The Bachelor in General Studies (B.G.S.) is a highly interdisciplinary degree that allows students to combine and explore multiple subjects. Students who choose to pursue a B.G.S. work closely with their Newnan Advising Center advisor to create a course plan that feeds their curiosity while meeting the College of LSA’s graduation requirements.
Central to interdisciplinary study is defining the question or questions you wish to answer and the issues and subjects you wish to explore. So if you are interested in persuasive communications (aka advertising), you might ask the questions:
- How do people make decisions?
- How do these processes vary by culture, gender, age?
- What are effective means of conveying one’s message?
- What are examples of successful and persuasive campaigns?
- How has new media changed this landscape?
To answer the first question, explore coursework in Statistics, Psychology, Sociology, Cognitive Science, and Complex Systems. Perspectives from American Culture; Asian Languages and Culture; Comparative Literature; Near Eastern Studies; and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, among other departments, might offer comparative context to assess audiences. You might consider courses in Women’s Studies, Psychology, and Communication Studies to delve into dimensions of age and gender. English Language and Literature, Linguistics, History of Art, and Screen Arts and Culture each offer courses which would resonate with different strategies of verbal and visual influence. In addition to these departments, History, Political Science, and Classical Studies could provide examples of successful campaigns. Select courses in the School of Information and the Ross School of Business could further inform your program.
Choose upper-level classes that would be included in your B.G.S., taking the following into consideration:
- What are the prerequisites?
- Are there sequences that depend on taking courses in a particular order?
- How frequently are the courses offered and will that fit with your graduation target date?
- Who are the faculty whose interests align with yours? Check out the syllabi of courses they have taught. Reading lists may inspire new departments or interests.
- What departments offer courses of interest?
- If you favor certain departments, research those majors to compare program structure and to find additional courses. How would your B.G.S. differ? What are the advantages of each?
History of the B.G.S. Program
In response to student demands for a larger voice in curricular planning, the Bachelor in General Studies (B.G.S.) degree was developed in the late 1960s. More than 3,500 students signed a petition to seek greater autonomy in fulfilling degree requirements. The petition cited the language and distribution requirements as a violation of student rights, which “discourages independent, self-motivated, intellectual curiosity.”
In recommending a new kind of degree, the faculty distinguished between the traditional A.B. and B.S., which are discipline-oriented, and conceptualized the new degree as student-oriented.
The proposal to establish the Bachelor in General Studies stated: “whereas students of this generation seek to take greater responsibility in planning their education, it is appropriate that the faculty of the College of LSA take cognizance of this by providing the opportunity for students to assume such responsibility by offering an undergraduate degree program that would allow greater flexibility than is presently available.” Adding the B.G.S. “would permit those of us who feel that it is possible to provide a ‘liberal education’ without insisting that every student follow the same curricular pattern, to award one (or more) new degrees which we believe would serve an educational need for a substantial number of our students and which could be administered in a manner to insure that it would be fully equal in prestige to the traditional A.B. and B.S.”
Since its approval in 1969, B.G.S. has remained largely unchanged, requiring 60 credits of upper-level course work within the 120 required for graduation. The First-Year Writing Requirement was added in 1975, and the Upper-Level Writing Requirement in 1979. In 1991, the Race & Ethnicity Requirement was instituted for the A.B., B.S., and B.G.S., followed in 1994 by the Quantitative Reasoning Requirement.
The number of B.G.S. graduates has waxed and waned with many current students embracing the entrepreneurial potential of B.G.S. These fluctuations, in part, reflect the greater interdisciplinary options available to all students including majors, e.g. Organizational Studies, International Studies, and Cognitive Science; the introduction of minors in 1999; and the increase of non-LSA credits for students pursuing the A.B. or B.S. With the flexibility to be tailored to each individual’s interest, B.G.S. continues to be the student-centered degree.