Unique (and possibly crazy) Courses of Study (Part 3)

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Florida Southern College, Lakeland

Citrus Studies


Florida is known for a lot of things. Hurricanes, the elderly, mosquitoes the size of your fist. But there is perhaps no more inextricable a symbol of the Sunshine State than the orange. The unassuming citrus is the heart and soul of Florida's agriculture industry. This is why Florida Southern College in Lakeland offers a complete degree program on the subject.

In fact, the Bachelor's Degree program concerns not just oranges but all citrus. Do not be discouraged if your truest passion is actually the kumquat. This may be the best outlet for your chosen area of expertise. According to the college's website, this is the only B.S. in the nation offered exclusively in the area of citrus. Look elsewhere if you wish to study fruits affiliated with the Rubus genus.

But if you wish to enter into the exciting world of grapefruits, lemons, and pomelos, consider enrolling in this Tampa-adjacent college. Indeed, FSC's school of citrus actually awards the largest number of endowed scholarships of any department on campus. Here, you'll have the chance to study with industry professionals, to gain hands-on experience by working with the school's private collection of orange trees, and to study at the nearby Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.

Learn proven planting, weeding, pruning, and fertilizing techniques as well as how to identify and dispatch citrus-loving pests. These skills should serve you well in an industry ripe with opportunity. From citrus production companies and grove services to juice processing plants and even purveyors of fertilizer, Florida is brimming with career opportunities in the citric arts.

New College Nottingham

Heavy Metal Music Performance


There aren't that many occupations where you're expected to show up to work in leather pants. If that's something that appeals to you, consider New College Nottingham's degree program in Heavy Metal Music Performance. Whether it's metal of the hair, hardcore, thrash, or oi variety that gets your head banging, Nottingham may be the perfect school to hone your shredding chops.

Brush up on your Black Sabbath, master your Metallica, even nail down the Yngwie Malmstein songbook…if you're into that sort of thing. As a resident of this U.K. college's Derby campus—just 30 miles outside of Nottingham—you have the unique opportunity to earn your Foundation Degree in the performance of this oft-maligned rock and roll subgenre.

Practice pummeling drum fills, lightning fast guitar solos, and how to reduce the risk of polyps while bark-growling into the microphone. Once you've completed your first year, you'll even have the opportunity to tour Britain to showcase your emerging talents.

But this isn't just about performance. The curriculum also contends with the sociological importance of metal (which, of course, presumes that there is any at all). You'll have the chance to explore the religious, cultural, and ideological themes that permeate this darkest of genres while simultaneously investigating the various reasons that heavy metal so frequency runs afoul of censorship.

Begun during the 2013 academic year, this two year focus provides degree-seekers with a chance to study in what some say is among the region's fastest growing fields. Indeed, all evidence suggests that the mid-1980s have just arrived in Nottingham. If you wish to be a part of the metal surge, fire your barber, stock up on spandex, and submit your application to Nottingham today.

The day that Iron Maiden makes a college degree a prerequisite for joining the band, you'll be a shoe-in.

Virginia Wesleya College

Chemical Hygiene Officer


At first glance, the name of this degree program seems to suggest it would be your job to remind sloppy scientists to brush their teeth and clip their nails. And depending on who you end up working with, that may indeed be part of your job description. But technically, that is not what Wesleyan College means when it says Chemical Hygiene Officer.

What they mean is that you could soon qualify for a career in which there is a great demand for qualified applicants. By earning your Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Hygiene on this Buckhannon, West Virginia campus, you could create your own pathway to service as an Occupational Health and Safety professional in settings where chemical reactions are an everyday reality.

Housed within the college's Department of Chemistry, this program places its participants in laboratory settings and instructs on how best to prevent accidents, handle hazardous materials, and improve the overall safety of your workspace. Given the volatility inherent to the world of chemical compounding, this is a profession that calls for an inherently stable individual.

Prevent acid burns, noxious gasses, and accidental workplace explosions…or at the very least, help to create the proper environmental conditions for the facilitation of intentional workplace explosions.

If you were the kind of kid who was always reminding your buddies about the importance of protective eyewear (which no doubt made you one of the most popular kids in school), this degree program could be your calling.

Otis College of Art and Design

Toy Design


If you're anything like me, you wish you could go back in time and invent Stretch Armstrong, just so you could tell people it was you.

Well you might not have a time machine, but you could start the toy craze of the future with the right training. The Otis College of Art and Design sets out to give you said training. Based in the Westchester neighborhood of Los Angeles, Otis provides students with the unique opportunity to conceptualize and create playthings.

You'll master the various stages of modern toy design, from drawing and model-making to digital rendering, packaging, and presentation. You'll take courses in action figures, toy vehicles, dolls, and the all-encompassing academic study of plush. (If Beanie Babies are your passion, you could probably study them, but you should also answer the phone because 1994 just called and it wants your hobby back).

This major will give you a chance to touch on more than just design. You'll also investigate the important role that toys, games, and imagination play in human development and the retail industry. Your curriculum will include studies in childhood psychology, marketing, and engineering.

Internships with Mattel, Hasbro, and Disney could also pave the plastic-coated path to a lifelong career in the wonderful world of toys.

U.S. Berkeley

Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular ‘Logic' on TV Judge Shows


I would think the toughest part of appearing before this famous television arbitrator is not crying. After all, Judge Judy is pretty mean. But this U.C. Berkeley course suggests that for most people, the real challenge is articulating a coherent thought.

The U.C. Berkeley freshman seminar is focused not just on the crustiest stalwart of daytime TV but on all TV court shows. From The People's Court to Divorce Court, from Judge Wapner to Judge Joe Brown, legal proceedings are all the rage among night-shift workers, the unemployed, and so many others with a surplus of free weekday afternoon time.

This course suggests that much of that popularity stems from the hilarity of watching as both plaintiffs and defendants register logical fallacies on their respective behalves. The premise of this class is that the vast majority of individuals appearing on such television programs will lack the wherewithal to posit rational arguments. Lesson plans will focus on exactly what it is that motivates participants to craft complaints and offer up defenses that are so frequently ill-conceived, specious, and unfounded.

Though the "verdicts" rendered by Judge Judy and her contemporaries are (amazingly) legally binding arbitration decisions, the course catalog is moved to note that this is by no means a study in law or proper courtroom procedure. This, says the university's official description, is a study in logic, rhetoric, and how frequently the latter may be attempted without support from the former. The course is recommended for those with an interest in popular culture, television, and how best to debate somebody who has absolutely no idea what they're talking about.

Michigan State University

Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse


A popular refrain by disenchanted students surmises that so much of what is learned in school has no practical basis in reality. But this MSU course offers students an education that they can actually use…presuming that the world is inevitably bound, at some point in the not-too-distant-future, to be overrun by flesh-eating daywalkers.

You'll net three credits for this summer course, offered exclusively online and contained within the university's School of Social Work. What's so social about it, you ask? Well for starters, your participation in this course will see you placed on a team of your peers. There within, you and your fellow students will devise strategies for survival in the face of an apocalyptic showdown between the living and the undead.

There is, perhaps, nothing more social than collaborating with others to help prevent the breakdown of civilization or, at the very least, to determine how best to keep yourself and others alive once this breakdown has occurred. This is a course with tremendous applicable value even if you don't live in a region overcome by fever-brained, blood-drooling, cannibal-monsters.

As the course description explains, the knowledge you will gain and the skills you will acquire in your studies will prepare you for any catastrophic event. Be it terrorist attack, natural disaster, or dysentery epidemic, this course will teach you everything you must know to lead a band of ragtag post-apocalyptic warriors to survival and beyond.

Technically, there are no prerequisites for this course, but some zombie-hunting experience would be considered a plus.

A course on the zombie apocalypse is good and all, but if you want to know which college majors will best equip you for surviving the zombie apocalypse, we have you covered! Check out "The 25 Best Majors for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse."

Hood College



From the undead to the just plain dead, Hood College in Frederick, Maryland offers the perfect major for students with an interest in end-of-life planning.

Technically, Thanatology refers to the study of death, which seems like kind of a morbid way to spend your undergrad years. On the other hand, it seems slightly less depressing a post-graduate program than, say, law school. Hood gives you both options. You can complete a Certificate program in Thanatology or you can pursue a full Master's Degree.

The description on Hood College's website tells that most students will do both, first completing a 12-credit Certificate program before moving on to earn the 39 credits required for attainment of an M.A. Both program tiers pair well with the school's Gerontology certificate program as well.

It sounds like a bleak way to spend your classroom time, but in fact, this is a field in which you'll learn to provide hope and compassion to those on the threshold of the great beyond. You'll learn how to meet the physical, psychological, interpersonal, and spiritual needs of those who are in the terminal stages of the life cycle as well as the bereaved that they will leave behind.

As the only program of its kind in the state of Maryland, and one of the very few of its kind nationwide, Hood's Thanatology focus will train you for work in funeral services, hospice counseling, or nursing home care. As dark as your chosen course of study may seem on the surface, when you excel in this field, you can become a tremendous source of light to those in need.

University of Iowa

The American Vacation


A course perhaps most inspired by Chevy Chase, this one chronicles the adventures of dads in salmon cargo shorts, moms in fanny packs, and wood-paneled station wagons loaded with sweaty, squabbling kids. The course explores the masochistic proclivity of American families to cram together into cars, cabins, and hotel rooms in pursuit of the perfect getaway.

While National Lampoon played the American Vacation for laughs, this course plays it for serious sociological inquiry. Contained within the University of Iowa's College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, this 200 level American Studies class considers the evolution of vacationing over the last century. Once a rarefied luxury reserved only for the wealthiest of Americans, the vacation is now among the most commonplace and diverse of cultural conventions.

This course explores the role played by destinations like Disney World, Yellowstone National Park and Coney Island in fomenting our collective love for the great American excursion. There's also a unit on Atlantic City if your idea of a perfect vacation is legalized gambling in the midst of a rapidly decaying urban war-zone.

The American Vacation course demands that we consider the vast socioeconomic and cultural implications of how our time and money are spent outside the everyday routines of home and office life. How Americans play, adventure, shop, and engage one another while on holiday may tell us a great deal about our society, our expectations, and our shared ability to sit in the backseat of a minivan without repeatedly asking, “are we there yet?”

Ithaca College

Sport Media

Ithaca College

Learn how to stretch four minutes of actual news into 24 hours of programming. Practice the stimulation of controversy where none may exist. Produce bold, stinging ridicule of athletes whose abilities you can only dream of.

At Ithaca College in upstate New York, you could earn your Bachelor's Degree in Sport Media, a field revolutionized by the omnipresence of ESPN, fantasy sports, and the all-day, everyday carnival of online coverage. Whether you aspire to become a blogger for your local lacrosse club or an on-field reporter for the New York Yankees, your training begins here.

Housed in the Department of Sport Management and Media, itself a part of Ithaca's School of Health Sciences and Human Performance, this degree program aims to prepare you for an industry that merges athletics, entertainment, and business (and sadly, these days, a healthy amount of jurisprudence).

Your degree program would be composed of three “cores,” in liberal arts, sport theory, and communications. Courses will cover a diverse range of subjects, including media production, public relations, and advertising.

Learn what it takes to produce a highlight reel, interview LeBron James, or prepare Mike Ditka's hair-helmet for showtime. The world of professional sports its a multi-trillion dollar sector. With a degree in Sport Media, you could be the one to report on people who make that kind of money.

University of Pittsburgh

Children's Literature


One Fish / Two Fish / Dr. Seuss / How I Wish / I Spent College / Reading You / Instead of Nietzsche / Or Camus.

Imagine a course of study revolving around the Lorax, the Wild Things (and there whereabouts), or Harold and his Purple Crayon. No, this isn't the most remedial reading course in college history. This is the Certificate program you would take if you wished to learn more about the educational, psychological, and commercial imperatives that drive the authorship and marketing of children's books.

If you're trying to get into the book business, this could be a good way to go. It's one of the very few print forms that can't be readily replaced by a Kindle or iPad. (Don't get me wrong, it can be replaced by them. Just not as readily).

The Children's Literature program at Pitt was founded in 1933 and is actually quite groundbreaking for its serious examination of forms, conventions, and innovations within a milieu previously overlooked by serious academic circles. This program recognizes the absolutely critical role that such literature plays in the emotional, intellectual, and moral development of our youth. Investigate the ways in which representations in childhood writing have changed over centuries and be a part of their ongoing evolution today.

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