Non-traditional majors 101

The college application process can be quite daunting. From deciding where to apply, writing essays and compiling all sorts of paper work, many would agree that one of the most conflicting parts of the application is the question that asks a high school senior to decide what he or she would like to do for the rest of his or her life — what he or she want to major in.

Students who have known what career they have wanted to go into since elementary school greet this question with open arms. Others shy away, unsure if they are ready to make this huge decision.

Whether you fit into one category or the other, you should know that there are thousands of majors out there that you have not heard of, but might take interest to. Below is a list of some of the most unique yet rarely studied majors offered in the United States.

Adventure Education 

As explained by Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, a college which offers Adventure Education,  this major teaches “how to use the Great Outdoors to expose children, adults and at-risk populations to challenging adventures, personal growth and self-discovery.” Those who choose to pursue this degree typically take courses such as Wilderness Expedition, Canoe Paddling Fundamentals, Rock Climbing Fundamentals and Whitewater Kayaking. With this degree, a whole new set of career options open up, such as working in national parks or outdoor adventure programs.


Astrobiology is, by definition, the study of life beyond Earth. It also includes studying the origin and early evolution of terrestrial life. Typical courses an astrobiologist might study include Astrobiology Field Experience and Planetary Habitability, offered at schools such as the University of Washington (UW) and Penn State. As explained by UW’s website, “the search for life beyond the Earth requires an understanding of life, and the nature of the environments that support it, as well as planetary, planetary system and stellar processes. To provide this understanding, astrobiology combines the knowledge and techniques from many fields…” With this degree, many go on to work as an astrobiology researcher, a scientist or educator. For example, one could work at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to help plan for current and future space missions.

Bakery Science and Management 

Cookies and cake all day, err’day. The Bakery Science and Management degree is available at the Kansas State University, and according to the university’s website, the degree “trains students for administrative, research, production and executive positions in the baking industry.” A typical Bakery Science and Management major might take classes in Cereal Science, Grain Science and Industry, Flour and Dough Testing or Baking Science. After college, this major is useful in the restaurant, catering and bakery industries. And in the case that you do not end up going into a career directly correlated to this major, at least you can become an excellent baker! It really is a win-win situation.


Remember those neighbors you used to babysit  whenever you had spare time? You could take it to a whole new level by becoming a professional nanny. The Professional Nanny program, offered at the Sullivan University in Kentucky, is now recognized by the International Nanny Association. The major teaches students the skills to become a childcare provider, a private nanny or work in daycares or schools. The 12 month program includes classes such as Infant Care, Creative Enrichment and Safety and Nutrition, and  aims to teach child development and care techniques, which focus on nutrition and effective communication between children and parents.

Theme Park Engineering

An option closer to home, the California State University Long Beach offers a cool twist on electrical engineering: Theme Park Engineering. To learn the critical specifics behind electrical power, pneumatic controls and hydraulics, all crucial concepts for this kind of engineering, students take courses in electrical, mechanical and civil engineering. Post-college graduates look for jobs as theme park engineers and many work at amusement facilities and related industries.

Popular Culture

Those binge Netflix-watching skills might finally come in handy.  Majoring in Pop Culture, offered at the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) in Ohio,  can lead to jobs in advertising, journalism, work with mass media, education, public relations, library and museum work. According to the BGSU website, students take classes that “focus on the impact various aspects of popular culture…have on our culture and how they reflect the values of our society.” Such classes include Television as Popular Culture, Black Popular Culture, Folklife and Material Culture and History of Popular Literature.

Comic Art

Remember those doodles you used to draw on the margin of your page during boring lectures? By majoring in Comic Art, you could take your doodling skills to the next level. Offered at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) in Minnesota, majoring in Comic Art entails taking classes that teach you how to gain “command of line, color, and composition, as well as character development, storyboarding and plot to create complex works that pull readers in,” according to MCAD’s website. Typically, students’ classes encompass historical and conceptual aspects of Comic Art. After college, job prospects include working as a cartoonist, author or illustrator for a book or in a studio. Though Comic Art specializes in a certain kind of art, studying this major can teach a variety of skills that can be applied to other arts.

Three Languages

Three. Trois. Tres. Available at the University of Delaware (UD), students who choose to take the Three Languages program are encouraged to become proficient in up to three languages. Students choose a first, a second and a third language in which they need to accumulate  24, 18 and at least six hours of credit, respectively. According to UD’s website, “language study at the University of Delaware is part of a broad, multicultural education that is integral to success in many different fields in today’s global environment.” Due to the major’s diverse, cultural nature, it can be useful in jobs that deal with foreign relations and language studies. For example, one might utilize this major to work as a translator, an abassador or a language teacher.

It’s up to you

As many students venture into the college world, it is important that they choose a major they have genuine interest in, not just one that seems to lead to financial stability. At a glance, one might think that the previously described majors will lead to a dead end because they do not appear to directly lead to a career. What many do not realize is that these majors can actually serve as a basis for a variety of other, more popular careers as well. The aforementioned majors are six of many, and one must choose to study what suits them; the possibilities are endless.

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