Weird and wonderful degrees that break the status quo

Weird and wonderful degrees that break the status quo
Check out these alternative degrees if the classic courses don't float your boat. Source: Shutterstock

Flick open any university prospectus and you’ll find degrees in law, medicine and engineering proudly displayed between those glossy pages. Most international students choose these prestigious courses to propel them into a rich pool of career prospects, but if you crave something a little more weird and wonderful, there are plenty of alternative degrees that could suit.

Surf Science and Technology

If you’re lucky enough to study in proximity to some gnarly waves; it’s fair to say you’re living the dream. If you’re living somewhere you can actually study the waves and surf technology, you’re even better off.

Located on the UK coast, the University of Plymouth is the perfect place to learn everything about surfing. This degree prepares you for a professional career in surfing, teaching you geographical influences of the sport, on top of the sociology and psychology surf culture – even dipping into the application of computer-aided design in the industry.

Breaking the stereotype of surfer beach bum has never been easier with degrees like this. Here, you will prove you can work hard and become a surf industry leader, even if you like to live with sand between your toes!

Cannabis Cultivation

It’s no longer just the stoner crew who are discussing different strains and uses for cannabis.

Cannabis is a budding industry as more countries and states legalise the plant for medicinal and recreational purposes. As the industry grows, so does the need for experts in the field who understand everything from legislation to chemical composition.

And before you ask, no, this isn’t something taken from an episode of South Park. Universities in the US and Canada are really offering degrees in cannabis studies, and while it may sound like a novelty, experts estimate you could earn up to US$70,000 a year working in the industry.


We all made amateur shadow puppets on the wall at sleepovers when we were kids and played with little finger puppets on play dates, but not many of us decide to dedicate our lives studying it at university.

At the University of Connecticut, students can pursue a Master’s in Puppetry, exploring modules in hand puppetry, contemporary American puppetry and scriptwriting. Puppetry is now a well respected theatrical art that blends design, writing and directing.

This degree is perfect for those with a background in performance art and who want to specialise in puppetry throughout their career, as well as those who want to learn how to advance beyond making shadow bunny ears on the wall.


For those more interested in obscure musical sounds, a degree in bagpiping could be right for you. As the Scottish national instrument, renowned for its distinctive tone, you can stand out from the crowd with this degree.

You might not get a spot in the cool uni band, or be too popular if you try and play your rendition of ‘Wonderwall a la bagpipes’ at a wild house party, but if music is your passion, it can be a great experience to master this instrument.

You can embrace the Scottish tradition with this instrument. Source: Shutterstock

The University of Carnegie Mellon allows young musicians to explore their interest through the Instrumental Performance degree, allowing them to take part in The Contemporary Ensemble, Baroque Ensemble, and Jazz Ensemble for the duration of their studies. Although it may seem totally random, bagpipes are actually common instruments at New Years Eve celebrations and Scottish events, so you can carve out your niche with this specialised degree.

Turfgrass Science

When most of us think about turfgrass, we think about our high school sports lessons, or trips with mum to the sportswear shop that places turfgrass down for that ‘authentic’ (read: tacky) feel. But, for some students, turfgrass is what they study day-in-day-out.

In this Penn State University course, students learn everything from the importance of pest management to the specialised topic of golf course irrigation and drainage. There’s no hiding that this particular degree is the epitome of niche, but hey, whatever floats your boat!

This degree combines classroom learning with fieldwork to ensure you have industry experience when you graduate. Who knew the industry was so competitive you needed work experience to get a job!

Liked this? Then you’ll love…

Cannabis courses are budding in Canada

How to choose a degree course that’s right for you