When college or attending college becomes the subject of discussion, most high school students have mixed feelings. Incoming college students may, at one point, find themselves questioning the popular cultural assumption that earning a degree is a definite way to make it through life. And while at it, they usually contemplate what college degree to pursue.
Most people are familiar with the degrees college students commonly choose, including in the fields of business, health professions, social sciences, psychology, biological and biomedical sciences, and education.
What most of us don’t know, however, is that there are college degrees that are less popular than others—so unpopular that we are clueless that they exist.
Here are some college degrees that are quite unusual but may actually lead to a thriving career for graduates:
Latin American and Caribbean Studies
If you are fascinated with tropical islands and archipelagos and can’t get enough of the sun and the beach, a Latin American and Caribbean Studies degree or college program lets you mix work and leisure.
It focuses on the history, culture, economics, and politics that have shaped Latin American and Caribbean societies.
Holders of a Latin American and Caribbean Studies degree become competent program managers, assistants, coordinators, communications managers, teachers, and journalists.
Latin American and/or Caribbean Studies degree is offered in:
- Brown University in Providence, RI
- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in Ann Arbor, MI
- New York University in New York, NY
- University of Wisconsin-Madison in Madison, WI
- University of Georgia in Athens, GA
- SUNY at Binghamton in Vestal, NY
- State University of New York at New Paltz in New Paltz, NY
- University of Vermont in Burlington, VT
- St John’s University-New York in Queens, NY
- Colorado State University-Fort Collins in Fort Collins, CO
- College of Charleston in Charleston, SC
- Union College in Schenectady, NY
- CUNY Lehman College in Bronx, NY
- Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA
- Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, MN
- University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in Milwaukee, WI
- Linfield University in McMinnville, OR
- Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL
- Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, OH
- Siena College in Loudonville, NY
Do you agree with the contention that scientifically concocted medicines aren’t everything—and that plants and herbs have medicinal properties that treat and cure diseases?
If you answered yes to that, Clinical Herbalism is the major for you, as it focuses on the research and study of herbal protocols. It is offered in programs for both undergraduates and graduates.
Clinical herbs are highly in demand in fitness, health, and wellness industries and are used for allergy and pain management, anxiety, hypertension, and even depression.
Herbalism graduates emerge as skilled specialists who pursue careers in teaching, public speaking, sales, and consulting.
Herbalism is a college major offered in:
- Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA
- New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Mineola, NY
- Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, MN
- Emperor’s College of Traditional Oriental Medicine in Santa Monica, CA
- Midwest College of Oriental Medicine in Racine, WI, and Chicago, IL
- Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Denver, CO
Wine Brewing and/or Fermentation Science
In fermentation science, students study how “carbohydrates convert to carbon dioxide and alcohol,” such as in liquor. This, however, also extends to the chemical processes and sciences behind preservation methods for cider and pickles.
Ultimately, this coursework prepares graduates for careers in chemistry fields. It is also usually integrated with courses that promote entrepreneurial proficiency, as well as an understanding of the engineering, systems, design, and cultural implication of these products.
Graduates of the Wine Brewing and/or Fermentation Science degree find themselves with thriving careers in brewing production, wine production, food and beverage processing, bio-manufacturing, distillation technologies, and process engineering.
Wine Brewing and/or Fermentation Science is a college major offered in:
- California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, CA
- San Diego State University in San Diego, CA (Certificate)
- The University of California Davis in Davis, CA (Continuing and Professional Education)
- University of California San Diego Extension in La Jolla and San Diego, CA
- Metropolitan State University of Denver in Denver, CO
- Regis University in Denver, CO (Certificate)
- Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago, IL (Certificate)
- Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, MI
- Schoolcraft College in Livonia, MI (Certificate)
- Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI
- Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, MN (Certificate)
- Montana State University Billings in Billings, MT (Certificate)
- Schenectady County Community College in Schenectady, NY
- Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in Asheville, NC
- Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR
- University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, PA (Certificate)
- University of Vermont in Burlington, VT
- Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA
- Appalachian State University in Boone, NC
- Cornell University in Ithaca, New York
- Southern Illinois University is in Carbondale, IL
- Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN
Mortuary science is integral to understanding and meeting funeral service standards while also learning to assist and serve the bereaved members of the deceased.
The skills expected to be honed in this major include embalming, which will be taught in lectures and laboratories, as well as the preparation of the remains of the deceased for burial.
funeral sales, funeral home staff as apprentice or assistant, embalmer director, or mortuary transport technician,
Mortuary Science is a college major offered in:
- University of Minnesota in Twin Cities, MN
- Gannon University in Erie, PA
- Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA
- Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI
- Lindenwood University in Saint Charles, MO
- Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in Carbondale, IL
- Lincoln College of New England in Southington, CT
- Worsham College in Wheeling, IL
- San Antonio College in San Antonio, TX
- Fayetteville Technical Community College in Fayetteville, NC
- Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science in Finneytown, OH
- Wayne State University in Detroit, MI
- Dallas Institute of Funeral Services in Dallas, TX
- American River College in Sacramento, CA
- University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, OK
- Florida State College Jacksonville in Jacksonville, FL
- Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, CO
If you thought puppetry doesn’t require the skills that formal education teaches, you’re wrong. It is a college program that is closely integrated with the performing arts.
Students contemplating a career in puppeteering should go to a university or college and take a close at the theater studies or performing arts department.
Aside from doing puppeteer work, graduates of this degree are also known for their expertise in voice work or acting, design, directing, teaching, theatre production and management, and writing.
Puppet Arts is a college major offered in:
- West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV
- California State University in Sacramento, CA (Certificate)
- University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT
The Race Track Industry Program
For students who are looking to build a career in horse racing, the Race Track Industry Program is ideal.
This offers theoretical and practical knowledge in the various aspects of the industry, enabling graduates to master race track regulation and management.
Graduates of this course are equipped to supervise gaming workers, groundkeepers, and track vets. Race Track Managers earn anywhere between $47,000 to nearly $79,000 annually.
The Race Track Industry Program is offered in the following:
- University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ
Leisure Studies/Recreation & Leisure Studies
Despite the name, this is a serious degree. Leisure Studies, a branch of the Social Sciences discipline, focuses on the various aspects of leisure and recreation activities.
With leisure being an all-encompassing human activity, students in Leisure Studies programs learn a wide range of subjects, which include biology, anatomy, and even psychology. A huge plus in this degree, though, is the future careers.
A degree in Leisure studies opens up a wide range of potential career paths for graduates, which includes careers in tourism, schools, camps, fitness centers, community centers, and non-profits, as well as positions in government, particularly in correctional facilities and in agencies that deal with parks management.
Leisure/Recreation Studies is a college major that is offered in:
- University of North Texas in Denton, TX
- Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL
- Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, TX
- Winona State University in Winona, MN
- Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, CT
- California State University Long Beach in Long Beach, CA
- SUNY Erie in Buffalo, NY
- University of Mount Olive in Mount Olive, NC
- SUNY Brockport in Brockport, NY
- Baylor University in Waco, TX
- Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY
- University of North Alabama in Florence, AL
- University of Southern Maine in Portland, Maine
There’s more to your morning glass of orange juice or that cool glass of lemonade than it seems. The citrus industry in the United States is a multi-billion-dollar industry that employs around 15,500 people.
Being a specialized agricultural degree, Citrus Science contains courses that deal with Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, as well as industry-specific courses on Citrus Pest and Disease Management, Citrus Post-Harvest Practices, and Grove Management.
Graduates of the Citrus Science degree can expect a range of careers inside the citrus industry, which includes positions in citrus production/growing companies, in juice processing, and in industry support roles such as research, in fertilizer, and pesticide companies, or with service providers that help maintain citrus groves.
Citrus Science is a unique degree program that is currently only offered in:
- Florida Southern College in Lakeland, FL
These days we may all be driving around in cars and not horse-drawn carriages, but the United States horse industry is very much alive and contributes up to $122 billion annually to the economy.
A large part of this is dependent on horses’ health, and a large part of horse health is dependent on their hoof health, from everyday farm horses right up to the most prized racehorses. This is where farriers come in.
Farriers are specialized craftsmen that take care of horses’ hooves, doing maintenance tasks such as horseshoe replacement and hoof cleaning, as well as treatment and long-term rehabilitation of any hoof injuries. It is an old occupation, but it continues to evolve along with advances in animal science.
Farriers learn a variety of skills that cover blacksmithing and veterinary skills, which includes knowledge of horse limb anatomy. Unlike the other industries in this list, Farriers largely work as self-employed service providers, and so Farrier Science degrees also typically incorporate courses on business management.
Farrier Science is a college major that is offered in:
- Cornell University in Ithaca, NY
- Hocking College in Nelsonville, OH
- Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari, NM
- Northern Wyoming Community College District in Sheridan, WY & Gillette, WY
- Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI
- Montana State University in Bozeman, MT
- Central Wyoming College in Riverton, WY
- Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN
When one thinks of any outdoor adventure activity, be it whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, or even a backpacking trip, the first thought might be to just go and “send it,” but a lot of thought goes into making these activities safe and meaningful.
Adventure activities are also seen as good avenues for personal growth and development and as a form of therapy.
Adventure Education students learn the fundamentals of several common adventure activities and often move on to take up a specific activity of interest. Students also take courses on teaching skills. Safety and Risk Management is also a key part of Adventure Education Curriculums, as well as crucial outdoor survival skills.
A degree in Adventure Education opens up a range of career options to graduates. They may work as Recreation Therapists and Guides/Instructors, although given their outdoor skills training, they can also work as Park Rangers or in Wilderness First Response or Search and Rescue.
Adventure Education is a college major offered in:
- Plymouth State University – Plymouth, NH
- Fort Lewis College – Durango, CO
- Springfield College (minor) – Springfield, MA
- Northern Vermont University – Johnson, VT
- Greenfield Community College – Greenfield, MA
- Westfield State University – Westfield, MA
- Asbury University – Wilmore, KY
- Oregon State University – Corvallis, OR
SUNY Adirondack – Queensbury, NY
Frequently Asked Questions
Are these degrees offered only as 4-year bachelor’s degree programs?
While the degrees in this list are mostly 4-year programs that lead to Bachelor’s Degrees, several universities offer some of these programs alternatively as Associate’s Degrees or as Certificate programs.
These all have their pros and cons. While Associate’s Degrees get students to start working by finishing their degrees faster, Bachelor’s degrees have a more comprehensive and in-depth curriculum and are the only way to go if one wants to pursue further education, like a Master’s Degree.
Will these degrees limit my career options or the industries I can work in?
Not necessarily. While these degrees are unusual by their name, they also teach courses and skills that are taught in other degree programs and can apply to other industries. Most of these degrees themselves have a wide range of related careers and industries that students can explore once they graduate.
- These college degrees may be quite odd for most people who have been exposed to conventional courses. Unusual as these careers may be, we find Latin American and Caribbean studies experts, race track experts, clinical herbalists, professional puppeteers, morticians, and fermenting professionals everywhere.
- Explore the career that piques your interest. Find the best colleges and universities that offer these degrees or programs and, armed with educational expertise, pursue your passion.