Associate in General Studies Program Guide

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July 29, 2021

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A college education can open the doors to additional professional opportunities with higher pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average associate degree-holder earns $7,320 more each year than people with high school diplomas. They also enjoy a lower unemployment rate.

However, there is no need to determine your academic major or career path now. Many schools offer associate degrees in general studies. These flexible programs help students explore their interests while completing general education requirements that they can later use in any bachelor's program.

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Should I Get an Associate in General Studies?

An associate degree in general studies allows you to take classes in a variety of topics.

An associate degree in general studies allows you to take classes in a variety of topics. This flexibility is ideal for recent high school graduates who understand the benefits of a college education but do not yet know what field suits them.

Because general studies does not prepare students for any specific career, students may experience difficulty landing a job after graduation. If employment is your primary objective, consider a high-paying associate degree in a field like occupational therapy, dental hygiene, or web development.

Associate in general studies programs typically span two years, requiring students to take at least 60 credits of core classes and open electives. Students can graduate more quickly by pursuing an accelerated online associate degree in general studies, taking seven-week classes over 12 months.

These programs usually include 30-45 credits of general education requirements. The remaining credits funnel into electives that students choose with the guidance of an academic counselor. They can either use these classes to explore different academic disciplines or complete prerequisite coursework for a specific bachelor's degree.

Check out the Best Online Associate in General Studies Programs

What Will I Learn in a General Studies Associate Program?

To earn an associate degree in general studies, you must complete a series of core classes in areas like English composition, rhetoric and public speaking, and applied research methods. Depending on the school, students may also take courses in college-level math and foundational computer concepts and applications.

General studies programs do not teach students technical competencies (or "hard skills'') for a single career path. However, these programs do help learners gain transferable soft skills that they can apply in diverse work settings. This skill set includes the ability to think logically and creatively when tackling complex problems.

In fact, problem-solving ranks as the top attribute employers look for when analyzing a resume, according to a 2020 job outlook survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Teamwork comes in as second, with complimentary attributes like leadership, written and oral communication, and initiative landing not far behind.

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What Can I Do With an Associate in General Studies?

Associate degrees in general studies help students discover the right academic majors and career paths for their personality, interests, and goals. Community colleges are a great option for general studies students due to their flexible admissions policies and affordable tuition rates. According to the CollegeBoard, in-state students pay $3,770 for annual tuition at two-year schools, compared to $27,020 for public universities.

Additionally, community colleges often maintain articulation agreements with state universities that guarantee seamless transfer into a bachelor's-completion program. The University of California and Florida College systems are well-known examples of these transfer pathways. You can learn more about this process by consulting the BestColleges Transfer Guide.

Degree-holders can also leverage their communication and problem-solving skills to work as an office administrator or computer support specialist. The retail and hospitality industries also provide ample job opportunities in advertising, wholesale trade, and hotel management.

Popular Career Paths

Popular Continued Education Paths

Students interested in business can explore positions such as human resources coordinator or marketing coordinator. According to PayScale data from March 2021, these professionals earn average annual salaries of $47,687 and $45,028, respectively.

Learners interested in the hospitality industry may enjoy working as a hotel manager. These professionals earn an average annual salary of $57,389, according to PayScale data from March 2021. Alternatively, students who pursue a career in systems administration can earn an average annual salary of $62,885.

How Much Money Can I Make With an Associate in General Studies?

According to PayScale data from March 2021, professionals with an associate degree in general studies make an average annual salary of $53,479. However, earning potential varies based on factors like geographic location, employer, and individual qualifications. Due to the diverse job opportunities available to general studies graduates, specific occupation also greatly impacts wages.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in General Studies Programs

What is general studies?

General studies is an interdisciplinary academic field that lets students explore their academic interests through open and guided electives. The flexible curriculum is ideal for learners who remain unsure about which major is best for them. Many general studies learners complete their associate degree at a community college before transferring to a four-year school for a bachelor's degree.

What kind of jobs can I get with an associate in general studies?

General studies curricula focus on soft skills like communication, collaboration, and problem-solving. Degree-holders can work as sales representatives, administrative assistants, and technical writers. By completing bootcamp training or free online classes, graduates can also pursue a web development career.

How much does it cost to get an associate in general studies?

Degree cost varies based on several factors, including school and learners' residency. According to EducationData, the average yearly costs of attending two-year colleges and four-year universities are $6,380 and $20,470, respectively. Public institutions also charge significantly less for tuition than private schools.

Is an associate in general studies worth it?

The value of any college degree is subjective. Generally speaking, an associate degree in general studies best suits students who need time and guidance before pursuing additional credentials like a technical certificate or bachelor's degree.

How long does it take to get an associate in general studies?

Students usually spend two years earning an associate degree. During this time, they fulfill general education requirements and take electives chosen with the help of an academic advisor. Distance learners can graduate sooner by enrolling in a 12-month online associate program in general studies.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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