5 unconventional advanced degree programs

  • It is possible to earn an advanced degree in puppetry from the University of Connecticut.
    It is possible to earn an advanced degree in puppetry from the University of Connecticut.

    5 unconventional advanced degree programs

    When many people head to graduate school they either opt to study something conventional in terms of academic discipline – think science, math or engineering – or they decide to focus their studies in an area that will help advance their careers and job prospects – information sciences, education, accounting and business administration are all pertinent examples. Indeed, as reported by Fortune, across the U.S. the Master of Business Administration degree program is the most favored. The source cited statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, which found that a quarter of all master's degrees earned between the years 2011-2012 were MBAs.

    If you are considering graduate school, however, it is important to keep in mind that you do not necessarily have to follow one of these common paths. There are in fact a number of unique advanced degree programs that offer specialized education in a range of fascinating areas. Let's take a closer look at some of the most unconventional advanced programs currently available:

    1. Decision Sciences
    According to an article from CNN, if you are eager to learn more about complex decision making, particularly in a business context, consider applying to the decision sciences doctorate program at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. The program, according to CNN, quoting the school's website, provides rigorous instruction in mathematical models, statistical models, information technology and analytical reasoning. In today's fast-paced business world, driven in many ways by the emerging field of data analytics, a doctorate degree in decision sciences could open up a number of exciting career doors.

    2. Social Engagement
    Based at Moore College of Art and Design, the social engagement program takes an inter-disciplinary look at art and its relationship to local communities, Idealist explained. Areas of study include literature, ethics and culture. There is also an emphasis on the history of art, in a social engagement context. Assignments are practical in nature, with students spearheading projects based in local communities. The source explained that this degree program can be worthwhile if you have a passion for art and social justice, with potential career paths including working in nonprofits and teaching.

    3. Grain Science
    Focusing on all things grain and situated in the heart of the U.S. prairies, this food-industry-orientated master's program is available at Kansas State University, USA Today College reported. Students in the grain science program learn primarily through practical means, thanks to campus-based facilities such as cereal chemistry laboratories. This program could be ideal if you have a passion for food production and are eager to begin a career in the cereal or bread industries, with courses focusing on both the science of grains and cereal, as well as more business-orientated topics such as management applications and bakery layout.

    4. Puppetry
    A truly unique course, students can study puppetry arts at the master's level at the University of Connecticut, CNN detailed. The source explained that the institution is the only U.S. college that offers puppetry at the advanced degree level. Furthermore, only one other school in the entire country teaches puppetry, and that's at the undergraduate level.

    As explained by the homepage for the program, the puppetry arts program at the University of Connecticut traces its history back to 1964, where it originated in the theater department under the tutelage of professor Frank Ballard. The program focuses on the construction of puppets, set design and performance skills. Many students helm their own puppet-based productions as part of the course. According to the homepage, the program can prepare you for a career in the theater, namely in areas such as theater design and performance. However, the source noted that graduates of this MFA program have gone on to lead diverse careers – with graduates found working in the film and television industry, writing, teaching and curating museums. 

    5. Coexistence and Conflict
    This remarkable program, named Coexistence and Conflict, is closely aligned with studies in international relations and international development. The program focuses on issues of conflict, peace, resolution and diplomacy, Idealist detailed. If you are eager to work internationally, particularly in the nonprofit sector, this program can prepare you well. A requirement for the program is to either complete an independent research project or get hands-on experience working with an organization dedicated to peace and diplomacy. The source noted that many former students from this Brandeis University-based program have gone on to work in fields such as education and politics. 

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