The most commonly asked question that the General Studies program is asked is: What’s with the name? What is General Studies anyway?
In Canada, General Studies is used to refer to programs that do not require a specialization in a discipline. (In the United States, General Studies can refer to either a degree program, or to the breadth of courses that a student would complete in the first year of study.) Canadian General Studies programs are often akin to Interdisciplinary Studies, Integrated Studies, or Specialized Studies programs. UFV offers General Studies programs at both the Bachelor level (Bachelor of General Studies) and Diploma (General Studies diploma).
Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) programs share the same requirements of other degree programs, including number of credits (120), core requirements, and minimum residency and GPA requirements. In fact, for many students, the Bachelor of General Studies is more rigorous because students are required to succeed in a wider diversity of courses and learning styles than might be required in more discipline-focused programs. General Studies students must also work more independently or one-to-one with academic advisors to develop their learning goals and devise unique plans for their studies.
Like other multi-disciplinary programs, students in General Studies are still expected to meet core requirements. Historically, these have been focused at the first-year course completion (breadth). However, beginning in Fall 2017, the Bachelor of General Studies requirements will move to focus instead on demonstrating core competencies, completion of academic and career (online) portfolios, and customized learning planning. UFV’s General Studies program aims to be a leader in innovating General Studies education in western Canada.
Because Canadian General Studies programs do not require or allow majors, students completing these programs have more flexibility to design their degrees around interests that are multi-disciplinary.
Students can focus their studies in areas in which a major program is not available. In UFV’s Bachelor of General Studies, a student may choose to design a thematic option that blends courses from two or more disciplines. Thematic options are not required, but are recommended for students considering graduate school or further study after their Bachelor of General Studies.
Students can utilize different types of learning within their diploma or degree, such as by combining professional program training with more traditional academic courses. UFV’s Bachelor of General Studies program has, for instance, a thematic option in Professional Pilot Training—Fixed Wing, which combines a two-year Aviation Diploma (offered through Coastal Pacific Aviation) and additional academic coursework.
This type of program is often sought after by students planning on careers in elementary education, where a diversity of course experiences are desired. Students may also complete a wide diversity of courses out of interest or because this diversity of study — and the skills learned within it — is highly sought after in the workplace.