I think one of the coolest things about college campuses is that every student you talk to can be on a different career path. You may sit down at a table and find yourself seated with a future doctor, teacher, and newspaper journalist. While everyone knows you have to go to college to join these professions, people would be surprised to learn how many things you can major in at college. College majors can get even unusual if you decide to study abroad. As such, this article will list 19 Unusual Things That You Can Major In Abroad. Not only are these majors vastly different from what people typically major in, but some of them are so obscure that people will be surprised that you can even take classes on them. Every major on this list can be found outside of the United States and Canada. It is also important to remember that just because these majors may seem unusual to us, does not mean that they will not lead to vastly successful careers. If you can think of any strange international majors that didn't make it to our list, feel free to mention them in the comments.
19 Theme Park Engineering
Engineering degrees require a little too much math and science for my tastes, but I have to admit that our next entry sounds like a pretty fun career path. As a subset of their basic engineering degree, a handful of colleges in Europe and Asia allow their students to specialize in Theme Park Engineering. This course of study is exactly what it sounds like, teaching students the strategies and methods for developing theme park rides. Theme parks are extremely popular worldwide, and I think it is common practice for people to ignore how these rides are made. Putting our lives into the hands of a handful of engineers, where a single miscalculation could be disastrous, is a scary situation. Therefore, while Theme Park Engineering may be one of the weirdest things you can major in, that should not undermine its importance. Japan is known for its outrageous theme parks, so it is unsurprising that multiple colleges within the country offer this for a major. It was surprising, however, to find this major available in several large colleges throughout Europe. I wonder what the job market is like nowadays for roller coaster architects?
18 Mortuary Science
Growing up in a rural area as a kid, I had multiple people telling me that morticians make a fair amount of money. This used to be a high-paying career which did not require a college degree, but it appears that institutions of higher learning are finally getting in on the embalming action. Several colleges allow students to major in Mortuary Science, a course of study that teaches them the various methods for handling corpses and preparing them for funeral services. If you are not crept out about hanging out with bodies for your entire internship (or scared off by the impact that this could have on your social life), this major is most common in Eastern Europe. Everything east of Germany already has the reputation of being depressing. The fact that so many college students might be practicing to be morticians does not exactly disprove this reputation. A handful of colleges in more prosperous European and Asian countries also offer this major.
Our next entry is the one that actually inspired the creation of this list. When I attended West Virginia University, you would occasionally see a small group of students carrying around large dolls. These dolls were actually ventriloquist dummies. WVU is one of the few major universities in the country where someone can major in Puppeteering. This performing arts degree prepares its students for a career performing as a ventriloquist. I never had the opportunity to take any of these courses (and I'm not sure I would have elected to take them even if I did), but I believe they split into two categories. The basic courses teach the students various tips for performing with their puppets, while the latter courses provide them with practical experience in developing their routine. To be honest, this sounds like a lot more fun than the internship that I had to complete. My college obviously was not abroad, but luckily (for ventriloquist, that is), there are some performing arts schools outside of the U.S. that also offer this career path. You know what they say, you can travel anywhere in the world and you will still find yourself in a room surrounded by dummies.
As a PhD student in history, I have some sympathy for students who choose Egyptology as their major. As one of (if not the) the world's earliest civilizations, the development of the Egyptian empire holds the secrets to humankind itself. I do find it strange, however, that people devote a full four years of their life (or longer) to a single group of people. History students are asked to study a variety of cultures, and even Classics majors have a handful of ancient civilizations to choose from. Egyptology students are instead restricted to only Egyptian culture (which, to be fair, spanned a number of centuries), and I'm willing to bet that most of them never actually visit the African country. While there is a college within Egypt that offers Egyptology as a major (as opposed to the standard Egyptian history, which is offered pretty much everywhere), the most prominent country for young Egyptologist is actually Great Britain. Egypt used to be governed by the British, and it appears as if those redcoats still have not gotten over their fascination with the land of the Nile. This sounds like the type of course that Indiana Jones would teach at Oxford.
15 Turfgrass Science
Anyone who has ever spent time in Europe can tell you that sports is a huge component of the culture. This extends beyond an undying love for Manchester United, at many colleges in Europe you can actually major in Turfgrass Science. This major loosely falls under Facilities Management. It instructs students on the practices and methodologies for maintaining the turf at various sports facilities. Aside from being dreadfully dull, I can't imagine that there is too great a demand for this type of work. Most large stadiums already have a large team that handles their turf, and those seeking to stay in their own countries only have a few options for jobs upon graduation. If you want a major where you can get as close as possible to professional sports teams, however, it is hard to do better than a job where you maintain the very ground that they stand on. I am a huge fan of American football myself, but I don't know if even I could spend my entire career making sure that the grass remains a certain length. But if this sounds like something you would be interested in, there are several colleges that offer this major in Great Britain, France, and Spain.
14 Farrier Science
Considering that I had to look up this entry just to know what it was, I'd say that it pretty safely fulfills the obscurity requirement. Farrier Science is essentially the art of horseshoeing. For hundreds of years, horses have been used by men for a variety of tasks. All these toils take their toll on the beasts, so various methods have been developed to prolong their livelihood. One such method is horseshoeing, when a flat metal plate is nailed to the bottom of a horse's hoof in order to prevent harm to the hoof. This procedure is extremely old, but some colleges in South America and even across the Atlantic aren't leaving it up to families to teach it to their youngsters. They're actually providing Farrier Science as an academic major, and rumor has it that this field of study can lead to a fairly lucrative career. I understand the appeal of this major in places like Peru, which are still heavily reliant on horses for farming, but I was surprised to see colleges in France and Germany offering Farrier Science as a major. I am guessing that the rural areas of this country still contain a lot of farmland.
13 Wood Science
An underlying theme of this list is that a lot of these majors seem like they could be included under other more prominent majors. A perfect example of this is Wood Science, a major that has gained some popularity in parts of Russia. This major is a combination of Forestry and Carpentry, with a few classes about the lumber industry thrown in. While this is certainly a comprehensive education, I think it probably could be fit under the umbrella of a Forestry degree. I was able to take a Wood Science course during my undergraduate studies, and I think a lot of the topics discussed could easily have been covered by a Forestry course. At first, I thought that Wood Science was just what the Russian universities called Forestry, but at some the same colleges where Wood Sciences is available, they also offer Forestry as a separate option. The lumber industry is still huge in Russia, so it is possible that these two majors lead into distinct jobs in the marketplace. I do not speak Russian, so my ability to comb through their university websites is limited.
It has always been strange to me that students can forego majoring in Music and can instead choose to major in the performance of a specific instrument. The most outrageous example of this that I could find was a handful of colleges which allow students to major in Bagpiping. This is exactly as it sounds. These Bagpiping students are instructed how to play the bagpipes, a hugely important cultural instrument in Scotland. I only spent a few years in the band in middle school, but I could not imagine spending all four years of my college career focused on the use of a single instrument. Even more strange would be to focus on an instrument which is hardly ever used in popular music. Then again, if you were to major in Bagpiping at a university in Scotland (which is the only place outside of the United States that I found it being offered), the demand might be quite a bit higher. Several tourist attractions hire bagpipers to give their venue an authentic Scottish feel, and quite a few bagpipers manage to make their living as street performers in major cities.
11 Beatles, Popular Music, And Society
I have been pretty critical of some of the entries on this list, but I have to admit that I think this major is really cool. At a college in the United Kingdom (of course), students can officially choose a specialized major called Beatles, Popular Music, and Society. This major lets students “examine the significance of the music of The Beatles in the construction of identities, audiences, ethnicity and industries, and localities.” Basically, these classes lecture students on various aspects of sociology and history, through the scope of the legendary rock and roll band. The Beatles were important cultural icons during a very tumultuous period of English and world history, so this outlook is a very cool way of looking at the time period. The British were once (and some people will argue; still are) hugely influential in bringing rock and roll to the United States. Several legendary bands first became famous in the U.K. before they were brought over to America. The Beatles were probably the most famous of these bands, and it is nice that the British Universities are offering this major as a way to commemorate the many ways that the band impacted their country and the world.
10 Bowling Industry Management
I spent some time interning for the City Archives in Pittsburgh, processing various historical documents for their collections. I once stumbled upon four large boxes filled with petitions. All of these petitions (completely filled with names) were in response to a 20th century law that would have placed a special tax on bowling alleys. The enormous response to this law shows how popular bowling is in the United States, but people would still be surprised to learn that you can actually major in Bowling Industry Management at a handful of universities. The most popular of these universities are in Western Europe, but I also found some that were available in Hong Kong and South Korea. This major teaches its students the ins and outs of the bowling industry and tries to provide them with the skills to open and manage their own bowling alleys. I have been to quite a few foreign countries but I have never seen a bowling alley. Then again, maybe I am so used to seeing bowling alleys in the states that they did not catch my eye on foreign soil. Just another example of American culture spreading to other countries.
9 Decision Sciences
Of all the majors on this list, this is the only one that I still don't truly understand. This is after almost a full hour of researching it on the internet. Prague University describes its PhD in Decision Sciences as a chance to "amass expertise in a range of quantitative methods in order to make business decisions at the highest level." Okay, so it has to do with making decisions for businesses, but how does this differ from a standard Business Management degree? With so many questions surrounding this major, I have a hard time believing that the schools that offer it get a ton of applicants. But then again, would it be offered at so many universities if people weren't signing up for it? In addition to the ambiguity, the art of Decision Sciences sounds dreadfully boring, so I'm going to have to pass on this obscure major. If this sounds like something that you would be interested in, however, Decision Sciences has caught on at several major universities. We have already talked about its prominence in the Czech Republic, but you can also major in Decision Sciences at several universities in Belgium, Italy, China, and Japan.
8 Surf Science And Technology
This major might not be the most practical one that I've ever heard of, but I would be lying if I said that it didn't sound like fun. At least two schools that I could find in a 10-minute internet search offer Surf Science and Technology as an official major. I guess that you could say that I was surfing the internet to find classes on surfing.The classes for this major don't have much to do with the art of surfing itself, it is more about how to design surfboards and other surfing equipment. Given how popular these products are in several countries, I'm guessing there must be some demand for these kinds of designs. Maybe if Boston ever unfreezes, I'll be able to try out some of the products designed by Surf Science and Technology students at these coastal colleges. It is unsurprising that the two major colleges that I found who offer this major were in Australia and New Zealand. These are two countries that attract thousands of tourists every year, and the surfing industry is a major component of their coastal economy.
Anyone who has seen an auction in person can tell you that auctioneering is certainly an amazing skill. I think these people would be surprised to learn, however, that many people actually go to college to become auctioneers. The major of Auctioneering, which is offered at several universities across the world, teaches its students the various business aspects of holding an auction. While these events have been glorified in movies and TV shows, they are actually serious business dealings, and the people who run these auctions have to know how to act accordingly. One question which was not answered in my search is whether these programs offer an entire class that teaches the future auctioneers how to give off their famous cadences. I am also curious as to how auctions differ in other countries. If I major in auctioneering in Italy, will I be able to secure a job in Turkey? And how much does language training play into this major? Auctioneering seems like it is so dependent on local culture that I can't imagine that this degree can easily transition across borders. I hope some foreign auctioneer reads this article and can answer these pressing questions.
6 Meme Studies
With the job market in many college-based careers floundering, schools have had to develop new programs and majors to attract students in the 21st century. Some universities have taken this to the absolute extreme. They are giving prospective applicants the chance to actually major in Meme Studies. Students in this major use memes as a lens with which to examine modern society. There is some debate, but the general consensus is that internet memes first became popular in the United States. From there, however, they have spread to every country where there is a reliable internet connection. I have written in previous articles that memes have replaced political cartoons as an important source for news and entertainment, and this program seems to have encapsulated this idea. Even better, these students can spend hours perusing the internet and actually pass it off as studying. Don't be surprised if this innovative major is picked up by other universities seeking to increase their enrollment. In particular, several universities in China and Japan have started to look at Meme Studies as a way for their students to understand how the internet affects and is affected by society.
Have you ever wanted to have a fun and interesting career but you also want to constantly smell like oranges? Then boy do I have a major for you. In several countries in South and Central America, it is possible to major in Citrus. This is a type of agricultural major that trains you in the cultivation, harvesting, and marketing of citrus fruits. This is, of course, oranges, but also lemons, grapefruits, and limes. Farming is a huge industry throughout South America so it is understandable that a lot of college students will be looking at careers in agriculture. The colleges that offer this major also generally have an Agriculture or Horticulture major but the Citrus specialty gives students a chance to develop skills that will be useful in that specific industry. In one of the pictures advertising this major, it showed a group of students in an orange orchard. If this internship is as fun as it sounds, I would not mind doing a few Citrus Studies classes myself. I would not, however, like to stand at an assembly line and learn how the oranges and grapefruits get from the orchard to your local grocery store.
4 Poultry Science
This next major that you can study in abroad not only sounds odd, it sounds downright terrible. In major universities in Argentina, Thailand, the Ukraine, and mainland China, you can major in Poultry Science. This major is supposed to give you the knowledge and skills that you need to work in the poultry industry. Poultry is defined as "domestic fowl, such as chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese." I don't know if any of our readers have ever lived near or even passed by a chicken plant, but I can tell you that they smell downright awful. And I don't mean the kind of stink where you get used to it after a while. I mean the kind of stink that will make you sick if you get within 100 yards of it. Why someone would want to spend their life (even periodically) near this stink is beyond me, but if they do, this is the major for you. Poultry is a gigantic industry and everything from the farm where the chickens are harvested to the logistic networks need people, and that is where this major comes in. So, if you have a strong stomach and a love of poultry, maybe check out some of these foreign universities.
3 Eco Gastronomy
Food waste in a major problem in the United States. Millions of gallons of non-spoiled food are thrown in the trash every day from people's homes and restaurants. Uneaten food, however, is not the only way that the food industry is wasteful. There is also a huge disconnect between how food is grown and how it makes its way into restaurants and local grocery stores. Very rarely is the food that we eat grown in our local area. It is instead trucked to us from remote locations where it can be harvested more cheaply using unskilled labor. This leads to various forms of oppression as well as serious environmental issues. In response to this troubling development, many colleges have begun to offer majors in Eco Gastronomy. Eco Gastronomy is a program that educates students on how food gets from farms to their plates. This program is all about sustainability, and students studying Eco Gastronomy are tasked with developing new and innovative ways to lower the social and environmental impact of the food industry. I imagine that logistics is an important component of this major.
2 Ethical Hacking
For years, the name of this following major would have been considered an oxymoron. For IT specialists, hacking was an ugly word and people as influential as the President of the United States lived in fear of internet hackers. As hacking has become more common and the general public has become more informed about how it works, however, hacking as a legitimate skill has become more accepted. Recently, several universities in Europe have accepted Ethical Hacking as a major. This program teaches students all the skills that a traditional hacker would learn but accompanies these lessons with lectures on ethics. These universities envision their Ethical Hacking students as the white hats to the nefarious hackers of old. The young men and women will be hired by private and public industries to prevent their systems from being hacked. Ethical hackers usually help develop a company's IT system and then they test it themselves to see if it is susceptible to malicious hacking. It is interesting that these programs are becoming popular in Europe after the recent evidence that Russia is using hackers to create turmoil in rival countries. It is very possible that these countries are consciously pushing these programs as a way to combat Russian aggression.
There are several odd performing arts degrees that you can obtain outside of the United States but I think that our next entry might be the weirdest. At two separate universities in Germany and Belgium, you can major in Clownology. Just like it sounds, the courses in this major prepare you for a degree as a clown. This is very weird to hear in the United States because I cannot think of a single person who is still able to make a living as a clown. In Europe, however, this form of entertainment is still popular. Clowning can take many forms and is a favored form of entertainment in several artsy cities. I tried to find a list of clown courses that are offered at these universities but I was largely unsuccessful. What I was able to find is information about the philosophy of these programs. While they give instruction on clowning itself and provide performance opportunities to their students, they also try to instill in them the business acumen to survive life as a clown. Like all performing majors, a steady salary is far from guaranteed, so these schools are very focused on the business aspect of the industry.