Skip to Content

Is It Worth It To Get a General Studies Degree?

If you aren't sure what to major in, here are the pros and cons of a general studies degree.

Wondering if college is right for you? Choosing a definite degree path is undoubtedly scary. As such, many students opt for any sort of general degree. The idea being, “If I cast a wider net, I may be able to land a better job in the end.” For some this may be true, but for others it may be more complication than it’s worth.

Just because it says “general” studies, doesn’t mean it’s the easiest degree. You’ll have to know exactly how to make this type of degree work in your favor. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of a General Studies degree.

How a General Study Program Can Benefit You

Those who aren’t entirely clear on which degree is right for them may want to look into a general studies degree. In many cases, colleges will allow general studies courses to fill humanities requirements that will be tacked on to your overall degree. So, this might be a great idea for new college students that aren’t quite certain which field interests them. You can always start with general studies courses and work your way onto more advanced classes as you go.

General studies programs usually cover a wide range of topics including science, art, history, and more. This can be used to a graduate’s advantage in a couple of ways.

First, if the student does know a particular field that they would like to enter, they may decide to study similar general subjects that can give them an overview of many subjects surrounding their chosen field, instead of such a narrow path. This could potentially give the student an advantage over other candidates. It all depends on the needs of the employer. Although, they may still prefer a more concentrated focus, so this is a risky choice.

Secondly, an interest in different, but compatible, areas of study could potentially be profitable for a graduate. For example, photography, English, and marketing are all very separate areas of study that could potentially lend themselves well to each other. The heart of this method would be to have a plan. General studies degrees that allow this type of coordination can be manipulated in the student’s favor. You just have to know what you’re looking for and be sure that your college will allow it.

How a General Study Program Can Limit You

Depending on the college you plan on attending, a general studies degree may only be offered at particular levels. Some schools may offer Bachelor’s degrees in general studies, while others might simply offer Associates instead. If you’re hoping to get a four year degree, check around to your local colleges and see what best fits your ideal schooling situation.

If none of the schools in your area offer the type of general studies degrees you are looking for, then you might be forced to head out of state for your education, which can be much more expensive than higher learning in the same state.

General studies graduates are also quite common, even when an area of expertise is chosen. For example, 85% of MBA degree earners had a background of general business. Ergo, the business field is now flooded with folks who have nonspecific general business degrees.

Hence, many colleges are making it more difficult to get a general degree instead of, let’s say, a business finance or business marketing degree. These efforts are geared towards trying to help create workers that are focused, with a honed level of knowledge in their field by the time they earn their degree.

What’s more, students who earn degrees in one of the STEM branches of education have been proven to make more money overall than those with non-specific degrees. Currently, folks in the engineering and architecture industry are making a median wage of about $50,000+ per year to start. So, your desired post-college, entry level wage will also be something to think about.

What should you major in?

What Does It Mean For Your Future?

Nothing is ever certain in the employment world. Any degree may help you get your foot in the door of your dream job. However, many employers are going to be looking for expertise within a very concentrated scope of your field. Even an online degree from a school such as Fresno Pacific University Online can be beneficial for your career. However, it may benefit you to take some general courses alongside your chosen program. It never hurts to have additional schooling in other areas.

The key takeaway is, try to make a plan along the way. Not all students know exactly what they intend to do after college, but that is what the college experience is usually for. It can be intimidating to decide on one area of study, but often times it pays off more in the end.

Explore the areas you feel you might be interested in and your schooling can evolve from there. It is true, no schooling is bad schooling, but if you’re looking to enter a competitive field, having a targeted game plan is usually the best plan of action.

By Trisha Miller

Trisha Miller
Trisha is a freelance writer from Boise, ID. She is a dedicated vegan who promotes an all-around healthy lifestyle – including mental health. Find her on Twitter – @thatdangvegan