The Associate of General Studies is an associate degree offered by many community colleges. As the name suggests, it is a general program that does not have as many requirements as the Associate of Arts or the Associate of Science. The program allows students to customize their curriculum and take classes that best meet their unique career goals.

Customizing a Degree

An AGS program gives students the opportunity to work with an academic adviser to customize their degree. An AGS is a good option for students who have career goals that do not directly correspond with other degrees offered by their school. For example, students who want to open their own automotive repair shop may complete an AGS degree that combines automotive repair courses and business courses. The extent of customization will depend upon college regulations, student schedules and courses offered by the the school.


Students have a great deal of leeway in selecting courses for an AGS degree, but they still have to fulfill some core requirements. The mandatory coursework will vary by school. For example, students who attend Des Moines Area Community College must take 12 credits of required courses in communications, social and behavioral sciences or humanities, mathematics or sciences. The remaining 52 credits can be chosen by the student. At Fort Hays State University, students have to take 15 hours of core credits, 21 hours of liberal arts courses, 12 hours in the area of emphasis and 12 hours of electives.

Length of Program

Like other associate programs, an AGS typically takes about two years to complete. If students choose to study part-time, it may take them longer to graduate. In some cases, it may be possible to accelerate a degree by taking additional courses during the semester or by taking summer courses. Some programs also offer classes that can be taken online.

Transferring Credits

After obtaining their AGS degree, students may choose to transition into a four-year undergraduate program. Some of the courses they completed toward their AGS can fulfill bachelor’s degree requirements, so it is important to contact the new university and determine if work is transferable. Students may also be able to bypass some courses by testing out of them. If they earned credit for Advanced Placement classes in high school, these credits may count toward graduation requirements.

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