The best online general studies degrees emphasize flexibility, enabling each student to craft a curriculum that matches their academic interests and professional goals. Distance learners typically select concentrations and electives that support their career aspirations. Popular concentration options include psychology, communication, and business management. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects careers in these fields to flourish from 2016 to 2026, with employment for technical writers, psychologists, and market research analysts projected to grow 11%, 14%, and 23%, respectively.
These careers represent a small sample of the opportunities available to general studies graduates. This guide provides information on degree options and program structures to help students choose a bachelor's program that suits their needs. The guide also explores job options for individuals who have earned a general education degree online.
Many accredited online schools for general studies offer programs for returning students completing their college degree. Students with busy work and family schedules often take classes part time and typically graduate in 5-7 years. Full-time learners generally complete bachelor's programs in four years. To graduate more quickly, students can enroll in accelerated pathways, which typically consist of eight-week courses. Students in accelerated programs take classes year-round and can graduate in as little as two years.
Distance education programs deliver materials through learning management systems like Blackboard and Moodle. Asynchronous classes allow students to access course materials at their convenience, but learners may need to meet deadlines for weekly assignments and proctored exams. Distance learners often collaborate with peers and professors through discussion boards and video conferencing software.
Students pursuing their general studies degree online often pay affordable and fixed-rate tuition prices. Distance learners also save on housing and transportation costs, since they do not need to live on or travel to campus. Additionally, many online colleges incentivize students with exclusive scholarships and grants.
The best online general education degrees provide comprehensive academic training and prepare students to work in fields such as healthcare, higher education, and information technology. This section explores program outcomes and how graduates apply their new skills to careers. In addition to pursuing entry-level jobs, graduates with bachelor's degrees in general studies often enter master's programs in areas such as creative writing, English literature, sociology, history, and political science.
To earn an accredited general studies degree, online students typically complete about 120 credits. Curricula generally consist of general education requirements, core courses, concentration classes, and electives. Many schools offer the general studies major as a degree completion program, in which students build on previous college and professional experience. Degree completion students often pursue concentrations in the liberal arts or scientific and technical fields.
Regardless of program emphasis, general studies majors develop written and oral communication skills. They also learn to communicate through integrative multimedia channels to reach diverse and global audiences. Learners prepare to apply technology by studying data analysis, which allows them to define, structure, and evaluate digital information for problem-solving purposes.
Learners also gain critical thinking skills, which are applicable to many professional roles. Students perform theoretical exercises and evaluate case studies, during which they learn to gather relevant information and formulate solutions to problems. Students also learn to predict possible consequences and to consider those predictions when making decisions.
Students earning online general studies degrees learn to collaborate in multidisciplinary teams. Even when completing classes asynchronously, learners build relationships with peers and cultivate empathy for diverse individuals. They learn to identify individual and global effects of business decisions. By exploring ethical frameworks and strategies, students develop a sense of social responsibility to drive their professional conduct.
Students earning a general studies degree online can usually customize their program through concentrations and electives. Graduates often pursue careers in areas such as education, healthcare administration, and financial services.
While general studies programs benefit a variety of students, their flexibility is ideal for working professionals. Current professionals typically have specific goals and can craft a degree plan that prepares them to accomplish certain objectives, such as obtaining a digital marketing or program management certification.
Read on to learn about potential industries and career paths for general studies graduates.
IT Services: Information technology professionals apply ethics and business knowledge to develop and maintain data standards. They use technology skills to install computer hardware, set up information systems, and protect sensitive data from intrusion and theft.
Education: General studies graduates can pursue various roles in the education field. Graduates can apply their communication skills as classroom instructors and curriculum developers. They may also pursue roles academic advisers, career counselors, and admissions coordinators.
Healthcare: As one of the country's fastest-growing industries, the healthcare field offers many lucrative job opportunities. Students who emphasize leadership and ethical training in their program often work as health advocates and educators. A bachelor of science in general studies can prepare students for clinical positions in areas such as nursing and social work.
Financial Services: General education students gain the ability to collect and evaluate complex information and big data, which prepares them for roles as financial analysts. Graduates can also work in international trade, translating banking policies or facilitating imports and exports.
Marketing Agency: Marketing agents create interest for an organization's products and services. These professionals need multimedia communication skills to reach audiences in various cultures and languages. Marketing agents also need critical thinking skills to identify market trends and create effective advertising campaigns.
Annual Median Salary: $52,472
Account managers strengthen relationships with an organization's clients. They possess in-depth knowledge of their company's services and products and relay that information to customers to cultivate interest and finalize sales. These professionals maintain contact with clients, providing customer service from their office or traveling to meet clients on-site. As business leaders, account managers also hire and train employees.
Annual Median Salary: $53,492
Executive assistants provide administrative support to an organization's top managers and leaders. They manage itineraries, schedule appointments, and facilitate accommodations and transportation for business trips. Executive assistants also manage daily office tasks, including coordinating clerical staff and screening phone calls. They oversee information requests from media outlets and draft official correspondence that aligns with the company's policies.
Annual Median Salary: $63,659
Operations managers facilitate and assess service provision and product creation in fields such as healthcare, education, and mechanical engineering. They develop cost estimates and set project deadlines. Operations managers apply extensive knowledge of supply chains to procure equipment and materials and to hire subcontractors. They also act as intermediaries between \ project teams and stakeholders.
Annual Median Salary: $72,385
These leaders work for businesses such as industrial manufacturers, biopharmaceutical companies, and financial firms. Project managers develop organizational goals, propose budgets, and set project timelines. They recruit, train, and manage employees, evaluating performance and ensuring efficient workflow. With the help of financial analysts and public relations specialists, project managers also create pricing strategies.
Annual Median Salary: $58,770
Working for news outlets, marketing agencies, and technical organizations, editors review content for publication in print media and online platforms. They revise content to correct grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Editors also alter content for clarity, organization, and factual accuracy. Depending on their experience and role, editors may manage content design and publicity through social media channels.
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