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A degree in general education confers upon a student standard knowledge in a broad range of subjects. Students pursuing a general education degree will study a wide variety of topics. The degree is often used by individuals unsure of what major to pursue and is obtained at the associate level. Bachelor and master degrees are also available, though their purpose is more career oriented. Associate level degrees in general education provide students with the course work and knowledge necessary to transfer to a four year institution, at which point a student will declare their major.
Why Earn a General Education Degree?
The reasons you decide to pursue a general education degree is ultimately a personal choice. It may come down to your desire to learn about others and the world around you in a holistic manner versus specializing. For some students, it may come down to the inherent satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from learning about physical science in conjunction with philosophies from around the world. The worldview and critical thinking skills found in a general education degree program will help students thrive in a solar technology start-up or a public relations firm by plying a unique set of thinking skills found in the general education college degree program.
A general education degree can be earned as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) with classes in a wide range of subjects including math, philosophy, English, history, literature, art history, economics, and sociology. Unlike specialty degrees like cosmetology or nursing, a general education degree is not designed to train you for a specific career. Rather, it provides you with a valuable set of skills to help you effectively process information, communicate effectively, think broadly, and think critically.
What is Included in a General Education College Degree?
General education courses are geared to provide students with a wide variety of classes from several academic areas. Rather than a narrowly defined specialization, general education courses are diverse. The first two years of a general education degree program, you will take lower-level classes in areas like:
- Creative Art – fine arts, speech, fine arts, creative writing
- Humanities – literature, language, history, philosophy
- Social Science – sociology, economics, political science, anthropology
- Science – physics, chemistry, biology, environmental science
Is a General Education Degree Relevant?
Taking decades of data from general education college graduates, the answer is yes a liberal arts degree is a highly relevant college degree. The BLS published a report indicating a direct correlation between education attainment, income, and job stability. The data shows individuals with a bachelor’s degree makes more than twice what an individual without a high school diploma and enjoys nearly three times the job stability. This data supports the fact that education pays across all industries and all job types. It is important to understand that general education degrees are conferred at a rate of over 100,000 a year in United States.
Online General Education College Degree
Online learning or distance learning is the fastest growing learning modality within higher education. Given the quality, structure, flexibility, and independence offered via online learning, it is expected to continue to outpace other types of degree programs for the foreseeable future. Earning a general education degree online will be no different. In fact, online general education degrees are the eighth most popular online degree programs in the United States. If you are considering earning a liberal arts degree online this year, take the time to read our resources for online students and utilize our proprietary online degree matching tool to find the best school for you.
- Current Profile of Online Students
- Is an Online College or Traditional College Setting Best for You?
- Are Online College Degree Programs Right for Me?
- Benefits of Earning a College Degree Online
- How to Make Online College More Affordable
- Unique Aspects of Taking Online College Courses
- Top Skills Employers Look for in Prospective Candidates
A curriculum in general education may include:
Individuals pursuing higher level degrees may do so with the interest of pursuing a career in teaching. Bachelor degrees in general education offer study in a broad range of topics, and can be useful for educators who wish to be flexible in their ability to teach classes. A bachelor of general education will typically lead into a master of general education, which may cover requirements of licensure in certain states for elementary and secondary educators.
Benefits of a General Education College Degree
If you are wondering why general education degrees are valuable in the workplace, you should consider the facts. General education degrees help students prepare for jobs from automotive manufacturing to a software start-up and everything in between. According to the United States Department of Education, the percentage of students finding full-time employment within the first 12 of graduation increased across all general education specialties between 1975 through current. From an earnings standpoint, salaries from social sciences increased by 62% during this same reporting period versus an average of 26% growth for engineering majors.
The depth and breadth of a general education degree will help students make an immediate impact and contribute in unique ways in the workplace which is highly valued by employers across all industries. Typical skills of a general education major include:
- An adaptable and flexible mindset
- Effective written communication & verbal communication skills
- Attention to detail and critical thinking ability
- Empathy for others
- Balanced education in humanities, science, and the arts
- Strong work ethic & commitment to team goals
- Eager to learn & independent thinking
- Multi-faceted problem-solving skills & analytic skills
- Quality communication with people at all levels of an organization
- Motivated, goal-oriented, and willing to take initiative
Difference Between General Education, Liberal Arts, and Humanities Degrees
The difference between a general education degree, a liberal arts degree, and a humanities degree comes down to the emphasis each place on particular academic domains. Below you will find a summary of each to help you quickly understand each type of degree in order to compare and contrast using your priorities as a baseline.
- General Studies Degree can come in a variety of ways with some schools allowing students to pick and choose varying number of classes in science, art, and humanities while other schools structure classes in a more rigid manner.
- Liberal Arts Degree is the type of college degree that combines various academic disciplines emphasizing a wide breadth of study instead of a narrowly focused type of study. The basics of a liberal arts program will typically include studies in: art, biological science, social science, humanities, physical science, and literature.
- Humanities Degree is a degree path that emphasizes studies in literature, language, music, art, religion, and philosophy over studies in physical science or biological science found in a liberal arts degree.
Schools Other Students Requested Information From:
Careers with a degree in general education can vary, as many entry level positions require a degree rather than a specific degree. For individuals unsure of where their pursuits lie, even a bachelor's degree in general education can be useful for pursuing multiple career options. Due to the nature of the degree, graduate programs in social sciences and liberal arts may also be available.
A graduate degree in education can result in administrative positions. A master of general education can be useful for an educator who wishes to make the jump from teacher to administration. Since administrative positions in public school systems typically require a master's degree in a related field, general education can substitute for educational administration degrees, demonstrating a desire to focus on educational issues rather than administrative ones.
Students interested in general education may also be interested in liberal arts or humanistic studies.