Looking for some weird college classes to break up the monotony of your prerequisites and core requirements? Or perhaps you’re looking to major in a highly specialized field, one not offered at most schools. If you’re in search of strange and unusual college courses or programs, we’ve got you covered with this exhaustive and recently-updated look at 50 college courses that you won’t find at every school.
College courses in subjects like English, psychology, and math are important. And of course, most of us will have to take these courses at some point in our education. But let’s face it—you can take English classes anywhere. By contrast, you can’t get a top-notch education in Poultry Sciences just anywhere. You have to go to North Carolina University for that. If you picture a career diving for sunken shipwrecks, you’ll probably want to check out Texas A&M’s unmatched Nautical Archaeology program. If your future is in bagpiping, we can’t recommend Carnegie Mellon strongly enough. Weird college classes abound. We take a look at some of the unique majors, unusual degree programs, and downright crazy courses that can enrich your college experience and maybe even advance your career.
Note that while most of these courses are still offered in some form, some highly specialized courses may not be offered every semester, and others may have been discontinued altogether. We do our best to make note of those which are not currently available. But fear not. If Auctioneering is your idea of a good time, The Harrisburg Area Community College’s Pennsylvania State Board of Auctioneer Examiners-approved program is still very much alive.
If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, we’ve ranked the best degree in pretty much every field imaginable.
If, on the other hand, you’re in the mood for something unusual, dig in to our look at these 50 Weird College Classes.
1.MIT—American Pro Wrestling
If I have one regret from my college years, it’s that I didn’t spend more time studying Andre the Giant. But then, I didn’t go to MIT. Had I attended this elite Institute of Technology, perhaps things would have been different.
It’s possible that we, as a society, take for granted the cerebral depth of American pro-wrestling. On the other hand, it’s also possible that professional wrestling is little more than a bunch of anabollically-enhanced men rolling around in their underwear.
Whatever your take on the subject, this course—part of MIT’s Open Courseware program—will challenge your sociocultural assumptions about pro wrestling (assuming you have any). Contained within the university’s Comparative Media Studies department, the class uses American Pro Wrestling as a lens through which to explore the changing typification of masculinity over the course of recent history. By examining the characters, performances, and narratives unique to professional wrestling as it has evolved over the past seven decades, students will consider the intersection of machismo, violence, and entertainment in modern media.
Class time will be dominated by a combination of discussion, primary source viewing, and an array of guest speakers, including former WWE champion Mick Foley (who you might know better as Mankind, or Cactus Jack, or—my personal favorite—Dude Love). Homework will largely involve watching Friday Night Smackdown during your personal time.
Undertaken with direct endorsement from the WWE, this is the course of study for anybody who aspires to a career in professional wrestling or who simply wishes to learn how best to endure a suplex without fracturing a vertebrate.
2.University of Pennsylvania—Wasting Time on the Internet
On its surface, “Wasting Time on the Internet” sort of seems like a class where you don’t do anything. Upon closer inspection, that’s pretty much exactly what it is. This is probably the kind of thing that only Ivy Leaguers could receive credits for.
For three hours every Wednesday, students will meet together in a room and completely ignore each other while wandering aimlessly about the web, attempting to bring cohesion to the chat room flotsam and social media jetsam bobbing about in the virtual sea. This course asks if there is a way to cull meaningful literary content from the temporal Tweets, fleeting Facebook posts, and casual comments with which we splatter the web.
Supporting its endeavor through consideration of works by thinkers like Betty Friedan, Erving Goffman, and John Cage, the course attempts intellectual interface with the concepts of boredom and time-wasting. In most contexts, the required coursework would be considered a good way to blow a perfectly useful day. In this context, it is an elective seminar for English majors.
And if you’re in the Creative Writing Track at UPenn, you’re degree program actually requires you to designate three hours a week for wasting on the web.
That's not the only unusual class at UPenn. Did you know that the University of Pennsylvania will soon become the very first Ivy League school to offer a fully online degree program?
I bet you were wondering if there was a course that proceeded from the core question, “Can Beyoncé’s music be seen as a blueprint for progressive social change?”. In fact, there is. Well, there was, anyway. Sadly discontinued, and with a fair amount of controversy to boot, this course nonetheless reveals the subtextual layers beneath fame that warrant academic investigation.
Offered as a “Featured Program” at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, “Politicizing Beyoncé” used the massively successful pop singer’s lyrics and videos as a lens through which to view the dynamics of gender, race, power, and popular culture. Informed by a confluence of black feminism and sociology, the course used Beyoncé’s work as a jumping-off point for consideration of the historical and political constructs impacting the lives and experiences of black women in today’s society.
That’s pretty serious business for the woman who played Foxxy Cleopatra in 2002’s heinously unwatchable Austin Powers in Goldmember.
But with empowering songs like “Grown Woman,” “Run the World,” and “Flawless”—as well as a towering empire of commercial and political influence at her fingertips—Beyoncé’s impact is actually quite profound. It is thus that the course offered here proceeded, using its subject’s singular celebrity to probe challenging sociological questions.
While this one may be discontinued, at last check, there have never been any university level courses based on the work of other former Destiny’s Child members.
4.Centre College—The Art of Walking
In this course, students pad around campus wearing shoes dipped in paint just to see what happens. Ok, that’s not at all true but can you imagine if it was? The Art of Walking is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a course that produces academic extrapolation on a subject that probably doesn’t need it.
Offered during the three week interim between Fall and Spring semesters on this Danville, Kentucky campus, The Art of Walking asks its participants to reconsider their relationship with such closely correlated activities as strolling, wandering, ambling, and rambling. The Art of Walking is not so much concerned with the techniques that you use to walk as with the observations that you are inclined to make while doing so.
The idea behind this course is that far too many people resist walking as a form of transportation under the assumption it is both boring and time-consuming. During each interim semester since its inception in 2002, The Art of Walking has challenged this assumption by urging participants to take notice of the beauty around them, both in nature and in everyday life. This endeavor is facilitated by the course’s direct connection to Centre College’s study abroad programs. In addition to the extensive constitutionals that students will undertake together on their own campus, participants will also have the chance to walk overseas.
Let me clarify. This course will not teach you how to walk on water (consult the university’s Christian studies programs for instructions on this). Instead, you’ll have the chance to walk in places like France, Germany, and England, where you will rediscover the joy of wandering. Perhaps more than any other course on our list, this one stresses that it is the journey and not the destination which makes life worth living.
5.Belmont University—"Oh, Look, a Chicken!": Embracing Distraction as a Way of Knowing
Are you easily distracted by bright shiny objects? Do you change the channel during commercials and forget what you were originally watching? Do you find it difficult to focus on the task at hand when you could be staring out the window at every passing bird, motorist, or mailman?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, that’s kind of weird. This isn’t actually a survey. Who are you even talking to?
For those of you who just silently nodded in the affirmative to these questions, you aren’t alone. We, as a society, are inundated with media, information, and stimuli. Maintaining focus in the face of this constant bombardment is no easy feat. The internet is basically designed to prevent you from ever getting anything done. Admit it. You spend as much time clicking on embarrassing Buzzfeed lists as you do working. Well, fortunately, Belmont University offers a First Year Seminar course that might help you to better understand this behavior.
This Nashville, Tennessee campus has finally designed the perfect course for students with Attention Deficit Disorder. Learn how to…well, I’ll be honest, it’s not exactly clear what you’ll learn how to do. But class discussions should cover a wide gamut of tangentially related subjects including no shortage of irrelevant non-sequiturs. Ultimately, you should come away with a better understanding of what it means to be a distracted learner and develop practical skills for coping with the varying and often unrelated sensory experiences that drive you to distraction. So either you’ll either learn how to resist clicking on those Buzzfeed links or you’ll at least learn not to feel guilty and shiftless when you do.
Find out why Belmont University also ranks as one of America's Best Online Christian Colleges.
6.Santa Clara University—The Physics of Star Trek
Memorizing every word in the Klingon-to-English Dictionary is not required for this course but it probably wouldn’t hurt. Outside of that, you’ll want a pretty good working knowledge of particle physics, human physiology, and interplanetary travel.
Indeed, this course is listed as part of the science discipline at Santa Clara. Thus, the class will draw a line from Newton and Einstein to Kirk and Janeway.
But like Star Trek itself, there is so much more to this than science. If 8 television series, 13 films, and countless Trekkie conventions have shown us anything, it is the complex and inextricable relationship between technology, faith, identity, and culture. Star Trek shows us a future in which science has given us both glimpses of Utopia and our own destruction.
This Santa Clara course peers into that future while exploring the empirical science behind the matter transporter, the theoretical basis for time travel, and possibly even the reason that Patrick Stewart lacks the resources to grow a single follicle of hair well into the 24th Century. The Physics of Star Trek is a great starting point for a job at NASA, construction of a super-large hadron collider, or chief-know-it-all status at your neighborhood comic shop.
7.University of Washington—Astrobiology
Ok, so if the course outlined above probes Star Trek for its prescient scientific vision, this course of study explores that other great Trekkian question: Are there Ferengis in the universe and how cautious should we be about conducting interplanetary commerce with them?
Well, maybe that isn’t central premise of this course. But if you do ever plan on successfully answering this and other related questions, you should probably start here. Astrobiology is not merely a course at the University of Washington. In fact, it is a graduate program for which one can earn a Ph.D.
According to its online course catalog, the University of Washington is not the only major institution to offer courses that aim to study life on or from other planets. It is, however, one of the very few to provide “structured interdisciplinary training at the graduate level.” The University points out that, with an offering of 20 required coursework credits, its astrobiology program is one of the nation’s most rigorous.
Subjects of study include the origin and evolution of life on earth, the search for planets beyond our solar system, and the sustainability of life in extreme environments such as deep-sea hydrothermal vents, Arctic ice, and Cleveland. (Just kidding Cleveland. We love you).
Ecology, cosmology, geology, and imagination converge in a course that could be your first step toward a space odyssey. Future occupations include microbiology, environmental conservation, and Martian ambassadorship.
8.University of Nevada, Las Vegas—Entertainment Engineering & Design
Perhaps you think it’s all fun and games in Las Vegas.
Well…you’d be right. It really is.
But making fun is big business. People expect more than just a few white tigers and a Bette Midler impersonator these days. They want flashing lights, optical illusions, and animatronic spectacle…and then, of course, the occasional Bette Midler impersonator.
If you’re at all interested in helping to enhance the massive adult playground that is Las Vegas, or to work as a Disney fun-gineer, or perhaps to design the next big-screen innovation used to justify doubling ticket prices, this could be the degree program for you. According to UNLV, you have two basic options. You can earn a bachelor’s degree in Design Technology at a total of 133 credits or one in Engineering across 135 credit hours.
Be assured, this course of study is deeply embedded in various overlapping scientific disciplines. In spite of the whimsy that it would be your ultimate ambition to create, the program itself will guide you through the very real and very serious subsets of computer, electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering science. All are instructed with an eye toward “the art of entertainment.”
In addition to a core emphasis on mathematics and the development of technical skills, this course of study will require you to consider the social, environmental, political, ethical, and economic implications of each and every decision that goes into creating an entertaining experience for the buying public.
Whether you hope to design a multi-purpose indoor arena or produce the lighting effects for a Lada Gaga tribute act, this may be the degree program for you. Also, if it is your life’s greatest ambition to run away with the French circus, you should know that this major provides a clear avenue to an internship with Cirque du Soleil.
For other great educational opportunities in the Battleborn State, check out The Best Online Colleges in Nevada.
9.Penn State University—Turfgrass Science
Football is kind of a big deal in Happy Valley. So too, therefore, is grass.
It makes sense, then, that the university’s Department of Plant Science, which itself is contained in the College of Agricultural Sciences, has offered a full undergraduate degree program in Turfgrass Science since as far back as 1929.
Lest you should think this is a path toward becoming a glorified lawn-mower, be thee fairly warned. Your course of study will include biology, chemistry, and meteorology. This bachelor’s degree program gives students on the gridiron-crazy Pennsylvania campus a chance to pursue an array of career opportunities in the field (Yeah, it’s a pun. Deal with it).
Those career opportunities may include golf course green’s keeping, sod design, and athletic facility maintenance. And with everything that you’ll learn about cultivation, protection against the elements, and pest management, your front lawn will likely be the envy of your neighbors.
Based on the university’s own reporting that 70% of Pennsylvania’s turfgrass is residentially-owned, you need not work for a professional sporting organization to apply everything that you’ll learn in this program. However, it could also open the door to such a career. To the point, Penn State’s Turfgrass degree program could lead to an internship with the NFL’s nearest organization, the Philadelphia Eagles.
But prepare yourself for a rigorous course steeped in both natural and industrial sciences. The Philadelphia Eagles may be giving away wide receiver jobs to every stone-handed bumbler that wanders into their training facilities but you actually have to work pretty hard to maintain the grass underneath their feet.
10.Vincennes University—Bowling Industry Management and Technology
Ok. we admit it. We reference The Big Lebowski at least once a week on this forum. But seriously, this one is just begging for it.
Anyway, if Walter Sobchack hadn’t spent the ‘70s in Vietnam, this is the college major he would have pursued.
Vincennes is Indiana’s oldest university, operational since 1801. And based on the mission statement for its academic bowling program, this is one sport that students and faculty take quite seriously. Indeed, it is told that this program will do nothing less than “enhance the student’s intellectual growth and civic responsibilities through interaction with community groups and organizations as it relates to a modern business/recreational environment.”
This, says the mission, “will prepare them for employment in the bowling industry.”
So, too, will classroom subjects such as profit/loss analysis for a given bowling alley, pinsetter preventative maintenance, and fingerhole-drilling. That last one is not as dirty as it sounds. Get your mind out of the gutter.
Depending on your focus within your bowling major, you can complete this two year program in pursuit of either an Associate of Science or an Associate of Applied Science degree. The latter of these will require more technical expertise whereas the former emphasizes the business management dimensions of life on the lanes.
And Walter Sobchack would be pleased to know that most classes are conducted on weekdays, meaning that there should never be a reason to roll on Shabbos.
Of course, there's more to Vincennes than spares and strikes. Find out why Vincennes University ranks as one of America's 20 Best Auto Mechanic Schools.
11.Plymouth State University—Adventure Education
This teaches you half of everything you’ll ever need to know to become an action hero. Add to this about 30 foreign language courses and a decade of training in the lethal use of martial arts, and you’re practically Jason Bourne.
Learn all the skills that your crazy survivalist uncle has been telling you about for years. From mountaineering and whitewater kayaking to winter camping and wilderness exploration, this course of study requires you to venture into the great outdoors with only your wit and wisdom to protect you.
Surrounded as it is by the natural majesty of New Hampshire, the Plymouth State campus serves as the perfect starting point for any number of exhilarating expeditions out into the Granite State frontier. To get an idea of what you might be in for on an average school day, consider several fairly self-explanatory course names, including Winter Backcountry Travel, Alpine Mountaineering, and Canoe Paddling Fundamentals.
Of course, if you plan on pursuing this course of study—which is offered both at the bachelor’s and master’s levels—it’s probably a good idea to be comfortable with heights, extreme temperatures, and complaining children.
Indeed, Adventure Education falls under the umbrella of Physical Education and its primary purpose is to provide applied training to those who will ultimately lead youth expeditions through forests, rivers, and mountains. A career may await you in a number of exciting fields, including national park recreation, environmental education, outdoor adventure leadership, and of course, international secret espionage super-agency.
12.University of Alaska Fairbanks—Arctic Engineering
If you enjoy doing really complicated math while freezing your face off, this is most definitely the major for you.
Civil engineering is a deeply challenging course of study in any context. Throw in a subzero climate and you’re looking at a whole other level of logistical challenges relating to heat transfer, frozen ground engineering, and toilet flushing.
Seriously. Do you have any idea how hard it is to make a toilet that flushes at absolute zero? Neither do we but we’ll bet this is the course of study if you want to know.
Unfortunately, while this program is listed in the course catalog, it is labeled as temporarily suspended at the time of writing. When the master’s program is available though, it is administered from within the College of Engineering and Mines’ Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
The graduate program is aimed at those who have already completed their undergraduate studies in engineering and who wish to apply this education to confronting the peculiarities of extreme cold weather design, construction, and operation. As the course catalog points out, a heightened interest in petroleum production in Arctic regions has increased demand for those with the set of skills honed by the program in question.
This is probably a program that you would also find valuable were you to somehow be a part of a Star Wars-style rebellion forced to establish a secret base on the ice planet of Hoth. The course’s focus on hydraulic engineering should give you a leg up for either operating or felling an Imperial AT-AT Walker.
Though the program is not presently available to students on the Fairbanks campus, fear not. It’s pretty darn cold in Alaska and people are always building stuff. It stands to reason that the inherent value of this degree program will see it offered again in the not-too-distant future. Certainly if that future brings a new ice age with it, degree-holders in Arctic Engineering will be pretty sought after.
The Liverpool Hope University offers a degree program called The Beatles, Popular Music and Society. But we suppose this isn’t so unique or surprising. Courses on the Beatles, and on popular music, are actually quite commonplace.
But this isn’t about popular music. This is about unpopular music. This is about the music best suited for emptying a saloon after last call. Don’t get me wrong. We are lovers of all things musical. But we’d shake on a gentleman’s bet that 30 minutes of live bagpiping, and you’d be gone like a Hagas on Hogmanay.
This university’s bagpiping program’s existence owes itself almost entirely to the Scottish-American heritage of the university’s namesake, Andrew Carnegie. Its commitment to an instrument originally rendered from skinned goat makes this Pittsburgh-based university the top destination in the U.S. for aspiring bagpipers.
As the only university to offer a Master’s degree in the bags, Carnegie Mellon will draw as many as three piping aspirants every year. Three may not sound like a lot, but put all of them in a room together with their instruments and I guarantee it’ll feel like a crowd.
According to an article from 2012, Carnegie’s recently hired pipemaster general had also made considerable strides in expanding the membership of the university’s competitive pipe band. As the bandleader explained of his program, “I’m hoping to make a significant contribution to both the university and the North American piping scene.”
And what a scene it is.
14.University of Arizona—Race Track Industry
The next time somebody tells you that you spend too much time at the track, tell them that it was your college major. If you’re telling the truth, good for you! You are one of the rare specialists in the art and science of competitive equestrian facility maintenance.
If you’re lying, then we’re concerned you might have a gambling problem.
Assuming the former, there’s a good chance you studied at the University of Arizona. Indeed, the Tucson campus is home to one of the oldest and largest Race Track Industry degree programs in circulation. In fact, the program was initially chartered in response to a rising need within the industry for college educated professionals.
The increasingly complex and sophisticated business of horse racing prompted several industry leaders to partner with the University in 1973 to create what is now a thriving bachelor’s degree program. Falling under the umbrella of the Department of Agriculture, this major gives students a choice between either the Business or Animal Management aspects of a career in horse racing. The former is for those who will manage, market, or regulate horse racing operations and the latter is for those who will seek an occupation in training, breeding, or farm management.
Far from being an obscure major, this one is actually a pretty safe bet for undergraduates. According to the University of Arizona, roughly 80% of degree-holders from this program find employment immediately upon graduation.
15.California State University-Long Beach—Theme Park Engineering
For a guy working at a sandwich shop, a bad day is when you accidentally run out of mayonnaise before the lunch rush. A bad day for a guy who designs amusement park rides is when the ferris wheel comes loose from its bearings and rolls through downtown rush hour traffic.
Point is, if you’re going to design roller coasters and log flumes, it’s a great idea to know exactly what you’re doing. And that’s not just because this is serious life and death stuff. It’s also because nobody likes a boring ride. There’s a fine line between feeling like you might die and actually running the risk.
Theme Park Engineering majors are those special individuals who know the exact mathematical equation for riding that line. At California State University in Long Beach, you can become one of these individuals by successfully earning your Bachelor of Science in Engineering with an Option in Theme Park Engineering.
First entering the course catalog in 1999, Theme Park Engineering requires foci in electrical, civil, and mechanical engineering as well as hydraulic and pneumatic control. These are pretty much all the things you’ll need to know if you ever wish to design a Gravitron, repair a Tilt-a-Whirl, or reduce the vomit-factor of a Teacups ride gone haywire.
For something a little more traditional, California State Unviversity-Long Beach also features one of American's Most Affordable Online Master’s in Healthcare Administration Degree Programs.
16.Minneapolis College of Art and Design—Comic Art
No fewer than four of the top ten box office hits in the last decade are drawn directly from the pages of comic books. If Bill Gates’ rise to power signaled a new era of cultural cachet for the American nerd, the popular emergence of the comic book hero is perhaps the ultimate realization of geek supremacy.
If you happen to be a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the highly regarded Minneapolis College of Art and Design, you have a chance to be part of this renaissance. Once marginalized as juvenilia, comic art has today achieved a place of importance in both popular and artistic culture. No longer are comics a fringe form reserved for children and adult men who live with their parents.
Today, the comic book is fodder for mainstream success in film, television, and action figure sales. Minneapolis offers one of the nation’s only fully-realized degree courses in the subject. Within, you’ll learn the finer points of inking, illustration, storyboarding, and composition. This class should give you all the skills you need to author the next Howard the Duck retcon or illegally borrow Batman’s likeness for your own bootleg merch scheme.
Who knows? You could dream up the next Aquaman, or perhaps even a useful superhero. Beyond just comic book design, your skills could allow you step into the worlds of apparel printing, greeting card design, or even serious graphic novel authorship.
Of course, every superhero needs a great origin story. As a comic book artist, yours could begin at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
For a look at other great educational opportunities in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, check out The Best Online Colleges in Minnesota.
17.University of Connecticut—Puppetry
If you’re anything like me, you’d like to believe that the Muppets are real people, that you could grab a drink with Kermit, lend Fozzie five bucks, or throw an all-night jam session with Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.
Well apparently, there are more people like me than I would have guessed because the University of Connecticut’s Puppetry degree program is so popular that enrollment must be capped on a first-come, first-serve basis every year.
This unique program began in 1964 under the guidance of set designer and theatre professor Frank Ballard. Today, the school of puppetry bears its founder’s name. The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry is part of the university’s School of Fine Arts and from within, students have the opportunity to earn either a Master of Arts or a Master of Fine Arts degree.
You’ll take courses called Trends in Contemporary American Puppet Theatre, Advanced Rod Puppet Theatre, and Advanced Shadow Theatre. Within, you will have the chance to design, construct, control, and cast puppets in real university productions, of which more than 500 have been staged since the program’s founding.
The syllabus points out that there is a whole lot more to puppeteering than simply untangling the strings on a marionette. We are told that “The Puppet Arts are a crossroads of many disciplines. Virtually all of the arts and many of the humanities and sciences feed directly into the form that is referred to as Puppetry.”
I think those of us who grew up watching Fraggle Rock would agree.
For a look at other great educational opportunities in the Nutmeg State, check out The Best Online Colleges in Connecticut.
18.Mesalands Community College—Farrier Science
Working at a shoe-store for human beings requires no formal university training. And if we’re being honest, the job is pretty low-risk from a safety training standpoint. As long as you don’t throw your back out getting up from that weird slanty shoe-fitting stool, you’ll probably be fine.
Obviously, the same is not true for putting a shoe on a horse. There’s a lot that could go wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you anticipate that shoeing horses will be a significant part of your future, consider attending this uniquely-focused Community College.
Based in Tucumcari, New Mexico, Mesalands offers an array of two-year programs molded directly by a region where agriculture and agribusiness are a way of life. The Associate of Applied Science degree in Farrier Science is a perfect case in point. Farrier is the technical term for one who specializes in equine hoof care. (Not sure if there’s a specific word for bovine or porcine hoof care. We welcome feedback from the livestock-savvy demographic of our readership for this one).
History tells us that at one time, the farrier also served as a town’s blacksmith. The Mesalands course of study suggests that these skills still remain deeply entwined. The pursuit of your Farrier’s degree will run the gamut of horse-pertinent subjects from forging and welding to hoof trimming and equine business management.
You’ll be required to learn the anatomical and physiological implications of horseshoe application. And you will be trained in “pathological shoeing” (which could probably have been called something that doesn’t sound so foot fetishy). Pathological shoeing is actually the theory that nearly every ailment relating to the foot or hoof of a horse can be treated through the proper process and practice of shoeing.
In addition to its Associate program, Mesalands offers an Occupational Certificate program in which these theoretical dimensions of horse care can be put into hands-on practice. This means that a career could await you in your field immediately upon graduation. And if you’re looking for relevant extra-curriculars, Mesalands is on the short-list of Community Colleges with its own rodeo team.
19.Appalachian State University—Fermentation Sciences
Typically, when you tell somebody that you majored in beer, it’s an invitation for an intervention. But not so for students in this Boone, North Carolina university who opt for a Bachelor’s Degree in Fermentation Sciences. Adopted by the university in 2012, this undergraduate program actually combines the various dimensions of both brewing and winemaking to produce an interdisciplinary course of study.
Instruction will focus equally on the agricultural, industrial, and commercial processes which allow the rest of us to enjoy spirituous beverages without thought to where they came from. Of course, making a good glass of wine is a lot harder than drinking one. The students in this academic focus will engage every part of the process from farm to market, from barrel to bottle.
In addition to a love for the finished product, students must have a passion for chemistry, a feel for biology, and an entrepreneurial spirit. Indeed, these are the very qualities which have helped to spawn the craft-brewing boom in the U.S. and make way for the independent cottage vintner. Both of these entities have helped to dramatically expand and diversify the domestic beverage business.
Such is to say that your first step outside of the university could be directly into a position in your area of expertise. This School of Arts and Sciences program is fueled by partnerships with local vineyards, breweries, wineries, distilleries, and biotech plants, all of which provide both the chance to work with state of the art technology and to interface with professionals in the field.
Courses contained within the program include Viticulture, the Social Implications of Fermented Beverages and what we can only assume is everybody’s favorite, Sensory Analysis of Wine and Beer.
20.Texas A&M—Nautical Archaeology
Among the most wicked cool jobs that you could list on your resume or dating profile, Shipwreck Diving has to be pretty darn high. Come to think of it, I sincerely doubt anybody who does this for a living has ever said in mixed company, “I really don’t want to talk about work right now.”
Naturally, there’s a lot more to Nautical Archaeology than impressing friends and telling people that you’re like some sort of underwater Indiana Jones (because who wouldn’t?) The real imperative behind this field is the endeavor to better understand historical cultures through the lens (porthole?) of their seafaring practices. It is thus that the students of this Brazos County campus have the unique opportunity to ultimately don scuba gear and plunder for buried treasure.
By treasure, of course, I mean knowledge. What differentiates this Texas A&M course of study—aside, once again, from being ridiculously cool—is that it seeks to teach archaeologists to be divers rather than the reverse. It is this program’s mission to study lost civilizations—particularly those of Medieval and Mediterranean days long passed—by way of sunken artifacts. The techniques of diving and underwater excavation are a means to this end.
So, too, is a fair amount of travel. Through partnerships with various nautical centers around the world, students will trek to far off places in search of clues to anthropology’s greatest questions. As articulated in the degree program’s statement of Graduate Requirements, “Archaeological investigations have shed light on the history of wooden ship construction and related technology, shipboard life, the development of maritime trade and economic systems, naval warfare, and the role of seafaring in exploration and contact between cultures.”
From courses in shipbuilding and old world seafaring to lessons in naval history and archaeological methodology, this Department of Anthropology discipline will open you up to a vast sea of maritime career opportunities.
For a look at other great educational opportunities in the Lonestar State, check out The Best Online Colleges in Texas.
21.University of New Hampshire—EcoGastronomy
If your dining hall’s defrosted chicken patties and mystery stews aren’t doing it for you, you might consider eating in class. If you are an EcoGastronomy major at the University of New Hampshire, this is a fairly basic requirement. Combining studies in nutrition, sustainability, and deliciousness, students in this degree program will come to understand the dynamic relationship between farming and food, between culture and consumption, between hunger and health.
EcoGastronomy draws a clear line from the science and industry of food to the distribution and dining thereupon. When it was initiated in 2009, New Hampshire’s new interdisciplinary major was the only one of its kind.
EcoGastronomy is regarded as one strand of a dual major at the university, which means that participants are expected to pursue this in parallel to any other major housed within the university’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics or its College of Life Sciences and Agriculture.
Courses like Organic and Sustainable Food Production and Nutrition Health and Well Being underscore the critical correlation between food production, accessibility, and human health. As a degree-holder in EcoGastronomy, you would be in a unique position to help lead the fight against hunger, to find innovative new ways of farming responsibly, or to set off a new health craze. (Can you imagine if you’d been the first person to suggest kale? You’d be a living legend in the leafy green community.)
If that isn’t enough for you, how about a trip to Europe? All EcoGas majors will get the chance to experience local farm-to-table practices firsthand by traveling either to Italy (fall semester) or France (spring semester). Prerequisites for this course of study include an interest in agriculture, a mind for hospitality, and an extremely hearty appetite.
For a look at other great educational opportunities in the Granite State, check out The Best Online Colleges in New Hampshire.
22.Cornwall College—Surf Science and Technology
If you love the thrill of studying surfing without the tedium of actually doing it, this is the major for you. This one is actually based in the United Kingdom but stands as one of the more thorough and well-rounded surfing-based degree programs in circulation today. So if you wish to learn about the event management, marine conservation, culture, marketing, or coaching that contextualize the sport of surfing, Cornwall College offers you one of the best opportunities around.
Though surfing majors will attend classes near the fabulous beaches of Newquay, the course description is quite specific about the level of hands-on training you’ll receive, which is none. Cornwall’s website warns that “You will not be taught how to surf and it is important to realise that this is an academic course.”
So like most standard degree programs, this one will require you to hit the waves on your own time. Unlike many other degree programs, this one will give you all the tools and credentials you need to make your own waves in the surf industry. Whether you plan to coordinate surfing events, judge competitions, train competitors, or pursue a career with a notable apparel company, this Science major will guide you through the shallow waters.
What this course of study lacks in hands-on wave-riding it more than makes up for in accessibility. The course description notes that while it helps to have a healthy interest in any surf discipline (which can include body-boarding or knee-boarding, apparently), one need not be a good surfer to succeed here. Presuming you never develop the skills to stand atop a surf board, this major would at least teach you how to design, enhance, or market one.
23.University of Houston—Master of Science in Foresight
Predicting the future is kind of a useful skill no matter what you’re studying. It may, however, be considered a prerequisite if you decide to become a Master of Science in Foresight at the University of Houston. Falling under the umbrella of the Human Development and Consumer Sciences discipline, this degree program is designed to produce professionals with the ability to inform intelligent long-term corporate practices.
Simply stated, “The Foresight Program at UH addresses these concerns by focusing on forecasting and planning discontinuous and transformational change by analyzing rapid alterations in external environments and by using systems thinking to increase the chances of achieving preferred futures.”
Actually, that wasn’t very simply stated at all, was it? Basically, you’ll learn how to predict the future by looking at the past.
Program participants will learn how to incorporate quantitative and qualitative findings to produce a set of forecasts in the face of otherwise dramatic and unpredictable events.
Not only would this degree make you a potentially valuable asset to a company looking to improve strategic planning or transformational leadership, but it probably wouldn’t hurt your ability to wager on sporting events.
If you're looking for something a little more traditional, University of Houston is also home to one of the Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s in Psychology Degree Programs.
24.Humber College of Canada—Comedy: Writing and Performance
It’s usually not a good sign when people laugh at your major. Well this is the one case where you’re doing something wrong when people aren’t laughing.
If Toronto doesn’t immediately strike you as a world capital for comedy, consider that this is the birthplace of legendary oddball troupes like Second City and The Kids in the Hall. So if you have any interest in being the next Rick Moranis (and who doesn’t?), Humber College could be a great first stop.
Encompassed by the School of Creative & Performing arts, the Comedy degree program merges the composition and performance of humor with a focus on the business of selling laughs. In addition to practical training in stand-up, improv, sketch comedy, and material development, Humber’s Comedy program will provide students with regular exposure to prominent area showcases including the still-vibrant Second City.
In fact, all students will participate in a weekly showcase at the nearby Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club. By the time you complete this program, you should be a seasoned veteran of the stage. This early practice also gives you the chance to bomb, an experience that every young comedian must have at some point.
Of course, if you bomb constantly, you may be better suited to management, promotion, or booking. Fortunately, Humber’s Comedy program will provide training in all of these areas and more.
25.North Carolina State University—Poultry Science
Americans eat a boatload of chickens but if you want to study them, there are only six poultry science departments in the U.S. where you can do so. One of these is located within NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Indeed, as one of only a small clutch of chicken-centric programs, NC State’s draws students from all over the world.
If poultry is your passion, you can study its finer points either as an undergraduate or in pursuit of your Ph.D.
Units include Chicken Education, Turkey Education and (quite importantly, we would imagine) Animal & Poultry Waste Management. Your studies would probably also benefit from involvement in NC State’s active Poultry Science Club, where you’ll take part in county fairs and hone your feed mill skills.
In addition to the program’s academic excellence and the access it provides to hands-on experience, the Poultry Sciences program at NC State was recently recognized for its outstanding record on safety. So if you’re concerned about being assaulted by a wild turkey, don’t let it stop you from enrolling. The odds are low, at least on this campus.
26.Eastern Oklahoma College—Meat Processing
Citing itself as the only institution in either Oklahoma or the surrounding states to offer an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Meat Processing and Food Safety, Eastern Oklahoma State says that students will receive hands-on training in all aspects of this important sector. Eastern also boasts small class sizes and immediate pathways into post-graduate employment. Or, should you desire, you may apply the credits of your associate degree toward a full bachelor’s degree at Oklahoma State.
The Meat Processing degree program offers participants an exceptionally diverse set of courses, allowing students to explore the exciting and interwoven worlds of agriculture and abattoir, packing and purveying. And if you’ve got your own innovative ideas regarding meatworks, Eastern offers the option for an independent study in Custom Processing.
If meatcutting, food inspection, or safety supervision are your idea of a good time, Eastern Oklahoma State has just the program for you.
For a look at other great educational opportunities in the Sooner State, check out The Best Online Colleges in Oklahoma.
27.Harrisburg Area Community College—Auctioneering
Are you a fast talker? Do you flow like Eminem even during normal conversation? Was the Micro Machine commercial spokesperson your idol growing up?If so, you might consider the Auctioneering Diploma Program offered at the Harrisburg Area Community College. Bound to the state capital of Pennsylvania, this campus is approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Auctioneer Examiners and provides you with everything you’ll need to know to sit for the Auctioneer License Examination.
Housed within the Business Studies Department, Auctioneering is a 20 Credit program offered only during the fall semester. Courses include Audience Communications, Auctioneering Law, and Procurement & Appraisal of Merchandise. Across the duration of your auctioneering education, you will learn everything that goes into the organization, preparation, and execution of an auction.
And of course, you will learn and hone your auctioneer’s chant, that special rapid-fire cadence and delivery that make people so excited, they can’t help but spend money.
28.Indiana University—Decision Sciences
If this seems like a good major for you, but then maybe not such a good major, but then upon closer inspection, a major that you could maybe definitely but probably not see yourself in, you would probably benefit a great deal from Indiana University’s Decision Sciences program.
In all seriousness, you should be pretty sure about this one because it is a Doctoral Program. Decision Sciences is part of the Operations & Decision Technologies Department, which is itself subsumed under Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Grad students on this Bloomington campus will employ mathematical models, analytical reading, and computer simulation in order to better understand operational challenges such as supply chain management, marketing, and finance.
In other words, decision-making can be very complex. This course of study gives its students the tools to make complicated decisions by using empirical evidence, knowledge, and intelligence. Quite the rigorous course of study, the reward for deciding to pursue your Doctorate here within is a chance to work in nearly any industry you should so desire.
If you want a job helping a hospital manage its labor challenges, or teaching a baseball team’s scouts to understand advanced analytics, or determining how an expanding taco operation can manage its ever-shifting hot sauce needs, choosing a major in Decision Sciences could be the first step.
29.Barry University—Forensic Photography
If you’ve ever watched an episode of NCIS: Miami, the guy taking pictures of bodies at the scene of the crime is not just some weird creeper with a camera. That guy is doing an extremely important job, and one that could be yours if you have a steady hand and a strong stomach.
You might not expect to spend a lot of time investigating grisly murders as a student at Barry University’s Department of Fine Arts. However, this is exactly where you would go to earn your Bachelor of Arts in Biomedical Forensic Photography. On this Miami Dade campus, those select students who are admitted into this challenging program during their junior year will gain firsthand experience helping to develop cases, prepare evidence, and photograph actual crime scenes.
Indeed, among the reasons this excellent program is so difficult to get into is because it creates a direct pathway between one’s education and one’s employment with the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office. In addition to the internship that you’ll complete here, you’ll take on courses such as the Biology of a Crime, Introduction to Anatomy and, of course, Studio Lighting. Combining the masterful eye of a brilliant shutterbug with the sleuthing instincts of a master criminologist, the forensic photographer could have a bright future in a dark room.
Just kidding. I don’t think they use dark rooms anymore. From Digital Photography to 2-D Design, most of your photo development work will be done on the computer. You’ll net 48 credits for your coursework and another 12 for your gloves-on field work.
For a look at other great educational opportunities in the Sunshine State, check out The Best Online Colleges in Florida.
30.Temple University—Introduction to Beekeeping
So you’ve been introducing yourself at parties as a Master Beekeeper for years. Deep down, you know it isn’t true. And people always have follow-up questions that you’re not at all prepared to answer. Well Temple University’s Ambler campus offers you a way out after years of casual deception. Get an introductory look at the art and hobby of beekeeping.
You’ll learn the basic principles of beekeeping, as well as how to obtain, house, and care for a colony of bees. And of course, you’ll learn how to yield that sweet, sweet honey. Naturally, this method takes more work than going to the supermarket for honey, but less work then retrieving buzzing hives from branches in the forest. No more climbing trees like a common bear, for you.
In all seriousness, honey bees are a critical and increasingly threatened part of our ecosystem. As a beginning beekeeper, you could help contribute to the protection and perpetuation of this hard-working species.
One course may not necessarily qualify you as a Master Beekeeper. That title is reserved for course instructor and Ph.D. Vincent Aloyo. But at least now, when you tell people you’re a Master Beekeeper, you’ll have the basic knowledge to put up a pretty good front.
31.Fashion Institute of Technology—Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing
Do you wish that people smelled better? Well that could be your job. You could make people smell better. But you can’t do it just anywhere. In fact, the State University of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology gives its students access to the only fragrance lab on a U.S. college campus.
Indeed, the Annette Green Fragrance Foundation Studio—which is said to be modeled directly after actual professional aroma laboratories—gives those in pursuit of a Bachelor’s Degree the chance to flex their olfactory bulbs. Learn how to perfume, cologne, and perhaps even Axe Body Spray the masses. Come to understand the difference between a subtle workplace scent and the right bouquet for a night of salsa dancing.
As long as you’re learning how to make clever smells, you might as well learn how to move them off the shelves. The Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing program incorporates a full array of courses in product development, manufacturing, marketing and sales. The path to your degree will also place you in direct contact with professional mentors with years of experience in the industry.
If you think your nose could be your biggest asset, bear in mind that the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Cosmetics and Fragrance BS program is the only one of its kind.
Fun fact—the Fashion Intitute of Technology isn't just the only place you can get a B.S. in Cosmetics and Fragrance. It's also among The Most Affordable Online Bachelor's in Marketing Degrees.
32.Rhine Education Center—Paranormal Psychology
College is all about probing the deep mysteries of life like, “Just how many days after your initial order is it safe to eat cold pepperoni pizza?”; or “Can one complete a full degree program in four years without ever taking Friday morning classes?”; or “Is it possible to interact with the consciousness of the recently departed once he or she has entered into the afterlife?”
While we can’t speak for the rest of you, we know that this third question consumed many a well-spent hour during our undergraduate studies. Well if you enter into the Rhine Education Center’s Parapsychology program, this is one of many deeply esoteric stoner riddles that will drive your academic experience.
The Rhine Education Center is a non-profit institute devoted to the study of anomolous phenomena and exceptional human experience. You probably guessed that this is not technically an accredited college, but believe it or not, it traces its roots to one. Duke professor J.B. Rhine founded the Parapsychology Laboratory while teaching at the well regarded Durham, North Carolina campus. Upon his retirement in 1965, he took his laboratory with him.
This endeavor ultimately evolved into the Education Center as it exists today. It’s mission “is to advance the science of parapsychology, to provide education and resources for the public, and to foster a community for individuals with personal and professional interest in PSI.”
It advances that mission through courses like “Psychokinesis and Healing”; and “Telepathy, Mediums, Apparitions: The Beginnings of Parapsychology as a Science.” While this certificate may not necessarily earn you credits toward an accredited psychology major, it would give you a strong background if you ever plan on hosting a reality television show in which you connect sad spinsters with their deceased kitty cats.
As Agent Mulder has assured us time and again, the truth is out there. If you want to take part in the search for said truth, consider a Parapsychology certificate at the Rhine Education Center.
33.Indiana University, Bloomington—Enigmatology
Crossword Clue: 12 Letters Across—Will Shortz is the only man in the world with a degree in this subject.
The answer is Enigmatology (though I admit it isn’t that enigmatic when you list the answer as a subject header directly above the clue). But you get the point. Mr. Shortz, of New York Times crossword fame, is the only person ever to hold a degree in the study of puzzles.
In fairness, it’s not exactly a major listed in the Indiana course catalog (though it is our second entry on this list from the Indiana University’s Bloomington campus). Mr. Shortz completed the course of study as part of the school’s Individualized Major Program, which suggests that he designed the course himself. This makes it about as specialized a major as exists, but it’s also worth noting that it has a 100% completion rate.
If you would like to follow in the illustrious Mr. Shortz’s footsteps, you would be required to undergo the semester-long process by which a Bloomington campus student applies for entrance into an independent major. Though there are no prerequisites specific to individualized studies, you would be required to maintain at least a 2.5 GPA before applying. Likewise, your major must extend across a minimum of three semesters.
Should you attempt to earn history’s second ever enigmatology degree, you could be the next great “Travel Sudoku” book author, you could infuriate the masses by inventing the next Rubix Cube, or you could drive your friends to hostility with constant, impossible-to-solve brainteasers. However you figure it, popularity is in your future.
And should you presume that there is no glamour in being an enigmatologist, be aware that Hollywood has tapped Will Shortz on more than one occasion for his unique set of skills. Indeed, the crossword magnate was responsible for composing all of the Riddler’s deadly brainbusters in the 1995 superhero schlock-fest, Batman Forever.
For a look at other great educational opportunities in the Hoosier State, check out The Best Online Colleges in Indiana.
If you have a life-sized replica of Frodo Baggins in your living room, a cartographically accurate rendering of Middle Earth hanging over your bed, and are constantly prone to calling things “the precious,” then your weekends are probably pretty free. Consider using the spare time to master Elvish.
At Morley College, you can dive into the rich linguistic tradition that permeates J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings saga. Offering an introductory Elvish Stage 1 course for the first time in the 2014-2015, this central-London based school gives its students access to a Language Department program that engages the phonology, vocabulary, and grammar through which elves converse.
And in case you have concerns over the cultural inclusiveness of the program, you’ll be pleased to know that the course spends significant time on both the Common Eldarin and Sindarin dialects of Elvish. Indeed, you never want to be the guy who shows up at an Eldarin party blabbing at everybody in Sindarin.
Though Elvish, much like Orkish, is a language largely invented by Tolkein, it is not without its relevance to the evolutionary history of linguistics. The Morley course reveals the roles played by both Finnish and Welsh dialects in Tolkein’s invention.
More than just a study in linguistics, this fledgling course also brings students into close contact with the Drama Department. Participants will be given the opportunity to perform together using the Elvish language. This collaboration will culminate in a three day live performance of the entire LOTR trilogy. If a starring role in this production doesn’t fill up your weekend dance card, then nothing will.
35.Triton College—Circus Stunts
Sometimes, finding balance between your college studies, your extracurricular activities, and your social life can feel like a tightrope walk. When you study Circus Stunts at Triton College, the thing that feels most like a tightrope walk is the tightrope walk. Technically, this is an area of study open to all who live in the counties surrounding Triton’s River Grove, Illinois campus. So that means that you need not be an enrolled student to partake of this Continuing Education Course.
It would, however, help to be limber and not particularly self-conscious about wearing a leotard. We would also suggest that this is not the club for you if you suffer from an actual fear of clowns (as opposed to the basic mistrust of clowns that most of us experience). Describing itself as a non-profit club dedicated to the “preservation of the circus arts,” Triton’s big-top troupe deals in subjects otherwise absent from the traditional college curriculum including trampolining, trapeze flying, stilt-walking, juggling, and cycling (which we assume is of the “uni” variety).
In addition to circus stunting, you’ll study costuming, lighting, and music scoring, all the elements you’ll need to ultimately stage your own circus during the spring semester. An event popularly attended by the members of the Triton community, the annual spectacle gives Triton’s Troupers a chance to produce, promote, and perform their show under the bright lights of the Robert M. Collins Gymnasium.
While participation in the Triton Troupers Circus won’t net you any credits, you will get a free T-Shirt. Not only that, but your one-time entry fee makes you a lifetime member of the troupe.
36.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 irrepressible 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.
For a look at other great educational opportunities in the Sunshine State, check out The Best Online Colleges in Florida.
37.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, you would have loved 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 was, for a brief and ear-splitting moment, the perfect school to hone your shredding chops.
You could brush up on your Black Sabbath, master your Metallica, even nail down the Yngwie Malmstein songbook…if you’re into that sort of thing. Starting in 2013, residents of this U.K. college’s Derby campus—just 30 miles outside of Nottingham—had the unique opportunity to earn a Foundation Degree in the performance of this oft-maligned rock and roll subgenre.
It was a chance to practice pummeling drum fills, lightning fast guitar solos, and how to reduce the risk of polyps while bark-growling into the microphone. Second year students even had the opportunity to tour Britain to showcase their emerging talents.
But this wasn’t just about performance. The curriculum also contended with the sociological importance of metal (which, of course, presumes that there is any at all). Students had 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.
When the two-year program first launched, the college’s more traditional stakeholders scoffed at the topic, and even deemed it a “waste of time.” They said it wouldn’t last…
Like so many also-rans of the hair metal boom, the Heavy Metal Music Performance course was dead not long after it came into existence.
38.West Virginia Wesleyan 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 a naturally 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 exceedingly popular in school), this degree program could be your calling.
For a look at other great educational opportunities in the Mountain State, check out The Best Online Colleges in West Virginia.
39.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 its 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.
40.Alfred University—Maple Syrup: The Real Thing
Syrup may seem like a simple American sweetener but not just anybody can study the subject at Alfred University. This Allegheny County, New York campus reserves its Maple Syrup studies for Honors students only. If that seems a bit exclusive, consider the wide spectrum of disciplines that figure into the process of yielding maple syrup.
This seminar will incorporate elements of meteorology, chemistry, botany, forestry, and cookery. Perhaps another reason for its relative exclusivity is that you have to really, really like maple syrup if you want to take this course. You’ll spend long hours working in cold, snowy, and muddy conditions. Thus, if you plan to take this course, you should probably be the type of person who leaves an International House of Pancakes filled with wonder and unanswered questions.
In addition to your work in the field, you’ll have the chance to visit syrup producing facilities, as well as the facilities where syrup is best enjoyed, including restaurants and festivals. Perhaps most appealing, you’ll have the opportunity create and consume any number of syrup-based confections.
In addition to learning the techniques that drive modern syrup production, you will learn of the comestible’s history as well. What you’ll find, says the course syllabus, is a process that has been largely unchanged over its history. Indeed, we are told that the methods used to produce syrup today closely echo those employed by the Native Americans who first discovered the sweet, sticky maple extract so many centuries ago.
This is the perfect course for lovers of nature, history, and waffles. But be warned that this is a highly specialized course that is not offered every semester.
41.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.
For a look at some full degree programs that could give you a competitive edge in this grim future hellscape, check out The 25 Best Majors for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.
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 can be paired with the school’s Gerontology certificate program as well.
While it may sound like a bleak way to spend your classroom time, this is in fact a field where 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.
43.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?”
44.Ithaca College—Sport Media
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.
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 report on people who make that kind of money.
45.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.
Interested in something a little more adult-oriented? University of Pittsburgh is home to one of America's 10 Best Online Master's in Social Studies Programs.
46.Northern New Mexico College—Spanish-Colonial Furniture Making
This major is really specific. Don’t you dare show up with the intention of producing furniture of the Portuguese-Colonial or Spanish-Revival varieties. Only Spanish-Colonial Furniture may be made here.
Northern New Mexico College serves a region that is largely rural and deeply inflected by the Latin and Native American cultures which envelope its main campus. This course of study channels these cultural influences into the design and construction of items with which to furnish your rancho, estancia, or hacienda.
Spanish-Colonial Furniture Making is a 100 level laboratory course worth four credits to its participants. There within, you’ll receive an education in the basics of both power tool usage and safety. You’ll also gain instruction on how best to select the appropriate materials for a given project and how to craft these materials into your very own muebles. Refine your wood-carving, staining, upholstering, and leather-working skills as you produce handcrafted decor evocative of a time in which Spanish conquerors swept through the Americas. Indeed, beyond the work that you’ll do to hone your craft, you’ll learn of the historical imperatives that helped spark the Spanish Colonial furniture movement and of the themes proliferated by this movement over the centuries to follow.
Historically, the finest of Spanish Colonial architects employed their talents to stylishly appoint the churches and palaces of yesteryear. But upon the completion of your furniture-making studies, you could live in opulent luxury like some great conquistador—at least in terms of your furniture. Any plundering of gold would be merely incidental to your studies.
For a look at other great educational opportunities in the Land of Enchantment, check out The Best Online Colleges in New Mexico.
47.Texas Christian University—Ranch Management
If the photos that accompany this course description are any indication, you’re going to need a cool hat and a whole lotta denim. This is the academic program for anybody who ever watched City Slickers and related more to Jack Palance than Billy Crystal.
The Ranch Management program at TCU was initiated in 1956 in collaboration with practicing professionals in the ranching industry. Observing that agribusiness was changing rapidly around them, ranchers in the surrounding Ft. Worth region urged for the development of a course of study addressing innovations in the field.
As this charming promotional video tells, a pioneering spirit, a bounty of luck, and “lifetimes of saddle-sense passed down through the generations” were all you needed to survive in the ranching business back in the frontier days.
Today, these virtues remain valuable. But you’ll also need a strong background in agricultural resource management, marketing, and technology. This program recognizes the big business that ranching has become and provides students with a comprehensive academic program touching on each of its dimensions. You’ll study livestock production, grazing systems, resource conservation, and personnel management.
Over the course of a single academic year, you’ll interact with ranching professionals, engage in fieldwork, and ultimately undertake your own real-world agriculture asset management project. In case you’re wondering, this is one course that you can’t learn through the magic of the internet. All classes and fieldwork are mandatory.
Bottom line, if you stick with the program, your boots will get dirty.
For a look at other great educational opportunities in the Lonestar State, check out The Best Online Colleges in Texas.
48.University of California Irvine—Science from Superheroes to Global Warming
Did you ever wonder how the Incredible Hulk’s shorts become magically enormous enough to contain his raging green unmentionables when he expands to 50 times his normal size? Do you wish you had a better grasp on the principles of trans-dimensional travel that allow Thor to wield his mighty hammer here on Earth? Does it at all concern you that Superman’s X-Ray vision may be needlessly exposing unsuspecting civilians to high levels of radiation poisoning? And if so, could you provide enough scientific proof to justify a class action suit against the last son of Krypton?
All are pressing concerns in an era where superheroes mix freely with civilians. (Seriously, they are all over Times Square and Hollywood’s Chinese Theatre.) If you wish to entertain these questions at the level of scientific inquiry, behold Science from Superheroes to Global Warming. Housed within the Physics & Astronomy Department at UC Irvine, this course explores the implications of “good science” by challenging students to take a critical approach to its representation both in popular culture and real life.
Students will gain a strong foundation in the scientific method, complete with an underpinning education in the mathematics and physics that are frequently required there within. Midway through the course, participants will have the opportunity to design their very own superheroes with the caveat that the powers ascribed to them are scientifically viable. That means you can create a hero with the ability to fast-forward through commercials by using telepathy or to predict food expiration dates without looking at labels so long as you can offer a defensible and empirical explanation for these gifts.
This fantastical pursuit is not merely the basis for your very own brand of fan-fiction. It also provides the background you’ll need to pose serious speculative questions about the scientific discourse taking place in the world around you. Use what you’ve learned in this class to be a part of the important public discussion on issues such as global climate change, medical innovation, and of course, the aerodynamics of spandex.
For a look at other great educational opportunities in the Golden State, check out The Best Online Colleges in California.
This is a course of study for all the times you ever told yourself that life would be better if only you had your very own R2D2 unit. Naturally, every Tatooine scrap-salvager and Corellian nerf-herder had their own service droid long ago in a galaxy far, far away. But all these millennia later, we’re still playing catch-up with the inhabitants of the Star Wars universe. Fortunately, our friends at MIT are hard at work on a solution…if indeed you could call the lack of personal household service robots a problem.
The Personal Robots Group is part of this venerable Massachusetts university’s Media Lab and offers participants the opportunity to become familiar with the principles, techniques, and technologies that propel the development of “socially intelligent robot partners.” In other words, you aren’t just developing the next Furby or Tickle-Me-Elmo.
You’ll be developing robots that actually have the capacity to help us in our work, education, and everyday lives. But this is more than a mechanical engineering course. Personal Robot studies include a serious consideration of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), which, as evidenced by the attribution of shorthand initials, is clearly a real scientific discipline. The basic premise of HRI is that robots—properly designed—will have the capacity to cooperate with and learn from their human counterparts.
Pursued properly, this discipline could provide you with the knowledge, support, and resources to develop a robot with the capacity to save lives, perform medical procedures, or replace your knockoff Roomba. Pursued improperly, you could be responsible for hastening the destruction of humanity at the hands of an unstoppable army of artificially intelligent robot killing machines.
Whatever the outcome of your work, your participation will provide a direct path to the receipt of either a Master of Science or a Doctor of Philosophy in Media Arts and Sciences.
50.UC Berkeley—The Simpsons and Philosophy
If you’re anything like me, you’ve based most of your life decisions on things you learned from The Simpsons. This interminably-running animated primetime comedy—presently in its unprecedented 31st season—has endeavored to confront nearly every topic imaginable, from gun control and alcoholism to presidential politics and the psychedelic effects of ingesting Guatemalan Insanity Peppers. The sheer breadth of subject matter engaged by one of America’s favorite dysfunctional families readily lends the show to deeper intellectual probing.
At UC Berkeley, these qualities have been channeled into a course of study which aims to elucidate some of philosophy’s most challenging tenets. The primary goal of this course is to render the ideas put forth by Plato, Kant, and Marx more accessible, relatable, and—it is important to note—humorous. Not that Nietzsche wasn’t an absolute hoot to be around, but this course lifts the veil of seriousness that can make philosophy alienating and abstract for the modern learner.
Begun in 2003, The Simpsons and Philosophy has proven one of Berkeley’s most enduringly popular courses. Its intent is not to suggest that The Simpsons explicitly wrestles with Aristotelian concepts nor that Sartre would be moved by the existential crisis that inclines Krusty the Clown to fake his own death. Instead, the premise is that The Simpsons has been a source for the observation, subversion, and outright mockery of culture, be it culture of the high-brow, popular, or modern persuasion. As such, many of its best moments will serve as inroads into a broader consideration of philosophical imperatives such as ethics, theology, and free will.
In a sense, the course description notes, the absurdity which is unique to a cartoon universe makes it the perfect context in which to evaluate philosophical concepts that themselves rely heavily on absurdity. Moreover, that Homer Simpson is a creature almost entirely motivated by impulse and desire makes the character a remarkable vessel through which to explore the very best and worst of humanity, a defining motive for all philosophy if ever one existed.
Engaging more than a thousand students during its decade+ of existence, this is one course that has truly embiggened the philosophy department at UC Berkeley.
Now that you’ve had a full dose of the strange and unusual, jump to our extensive rankings of these far more traditional degrees.