It’s the end of the world as we know it, and we feel fine. Why? Because we have the secret to surviving the apocalypse — a quality education. But it can’t be just any education. If you’re going to succeed in the post-apocalyptic hellscape, you’ll need to choose your degree program wisely. After all, you’ll have to rebuild society. Well, not just you. Everybody that’s left behind. But what are the best degrees for helping civilization reboot after a catastrophic failure? What courses will be most valuable as we reconstruct society? And are there ways that you can take these courses online? (Because we know that convenience and flexibility still matter, even when you’re planning for the armageddon.) We’ve got the answers to these questions and more as we explore the very best degrees for the end of the world. Read on and prepare for professional success in the end of days!
At the risk of sounding negative, the end is nigh.
In January 2018, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists — a nonprofit responsible for setting the time on the
Doomsday Clock — moved the big hand 60 seconds closer to midnight. A symbolic timepiece meant to convey
how close we are to destroying our civilizations with dangerous technologies of our own making, the Doomsday Clock now marks the time as two minutes to midnight and ticking.
Scientists say that a coalescence of factors — global climate change, the rising threat of nuclear war, and Donald Trump — have accelerated the inevitability of our doom.
If this is true, we have our work cut out for us. In his seminal text on post-apocalyptic reconstruction, The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Civilization in the Aftermath of a Cataclysm, Lewis Dartnell warns:
Food, clothes, medicines, machinery, and other technology inexorably decompose, decay, deteriorate, and degrade over time. The survivors are provided with nothing more than a grace period. With the collapse of civilization and the sudden arrest of key processes—gathering raw materials, refining and manufacturing, transportation, and distribution—the hourglass is inverted and the sand steadily drains away. The remnants provide nothing more than a safety buffer to ease the transition to the moment when harvesting and manufacturing must begin anew.
But it’s not all bad. When we hear a dire warning like that, we can’t help but think…the time has never been better to get a college degree. The moment to begin preparing for the collapse of civilization is now. But what college degrees will serve you best if faced with the task of restoring society, reinstating commerce, mending infrastructure, and generally rebuilding civilization?
If you lack viable skills, you could quickly become food for the first group of humans to resort to cannibalism (Florida, I’m looking in your direction). You are a lot less likely to become somebody’s late lunch if you know how to build houses, treat gangrene, or purify drinking water. Don’t be food. Get a good, practical education and be the hero that future generations say nice things about.
If you’d rather skip right to the part where you become a hero, check out Emergency Management: Degrees and Jobs That Save Lives.
Otherwise, read on to learn more about the very best degrees for the end of the world…
An environmental science degree is a multidisciplinary degree that combines the study of biology, life sciences, and Earth science in order to advance our understanding of environmental systems including air, water, and various ecosystems.
Operating on the assumption that civilization has collapsed, it seems pretty likely that global climate change was a factor. From rising sea levels and shrinking coastlines to diminishing natural resources and intensifying natural disasters, one of the most formidable tasks ahead will be to reconsider our very way of life. From how we interact with land to the way we cultivate food; from the way we acquire resources to the way we dispose of waste; and from the way we travel to the way we imagine our living spaces.
Environmental sciences will play an increasingly important role in helping us to clean up the messes that apocalypses usually leave behind. With an environmental science degree, you’ll be primed to help your community test water and soil toxicity, harness clean and renewable energy, and produce innovative solutions for sustainable living. As the world learns to cope with new realities such as resource scarcity and hazardous atmospheric conditions, your knowledge will be an important part of finding a path forward.
According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of environmental sciences will grow by 11% between 2016 and 2026, adding roughly 10,000 new jobs. You could be among the ranks of those working to stave off the apocalypse, and subsequently, among those best prepared to roll with the punches once it happens.
If this sounds like a job for you, check out these top careers in the Life, Physical, and Social Sciences.
Get started on your path to a degree by checking out The 50 Best Life and Agriculture Sciences Programs in the World Today.
An engineering degree applies mathematics, science and technology to a broad range of applications and industries, including mechanical, civil, electrical, and chemical engineering.
If you thrive on scientific inquiry, find personal growth in the quest for innovation, translate technical knowledge into real world solutions, and really like doing a ton of math, the post-apocalyptic job market is brimming with opportunity. When public utilities such as running water, electricity, fiber optic cable, network television, fuel service stations, transportation infrastructure, and commodity supply chains all go belly up, local communities will look to their engineers for answers.
Engineering overlaps with an enormous range of subdisciplines. Depending upon your abilities, area of interest, and personal vision for navigating the end of the world, you could study to become a civil, mechanical, electrical, industrial, or environmental engineer, among a host of others. One important side note: if you study robotics engineering, and your robots ultimately become sentient and consequently hasten civilization’s collapse, people are going to be really salty with you, and they probably won’t give you a job building stuff in their fledgling community.
That aside, engineering professionals will be essential as we start from scratch on energy distribution, product consumption, and community living. So the coming apocalypse is probably at least one reason why the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the civil engineering field to add more than 32,000 jobs, for a growth rate of 11% between 2016 and 2026.
Check here to learn more about the top jobs in Engineering.
You also have a bounty of options when it comes to earning an engineering degree. Start your search by checking out the rankings below:
- The Best Online Bachelor’s in Electronics Engineering Programs
- The 25 Best Online Master’s in Engineering Management Programs
- The 25 Best Online Master’s in Electrical Engineering Programs
- The 10 Best Online Master’s in Biomedical Engineering Programs
- The 19 Best Online Master’s in Civil Engineering Programs
- The 50 Best Online Master’s in Engineering Programs
- The 50 Best Engineering/Technology and Computer Sciences Programs in the World
A criminal justice degree provides instruction in law enforcement, jurisprudence, Constitutional law, criminality, corrections, rehabilitation and a host of other areas relating to the carriage of justice.
One inevitable symptom of social breakdown is the descent from law and order into chaos and tribalism. Looting, rioting, and street-level violence are commonplace in the aftermath of a natural disaster. In a post-apocalyptic world, law enforcement simply won’t be enough. There will be a real premium on understanding and treating the roots of criminal behavior. Local prevention, security, and deterrence will take center-stage as the broader structures we’ve historically leaned upon for enforcement and jurisprudence splinter under the weight of anarchy.
As a student of criminal justice, you’ll come to understand the root causes of criminality. You’ll learn about the importance of encouraging community organization and cooperation. And you’ll study the connections between the administration of justice, criminal recidivism, and racial inequality, all of which should make you a great resource as we look to find a better way forward.
Get a criminal justice degree and become a key contributor to the safety, security, and fairness of an emergent society. And take note, there are plenty of jobs in the field, even assuming society doesn’t collapse.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, police and detective jobs are projected to grow at a rate of 7% between 2016 and 2026, adding more than 53,000 positions during that time.
To learn more, check out What Can I Do with a Criminal Justice or Law Degree?
You can also take a look at any of the following ranking lists to start on your path to a degree:
- The 50 Best Online Criminal Justice Associate Degree Programs
- Most Affordable Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice Programs
- The 50 Best Online Bachelor of Criminal Justice Degree Programs
- The Best Online Master of Criminal Justice Degree Programs
- Criminal Justice Degrees and 30 Notable Online Programs
Health Care & Medicine
A healthcare administration degree provides leadership, organizational, and technical skills with specific application to health systems, including physician’s offices, hospitals, urgent care facilities, and virtual networks.
Medicine is one of the great blessings of civilization. If you step on a rusty nail, you get yourself to the hospital right away for a tetanus shot. It might not be so easy when the collapse of civilization results in medicine scarcity, or when there’s no gas to put in your car so that you can drive to the hospital. Or when the hospital has ceased operation in the absence of a functioning electrical grid, subsequently becoming a tribal compound for one of countless separatist militias now roaming your county.
So in a post-apocalyptic world, if you step on a rusty nail, prepare for all the fun that comes with a heinous case of lockjaw. Or, spend the next couple years studying to become a medical professional. In a world without the conveniences of modern medicine, small injuries and illnesses can become quite serious. Serious illnesses and injuries can be deadly and even epidemic.
This means that anybody with skills relating to health care and medicine who makes it to the other side of a cataclysmic event will be priceless to his or her community. Whether your skill is in the provision of care, the prescription of medication, specialized treatments and therapies, or even in the administration of healthcare, you could play an irreplaceable role in serving the health needs of a local population or providing large systemic solutions to emergent health challenges.
One of the best ways to start contributing now is in the field of nursing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that the nursing field will grow by a rate of 15%, adding more than 438,000 jobs, between 2016 and 2026.
Of course, that’s just one possible career path. Consider any of the following professional avenues as you advance in your study of medicine:
To get started on your path to a degree, check out any of the following rankings:
- The 25 Best Online Associate in Health Information Technology Degree Programs
- The 15 Best Online Medical Assisting Associate Degree Programs
- The Best Online Associate in Healthcare Administration Degree Programs
- The 50 Best RN to BSN Online Programs
- The 25 Best Online Bachelor’s in Healthcare Management Degree Programs
- The 30 Best Online Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration Degree Programs
- The Best Online Bachelor’s in Psychology Degree Programs
- The 30 Best Online Bachelor’s in Health Sciences Degree Programs
- The 20 Best Online Bachelor’s in Health Informatics Degree Programs
- The 25 Best Online Master’s in Nursing Administration Degree Programs
- The 50 Best Online Master’s in Healthcare Informatics Degree Programs
- The 15 Best Online MBA in Healthcare Management Degree Programs
- The 25 Best Online Master’s of Healthcare Administration Degree Programs
- The 50 Best Online Master of Nutrition Degree Programs
- Online MPH Program: The Best Online Master of Public Health Degrees
- The 50 Best Medical and Pharmacy Programs in the World Today
An agriculture degree concerns the management of agricultural businesses and touches on areas including food production, agricultural sales, and the natural sciences.
There was a time, back before drive-thru lanes, and supermarkets, and GrubHub, when a lot more people knew how to milk a cow, till an acre of soil, and properly use a wheat thresher without lopping off an arm. These are skills that will once again become essential as we work to rebuild society. Communities will need to re-learn skills such as land cultivation, irrigation, and of course, animal husbandry. Suburban backyards and high school football fields will become part of a critical food supply chain.
Earning a degree in agricultural studies can make you an indispensable part of your society. Help your community find sustainable ways of planting and harvesting crops, managing livestock, and distributing food staples such as wheat, eggs, and milk. One of the most important tasks ahead of us as we rebuild society will not only be to find ways of growing and raising food supplies, but to ensure the methods used are environmentally sound, optimize opportunities for production, and yield new innovations in the fight against hunger.
Most assuredly, that fight will be fiercer than ever in this new world. Earn an agriculture degree and become part of a field that, in the quest to rebuild civilization, will once again assume tremendous importance in our world.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth rate of 7% among agricultural and food scientists, accounting for 43,000 new jobs between 2016 and 2026.
To get started on your path to an agriculture degree, check out The 50 Best Life and Agriculture Sciences Programs in the World Today.
A culinary arts degree provides knowledge and practical skills in food preparation, presentation, nutrition, storage, and safety.
Should humanity ever resort to cannibalism, the chef is probably the last person eaten. On the other hand, it also means you’ll need to learn your way around Soylent products. At any rate, a collapse of our modern consumer infrastructure makes food scarcity inevitable. And as the section above points out, people who can grow food will be invaluable. But if you’ve ever tried pulling a stalk of wheat out of the ground and shoving it in your mouth, you might also have an appreciation for the importance of those who can transform crops into meals.
Seek out a degree in the culinary arts with a particular focus on healthy, safe, and sanitary food preparation. When civilization collapses, these are skills you may be required to use in the less-than-ideal settings of bunkers, encampments, and big box stores converted into makeshift colonies. You’ll also want to learn the ins and outs of event catering, as you may be called upon to produce food solutions for large groups. And of course, in addition to the obvious culinary applications, mastering an array of knife skills could prove indispensable in a post-apocalyptic landscape teeming with bandits, derelicts, and the mutant animals that once were your neighbors’ pets.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the culinary sector will add 14,100 new chefs and head cooks between 2016 and 2026, making for a 10% rate of growth.
To learn more, check out What Can I Do With a Culinary Arts Degree?
And if you plan to be the head chef for your tribe, start by checking out The 30 Best Culinary Schools.
An education degree relates to both the practical and theoretical dimensions of learning, pedagogy, evaluation, and advances in the areas of instruction, technology, and child psychology.
Part of rebuilding civilization is ensuring future generations can be entrusted to build upon your achievements. Besides, you can’t let kids run wild during the daytime just because civilization has gone kaput. Children require structure. Become an educator and help prepare your community’s youngest contributors for life in a post-civilized world.
Your role is critical if we are to rebuild civilization into something worth preserving. You’ll take on the all-important responsibility of molding young minds. And hey, here’s the bright side of the apocalypse: no more standardized tests. You’re free to enrich as you see fit. But it helps to understand best practices in pedagogy, lesson plan development, child psychology, and developmental theory. All of these subjects figure directly into your ability to reach and influence young learners.
Considering that these young learners will do nothing less than sow the seeds of a new civilization, there’s a lot riding on your efforts. And there’s plenty of professional opportunity already, so there’s no need to wait until the apocalypse to start applying. Just note that you’ll need your master’s degree to get started in most states.
To start on the path toward your education degree, check out the following rankings:
- The Best Online Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Degree Programs
- The 30 Best Online Master’s of Education Degree Programs
- The 25 Best Online Master’s in Higher Education Degree Programs
- The 30 Best Online Master’s in Elementary Education Degree Programs
- The Best Online Teaching Degrees
A public policy degree connects the fields of sociology, policy, and economics to produce a clear understanding of how the formulation of laws and the distribution of resources can have systemic impacts on different populations.
Getting big stuff done requires strategic planning, regulatory control, and logistically sound execution. Rebuilding civilization will demand that a host of big stuff get done. I think it’s safe to assume that when civilization does collapse, our esteemed representatives in Congress will be about as useful as . . . well . . . frankly, as useful as they are now. Which is to say that you’re on your own.
Get a degree in public policy and gain a better understanding of the intersecting practical, economic, and sociological conditions that shape civilized communities and municipalities. From the enormously complex array of factors that enter into urban development to the set of rules governing national infrastructure, from strategies for resource distribution to the administration of justice, your degree in public policy could place you in an important leadership role as civilization strives to regain a sense of order.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that urban and regional planners will be in particular demand, adding 4,600 jobs for a 13% rate of growth between 2016 and 2026.
To learn more about this and other career opportunities in public planning and policy-making, check out What Can I Do With a Political Science Degree?
Or, chart a course in public policy, check out the following rankings:
- The 25 Best Online Bachelor’s in Political Science Degree Programs
- The 5 Best Online Master’s in Political Science Degree Programs
- The 50 Best Online MPA Programs: Online Master in Public Administration
- The 4 Best Online Master’s in Public Policy Programs
A biology degree is a life sciences degree concerning the composition, behavior, and ecology of living organisms.
When the ocean waves crash into our backyards, we find ourselves plunged into a new ice age, or the earth’s atmosphere becomes a toxic stew of perfluorocarbons and Hummer exhaust, the most pressing question ahead of us will be, How can human life continue to survive under these conditions? This would be followed closely by the question, What kind of nimrod drives a Hummer anyway?
But back to the question of human survival. Those with an education in biology will be especially well-suited to face down the most harrowing of questions. A degree in biology will provide you with a multidisciplinary education in the life sciences, touching on anatomy, pathology, and ecology, as well as chemistry, genetics and botany. Your study of life and living organisms will be particularly valuable as we learn to how to adapt to new environmental circumstances, leverage our understanding of surrounding plant and animal life for the purposes of survival, and confront the epidemic health risks stemming from the collapse of society and the emergence of new ecological conditions.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth rate of 11% for biochemists and biophysicists, which amounts to 3,600 new jobs between 2016 and 2026.
To learn more about career opportunities in the field, check out What Can I Do With a Biology Degree?
To pursue a biology degree, check out the following rankings:
- 50 Best Life and Agriculture Sciences Programs in the World Today
- The Medical and Healthcare Degrees Source: Online, Associate, Bachelor’s, and Master’s
An emergency management degree provides leadership skills and tactical knowledge for confronting emergency conditions, from routine small-scale first responder services to the administrative management of widespread disaster scenarios.
In a lot of ways, every moment in the post-civilized world is an emergency scenario. Danger and disorder abound. The goal of your little settlement, community, or roving band of warriors is to mitigate danger and rein-in disorder. As an emergency management professional, your skill set will be critical to achieving those objectives.
You’ll learn how to prepare for the arrival of an emergency, delegate responsibilities in the face of crisis, and prioritize tasks under urgent circumstances. All of these skills will be essential to everyday life for your community. Get a degree in emergency management and learn how to take control of the catastrophic realities that will be commonplace in that not-too-distant future.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, emergency management directors will see 8% growth between 2016 and 2026, adding 800 jobs to a modestly sized field.
To get started on your path, check out the following ranking lists:
- Best Online Bachelor’s in Emergency Management Programs
- The 10 Best Online Master’s in Emergency Management Programs
Oh, and for what it’s worth, each of these degree options is valuable even if, for some reason, civilization doesn’t collapse. So if you made it this far in our article without stockpiling beans and building a bunker in your yard, you might consider pursuing any one of these degrees simply for the intellectual growth, personal enrichment, and a job opportunity on the other end.
On the other hand, if civilization does collapse, there’s a chance you can weasel your way out of paying back your student loans. I wouldn’t fashion my plans around it, but if the power and information grid go out, at least you’ve got that going.