There’s been much discussion about the issue of degree inflation, and the difficulties faced by students when it comes to finding employment after graduation. Jobs that used to require no qualifications now require a degree, which in turn means that jobs which once required a degree may now require a masters or even a PhD.
As a result, many students feel that their best chances of employment lie in acquiring a very high level of education, or in pursuing fields that could be considered extremely niche.
In some cases, they may even be able to do both. Here are five examples of postgraduate programs you don’t hear about every day.
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A PhD in Parapsychology is nothing to scoff at. After all, the Ghostbusters managed to run a fairly profitable business, although they also had guns that fired proton beams.
Though the scientific community is divided as to whether parapsychology can be classed as a science, those who work in the field claim to incorporate traditional psychological and empirical methods. According to Wikipedia, areas of study in the field of parapsychology include telepathy, clairvoyance, apparitional encounters, and reports of near-death experiences.
The University of Edinburgh is one example of an educational institution offering a doctoral program in parapsychology, which is appropriate considering Edinburgh’s reputation as the most haunted city in the world. According to Pacsafe.com, visitors to the notorious labyrinth beneath Edinburgh Castle, where victims of the bubonic plague were “quarantined” (in other words, left to roam the tunnels as they died a slow and grisly death) have reported ghost sightings, sudden temperature changes, the sounds of heavy breathing or screaming, and a feeling that they are being watched.
2) Lighting design
A PhD in Architectural Sciences with a Concentration in Lighting gives students the opportunity to conduct research into the field of lighting, with areas of study that include the link between light and health, and the role of lighting in design.
Light is fundamental to human endeavor, and any opportunity to advance knowledge in this area is worth pursuing. Especially if it means you can call yourself a Doctor of Light or just Doctor Light, if you prefer to go the super villain route.
3) Pastoral counseling
A PhD in Pastoral Counseling, such as that offered by Liberty University, seeks to incorporate Christian values into the study of behavioral science, with the purpose of producing non-professional counselors who can cater to the spiritual needs of their clients. Sadly it does not qualify you to perform exorcisms.
4) Homeland security
When one of the courses on your curriculum bears the title “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, then you know you’re in for an interesting educational experience. Just be sure you know your way around campus though, and if you do need to ask for directions, try to phrase your question as carefully as possible. “Excuse me, but could you help me out? I’m having difficulty finding Weapons of Mass Destruction,” has been known to get some very important people into a lot of trouble.
5) The Beatles
Okay, so it’s not quite PhD level, but it’s close enough to bear mentioning. The city of Liverpool is understandably proud to be the birthplace of the Beatles, but who knew they’d take it so far as to establish the first ever master’s program devoted entirely to the study of the legendary band?
This is exactly what Liverpool Hope University has done, but to be fair, it’s not like the course requires you to memorize lyrics to Beatles songs, or write an essay about your favorite Beatles album. It’s a genuine examination of the cultural impact of the Beatles, and their influence on popular music. So think of it more as a study of music culture, with the Beatles as the focal point.
Either way, the standards for Beatles fandom have been significantly raised, as even the most committed Beatles record and memorabilia collector may now feel deflated by the fact that, somewhere in the world, someone has acquired a master’s degree on the subject. Now that’s commitment.
Read our guide to TAFE courses in Australia.