General Studies vs Liberal Studies: Career ROI

Written by College Cliffs Team At, our team, comprising seasoned educators and counselors, is committed to supporting students on their journey through graduate studies. Our advisors, holding advanced degrees in diverse fields, provide tailored guidance, current program details, and pragmatic tips on navigating application procedures.

Reviewed by Linda Weems I got started researching colleges and universities about 10 years ago while exploring a second career. While my second career ended up being exactly what I’m doing now, and I didn’t end up going to college, I try to put myself in your shoes every step of the way as I build out College Cliffs as a user-friendly resource for prospective students.

Updated: March 25, 2024, Reading time: 7 minutes

When you started to explore the competitive job market, have you realized just how important it is to earn a well-rounded, diversified college education? This is probably the reason why so many college students prefer to enroll in a degree program that is mostly centered on general or Liberal Studies.

The terms “General Studies” and “Liberal Studies” or “Liberal Arts” are often used synonymously. Depending on the school, the coursework may include:

There are plenty of programs as well that allow you to concentrate on a specific field like teaching, arts, or business.

Comparing General Studies vs Liberal Studies

Both tracks provide students with an excellent education that helps them have a deeper understanding of the arts and sciences, as well as social issues.

Let’s explore how they differ:

 General StudiesLiberal Studies
Average Salary/ Earnings$85,330 (Psychologists) $82,260 (Budget Analysts)$130,000 (HR Managers) $92,980 (Postsecondary Teachers)
Concentrations– Business Administration
– Communication
– Criminal Justice
– Entrepreneurship
– Psychology
– American Studies
– Humanities
– International Affairs
– Social and Public Policy  
Skills Developed– Communication skills
– Empirical skills
– Quantitative skills
– Critical and analytical thinking
– Effective communication
– Reasoning and problem-solving

How Can You Get Started in General Studies

A General Studies degree is ideal for students who are seeking an interdisciplinary education while they build the necessary skills that conventional degree programs usually reinforce. An Associate in General Studies program provides easy access to entry-level jobs. It introduces students to the fundamental principles of the discipline.

Meanwhile, a Bachelor’s in General Studies strengthens a future professional’s marketable skills applicable to various industries and professions. You can also pursue your undergraduate studies focusing on specialized subjects.

You will develop stronger verbal and written communication skills, boost your critical thinking methods, increase your math and literacy skills, and gain a broader knowledge base of a variety of interesting subjects.

Essential Skills of a General Studies Student

Hard Skills:

Soft Skills:

Online Skills:

Jobs for General Studies Degree Holders

General Studies degree holders may qualify and consider from a vast list of job options. Here are 15 of the best jobs for General Studies degree holders.

General Studies Degree JobsAnnual Median Pay
Risk Manager$139,790
Brand Manager$138,730
International Sales Manager$130,600
Public Relations Director$125,620
Software Consultant$124,200
General Manager$98,100
Business Analyst$82,260
Technical Writer$79,960
Research Assistant$78,800
Editorial Director$73,080
Executive Assistant$44,080
Social Worker$55,350
Bank Teller$36,380

Opportunities for Advancements for General Studies Degree Holders

A Master’s In General Studies or any related program (master’s in Liberal Studies) will give you better hiring prospects. By advancing your knowledge, you can automatically help your resumé stand out among those who only hold a bachelor’s degree. This will also advance your chances of getting promotions.

If you’re contemplating earning your Ph.D. in General Studies, know that there aren’t programs specifically for that field. However, you can study more than one subject and propose your own Ph.D. program.

These are generally called interdisciplinary programs, where you get to combine your interests and earn a unique Ph.D. that will suit your area of expertise.

You can also undergo further training and certifications. The world of business and General Studies as a whole is rapidly changing, and completing continuing education programs in your area of study helps you keep up.

Why General Studies could be for you:

General Studies is not for you if:

How Can You Get Started in Liberal Studies

Also called Liberal Arts, Liberal Studies is composed of an extensive study of natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and the arts. This interdisciplinary exploration of subjects allows you to pursue your knowledge in various areas as you understand, communicate, and respect different cultures effectively.

One study that looked at the ROI at 4,500 US universities and colleges revealed that the median ROI of Liberal Arts colleges is $200,000 higher than for all other colleges. This goes to show how Liberal Arts colleges generate disproportionately higher Liberal Arts graduates.

An Associate in Liberal Studies gets you acquainted with the quintessential human experience. Your education leads to jobs in the academic sector, government agencies, or social working organizations.

A Bachelor’s in Liberal Studies will prepare you for further graduate-level education in a variety of disciplines. You will be valued in today’s corporate culture, which requires interdisciplinary collaboration. Indeed, being proficient in just one area is not enough anymore!

To be a successful employee, you should be adept at working with other backgrounds and disciplines. A Liberal Arts degree exposes you to numerous fields of study.

Essential Skills of a Liberal Studies Graduate

Liberal Arts graduates earn a long list of skills in their studies. Studies show, in fact, that almost all employers want their employees to see the following competencies!

Here are some skills that represent some of the outcomes of Liberal Arts education on applicant resumés.

Jobs for Liberal Studies Degree

Liberal Studies Degree JobsAnnual Median Pay
Director of Public Relations$125,620
Management Consultant$95,290
Human Resource Specialist$64,240
Training and Development Specialist$63,080
Advertising Sales Representative$58,450
Real Estate Agent$52,030
Customer Service Representative$37,780

Opportunities for Advancement in Liberal Studies

For better job opportunities in the Liberal Studies field, a Master’s in Liberal Arts education is your key. This master’s education synthesizes concepts from social sciences, the humanities, and natural sciences so you can better understand the world, make ethical and strategic decisions, and engage with complex ideas.

Unlike most graduate degrees, where you delve more into technical abilities coined to specific jobs in an industry, a Liberal Arts graduate program is more focused on presenting applicable approaches when dealing with complex issues.

Why General Studies Could Be for You

Liberal Studies is not for you if:

general studies vs liberal studies - fact


If you’re faced with the challenge of choosing the ideal career path for you, the safest way to go—especially if you are interested in different fields—is either General Studies or Liberal Studies.

Both are smart choices, and they provide you with countless opportunities to study and learn numerous subjects. Both programs are customizable to your preferences, making them excellent degree choices for fulfilling and well-paying careers!

Additional Information: