Higher education just isn’t what it used to be. Fortunately, innovative new programs now allow students to pursue a degree in subjects areas once considered unsuitable for academic study. Universities and technical institutes across the country are responding to the demand for non-traditional programs in everything from bakery science to the art of puppetry. If you think you can’t take a credit course in stand-up comedy or major in investigating the possibility of extraterrestrial life, this list of seven unique degree programs will change how you define college level education.
Those with an artistic bent will want to check out the University of Connecticut’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Puppetry program. In addition to learning about the history and theories of puppetry, students get the opportunity to imagine and realize their own puppet creations by designing, using mechanical projections, and sculpting and costuming their designs.
Through projects and theatre productions, degree candidates hone their performance techniques in television puppetry, mask theatre, string and Chinese rod puppetry, and many other approaches. The B.F.A. in Puppetry program prepares students to perform on theatre stages around the world, form their own touring companies, and develop educational programs for children. Some alumni have gone on to produce TV programs and collaborate with special effects experts on films that feature puppets or rely on puppetry techniques.
The emerging science of Astrobiology focuses on the origin and future of life, including the potential for life on other planets. Biogeosciences, as the name suggests, concerns itself with the interaction of biological and geological systems. Arizona State University combines these two disciplines to bring hard science together with speculative inquiry and theory.
In recent years, evidence pointing to the past existence of life on Mars coupled with the discovery of organisms that can survive in extreme environments have set the direction of research in these exciting fields. Best of all, NASA’s focus on astrobiology research makes graduates of this program ideal candidates for NASA jobs.
As the only school in the U.S. that offers a B.S. in Bakery Science, Kansas State University’s program definitely makes our list of unique post-secondary degrees. The B.S.M. curriculum prepares students to meet the ever-increasing worldwide demand for baked products.
With its state-of-the-art product testing facilities and analytical laboratories, K-State provides training for high-level positions in bakery management and also plays a role in developing new technologies and production methods for use in the industry. Whether you envision yourself as a quality control supervisor or a new product developer, K-State’s B.S.M. program can help you achieve your career goals.
Biomedical photography unites information imaging and visual communication with science. Rochester Institute of Technology’s one-of-a-kind program trains students in diagnostic photography and visual documentation for medical and veterinary applications.
Some graduates go on to work in the pharmaceutical industry, the forensic sciences, and even web publishing and multimedia production. In the course of the program, students may have an opportunity for work placements with such prestigious institutions as the Mayo Clinic and the Smithsonian Institute. If you’re both technically minded and creative, RIT’s innovative program may be the key to your future.
Turfgrass management involves the growth and maintenance of grasses for environmental and recreational uses. Through the study of soil and plant sciences, as well as pest control, students prepare for internships in the field managing parks and recreation properties, athletic fields, and sod farms that service residential housing development. With a 95% job placement rate for graduates, this University of Tennessee program has empowered many turfgrass managers to pursue careers with professional sports teams and Fortune 500 companies.
Faculty at Southampton Solent University are serious about the business of comedy. If you have a gift for cracking people up, this three-year degree program will help you to develop your comedic talent through courses on writing for stand-up, sitcoms, and films. Students put their knowledge of performance theory into practice in the school’s TV and radio studios and production facilities.
Want to specialize in political satire or the comedy of race and gender? At Southampton Solent, you can choose your focus. Want to learn about the production and marketing side of comedy? This program will teach you what you need to know. Friends and family might joke about your study curriculum, but alumni who go on to work as directors and writers for TV and film may just have the last laugh.
Designed to prepare students for certification as music therapists, Appalachian State University’s program empowers degree candidates to improve the health and quality of life for a broad range of clients. Music therapists use singing, songwriting, and rhythmic movement in their work with adults and children with developmental disabilities, addictions, and mental illness.
Measurable treatment goals of music therapy include developing motor skills in children, increasing motivation in stroke survivors, and reducing the frequency of seizures in epileptic patients. If you have a background in music and love helping people in need, you need to check out Appalachian State University’s music therapy program.
Innovative degree programs are meeting the evolving needs of a job market shaped by technological change and changes in our attitudes toward people and the planet. These unique courses of study broaden our definition of higher education. At the same time, they provide an answer to the age old claim by students that schools don’t teach anything they need to know.