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What Is a General Education Associate Degree?

by Susan Revermann

Once you’ve obtained your high school diploma or GED, you have some big decisions to make. If you choose to attend college instead of immediately joining the workforce, you’ll have to decide which degree to pursue. If you feel the call to go to school, but haven’t quite hammered out what focus you want to take, you can always opt to obtain a general education associate degree.

Types of Classes

General education associate degree programs cover a wide range of courses without requiring the student to concentrate on one field of study. However, individuals going this route do have to adhere to the college’s associate degree general guidelines in order to obtain this degree. Science, math, sociology, art, English, history, philosophy and other humanities classes are often found on the list of required classes. Each college has its own specific requirements, so it is best to ask for a course list from the college directly.

Length of Study

Like other associate degrees, it generally takes two years of full-time study to obtain the credits required to graduate with a general education associate degree. If you attend classes part-time, it will take longer. Usually a student must earn 60 credits to obtain this degree, regardless of the time it takes to get there.

What to Do With a General Education Associate Degree?

Once you have a general education associate degree in hand, it opens some doors for you. You can apply for a transfer to a four-year university to obtain a bachelor's degree. Add this degree to your resume, and enter the workforce with a well-rounded education and knowledge base.

Why Pursue This Type of Degree?

This degree is an option if you are unsure which major you want to pursue. It allows you to earn credits while exploring a wide range of educational options. For instance, Penn State University states that it wants their general education students to experiment and explore to discover what they’re interested in. Students planning on transferring to a university often seek this type of degree to fulfill the general education requirements needed to complete their bachelor's degree. You may want to go this route if you simply want to obtain general knowledge in a variety of fields for self-enrichment. According to National Center for Education Statistics, individuals with higher education earn more than people who hold only a high school diploma.

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