Associate in Arts Degree (AA): General Studies Degree Overview

Oct 20, 2021

Essential Information

A 2-year associate's degree program in general studies is typically designed for students who have not yet decided on a particular field of study or career path and often prepare students to continue their education and earn a bachelor's degree. When students decide to enter the workforce, the skills acquired in these programs can prepare them for careers in diverse fields.

Associate's Degree in General Studies

Through an associate's degree program in general studies, students can expect to develop general skills and knowledge, including writing skills, interpersonal skills and critical thinking abilities. Required or elective courses may include coursework in the following areas:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Philosophy
  • Communications
  • Psychology
  • Economics

Popular Career Options and Salary Information

General studies associate's degree graduates can work in entry-level positions in areas such as retail sales, marketing and management. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2020, retail salespersons earned a median annual salary of $27,080, and market research specialists and analysts had a median salary of $65,810. The BLS projects the number of jobs for retail salespersons will show little or no change (0%) from 2019 to 2029, while market research analysts and specialists are projected to grow much faster than average (18%) over the 2019-2029 decade.

Salaries for those in management vary by occupational field.

Continuing Education Information

Although students may apply for jobs after graduation, general studies degree programs are generally designed for students who intend to pursue bachelor's degrees. Depending on the educational institutions involved, students usually have the option of transferring some or all of their credits towards a liberal-arts based bachelor's degree program. Some associate's degree programs have flexible requirements, giving students the opportunity to custom tailor their curriculum for transfer to a specific 4-year university.

While enrolled in an associate's degree program, students can consider the subject in which they plan to major and accordingly choose their electives. Upon graduation, students have the option to enroll in broad, general studies bachelor's degree programs, or they can major in a particular area, such as English, mathematics, business, psychology or philosophy.

An associate's degree program in general studies provides students with a broad foundation of knowledge in topic--such as philosophy, communications, and psychology--to prepare them for entry-level positions or for continued education.

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