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Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs in General Studies

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Updated on: 12/04/2018
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Many prospective college students don’t understand what goes into a general studies bachelor’s degree online, as the major seems ambiguous at first glance. In reality, general studies provides a broad base of knowledge, which complements many career paths. General studies students essentially take general education courses for all four years of college, mixing courses in the arts, sciences, and humanities.

As more jobs require bachelor’s degrees, a bachelor’s in general studies allows graduates to compete for roles while keeping their options open. It’s a great fit for adult learners seeking flexibility, as many online programs can be tailored to specific interests. Read on to learn more about graduates’ common career paths, coursework, financial aid, and the importance of accreditation.

How Much Can You Make in a General Studies Career?

A general studies bachelor’s degree online is interdisciplinary in nature, allowing learners to gain foundational skills in a wide array of topics and explore many different career paths. Some learners focus more on art-related classes, while others lean more heavily on physical science coursework. Remember, a general studies bachelor’s degree does not guarantee you a job.

What Courses Can be Taken for an Online General Studies Degree?

While completing an online bachelor’s degree in general studies, students cover diverse topics, such as art, film, history, math, science, sociology, philosophy, business, and psychology. The courses highlighted in this section provide a sample of what degree seekers may learn, but prospective students should contact their potential schools directly for their full curriculum.

Critical Thinking and Reasoning

Learners typically take this course in their first year of studies to develop skills in understanding nuanced arguments, identifying fallacies, using deductive and inductive reasoning, and understanding various modes of decision-making.

Physical Geography

Students in this class study the foundational concepts related to the discipline, with topics such as volcanoes, oceanic changes, continental drifts, earthquakes, and identifying basic rocks and minerals.

General Chemistry

This course introduces degree seekers to practical topics in chemistry, such as atomic and molecular structures, the chemical makeup of food and drugs, scientific notation, and the periodic table.

College Algebra

Building on skills gained in Algebra I and II, this class refreshes students on what they learned in high school while also introducing new concepts regarding exponents, radicals, linear and nonlinear equations, and logarithmic functions.

Women’s Studies

This introductory course addresses women issues, including sexism, sexuality, feminism, women’s rights, the women’s movement, and gender hierarchies.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on Courses and Careers in General Studies Program

Once students learn what a general studies bachelor’s degree online entails, they may have some questions about how to choose the right program for them. Learners should consider coursework and potential career paths, along with course delivery format and whether a prospective program would help them achieve their career goals. Review the FAQ below, and reach out to individual schools with further questions.

What strategies should I employ when picking classes?

This depends on your goals. Some students choose general studies as a major because it covers so many topics, but others opt to tailor their electives to create a more focused plan of study. Consider what you hope to get out of these four years and create a plan to ensure you meet your goals.

Are there any concerns about completing this degree online?

Online general studies degrees provide the flexibility to attend school while still balancing personal and professional responsibilities. Most distance learning courses mirror their on campus counterparts, in fact, many are taught by the same campus-based professors. When looking at online programs, make sure your school maintains a good reputation, and that its online education department offers practical, helpful learning technologies.

What should I pay attention to when looking at faculty?

When reviewing faculty, students need to look for three characteristics: education, experience, and research interests. All faculty should have at least a master’s degree, plus practical, real-world experience in their field. If you think you’re interested in a particular subfield, check to see if a prospective school employs faculty with those same interests.

Should I look for a specific curriculum focus?

Again, this depends on what you hope to gain from your degree. Many general studies allow for interdisciplinary customization. They may not offer specializations, but students can often focus their studies to learn more about a specific topic or discipline if they so choose.

How will this degree help me reach my goals?

Completing a bachelor’s degree in general studies online does not necessarily qualify you for any particular role, but it should prepare you to apply for positions requiring a bachelor’s degree. This degree can fit students who do not yet know what they want to study or pursue for a career, but who still want to complete a bachelor’s degree. Many general studies graduates go on to complete more specialized master’s programs after spending some time in the workforce.

Scholarships & Financial Aid for General Studies Programs

Completing a bachelor’s degree requires a great deal of funding. Most students cannot pay for their degree out-of-pocket, so they turn to alternative funding sources to help cover costs. Student loans represent one funding method, but degree seekers should explore scholarship and grant options, since these forms of aid do not require repayment. Below are just a few scholarship options for general studies applicants below.

The Beinecke Scholarship

Since 1971, this scholarship program has helped nearly 650 undergraduate learners fund their studies in the arts, humanities, or social sciences. Learners apply in their junior year of college, and recipients earn $4,000 during their undergraduate studies and an additional $30,000 while working toward a master’s degree. Applicants must attend participating institutions and should contact the campus liaison for the application.

Bill McKnight Legacy Scholarship

Managed by The Pride Foundation, this scholarship helps fund the educations of LGBTQ+ students working toward degrees in the arts or humanities. Applicants must demonstrate leadership and volunteerism in the LGBTQ+ community, show financial need, and lack a significant LGBTQ+ support community. They must also reside in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington.

Clarkston Scholars Program

Provided by Clarkston Consulting, this scholarship exists for students in their second year of undergraduate studies who possess a passion for the life sciences or related subject areas. The scholarship totals $10,000, distributed evenly over the recipient’s junior and senior years of study. To qualify, applicants must attend an accredited institution and hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also write an essay, submit transcripts, and include one letter of recommendation.

ISF Scholarship

The Islamic Scholarship Fund has provided nearly $1 million in scholarships to students from Muslim communities who study humanities, social sciences, or liberal arts at the undergraduate level. Awards range from $2,000 to $10,000. To qualify, students must submit an application, a resume, a video introduction, answers to essay questions, transcripts, work samples, and two letters or recommendations. Application packets must arrive by April 9.

Michael Jackson Scholarship

The United Negro College Fund provides this one-time award of up to $5,000 to an African-American student who demonstrates financial need and a dedication to studying the arts and social sciences. Learners must supply an application, an essay, and transcripts. Funding is disbursed in November.