Earning your college degree is a smart decision that can pay off in the long run*. But what if you’re not exactly sure what field or subject you want to study? An associate of general studies degree can be a great way to kickstart your education while you’re still undecided.
What is an associate of general studies degree?
General studies degree programs provide you with the fundamental knowledge and skills you need to progress to more advanced college courses and degrees, such as a bachelor’s degree. These flexible degree programs include general education courses that focus on foundational skills, including:
- Critical thinking
They also allow you to experience a wide variety of liberal arts and humanities coursework, including mathematics, literature, history, and social science, so you can customize the curriculum to suit your professional goals and personal interests.
What is an associate degree in general studies good for?
An associate’s degree in general studies is ideal if you’re unsure about your educational or career path and want to explore your options before committing to a specific field of study. However, students who earn an associate’s degree in general studies usually decide to transfer into a bachelor’s degree program as their next step. While a general studies degree enables you to remain flexible in the areas you study, a bachelor’s degree will require you to declare a major and minor.
We know that choosing a degree program can be overwhelming, especially when there are so many available. That’s why we’ve ranked the 15 best general studies associate degree programs – take a look below!
What jobs can you get with an associate’s in general studies?
You can qualify for a variety of careers with an associate’s degree, and an A.A. in General Studies or an A.S. in General Studies will show you have a solid liberal arts education along with skills that are valuable in any career, including communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking.
However, in some fields, employers typically look for candidates who hold a degree in a related subject area (for example, a paralegal job will require an associate’s degree in paralegal studies). That’s why so many students who start their education with a general studies degree eventually transfer into a bachelor’s degree program and choose a specific field of study. If you’re targeting a career in a field with more specific requirements for entry, then earning an advanced degree may be the more strategic move.
How long does it take to get an associate’s degree in general studies?
It typically takes about two years to earn your associate’s degree. However, some schools offer accelerated programs that enable students to earn their degrees at a faster pace. It’s up to you to decide if you can handle a more demanding school schedule or need a more relaxed pace to balance the demands of school and work.
The good news is that at many schools, completing your associate’s degree in general studies is the equivalent of earning all your general or core education requirements. These credits can often be transferred directly into a bachelor’s degree at the same institution, or to a partner institution regionally.
If you’re ready to review the best degree program options for you, take a look below. We’ve ranked the best digital marketing degree programs based on two factors: tuition cost per credit (lowest is best) and graduate enrollment (highest is best). To see which program might be the best fit for your goals and schedule, take a look at our ranking below!
Best 15 Associate of General Studies Programs
1. Austin Community College District – General Studies in Arts (45 points)
Austin Community College District offers a General Studies in Arts program that allows students to explore different fields of interest while they build the foundation to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program. The curriculum emphasizes critical thinking, writing, and problem-solving skills. Program options include Honors Program courses and the option to earn a University Transfer degree.
- Tuition: $57 per credit
- Enrollment: 41,056
2. Washtenaw Community College – Associate in General Studies (34 points)
Washtenaw Community College offers an Associate in General Studies program that allows students to personalize their curriculum. Students can choose between two options: a track towards employment in a chosen career field, or working towards transfer to a four-year degree. The program is 60 credits and students work with an academic advisor to customize their employment or transfer pathway.
- Tuition: $95 per credit
- Enrollment: 11,978
2. Mt. Hood Community College – Associate of General Studies (34 points)
Mt. Hood Community College offers an Associate of General Studies program that enables to students to receive a well-rounded, broad education in several subjects. Areas of study include Mathematics, Communication, Human Relations, Health/Physical Education, Arts and Letters (Humanities), Social Science, and Science/Mathematics/Computer Science.
- Tuition: $78 per credit
- Enrollment: 7,463
4. Fort Hays State University – Associate of General Studies (33 points)
Fort Hays State University offers an Associate of General Studies program that lets students explore different fields of interest while they identify their eventual area of focus. This program focuses on critical thinking and math skills, problem-solving, and communication, and prepares students to either transfer to a four-year bachelor’s program or prepare to enter the workforce. Classes include Foundation Studies, with courses in Communication, English Composition, and Mathematics, and Liberal Arts, with courses in Art, Modern Languages, Music, Philosophy, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Computer Science, and more.
- Tuition: $120 per credit
- Enrollment: 15,908
5. University of the Cumberlands – Associate’s in General Studies (32 points)
University of the Cumberlands offers an Associate’s in General Studies program that emphasizes personalization and exploration, allowing students to choose the path of study that’s right for them. Core coursework is available in science, culture, math, faith, and history. Classes also teach the soft skills students need to succeed in the working world after college, including communication, critical thinking, and professionalism.
- Tuition: $133 per credit
- Enrollment: 16,966
6. Columbia Southern University – A.A. General Studies (31 points)
Columbia Southern University offers an A.A. General Studies program that provides students with the flexibility they need to pursue a more advanced degree or transition into a new career. This program heavily focuses on the humanities and sciences while also teaching the skills that working professionals need, including communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and research interpretation. The program includes flexible online options for learning, including LifePace Learning, which enables students to complete a course in as fast as four weeks or as long as 18 weeks.
- Tuition: $156 per credit
- Enrollment: 20,034
6. Southwestern Illinois College – Associate in General Studies (31 points)
Southwestern Illinois College offers an Associate in General Studies program that is designed to provide students with a liberal arts studies curriculum and individualized coursework that may not be offered by other programs. Graduates of occupational certificate programs may also use it as a capstone option to complete the requirements for their program.
- Tuition: $113 per credit
- Enrollment: 8,508
8. Weber State University – Associate of Arts or Associate of Science in General Studies (28 points)
Weber State University offers an Associate of Arts and Associate of Science in General Studies program that allows students to explore a wide variety of subjects before enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program and choosing a major. With this degree program, students can earn their general education requirements for a large number of bachelor degree programs at Weber State and other Utah public universities. There is an option to earn this degree 100% online. The curriculum covers humanities and creative arts, physical and life sciences, and social sciences, while also teaching students how to build math, writing, and computer literacy skills.
- Tuition: $305 per credit
- Enrollment: 29,644
9. Arkansas State University – Associate of General Studies Online (25 points)
Arkansas State University offers an Associate of General Studies Online program that focuses on helping students pursue both their professional and personal goals. This online program allows students to customize their course of study by choosing from a wide variety of subjects and electives. This flexible program also features multiple start dates per year and accelerated, 7-week course formats.
- Tuition: $172 per credit
- Enrollment: 13,356
10. Eastern Kentucky University – Associate of General Studies (22 points)
Eastern Kentucky University offers an Associate of General Studies program that allows students to receive a strong liberal arts education while concentrating their studies in the area of interest that meets their professional and educational goals. Completion of this degree can be applied toward a four-year bachelor’s degree at Eastern Kentucky University of any other regional Kentucky institution.
- Tuition: $386 per credit
- Enrollment: 14,980
11. Golden Gate University – Associate of Arts in General Studies (11 points)
Golden Gate University offers an Associate of Arts in General Studies program with its Gateway to Success Course, which is specially designed to help adult learners who are returning to school succeed in their chosen education and career paths. This program is offered in three formats: online, on-campus in San Francisco, or through a hybrid combination. Courses are based on a liberal arts foundation while incorporating a curriculum that teaches management principles, organizational theory, and leadership strategy.
- Tuition: $462 per credit
- Enrollment: 2,432
12. Lawrence Technological University – Associate of Science in General Studies (10 points)
Lawrence Technological University offers an Associate of Science in General Studies that covers a spectrum of liberal arts topics, including literature and the arts, mathematics and science, and history and philosophy. Students participate in readings, discussions, group presentations, and teamwork as they further explore the subjects that match their personal and professional interests. Students who plan to enter a four-year degree program at Lawrence Technological University will complete all their general education requirements while earning this degree.
- Tuition: $770 per credit
- Enrollment: 2,849
13. Goodwin University – Associate in General Studies (9 points)
Goodwin University offers an Associate in General Studies that aims to create graduates who are ready to thrive in today’s working world. Courses in psychology, science, English, and the humanities encourage students to communicate and think effectively while collaborating with others in a diverse, multicultural setting. In addition to personalizing their own program of study, students can choose their electives from existing programs, including Criminal Justice, Business, Human Services, Early Childhood Education, and Health Science.
- Tuition: $833 per credit
- Enrollment: 3,297
14. University of Bridgeport – AA, AS in General Studies (8 points)
University of Bridgeport offers an AA and AS in General Studies that allows students to work with an academic advisor while they customize a course of study to meet their goals. For example, a student may choose a Business Studies concentration focusing on Marketing and Management along with a Mass Communications Minor. By the end of their personalized programs, graduates will effectively be able to communicate both orally and in writing, recognize and solve problems, and show mastery of the subject of their choosing.
- Tuition: $1,369 per credit
- Enrollment: 5,089
15. University of La Verne – AA, General Studies (7 points)
University of La Verne offers an AA, General studies that provides a general introduction to several subjects, including Fine Arts Humanities (Literature, Philosophy, Religion), Natural Science, Written and Spoken English (Public Speaking Optional), and Social Sciences. The program is offered at two campus locations, Bakersfield and Naval Base Ventura County, and through an online format. Students can use this program as a pathway to transfer to La Verne’s bachelor’s degree program and can work with an academic advisor to customize a plan that meets their needs.
- Tuition: $1,910 per credit
- Enrollment: 7,396
Want to review more general studies associate degree programs? Use our Degree Finder tool and we’ll help you find the school that’s best for you!
Our Ranking Methodology
Our ranking was generated by using weighted per-credit tuition rates (in-state where applicable) and non-weighted graduate enrollment rates for each school. After sorting first by the per-credit tuition rates, which were then multiplied by a factor of two, and then by graduate enrollment rates, we assigned points to each school and added these points to get a final ranking score.
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