Major: General Studies

In a general studies major you’ll build a broad-based education. You won’t learn the skills you’ll need to do a certain job. Instead, you’ll learn how to think critically, communicate effectively, and pull together knowledge from many disciplines -- skills you’ll need to be successful in almost any career.

However, the general studies major is more than a collection of courses chosen at random from the course catalog. At some schools, general studies majors design their own program and pick courses that relate to a certain theme. In others, they follow a more structured curriculum set by the university, taking a certain number of credits in the arts, the sciences, and the social sciences.

Students of general studies programs take a multidisciplinary approach to education. Programs combine study of the arts, biological and physical sciences, social sciences, and the humanities.

Did You Know?

Popular majors, such as business, may restrict their upper-division courses to declared majors. As a general studies major, you may not be allowed to take these restricted courses.

Are You Ready To...?

  • Consider signing up for online courses and other alternatives to classroom learning
  • Make connections between different subjects and disciplines
  • Take part in class discussions
  • Sharpen your oral communication and writing skills
  • Do a lot of reading
  • Work closely with advisors and professors to design your own program

It Helps To Be...

Self-motivated, passionate about learning, and open to trying new things.

College Checklist

  • Talk to a general studies advisor about the general studies program. Do students design their own program? What requirements will you have to meet?
  • If you are designing your program, make sure that the courses you’d like to take will be available to you.
  • Talk to other general studies majors and ask them about the programs they’ve created.
  • Talk to professors about the program you’d like to design. Do they share your interests? Some general studies programs require you to have faculty sponsors. 
  • How easy is it to transfer to other majors?
  • What kinds of learning options are open to general studies majors? Are there evening and weekend classes? Correspondence and online classes? Credit by examination?

Did You Know?

Adult students, working students, and career changers often find that programs in general studies provide them with the flexibility they need in order to advance their education and careers.    

Course Spotlight

It may help you better understand the self-designed general studies major to look at a sample program. One general studies major developed a theme of ethnic minorities in American politics. Such a program would combine course work from many disciplines, including political science, American history, sociology, Chicano or Latino studies, Asian American studies, African American studies, and American Indian studies.