List of 10 Unusual Graduate Degrees, Interesting & Unique Programs

  • Master of Arts in Folklore: If you want to establish your bona fides as a folklorist, this masters program (ms degree) at the University of California at Berkeley will fit the bill. The description for a course on the role of monsters (zombies, cannibals, etc) in folklore contains the following, "This course seeks to investigate our endless fascination with, attraction to, and revulsion at awesome spectacles - displays of the marvelous and the monstrous.
  • We will look at the changing notions of the marvelous in the context of changing scientific paradigms, the production of knowledge, and political imperatives..." That could just as easily be a description of Wall Street 2009.
  • Master of Gaming and Casino Management: Several schools offer degrees in hospitality management but there aren't many masters programs and fewer still that offer the gaming and casino specialization. Drexel University offers this degree through its distance learning option. Gaming is actually a rapidly growing industry in the U.S. but the number of real facilities still numbers in the hundreds.
  • Masters in Plant Science - Turfgrass Management: This degree provides the educational underpinning for professional sports field managers, golf course managers, and managers in many other commercial horticultural ventures. The professionals in this business who have drawn the most publicity are the magicians who make football and baseball stadiums useable during and after horrendous weather interludes. The University of Rhode Island and Ohio State University both offer masters degrees with specialization in turfgrass management.
  • Masters in Range Management: The care and feeding of agricultural land has extended to grazing land for years, but only after millions of acres of arid pastureland in the West and Southwest was left barren by overgrazing. Sheep ranchers and cattle ranchers fought over the issue for decades. Today the University of Idaho is one of several schools in agricultural states that have rangeland management degrees; the program at UC Berkeley is something of a surprise, in a state with forty million residents.
  • Masters in Global Apologetics This is a theological course of studies offered at Liberty University, founded by uber-Christian Jerry Falwell. The degree title is irresistible for a secular student of academic curiosities, but the overall focus makes sense from a proactive Christian perspective: "the...program provides students with in-depth study on the doctrines, views and lives of people from the 12 major world religions. Through this program, students will be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to personalize the Christian message for effectively and passionately reaching our increasingly diverse world with the gospel."
  • Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) - Blacksmithing: There are dozens of crafts centers and art academies that teach basics of metalsmithing. There is only one established university in the country, however, with a Masters in Blacksmithing and an MFA at that. The University of Southern Illinois was flexible enough to allow an educated craftsman to found the program in 1968 and it has grown in breadth to include the complexities of fine metalwork and craftsmanship.
  • Masters in Grain Science: This is the graduate level extension of the Kansas State University Bachelor of Bakery Science degree. The Masters Degree program takes a wider academic look at food and feed production from grain, but the technology of flour and grain milling remain important areas of study. There are labs for the study of cereal chemistry and production lines for experimental dough and other grain products along with "pilot baking facilities." You won't graduate as a bakery chef, but you'll certainly understand the science of bakery and cereal products production.
  • Masters in Meat Science: Several universities in the livestock states found in the middle of the country offer this degree - probably a shock and a surprise to the vegans on either coast. Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Colorado State and Iowa State all have graduate programs in meat science, which only becomes a science when the hormones enter the food chain, the preservatives are injected into the packaging process and the e coli bacteria appear in the processing plants.
  • Masters in Depth Psychology: The Pacifica Graduate Institute in California offers this degree with three areas of specialization. The program begins with some baseline education on Jungian and archetypal studies and launches from there, "...To study community and ecopsychology in the light of liberation psychology... innovative group approaches [include] council/circle, appreciative inquiry, theater of the oppressed...community dreamwork, liberation arts, restorative justice, [and] somatic approaches to trauma healing."