With the job market as tough as ever, some students are turning to bizarre university degrees in order to make their CVs stand out. They’re ditching traditional options like marketing, accounting, engineering and embracing courses on everything from Vikings or Harry Potter to surfing or hacking.
Right now, millions of students around America and the world are starting to get prepped for the 2014/15 academic year. Many freshmen will be battling with the issue of choosing their major – and perhaps considering taking a less-than-traditional subject. It always creates some controversy (especially among parents who perhaps expected their kids to opt for something a little more run-of-the-mill) and many universities have come under criticism for choosing to offer zany courses in the first place.
This list has picked out 10 of the weirdest ways you could go when choosing your course of study for the year ahead. Would you take your love for the Beatles to the point that you’d complete a master’s degree on them? Would you bother paying for a college degree if it was just going to teach you to surf and make a surfboard? Some of the courses we’ve listed are certainly a little non-academic sounding, but they’re all offered by real colleges.
10 Harry Potter Studies – Durham University, England
As part of its Education Studies program, Durham University in England is again offering its full-time Harry Potter module in the 2014/15 academic year. Don’t expect it to be anything like attending Hogwarts College though – you won’t be learning how to play Quidditch or cast a spell unfortunately. Instead you’ll be looking at how the Harry Potter novels reflect issues such as prejudice and citizenship in modern society. Perhaps being able to have an intelligent yarn with a future employer about the inner workings of Harry Potter could land you the job.
9 Surf Science & Technology – Cornwall College, England
In England you can take part in a two-year course that covers pretty much every aspect of surfing that you could possibly want to know. Aside from learning how to surf and even build a surf board, the course covers the history of surf, the psychology of being a successful surfer and gives students the chance to work in a surf-related company. Cornwall College states on its website that the course leads students to careers in surf and/or environmental industries.
8 Politics & Beyonce – Rutgers University, USA
Any course that gives students an excuse to watch superstar Beyonce’s captivating music videos – and earn university credits while they’re at it – is going to be a popular one. This relatively new course offered at New Jersey’s Rutgers University, called “Politicizing Beyonce”, looks at American societal issues using Queen Bey’s music as a case study. Students will talk about everything from the raunchy video “Drunk in Love” through to Beyonce’s risqué outfits. And, if that’s not enough for you, you can study her hubby Jay-Z in a sociology class at Georgetown University.
7 Family Business Studies – Stetson University, USA
Head to Florida and you could learn all about how to go into business with your nearest and dearest. Nearly everyone would think twice before going into business with their family, as it could end in disaster. However, there are also many potential advantages and some hugely successful corporations are family-owned including the likes of Ford and Walmart. In this course at Stetson University, students are taught about personal and professional issues they could face as well as topics such as legal, estate and asset protection.
6 Viking Studies – University College London, England
Don your Viking helmet because believe it or not, you can do a full degree in Viking studies in London and it’s quite a competitive course. You’d be studying all aspects of the Vikings including learning some of the Scandinavian language. In your third year, you’d be off to Scandinavia to study there for a full year.
5 MA on the Beatles – Liverpool Hope University, England
The Beatles are obviously one of the coolest musical – and cultural – icons we’ve ever seen so why not do a full master’s degree on them? This band was born out of Liverpool in England so it’s very fitting to study them at this university – and in fact it’s the only place in the world you can do this odd degree. The course was established in 2009 and is still popular. The curriculum covers the role of pop music in society in the past 50 years, using the Beatles as a case study.
4 Cannabis Cultivation – Oaksterdam University, USA
Someone had to do it and Oaksterdam University in the USA did. This was the country’s very first college for cannabis. Students are taught not just about the history and politics of the herb but also how to grow it and ingest it. Be warned: it could be a risky choice for students. In 2012, a bunch of federal agents knocked on the school’s door and raided it.
3 Underwater Basket Weaving – Reed College, USA
Now it seems you can make fancy baskets by dipping them into water and letting them soak. Who on earth came up with this, we have no idea. It’s offered at a bunch of different colleges including Reed College in Portland, which has been running the course since the 1980s. Many critics have deemed it as a useless and weird class, and these days the term “underwater basket weaving” refers to any degree that’s a waste of time.
2 Zombie Studies – University of Baltimore, USA
Zombies are all the rage these days and if watching zombie movies and doing the annual Zombie Walk doesn’t quite satisfy you, then you should probably head to Baltimore to study. This bizarre course is 100% dedicated to the undead. It will help you learn to write your own zombie story lines and generally prepare for an apocalypse of some kind. Other universities have followed suit offering similar courses, including Monmouth University.
1 Phallus Studies – Occidental Liberal Arts College, USA
Yes, this actually happened; you can now study the phallus. This liberal arts college in Los Angeles lets students delve into the significance of the phallus and how it relates to issues such as masculinity, femininity, fetish and more. The course is part of the college’s “Intercultural and Queer” program. The only problem we foresee is that this course could make for a slightly awkward conversation when your parents ask you what you’re studying.
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