and assisted at BC.

  • BS in General Studies

Baker College is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

#4  Ball State University

Ball State University campus

Ball State University opened in 1918 and is a top-notch public research university that works to provide students an array of programs leading to an associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

BSU has several campus locations that serve thousands of students every year. Some of BSU’s most popular programs include education, health, business, and communications.

  • Bachelor’s in General Studies

BSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#5  Drexel University

Drexel University campus

Drexel University began in 1891 and is now a world-renowned private research educational institution. Drexel’s hands-on curriculum allows students to use research, internship, and apprenticeships as credit towards either an undergraduate, graduate, and a doctorate in a variety of programs.

Many students also take advantage of the many study abroad programs offered by Drexel University.

  • BS in General Studies

Drexel University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#6  Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University campus

Opening its doors as a public post-secondary school in 1906, Eastern Kentucky University overcame many obstacles in its early years. Now EKU aids thousands of students each year in earning an associate, undergraduate, and graduate degree.

With many programs to choose from, Eastern Kentucky University also helps working adults by offering a variety of online degree options.

  • Bachelor’s in General Studies

Eastern Kentucky University is accredited by the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#7  Indiana State University

Indiana State University campus

Indiana State University started in 1865. and is a public post-secondary school that offers more than one-hundred options for students to gain a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in their chosen field. Indiana State University takes pride in its flexible distance learning opportunities that allow students more opportunities to learn.

  • BS in General Studies

Indiana State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#8  Lamar University

Lamar University campus

Lamar University has been providing post-secondary education since 1923 and joined the Texas University System in 1995, becoming a part of an effective public education system.

Offering over hundred-degree options, Lamar University paves the way for students to earn a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral level degree and is documented as a Doctoral/Research University.

  • Bachelor of General Studies

Lamar University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#9  Louisiana State University – Shreveport

Louisiana State University Shreveport campus

Louisiana State University – Shreveport began in 1967 as a two-year college and has grown into a sizable public post-secondary school that offers an array of undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Some of the most popular programs at Louisiana State University – Shreveport include petroleum engineering, sports administration, education, and International Studies.

  • Bachelor of General Studies

Louisiana State University in Shreveport is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#10  Maryville University

Maryville University campus

Founded in 1872, Maryville University serves students across the globe that seek to gain an undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs. With over ninety programs to choose from, this private University prides itself on innovation and technology.

Designed to bring real-world skills to students, Maryville University brings student-centered programs to the forefront.

  • BA in General Studies – Healthcare

Maryville University is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

#11  McNeese State University

McNeese State University campus

McNeese State University started in 1939 and has risen to one of the top spots in the nation for public education. Presenting a diverse array of undergraduate and graduate degree paths, MSU serves a diverse student body from around the nation and from several other countries.

A sample of programs offered includes business, education, engineering, and computer science.

  • BGS in Interdisciplinary Studies

McNeese State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#12  Medaille College

Medaille College campus

Medaille College began in 1875 as a school for education and has grown into a celebrated private liberal arts post-secondary school in Buffalo, New York.

Medaille strives to give students everything needed to be successful in gain an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree program. Community service projects are an essential aspect of the MC curricula.

  • BS in General Studies

Medaille College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#13  Minot State University

Minot State University campus

Minot State University is a public university that began in 1913. With many undergraduate and graduate programs to choose from MSU assists students in North Dakota to reach their full educational potential. Founded on solution-based research, Minot State University works to enhance the area’s environmental and health issues and concerns.

  • Bachelor of General Studies

Minot State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#14  Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Northwestern State University of Louisiana campus

The Northwestern State University of Louisiana began in 1884 is now a significant public post-secondary school that offers more than fifty programs leading to an undergraduate or graduate degree.

Ranking as a top military-friendly school, Northwestern State University of Louisiana reaches students across the globe. Some of their most popular courses are nursing and business.

  • Bachelor of General Studies

Northwestern State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#15  Texas State University

Texas State University campus

Texas State University became a public post-secondary school in 1903 and has grown to be one of the most distinguished schools in the nation. Offering over 200 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in a variety of fields, TSU prides itself on ground-breaking research and hands-on learning.

With online and in-class programs, TSU reaches students across the globe.

  • Bachelor of General Studies

Texas State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#16  Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University campus

Texas Tech University began in 1923 and is one of the largest public campuses in the nation. Known as a Carnegie Tier One Research University, Texas Tech is the only campus in the country that accommodates a college, school of law, and medical school.

TTU students can earn undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate degrees in more than one hundred programs.

  • Bachelor of General Studies

Texas Tech University is accredited with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#17  Texas Woman’s University

Texas Womans University campus

Beginning in 1901, the Texas Woman’s University is a public post-secondary school with three campuses across TX with programs that lead to undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate degrees.

TWU is rated number one in Texas as the best school for women with children but has been co-ed since 1994. Some programs offered include nursing, education, and business.

  • Bachelor’s in General Studies

TWU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#18  University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida campus

Finding its beginnings in 1963, the University of Central Florida is a top-notch post-secondary public school that offers hundreds of pathways to an undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree.

Their space exploration programs have seen significant innovations over the years, and with hands-on research programs, continue to strive. Co-ops and internships lead the way for future leaders.

  • Bachelor of General Studies in Integrative General Studies

The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#19  University of Louisiana at Lafayette

University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus

With roots that reach from 1898, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has grown into one of the most notable public research universities in the nation.

Offering numerous undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate programs, the University is the home of several firsts, including a Ph.D. in Francophone Studies, Master of Informatics, and an Industrial Design degree.

  • Bachelor of General Studies

The University of Louisiana Lafayette is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#20  University of Louisiana at Monroe

University of Louisiana Monroe campus

The University of Louisiana at Monroe is a post-secondary public school that began in 1931. The school take pride in their many undergraduates and graduate degree program offered from five major schools.

Many students choose to participate in interdisciplinary research collaboration with professors, peers, and other community members to find real-world solutions to pressing community problems.

  • Bachelor of General Studies

The University of Louisiana at Monroe is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#21  University of Missouri

University of Missouri campus

The University of Missouri is a sizable public research university that started in 1839. The University offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in an array of fields.

It is renowned for its school of journalism, news broadcasting, medical clinics, and research. The University of Missouri is home to the country’s only source of isotopes used in nuclear medicine.

  • Bachelor of General Studies

The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#22  University of South Dakota

University of South Dakota campus

Starting in 1862, the University of South Dakota houses South Dakota’s only medical and law schools. As a public research educational facility, the University works tirelessly to incorporate hands-on research opportunities to all students in its many undergraduates, graduate, and doctoral degree programs and offers both on-campus and online classes.

  • Bachelor of General Studies

The University of South Dakota is accredited by the HLC.

#23  University of the Cumberlands

University of the Cumberlands campus

As a private school that began in 1888, the University of the Cumberlands is rated as one of the safest colleges in Kentucky. It is committed to serving the community by giving students credit for volunteer and co-op opportunities while completing one of the many undergraduate and graduate programs offered.

  • Bachelor’s in General Studies

University of the Cumberlands is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#24  Youngstown State University

Youngstown State University campus

Youngstown State University is a public educational institution that began in 1908. YSU has a variety of programs that lead to an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and online degrees. Some of Youngstown’s popular majors include education, health, technology, and creative arts. The average class size is twenty-one, giving students a personal touch.

  • Bachelor of General Studies

Youngstown State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#25  West Texas A and M University

West Texas AM University campus

Starting in 1910, West Texas A and M University has developed new and innovative programs that lead to a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees. It is a public university that helps students grown by using research and hands-on learning, both in-class and distance learning options, allowing it to reach students globally.

  • Bachelor of General Studies

West Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your General Studies Degree Online

General Studies Degree student studying at home

Have you ever felt like no single major encapsulates all that you want to learn, explore, and experience during your college career? You may have been born to be a general studies major.

No, a general studies degree does not mean that you can’t commit to a single major. It means you cannot be limited by a single major. This is how many employers will view the situation once you show off your dynamic, genre-bending skills and knowledge.

A college experience that will satisfy your curious nature and eagerness to dive into innovative, broad topics starts when you find a program that lets you do just that.

Start applying to schools to unleash your curious side in an encouraging academic setting.

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Carmen Reed
Carmen Reed
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