Nontraditional Degree Programs and Career Options

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  • 0:41 Obscure Degrees
  • 1:43 Coursework & Career…
  • 2:43 Associate's Degree or…
  • 3:17 Coursework & Careers…
  • 4:13 Individualized Studies
  • 5:41 Individualized Study…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

Nontraditional degree programs are programs that do not follow traditional degree paths or concepts. This lessons covers three nontraditional degree options, their coursework and possible careers associated with each.

Nontraditional Degree Programs

Do you think you want to (or maybe you should) go to college, but you really aren't sure what to study? Are you sure that traditional degrees, like math, science and English, just are not for you? Did you know there are other options?

There are many other options besides the traditional degrees you've probably already heard of. In this lesson, we will cover degrees such as obscure degrees, individualized studies degrees, and associate and certificate degrees. Coursework and possible careers will be discussed for each nontraditional option, too.

Obscure Degrees

Obscure degrees are degrees that are not very common or popular because they are outside of the mainstream idea for majors. Obscure degrees tend to be very specialized degree programs and are not widely offered at universities. For instance, if you're interested in enology (the study of the production of wine), you may have to search for a university that offers such a major. Some other obscure majors that are among the least populated are:

  • Cannabis cultivation
  • Comedy
  • Popular culture
  • Floral management
  • Auctioneer
  • Poultry science
  • Turfgrass science
  • Folklore and mythology
  • Diving business & technology
  • Equine studies
  • Nannying
  • International language specialist
  • Cultural specialist (such as African studies, Japanese studies, even Canadian studies)

Coursework & Career for Obscure Degree

It is important to notice that all of these obscure degrees are career specific in that they lead directly to a specific career and a degree in the field is normally required for a career in the field. The major leads directly to a specific job.

I mentioned enology before. Well, a student that majored in enology would most definitely need to go into a career dealing with wine production or their degree will have no bearing on their job. Similarly, a floral management major would need to work in the floral field in order to use his degree.

Coursework for any of these degrees would be very specific to the degree itself. The only overlap between them would be general education courses, which are a wide range of courses designed to give students a broad education and they're typically taken within the first two years of any degree.

Associate's Degree or Certificate

When many people think of going to university or continuing their education, they think of four years of school with at least a bachelor's degree at the end. But, that isn't the only option when considering further education. Many careers do not require a four-year degree, but may require an associate's degree, which is typically only two years if the student is attending school full-time, or a certificate, which would be a short, but intense course of study on a specific topic related to a career.

Coursework and Careers for Associate's

The path of an associate's degree or a certificate would also be considered career specific because the student would specialize in only requirements needed for the specific career goal associated with the coursework. This path is for students that feel they need to further their education to advance in their careers, but who do not have large numbers of resources to devote to the process.

For specific associate and certificate programs, general education courses do not often apply, so the student begins immediately focusing only on subjects that directly relate to the end goal career. Some fairly high-paying careers that only require associate's degrees or a certificate are:

  • Registered Nurse
  • Vet Technician
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Paralegal
  • Web Developer

Individualized Studies

Maybe no pre-made program fits your personal needs or desires when it comes to your education. You may be interested in making your own special degree. This is called an individualized study program. There are limited schools that encourage the individualized study program, and a few other schools that will consider allowing students to create an individualized program. You will need to do your research to find a school that will allow this option.

But, why would you want this option? Consider that you have always wanted to create a retreat designed to introduce people to the Japanese culture. You know that you will need to have extensive knowledge of Japanese culture, architecture and cuisine to make the experience authentic. However, you also need a good understanding of business and tourism to make the project work.

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