student looking through anthropology book

General Studies

Program Details

The WIU Bachelor of Arts in General Studies (BGS) degree program, formerly the Board of Trustees Bachelor of Arts, was developed in 1972 to help those who are unable to complete an undergraduate degree by traditional means successfully complete the requirements for graduation.

A Program That Works Around Your Schedule & Needs

  • Flexible, non-majored student designed curriculum
  • Earn credits online or in a classroom
  • No campus attendance required
  • No time limit to complete degree
  • No time limit on transfer credit
  • 4 year tuition freeze for continuous enrollment
  • Acceptance of ACE evaluated and recommended credit from non collegiate and military training
  • Acceptance of proficiency exam credit

You Can Successfully Complete Your Degree

The BGS degree is the answer for achieving a degree with the highest academic accreditation from a public state university that:

  • allows you the flexibility to meet your own personal educational objectives
  • allows you to work according to your own time-frame
  • cost guarantee
  • accepts a variety of transfer credit from regionally accredited colleges and  universities, and educational institutions
  • efficiently applies transfer credits to your baccalaureate degree

Please note: if your goals require a specialized degree or certification such as is needed to become a doctor, nurse, certified public school teacher or certified public accountant, etc., this degree may not meet your needs.

Optional Minors
  • Accountancy
  • Anthropology
  • Business
  • Computer Mediated Communication
  • Computer Science Microcomputer Applications
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Fire Administration
  • History
  • Industrial Technology – degree completion with AAS degrees
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Pre- MBA
  • Psychology
  • Religion
  • RPTA
  • Sociology
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Women’s Studies

Degree Requirements

Complete the 120 semester hour requirement for the baccalaureate degree. The 120 semester hours will include a general education component, 40 hours earned from a senior (usually 4-year) institution at the upper-division (junior/senior) level, and 30 hours to be successfully completed through Western Illinois University courses with at least 16 of these hours carrying upper-division credit.

An associate of arts (AA) or an associate of science (AS) degree from a regionally accredited college or university satisfies the general education requirement if all the general education components are met. Specific courses in other associate degree programs such as an associate of applied science (AAS), an associate of general studies (AGS), an associate of arts in business (AAB), an associate of arts in business administration (AABA), etc. may also satisfy these requirements, but credits are transferred into the program on an individual course by course basis.

To meet the general education component of the degree program, students choose either the WIU General Education Requirements OR the IAI General Education Requirements.

The BGS degree program serves the unique needs of the military, military veterans, and military families. Through its BGS degree, Western is a Servicemembers Opportunity College (SOC) and accepts ACE Guide-evaluated military training and CLEP, Excelsior, and DSST examinations. Western has partnered with the Rock Island Arsenal to provide a public testing site on Arsenal Island for individuals to complete exams. A BGS academic
advisor assists in administering CLEP and DSST exams and provides program information.

Special Opportunities

Enjoy Western’s low, in-state tuition rates regardless of where you live. Western Illinois University offers an undergraduate cost guarantee for tuition, fees, room, and board for each new class of entering students. The guaranteed rates remain in effect for four years if students maintain continuous enrollment. For complete details regarding tuition and fees, visit

Students in the BGS degree program may earn credit by taking nationally recognized proficiency examinationsor Western academic departmental proficiency examinations or by submitting a prior learning portfolio, a written process of documenting specific college-level knowledge gained through non-academic pursuits. Advising services are available to BGS students on Western’s Macomb and Quad Cities campuses.

Transfer Students

The BGS degree program has partnered with several Illinois and Iowa community colleges to allow community college students maximum transferability from all associate degree programs to Western’s BGS degree program.

After College

researcher in southeast asian field

Learning from other Cultures

General Studies students are flexible thinkers with excellent soft skills and creative problem-solving capabilities. 

The majority of students enrolling in the BGS degree program enter with specific goals in mind. Most graduates are already involved in a career and need the academic credential for promotions or other career opportunities.

A significant number of graduates continue to post-baccalaureate studies, resulting in graduate degrees or professional certifications. A smaller number of graduates earn the degree for personal reasons unrelated to a career or to pursuing advanced degrees.

Graduates have successfully used the degree to gain entry-level jobs in a variety of business, industrial, government, and human services organizations.

Possible Careers

  • varies

Please refer to the undergraduate catalog for detailed program information and course requirements.

Because each student designs their own course of study within a framework guided by their advisor, required courses vary. Check with your advisor for details.


School of Distance Learning, International Studies, & Outreach

Office: Horrabin Hall 6
Telephone: (309) 298-1929
Fax: (309) 298-2226

General Studies Website
General Studies Directory
General Studies Advisors

Director: Dr. Jeffrey Hancks
Telephone: (309) 298-1929



Outside of Horrabin Hall.