Every year, thousands of students graduate with degrees in fields like accounting, finance, business and biology. These are degree plans with proven career tracks. Students concerned about paying back student loans often opt for more traditional degrees; however, a number of students also choose lesser-known degree tracks each year. These students are acting on personal vision, inspiration, unusual aptitudes or the influence of early life experiences. If you are willing to take the risk, there is a degree plan for any career that interests you.
Choosing a Degree
Many students begin their undergraduate degree without knowing what they want to major in. If this describes you, you are not alone. Since most plans do not require college students to declare a major until junior year, you can take all the required core courses first so you have more time to choose a concentration. This can also help you save money. For instance, if you think you might be interested in studying human services, you can enroll in an online human services degree plan and take only the required undergraduate coursework your first two years. Then, even if you decide to switch to another major, you have already completed your core requirements.
The Benefit of Unusual Careers
The pressure of student loans can make choosing an unusual career challenging for even the most visionary students. There are two ways to approach your interest in a degree plan with a less visible career path. Emerging degree plans such as public health masters programs offer career versatility, especially if you choose the generalist track. Or you can select a truly unusual degree plan and start researching career possibilities right alongside your studies. Your job prospects may be fewer because you hold a rare degree, but there will be less competition for available jobs.
Ideas for Unusual Degrees
You may already know exactly what degree you want to select. If not, here are some interesting lesser-known options that may help you discover exactly what you want to do.
- Decision Sciences. Decision sciences is the study of how people make decisions. This degree applies to nearly every field of study. From politics and government to mathematics and game theory, the study of decision-making can improve processes and communications.
- Aquaculture. The cousin to agriculture, students of aquaculture study how organisms and plant life function and grow in an underwater environment. Students describe aquaculture as a perfect blend of fishing and farming. The changing global climate has impacted freshwater and saltwater marine life to a degree that aquaculture is poised to grow in significance as a field of study.
- Railroad Operations. With the advent of global e-commerce, it has become easy to overlook the essential role trains play in nationwide, regional and local commerce. A degree in railroad operations teaches students the necessary skills to become conductors, operators, managers and tracklayers.
- Eastern Medicine. As traditional health insurance evolves to include coverage or reimbursement for alternative medical options like acupuncture, herbologists and Eastern medicine doctors are finding a permanent home alongside Western medicine. This degree plan is becoming more common as a result but is still more obscure than a traditional medical degree.
- Archeologist. While nearly every person knows what the word “archeology” means, very few students graduate in the United States with archeology degrees today. Archeology is a rich and exciting field where no two days are alike. Graduates can enjoy career opportunities abroad, and they have the chance to see their names in the history books.
Making Your Choice
Choosing a degree plan can be stressful; however, it can also be very exciting. If you have a strong interest in a certain field, no matter how rare, it is important to explore that interest from all sides. You may discover that there is a traditional degree plan that can facilitate your career ambitions, or you may choose a unique major and look forward to creating a career path that is uniquely your own.
About the Author: Andrew Owens is an MPH candidate. He plans to apply his public health education to the study of decision-making among nonprofit executives.