10 Strange College Courses and Degrees

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It’s tough to get anywhere without a college degree these days, but it may be equally tough to get anywhere with a degree in Puppetry. Or EcoGastronomy. Or as a UFO reporter. Sure, the collection of strange but true college courses and degrees we’ve dug up sound like tons of fun — particularly if you like zombies, demons, and serial killers — but some could spiral students into massive debt in fields where there are few if any jobs available.

 

10. Degree of Puppetry Arts

The University of Connecticut offers a degree in puppetry arts.

Photo credit: CCA-SA 3.0 Nora Lanning


Move over Jim Henson, yours could be the next arm that makes it big with an advanced degree in puppetry arts from the University of Connecticut. This MA or MFA degree teaches you everything you need to know how to succeed in the exciting field of puppetry, from advanced hand puppet theater to marionette construction and performance. The only thing it may not teach you, however, is how to find a job in your field after you’ve invested tens of thousands in a puppetry education. One puppetry graduate who found himself $35,000 in debt evidently couldn’t find anything in his field and was spotted at an Occupy Wall Street event complaining to the media about his lot in life.

9. Clown Classes and Clown College

There are a number of clown colleges around the United States.

Photo credit: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Under Dutch Skies


The class clown gets honors instead of reprimanded at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College in Florida. And not just any clown can get in. School officials first review your headshots, body shots, portfolio, resume and a DVD of you making funny faces. If you’re not red-nosed or big-shoed enough to make into the big-name clown college, you can still attend clown classes at a number of institutions from the Concord School of Clownology in California to the acclaimed Acrobuffos in New York City. Some focus on face painting while others focus on clown theatre or commedia. Don’t forget to include the New Jersey Center for Mime as an option if you don’t have much to say or the nationwide Sankey Clown-Bullfighting School that will have you dressed up and roping in a rodeo.

8. Raising Chickens for Meat and Eggs

Fleming College in Canada offers a degree in raising chickens..

Photo credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Katie Brady


Never mind if the chicken or egg came first — leave that fluff to the philosophy students. You can instead get hands-on training with Fleming College’s course, Raising Chickens for Meat and Eggs. This Canadian college notes you don’t even need a farm to raise chickens, as you can easily do so in a city lot. So sign up to find out how perfectly profitable such poultry can be. The chicken class teaches you how to pick the right breed, lovingly feed and clean your charges and then properly butcher them to death when their time has come. It also includes a field trip to a chicken coop complete with a plucking and cleaning demonstration.

7. Degree in EcoGastronomy

The University of New Hampshire offers a dual major in EcoGastronomy.

Photo credit: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Ed Yourdon


If you’re not even sure what EcoGastronomy is, do not hesitate to find out in the University of New Hampshire’s EcoGastronomy program. A semi-explanation of EcoGastronomy from the EcoGastronomy Initiative pegs it as something “for people who want to make the most of their time with family and friends and learn how to maximize the impact of their consumer dollar for social, political and environmental change.” Huh? The only thing we can guess is such a degree will turn you into one of those people who sit around and insist everyone eat organic. The program, which is offered as a dual major at UNH, can also ship you off to Italy for study abroad as word has it Italians are doing amazing things in this field.

6. Paranormal Studies

You can take courses online to get certified in paranormal activities, but good luck finding a job in that field.

Photo credit: Annette Shaff/Shutterstock.com


You don’t need to sit through yet another lame sequel of a move with “paranormal” in its title to learn more about ghosts. You can instead dive headfirst into the phenomenon yourself with a series of online classes from Flamel College. Certifications include paranormal investigator, parapsychologist, UFOlogist, cryptozoologist and certified EVP technician, where you get to set up those machines to record groans, moans and white noise from the dead. Certain certifications earn you a piece of paper and photo ID, although it is unclear which particular ghosts, aliens and otherworldly spirits readily accept the paper and ID as proof you know what you’re doing. And good luck finding a job with this certification.

5. Reporting from the Twilight Zone

A course at the College of Southern Nevada explores government coverups and mysteries.

Area 51, Nevada; SipaPhoto/Shutterstock.com


If you’d rather report and write about aliens rather than venture out to find them, you can always stick with the journalism class “Reporting from the Twilight Zone.” This course at the College of Southern Nevada explores UFOs as well as conspiracies and cover-ups, and what a teacher you’d get with your tuition bucks. Heading the class is noted journalist George Knapp, who nabbed a 2004 Edward R. Murrow award, plus more than a dozen Emmys and Associated Press writing awards. He also earned kudos for his reporting on the U.S. government’s super-secret Area 51, so he knows what he’s talking about. While it is unclear exactly when the college may offer this class again, it was on the roster in 2010 and we all know aliens and conspiracies aren’t going to disappear anytime soon.

4. Bowling Industry Management Degree

A Bowling Industry Management degree could be a real help to land a job in the bowling industry.

Photo credit: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Toni Blay


Just when you thought you’d be stuck in a career cubicle crunching numbers, along comes salvation in the form of a degree in bowling industry management. This degree from Vincennes University in Indiana gives you the insider information you need to succeed in bowling’s fast lane. You’ll be trained to work in today’s state-of-the-art bowling facilities with lessons on pinsetters, pinspotters, lane machines and the Pro-Anvil lane synthetic surfaces. Besides, you’ll be sure to forget all about number crunching once you get a glimpse of the Vantage Automatic Scoring System.

3. Exorcism 101

The Vatican's university offers a course in exorcism.

The Exorcist (1973); Copyright: Warner Bros. Pictures


Rome took the lead by offering the first-ever class on exorcism, part of the curriculum at the Vatican-backed Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, also known as UPRA. You will be treated to a host of lessons such as social dimensions of Satanism and speakers that include a cardinal, archbishop, bishops and priests. The school also notes your tuition is doubled if you need the course translated into English. So what would you do with your knowledge from this class? You could always turn your trade into a roaming demonology ministry that makes house calls. You may have to pay some pretty steep premiums for life and health insurance, however.

2. Media Genres: Zombies

The University of Baltimore offers a course in Zombies.

Photo credit: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Sean Bonner


Zombies are cool enough on the movie screen, but think how much cooler they are in the classroom. While your class project may not involve digging up the dead and poking their corpses to see if they come alive, you do get insight from a first-rate zombie enthusiast in this University of Baltimore course. Instructor Arnold Blumberg co-wrote the book Zombiemania and is a self-professed fan of zombies and pop culture. His zombie course falls under the English degree curriculum and explores how zombies have evolved through the years to match our culture. Rather than art imitating life, perhaps the class is rather like art imitating death, no?

1. History of Homicide

A class in Homicide at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland covers everything from serial killers to cannibals.

Photo credit: Corepics/Shutterstock.com


From Jack the Ripper to current cannibals, the History of Homicide class covers a bloody lot of bloody material at the Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland. The professor, Darlene Mallick, has a law degree and prepared for teaching by attending seminars with FBI profilers and other homicide experts, so the class can get pretty heavy duty. It also can get pretty gory, complete with photos of homicide victims. The gruesome photos are equaled by a gruesome workload, although students remain more fascinated than anything else. Homework does not involve skulking around town with a butcher knife, but you do have the option of creating your own serial killer as one of your written assignments.

Written by

Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist and performer whose journalism career began in 1991. Credits include two illustrated humor books, hundreds of published articles, poems, illustrations, a weekly radio show and column, a full line of wacky artwork and numerous awards.

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