BA in General Studies: The Definitive Guide & Top Schools

When it comes to looking at the list of majors available, choosing one can be tough.

Not everyone enters college knowing exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives.

To be fair, it’s hard to make a life-altering decision like that at 18.

Luckily, you don’t have to declare a major for a while.

But what happens when you do and still don’t know?

Let us introduce you to interdisciplinary studies, AKA general studies.

What Will I Learn in a General Studies Program? (Curriculum)

A Bachelor of Arts in General Studies is unlike every other major.

This degree is chosen when a student is at a school that doesn’t necessarily have the exact major they wanted.

An advisor can take a look at what you would like a degree in and use what courses are available to create a plan that would resemble it.

A good example is mythological studies.

You may be at a university that does not offer this degree.

However, with the general studies program, classes will be put together in a way that the student can graduate, saying they basically majored in mythological studies.

The way that works is, in addition to core classes, there are two other major areas of study in the requirements.

In this case, one would be literature and the other history.

Within the confines of those studies, you’d see classes such as:

  • Ancient History
  • Philosophy
  • Latin or Greek Language
  • Creative Writing
  • Ancient Literature Classics
  • World Religions
  • Roman History
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Humanities
  • Art History

For a completely opposite example, here’s a list of classes for a foreign affairs concentration:

  • Middle Eastern History and Culture
  • Arabic Language
  • Foreign Policy
  • Foreign Politics
  • Global Economy
  • Population and Development
  • Macroeconomics
  • Statistics
  • Early Modern Europe
  • Earthquakes and Volcanoes

These two sample class lists should give you a better idea of what we mean when we say this is a degree you create.

Students really have a chance to create something that is tailored around them.

This is also a productive way to put transfer credits to use.

Sometimes, transfer credits don’t necessarily apply to majors.

So the time and money spent don’t count toward that degree.

With general studies, most credits can find a way to be incorporated into the degree.

Not only can you create a degree program, but use up all the classes in a smart way.

How to Choose a Good Program

Before picking a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies, take a look at what the school of your choice has to offer.

If you’re starting at a university as a first-time, higher-education student, there might not be a need to pick this degree.

The reason is that the school might already have a program put together that is exactly what you want.

A general studies degree is for students who are transferring to a new school or want a major that isn’t available.

So, if you fall into one of those categories, take a moment to think about your future and your passions.

The thing is, this degree is customized to what’s available.

Using the prior example, if there are no ancient literature classes, it might be tough to create a degree based on mythological studies.

If you’re entering higher education for the first time, it helps to come up with a concept before talking to an advisor.

It also helps to have a solid idea in mind about what you want to study before even looking at the course catalog.

That’s not to say it doesn’t inspire ideas to look through the catalog when you’re trying to decide on a major.

It will just make a difference to be aware of what you’d like to study before getting overwhelmed by a plethora of majors.

Before enrolling, reach out to advisors from a few choice schools.

At the meeting, you’ll have a chance to chat one-on-one with someone who can guide you.

This informative session will give you an overview of what the next four years, and a career, could be like.

Bring a list of what you’d like to study and get out of your program so the advisor can give you realistic expectations.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Bachelor’s in General Studies?

The program your advisor puts together will be based on a four-year, eight-semester schedule.

If you’d like to speed up the process a bit, you can fit three semesters into a calendar year as opposed to two.

Once you’ve gotten a few semesters under your belt, you can also add more classes to the schedule.

A full load is 12 credits, but in some schools, you can take as many as 21 credits per semester.

That’s not necessarily advisable, however.

Seven classes would easily overwhelm even the most experienced of students.

One or two more classes might not be too much, but don’t jump in the deep end before you’ve dipped a toe in the shallow end.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Bachelor’s in General Studies?

Students can expect their Bachelor of Arts in General Studies to cost around $60,000.

That number can vary depending on factors such as location, cost of attending the university, and any additional fees.

For example, a school in New York City is going to be more expensive than one in Wichita, Kansas.

The cost can be offset by taking some classes at a community college.

These smaller campuses offer courses that are much cheaper by the credit hour than bigger universities.

Classes you can expect to transfer without issue are the core classes, such as intro-level math, history, or science.

Community colleges are also places to take elective classes that universities might not offer.

A good example is astronomy, which can be taught online and only requires one meet-up at an observatory.

Having a variety of educational facilities under your belt is always a bonus.

Another way to bring down the cost is by applying for scholarships or even working a job on campus.

There are many ways to fund college.

Ask the financial aid department for more tips.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s in General Studies?

The beauty of graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies is that there are no direct answers to this question.

It all depends on how you crafted the degree.

For example, say you chose to get a degree in foreign affairs.

The general studies advisor would work with you to put together a program that relates to foreign affairs.

This means you’ll have classes like political science, psychology, and history, to name a few.

Having a number of classes from each of those categories gives you more options upon graduation.

You could go on to law school, apply to work at the United Nations, continue on to med school, or become a high school teacher.

The world is sort of your burrito.

Interdisciplinary or general studies is really an overlooked degree option.

Thanks to all the classes that can be incorporated within the degree, students can be indecisive and see where the world takes them after college.

Should I Get a Bachelor’s in General Studies?

General studies is a great way to create something you like out of what’s available.

It’s also a great way for transfer students to use all the credits they come with for something meaningful.

A degree in general studies also gives you the chance to sample several different topics and be able to apply them to a degree.

General studies are perfect for the student who has varied interests and is having a tough time narrowing down to one specialty.

This means when they graduate, students with this degree will have more directions based on the varied topics studied.

What it doesn’t mean, however, is that the degree is a course free-for-all.

There is still a very specific structure to meet degree requirements.

If you have a particular field that means a lot to you, general studies might not make the most sense for your career.

It may be that you’re just not at the best school for what your interests are.

Before changing your major, talk with an advisor to get a better idea of what the options are for your interests and degree.