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Ethan Trex
11 Unusual Majors Your College Probably Didn’t Offer
by Ethan Trex

Most people who go to college major in a fairly typical subject like English, communications, or biology. Some colleges, though, offer majors that are a bit more unusual. These off-the-beaten-path academic options provide students with the chance to gain some slightly more specialized knowledge about very specific fields. Here are a few majors your college might not have offered:

1. Bowling Industry Management

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Being a pin monkey may have been Homer Simpson’s dream, but you can make it your reality if you attend Vincennes University. The Indiana school offers the country’s only program in Bowling Industry Management and Technology, where students learn topics like pinsetter mechanics and lane care. The program’s site proudly touts its equipment, including a number of pinsetters and a Vacu-Jig drill machine.

2. Piano Pedagogy

Belmont University offers an Associate of Applied Science in Piano Pedagogy, as does Harper College. The University of Oregon offers advanced graduate degrees in the discipline. It may seem odd at first since so many folks probably took their childhood piano lessons from someone who didn’t have collegiate training, but it doesn’t sound like a bad career move. After all, no matter what’s happening with the economy, moms are still going to force kids to take piano lessons.

3. Family & Consumer Sciences

This degree path at Liberty University, a school that was founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell in 1971, sounds an awful lot like home economics. According to the school’s website, “The purpose of the Family and Consumer Sciences department is to prepare the student to acquire the values, knowledge, and skills necessary to be proactive to strengthen the function of the contemporary family from a Biblical perspective.” Classes like “Balancing Work and Family” and “Family Economic Decisions” sound like helpful bits of life advice but aren’t quite what we’re used to thinking about in the classroom.

4. EcoGastronomy

Last year the University of New Hampshire launched a dual major in ecogastronomy, a program that will educate students on how food gets from farms to their plates. With an eye towards sustainability, students study food at a number of steps along the road to their mouth to gauge the ecological impact of what they eat. Ecogastronomy students will also pick up knowledge about the hospitality industry, nutrition, and agriculture in this major. We’re also guessing they’ll get to try some really tasty fresh foods.

5. Turf and Golf Course Management

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Golf courses take a lot of upkeep, so the University of Maryland offers a plant science degree in Turf and Golf Course Management to help train the greenskeepers of tomorrow. The program requires quite a bit of biology and chemistry, but there are also more enticing classes like “Weed Science” and “Pest Management Strategies for Turfgrass.” Anyone want to make bets on whether the latter class includes a viewing of Caddyshack?

6. Packaging

Michigan State University’s School of Packaging offers a Bachelor of Science degree. What does the School of Packaging study? Exactly what it sounds like it would. The school studies all sorts of packaging in an effort to improve functionality and environmental impact. Since we’re unlikely to revert to a system in which goods are sold loose without packages any time soon, this major might lead to a steady career.

7. Equine Studies

If you like horses, why not major in them? Several colleges offer degree programs in studying horses, each with its own focus. Some programs, like the one at Becker College, offer students the choice of concentrating in riding instruction so that they can eventually teach lessons. Other programs, like the one at the University of Maryland, forgo saddling up in favor of preparing students for scientific horse study or working on the business side of the equine industry.

8. Jazz Studies

For whatever reason, jazz seems to inspire college music departments to start majors more than its fellow musical genres. A number of colleges around the country, including the University of North Texas, East Carolina, and the University of Louisville, offer degree programs in jazz studies. These programs usually include both playing jazz and studying its history, cultural significance, and major figures.

9. Canadian Studies

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Canada looms large and expansive just north of the United States, but most of us are pretty uneducated about what Canadian culture is like. Interested students who want to learn more, though, can absorb the culture, politics, and history of Canada through a Canadian Studies major. Duke, Johns Hopkins, SUNY Plattsburgh, and the University of Vermont all offer programs in Canadian Studies. This sounds like possibly the only major in which there’s even a slight chance you’ll have to watch Strange Brew as part of your coursework, unless you design your own Rick Moranis Studies major.

10. Bakery Science

Smelling like fresh-baked bread can’t be a bad way to meet people at college, so maybe bakery science is a brilliant choice of major. Modern commercial baking relies pretty heavily on science to achieve consistency and efficiency, and this major teaches prospective bakers and managers the cereal science, microbiology, and milling expertise they’ll need to run a successful bakery. You can pick up a bakery science degree at Kansas State, Hesston College, and other schools.

11. Blacksmithing

Many colleges offer metalsmithing as part of their design schools; the ability to manipulate metal is crucial to artistic endeavors like jewelry making. Southern Illinois University, though, offers a program in blacksmithing. Students make jewelry and work in precious metals, but they also learn how to shape iron and more utilitarian metals.

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