Obscure Graduate Degrees
December 28, 2016 7:53 PM   Subscribe

Just for fun here: any obscure/quirky/fun degree subjects I may never have thought of before?

So I recently stumbled upon the fact that "future studies" is an actual academic subject. To which my thought was: oh my god that is amazing. Now, I'm not about to go get a random degree right now (because I know, debt) and this question is (mostly) just for fun. But I'm curious if anyone knows of or has experience with any quirky/fun/unusual subjects I may not have heard of before? I'm mostly talking social sciences and humanities, but I'd love to hear anything!
posted by Wanderwhale to Education (41 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
It's not that weird, but my undergrad degree is in the History of Science and I loved, loved, loved the coursework.
posted by teremala at 8:18 PM on December 28, 2016

It's getting to be more well known, but I teach into a graduate degree in Digital Humanities, which is offered at a fair few universities around the world nowadays. It's like Making Cool Stuff for literature, language and history nerds.
posted by lollusc at 8:23 PM on December 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have an MFA in Dramaturgy, which is perhaps not that obscure, but I have to explain what it means to approximately 97% of people I encounter, even in the theatre world.
posted by ilana at 8:30 PM on December 28, 2016 [6 favorites]

posted by Hermione Granger at 8:33 PM on December 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The History of Consciousness program at UC Santa Cruz might be of interest. I see you have a background in anthropology, and although I'm not sure how things stand today, the retired faculty there were at one time pretty uniformly well-known to cultural anthropologists.
posted by Wobbuffet at 8:34 PM on December 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

My journalism school offered a degree in "Convergence Journalism," which sounds like an existential-detective sort of literary fiction conceit but is mostly just learning how to use WordPress.
posted by Polycarp at 8:38 PM on December 28, 2016 [4 favorites]

Systematic Musicology finally came to an end at UCLA just a few years ago.

Memphis State used to have an MA program in the Blues.

But hey I'm an ethnomusicologist and we've gone f'ing mainstream in recent years.
posted by spitbull at 8:43 PM on December 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

The university of Toronto just created an (undergraduate, sorry) certificate program in Forensic Engineering.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:46 PM on December 28, 2016

Puppetry Arts
posted by soakimbo at 8:52 PM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not sure if its odd or obscure, but seems so to me.... NYU offers an MFA in Game Design
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:58 PM on December 28, 2016

I'm doing an MFA in creative writing and environment.
posted by Jeanne at 9:46 PM on December 28, 2016

There's a handful of folklore PhD programs.
posted by potrzebie at 9:52 PM on December 28, 2016

The Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic, at the University of Cambridge. Offers both undergrad and grad degrees, and is quite real, despite sounding like something existing purely in a Tolkien-lover's fevered imagination.
posted by ClaireBear at 9:58 PM on December 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

Just reading a thread on another site and someone mentioned they had a Masters in Digital Forensics which sounds interesting.
posted by kitten magic at 9:59 PM on December 28, 2016

Best answer: I knew some kids who went to Evergreen in Olympia, WA, where you can design your own degree program. One guy was majoring in Friendship, and another majored in being President of the United States.
posted by milk white peacock at 10:06 PM on December 28, 2016 [10 favorites]

Not sure if its odd or obscure, but seems so to me.... NYU offers an MFA in Game Design

I don't feel like Game Design is particularly odd or obscure, but NYU also offers Interactive Telecommunications which is pretty unique. They also have an entire school devoted to individualized study like milk white peacock's comment re: Evergreen, though for what it's worth the Gallatin students were probably the most driven in the entire university.
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 10:10 PM on December 28, 2016

posted by JimN2TAW at 10:15 PM on December 28, 2016

Best answer: Archeoastronomy. (I'm mad I didn't hear about that till I was done with grad school.)
Poultry Science.
posted by wintersweet at 10:26 PM on December 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Industrial Linguistics still feels obscure but there are Industrial Linguists out there.
posted by Dragonness at 10:53 PM on December 28, 2016

Central Saint Martins offers an MA in Material Futures.
posted by kiripin at 12:23 AM on December 29, 2016

Turf Management programs are actually pretty common, but I still find them amusing.
posted by juliapangolin at 4:03 AM on December 29, 2016

There are a number of literature departments in the UK offering an MA in Gothic Studies: see St Mary's University, Manchester Metropolitan University, and the University of Sheffield.
posted by jeudi at 4:36 AM on December 29, 2016

For the curious, I went to Evergreen. If it still works the same as it did 15 years ago, the BA degree everyone gets is in Liberal Studies. You can "major" (concentrate) in basically anything that gets you the credits to graduate, but the degree says Liberal Studies. Unless you get a BS, which is more specific.

The Master's programs are few and specific (Environmental Studies, Public Admin, and Teaching). Not very interesting or obscure.

On a personal note, I managed to graduate Evergreen without having an actual concentration, though my upper division (senior year) credits are essentially in Public Relations. My 3rd year was all Biology and Chemistry. My 2nd year was a blend of History, Philosophy, Sociology, and Humanities. My 1st year of credits was a mish mash of community college stuff, half pre-requisites and half technical Theatre. It was enough to get me admitted to a top LIS graduate program, despite a complete lack of grades and not taking the GRE.

I got real actual college credits for building an Adirondack Chair. That was the name of the class. I am laughing about it right now, but I am also sleep deprived.
posted by monopas at 4:54 AM on December 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Child Life programs? They have it at a few schools, but if you haven't heard of child life it sounds bizarre...
posted by sometamegazelle at 5:13 AM on December 29, 2016

Thanks to the stipulations of a rich donor's bequest, you can major in Bagpipe Studies at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.
posted by seasparrow at 6:20 AM on December 29, 2016 [6 favorites]

Childhood studies is a real and growing field that actually makes total sense as a discipline.
posted by spitbull at 6:20 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I dunno if it's exactly what you're looking for, but UPenn has an undergrad program called Digital Media Design which basically combines an entire undergrad software engineering major with an entire undergrad animation/film production major. It's more or less a feeder for people who then go on to work at Pixar.
posted by Itaxpica at 6:22 AM on December 29, 2016

It's not an obscure field, but St. Olaf's College in Minnesota is the only place in the United States where you can get a BA in Norwegian.
posted by chainsofreedom at 6:39 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Similar to Polycarp's answer, my master's is in interactive journalism.
posted by jgirl at 6:43 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ethnomusicology, mentioned above, was the most popular major at a fairly well known NYC college 30 years ago.
posted by SemiSalt at 7:22 AM on December 29, 2016

I have an MS in Historic Preservation.
posted by vespabelle at 7:41 AM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

I once dated a guy in a Masters program in Rhetoric.

My local land grant school offers a graduate certificate in Veterinary Social Work.
posted by workerant at 8:10 AM on December 29, 2016

Internet Sociolinguistics was a pretty weird one when I started my degree, but is getting less so as time goes by.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:40 AM on December 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yes Rhetoric always strikes me as a strange PhD field left over from the 19th century. But then I guess my own field would sound even sillier as "Vergleichende Musikwissenschaft."
posted by spitbull at 8:56 AM on December 29, 2016

My alma mater, The University of Nottingham, has a BA in Vikings, or did until very recently.
posted by citands at 11:50 AM on December 29, 2016

Plymouth Uni in the UK used to offer BSc and MSc programmes in Surf Science & Technology.
posted by biffa at 4:16 PM on December 29, 2016

USC has a major in, no joke, Narrative Studies. A few of my friends in the program acknowlege that it sounds ridiculous and they constantly have to explain what it means. But the requirements are incredibly flexible and it allows for a cool mix of literature, film, and theatre classes, so they love it.
posted by that silly white dress at 9:02 PM on December 29, 2016

At my future alma mater, Penn State (Turfgrass U), my current favorite unusual grad degree is I'm Not Saying It Was Aliens... But, otherwise known as Astrobiology.
posted by notquitemaryann at 11:58 PM on December 30, 2016

Arctic Engineering (1, 2) sounds really cool.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 12:26 AM on December 31, 2016

I wish I'd gotten my Ph.D. in Safenology
posted by Morpeth at 3:11 PM on January 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

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