Date of Award

Spring 3-10-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

H. Quincy Brown, Ph.D.

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Heather Annulis, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dale Lunsford, Ph.D.

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

John Kmiec, Ph.D.

Committee Member 4 School


Committee Member 5

Jonathan Beedle, Ph.D.

Committee Member 5 School



University General Studies degrees are rapidly increasing in enrollment, driven by an increased focus on college completion. Yet, non-traditional, non-science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degrees are perceived as less competitive in the job market upon graduation. This study finds that students predominantly acquire skills in three areas, analysis, critical thinking, and communication, regardless of courses taken. Variability in salary suggests that the degree was not a factor in the graduates’ ability for wage earning. Through a combination of skills outcomes for external job postings, natural language processing on course syllabi outcomes, General Studies graduates’ course records, and a survey to General Studies graduates, this study finds that there is a limited number of skills a student can acquire in school and that only a few of those skills match the demand requested in entry-level jobs, however the General Studies degree did not inhibit wage earning potential.