Weirdest College Majors: 17 Quirky Fields to Consider
June 24, 2019
Weirdest College Majors: 17 Quirky Fields to Consider
You might have had a dream career goal that your friends have always laughed at, such as learning how to become a skilled winemaker, becoming known as the world’s best puppet master, or even completely reinventing the container packaging industry in a way that maximizes environmental sustainability. But when you have such specific aspirations, how do you go about picking a college or a major? Believe it or not, all of the aforementioned careers have corresponding college majors taught in certain schools. Some of the weirdest college majors in institutions across the United States explore topics you might have never imagined were possible.
Whether you are fascinated by the functionality behind the deep sea diving business, or you want to spend your days reading and learning about the citrus industry, there’s an unusual college major out there for you. Question is, how do you go about finding the right program that pertains to the quirky field of your interest? I’ve outlined some of the weirdest college majors around the country, how to get started searching for a niche college major, schools that offer individualized major options, and how to approach college applications when specifically choosing one of the weirdest college majors.
A Closer Look at the Weirdest College Majors
While you might already be familiar with the more well-known programs such as UConn’s Puppet Arts department or Cornell’s Viticulture and Enology, the major on grapes and wine culture, these are only a couple of the weirdest college majors that are offered at different schools. You may not be aware of the specific majors out there that could actually be very relevant to your passion and future plans. Check out the table below for insight into 17 of America’s weirdest college majors:
|Aging Studies||Ithaca College||Ithaca, NY||Gain knowledge and pursue careers involving America’s fastest growing population|
|Bagpiping||Carnegie Mellon University||Pittsburgh, PA||Explore the art of bagpiping through courses in theory, performance, and the history of bagpiping|
|Bakery Science and Management||Kansas State University||Manhattan, KS||Study the science and technology behind baked goods|
|Citrus and Horticultural Science||Florida Southern College||Lakeland, FL||Gain hands-on experience and a broad-based education in the citrus industry|
|Diving Business and Technology||Santa Barbara City College||Key West, FL||Manage deep sea diving business in retail sales, rentals, and equipment repair; train in physics and physiology as applied to diving, recompression chamber operation, and underwater photography|
|Ecogastromy||University of New Hampshire||Durham, NH||Explore how food gets from the farm to the table through a focus on sustainability, hospitality, nutrition, and agriculture|
|Farrier Science||Cornell University||Ithaca, NY||Discover the art of horseshoeing through understanding the equine anatomy, theory of horseshoeing, and blacksmithing|
|Floral Management||Mississippi State University||Mississippi State, MS||Learn how to source, purchase, distribute, market, design and sell floricultural products|
|Mortuary Science||University of Minnesota||Minneapolis, MN||Gain a comprehensive education in mortuary science and prepare to enter the funeral service profession|
|Packaging||Michigan State University||East Lansing, MI||Focus on packaging containers, materials, their functionality and improvement|
|Paper Engineering||Western Michigan University||Kalamazoo, MI||Learn the applications of nanotechnology, printing and ink development methods, recycling, paper, pulp mill operation, process control and instrumentation, and pollution prevention|
|Poultry Sceince||Texas A&M University||College Station, TX||Study poultry science from modern poultry management to the most cutting-edge biotechnology|
|Puppet Arts||University of Connecticut||Storrs, TX||Gain hands-on training on the technicality and theatrics behind the art of puppetry|
|Race Track Industry||University of Arizona||Tucson, AZ||Prepare students for horse track management, race organization, and breeding animals|
|Theme Park Engineering||California State University||Long Beach, CA||Prepare students to work as engineers in theme parks and the industries that support them|
|Turf Grass Science||Penn State University||State College, PA||Learn the applied sciences, business management courses, and an internship to prepare students for careers in turfgrass management|
|Viticulture and Enology||Cornell University||Ithaca, NY||Understand the theory, composition and analysis behind grapes and winemaking|
Going through the table, you might have been overcome with a whirlwind of inspiration regarding the possibilities out there. Or, you could have looked at them and thought, “No way!” while noting a couple of the weirdest college majors that you could actually see yourself wanting to pursue.
If you’re interested in flowers and have always wanted to run your own flower business, instead of majoring in Biology or Horticulture, consider researching Mississippi State University’s Floral Management program. You might have thought that your dream of building roller coasters was too silly or unachievable. Think again, because you could apply for the Theme Park Engineering major at California State University. It could be the time to embrace the idea of actually going to college for Baking Science and Management and finally get your parents off your back for always baking instead of studying.
Not only can you fulfill a dream that you never knew was possible thanks to the weirdest college majors, but you can also earn a degree for it!
How to Narrow Down Your Specific Search
The table above isn’t the be all end all when it comes to the weirdest college majors. There’s an abundance of schools and majors out there, and the program offerings at different colleges are ever expanding. If you’re particularly passionate about a niche subject area and wondering how to weave it into your college major or find a program which covers a similar topic, why not pick up your computer and run a thorough Google search?
For example, suppose you are a pop culture aficionado. Whether it’s film, TV, or music, you live and breathe the latest news and releases, and love explaining to your friends why Beyoncé is as important of a cultural icon as Shakespeare. You might think that your love for pop culture is just a hobby and the closest you can come to analyzing media in college is through a Film Studies program.
But if you do a little research, such as typing in “schools with pop culture major,” the results will surprise you. Did you know that the University of Southern California, Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and High Point University in North Carolina all offer pop culture majors? You will not only study film, but you’ll be able to tailor your courses to study and analyze specific genres or tropes that interest you, such as the representation of women in contemporary film, or the impact of technology on modern pop music.
If you have an unusual, secret, dream career in mind, one of the weirdest college majors might just fit in with it. You probably never thought there was an entire academic program dedicated to turf grass science, right? So do some research and talk to your guidance counselor - who might know about some unusual programs - to make sure you’re not missing out on your dream major.
If you really like a school, but it doesn’t have the area you are looking for, you might be able to tailor a program even more specifically to your passions, thanks to an individualized major. An individualized major is an interdisciplinary major designed by students themselves that enables them to create a program catered to their own interests. If your intended field is not met by the majors offered at the school, chances are, you might be able to submit a proposal and gain approval to study a self-created major.
Some top schools which have an individualized major program are:
- Brown University
- Cornell University
- Dartmouth College
- Harvard University
- Indiana University - Bloomington
- James Madison University
- New York University
- Northwestern University
- Oberlin College
- Princeton University
- Sarah Lawrence College
- Stanford University
- Swarthmore College
- UC Berkeley
- UC San Diego
- University of Connecticut
- University of Maryland
- University of Michigan
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Washington
- Wellesley College
- Yale University
So, even if you want to study one of the weirdest college majors or something entirely different, you might be able to talk to your professors and create a program even more ideal for.
Applying to a College with a Unique Major in Mind
Applying to one of the weirdest college majors doesn’t necessarily mean you have a greater chance of admission. But if you’re genuinely interested in changing the landscape of funeral services, or you believe you would thrive in a horseshoeing career, make sure your plans come across in the supplement for that college. But don’t just list a quirky college major for the sake of it because you think it will make you stand out. If you don’t have a clear trajectory or motivations behind the program you select, admissions officers will see through you.
By starting early enough, you can plan how you might reflect your interest in - say - paper engineering, from the beginning of high school. You could start your own paper making club, conduct research at a local engineering lab or intern at a printmaker over school breaks to demonstrate your dedication to the field. In your personal statement or supplemental essays, highlight why paper engineering particularly appeals to you.
If your career goals and love for the field are conveyed in an authentic way through your essays and active engagement in relevant activities, admissions officers will note that you aren’t just being strategic based on the novelty of the program.
You might think your fascination with horse racing or obsession with the history of bagpipes mean nothing when it comes to choosing what to study in college. But thanks to the weirdest college majors, you might be able to dedicate four years of study to your quirkiest interests. You could be granted a chance to pursue internships and research opportunities in these unusual topics, gaining hands-on experience in your chosen industry to prepare for a promising career. So next time someone calls your love for puppets pointless, you can be the one yawning at them for being a plain-old math major, and direct them to the success of UConn’s Puppet Arts alumni.