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Unique College Majors

By Brendan Conway updated on Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Economics. Business. Computer science. History. English.

Everyone knows these subjects. Everyone knows what they're about, what it'd be like to study them. Every school has them. These majors can still be fantastic to study, to explore, to excel in, if they're what interest you.

But sometimes, you want to study something a little different. Sometimes, you're not satisfied being the umpteenth economics major in your class. Sometimes, you want to study something that no one even thought was out there.

If that's you, then you're in luck. Here are some of the most peerless, most interesting, and most exceptional majors out there.


#1: Department in Jewish Studies

Rutgers University

Religious studies a well-trod path of academic study, sure, but Jewish studies is much, much more than the examination of Judaism as a religion. Jewish studies is unique for how it synthesizes and examines all aspects of Jewish life, including the history of Judaism; the cultural practices of Judaism through the ages; the Hebrew language itself; the political forces that have been critical to Judaism throughout its existence; and the interaction of Judaism with other cultures, religions, and peoples.

This course of study isn't so much of an examination of an individual religion as it is an in-depth exploration of one of the oldest and most important cultures in our world. Want to study such a deeply complex and fascinating subject? Check out the program's profile for more.


#2: Astrobiology

Arizona State University

Astronomy? Been done. Biology? Seen it. But astrobiology? Now we're talking. Astrobiology is a field of study that involves looking for life outside of earth. Could life be based on a different element? How might life exist in completely different environments than earth's? What are the rules behind the existence of life?

All these and more are the questions behind astrobiology, and the answers might make all the difference in proving that earth isn't the only life-bearing planet in the universe. Sounds like a pretty big deal, right? If you're looking to be on the cutting edge of a field of science that might be one of the most important in history, then look no further. Arizona State University has the program for you.


#3: Children's Literature

University of Pittsburgh

We've all been children (well, most of us anyway), and more than likely we've all read children's books. They're fun little things, full of bright colors, funny poems, and lessons. Most of us probably haven't ever thought much about them. But that's not because children's books aren't important --not at all. Children's literature bears within all the lessons that shape children as they grow up; in many ways, children's literature may be one of the most important kinds of literature out there. And if you're interested in that idea, if you want to explore it more, if you want to study how to teach children through children's literature, then the certificate program in children's literature at the University of Pittsburgh was made for you.

It's an interdisciplinary program for undergraduate students that synthesizes a number of different subjects into a coherent whole, all focused on studying and understanding children's literature. It's a great certificate for anyone interested in pursuing children's education, and many students have gone on to be successful in graduate school for the humanities or social sciences. Not to mention, of course, those who have gone on to write children's literature. So if you're at all interested in children's literature, then this is the program to look into.


#4: Viticulture & Enology

University of California Davis

Instead of trying to intro this one on our own, we're going to turn directly to the program's homepage for definitions of viticulture and enology:

Vi•ti•cul•ture - n. : the cultivation or culture of grapes

Enol•o•gy - n. :a science that deals with wine and wine making

That's right. The Viticulture & Enology (or VE) Department at UC Davis is focused on the science and art of winemaking. But let's be clear, here; this isn't the subject for those who just want a crack at making their own cheap wine. This is tough, but rewarding, stuff. The Viticulture and Enology Department covers a wide array of different scientific disciplines and how they come together to define and determine the nature of winemaking, and students are going to have to study hard to master all those subjects. At the end, students will be expert winemakers, more than capable of continuing in the field.

If you've ever had an interest in being someone who makes the wine that others just consume, then head on over to the UC Davis Peterson's profile and find out if it's right for you!


#5: The Bachelor's Degree with Individual Concentration

UMassAmherst

"Intellectual History!" "Animal and Environmental Journalism!" "Aviation and Foreign Policy!" "Cultural Studies Through Traditional Dances!" "Medicine for Social Change!" These are all examples of the unique majors designed by the students of the Bachelor's Degree with Individual Concentration program at UMassAmherst. Every year, about 80-100 students graduate from the program, each having designed their own unique, interdisciplinary course of study. It's the opportunity for students to truly define their own educations, to branch out and explore the subjects which interest them.

What's more, the students in the program not only learn about whatever they focus on, but they also learn the rigor and structure necessary to make their own major and control the course of their own educations. So if you've got an interest that might be a little niche, a little extraordinary, and not often encountered, then the BDIC program at UMassAmherst might just be your opportunity to turn it into an academic reality!
About the Author

Brendan Conway is the Web Content Editor for Peterson's Interactive and is well-versed in the world of higher education and admissions. He is a graduate of Hamilton College, and has been working in admissions advice, test-prep advice, career planning advice, and similar fields for the majority of his career since graduation. Brendan endeavors to provide the most relevant, useful, and interesting information via Peterson's Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ feeds. Brendan enjoys lexicological oddities and voraciously reading in his free time.

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