General Studies

General Studies Online

If you're looking to get a head start on a college degree, find out if college courses are right for you, or just want to learn about a variety of subjects, our online General Studies Undergraduate Certificate Program can help you take the first steps toward reaching your goals. Through flexible, self-paced classes, you'll earn college credits from home, on your schedule.  

  • Earn college credits that can be applied to a Penn Foster degree program or that may transfer to a degree at another accredited school. 
  • College-level courses cover the general education topics most colleges require you to take, including English Composition and Computer Applications. 
  • Those with some college courses on their resume can earn 11% more per month on average than those with just a high school diploma.¹
  • Our online programs are flexible enough for you to finish them at a pace that works for you, based on how much time you can dedicate to your coursework each week.
Self Paced

Save up to $500 Ends 7/16/2024

Cost of Program


$1,699 Save $500


$59/month, Start for as low as $20

1-800-471-3232 (10AM - 6:30PM ET)

student studying on laptop.

What You Will Learn

  1. How to use Microsoft® Office Suite, including creating documents in Word, presentations in PowerPoint, and spreadsheets in Excel. 
  2. How to better understand principles of science in a science elective of your choice like Earth Science, Introduction to Biology, or Nutrition.
  3. Build a better understanding of the world around you or other people through a social sciences elective of your choice like Introduction to Sociology, Essentials of Psychology, or World Civilizations. 
  4. How to write an effective essay through active reading, prewriting strategies, sentence and paragraph structure, thesis statements, varied patterns of development (such as illustration, comparison and contrast, and classification), critical reading toward revision of structure and organization, editing for standard written conventions, and use and documentation of outside sources.
Full Program Goal & Outcomes

General Studies Career Outcomes

Our online Undergraduate Certificate in General Studies can prepare students for further education in an associate or bachelor's degree program. Graduates of the program earn 15 college credits that can be applied to a Penn Foster degree program or that may transfer toward a degree at another school.

State Licensing Requirements

Undergraduate Certificates from Penn Foster College are awarded under licensing from the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education.

General Studies Online Curriculum

  • 15 credits
  • 5 courses

Estimated completion time:

  • Fast track = 4 months
  • Average time = 7 months

With Penn Foster, you can learn at whatever pace works best for you. Some learners will be more comfortable moving faster, and dedicating more time, and the fast track estimate will apply to them. The average track will apply to most learners who can dedicate a few hours per week to completing their coursework. The estimated completion times per semester are based on completion times for learners enrolled in this program from November 2020 - October 2021, excluding withdrawals.

In our General Studies Undergraduate Certificate, you'll build fundamental knowledge that can help you round out your education or prepare to get a head start on completing an associate or bachelor's degree. Your online general education classes include:

  • Computer Applications
  • Science Elective
  • Social Sciences Elective
  • Arts and Humanities Elective
  • English Composition


Non-US residents: This is a United States-based institution with course materials that are geared toward US job and labor standards. Learners from outside of the US may find that some information and materials will differ from the current standards of their country. Please note, the materials for this program are in English and use the Imperial unit of measurement, not the metric system.

Show Full Curriculum

General Studies Student Success Stories

Penn Foster’s General Studies Undergraduate Certificate can help prepare you for the first step toward furthering your education. This program has helped recent graduates find new jobs or prepare for degree programs while learning at their own pace. Learn more about Penn Foster graduates' experiences and how Penn Foster worked for them. 
View Student Success Stories
quote icon

Tara T.

Penn Foster Graduate, 2023

“I feel like penn foster offered more study options than other schools, it's a really easy site to navigate.”

Need to provide training for your workers?

Penn Foster currently works with hundreds of leading employers to meet their unique organizational needs.
Adecco, Guild & Banfield Pet Hospital logos.
Learn More

General Studies Online Tuition

Take the first steps toward furthering your education with our Undergraduate Certificate in General Studies. Simply choose from one of our low-cost customized payment plans below and get started today!

Option 1: Pay in full

Save up to $500 Ends 7/16/2024

Cost of Program1


$1,699 Save $500

  • Best price. Best value.
  • Pay the full cost today
  • No monthly payments
Enroll Now

Option 2: Monthly Auto Pay Plan

Save up to $100 Ends 7/16/2024

Cost of Program1


$1,699 Save $100

  • Pay $59 per month
  • Start for $20 down
  • All major credit and debit cards accepted
Enroll Now

Option 3: Monthly Mail Pay Plan

cost of program1


  • Pay $59 per month
  • Start for $49 down
  • Mail your payments
Enroll Now

California residents please click here for Required California Disclosures.

Need more info or ready to enroll?

Looking for more information on transfer credits, military benefits, or our refund policy? Find this information and more about tuition and enrollment here.

Tuition & Payment Options

We're here to help. Call 1-800-471-3232 (10AM - 6:30PM ET)

Request Info

Our Proven General Studies Learning Model

Empowering students to reach their professional goals


  • Start anytime 
  • No exam due dates 
  • Self-paced


  • Digital study guides 
  • Self-check quizzes 
  • Webinars and discussion boards


  • 24/7 access to online resources 
  • Online student community 
  • Dedicated Learner Center


  • Expert faculty 
  • Dedicated student services 
  • Robust learning resources

Related Programs

General Studies Undergraduate Certificate Program FAQs

How much can you make with a general studies certificate?

A certificate in general studies alone doesn't necessarily qualify you for a specific career. However, it can help you add skills to your resume and even increase how much you can potentially earn. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, someone with some college credits can make 10% more per year than someone with only a high school diploma.

What can you do with a certificate in general education?

After completing a general studies certificate, you'll earn 15 credits that can be applied to a Penn Foster degree program or that may transfer into a degree at another college or university. If you're not sure a college degree is right for you, or you want to get general education requirements out of the way before enrolling in a traditional university to save money, earning your undergraduate certificate can help you get a head start!

Can a general studies certificate help prepare me for college?

Yes! In Penn Foster's General Studies Undergraduate Certificate, you'll take college-level courses in a variety of subjects that meet general education requirements at many colleges and universities. You'll learn how to form strong study habits, write an effective college essay, critical thinking, and more, all of which can build your confidence for a full associate or bachelor's degree program.

What is the difference between general studies and liberal arts?

There's not much difference between general studies and liberal arts. In fact, you may often hear the terms used interchangeably! In general, though, the biggest difference can be that liberal arts focuses more on arts and humanities courses like literature and languages while general studies focus more on a variety of subjects that can build foundational knowledge.