Becoming one of the first students in a new program can lead to great opportunities and potentially being ahead of the curve in your field. For one thing, the degree program is likely employing new concepts or on the cutting edge of a particular industry. Also, you could be part of the trial-and-error stage, meaning your feedback about the curriculum might actually make a difference. Aside from being new and exciting, these programs are often integrative and beneficial. If you're intrigued, consider one of these five new and upcoming degrees.
1. Tropical disease biology, Baylor University
If you have an interest in global diseases and eradicating them, then this program could be for you.
Starting in fall 2015, Baylor University will be offering a five-year program that includes both an integrative bachelor's degree in biology and a master's degree in tropical disease biology. It will include courses such as neglected tropical diseases and microbiology, and you can probably expect to be in the school's mosquito lab at some point, as new vaccines to combat mosquito-borne illnesses are being developed.
It's an intriguing program to join if you want to work for an organization that addresses global disease or if you're considering medical school or a public health graduate program.
2. Master's degree in yoga studies, Loyola Marymount University
If merely practicing yoga is not enough to fill your soul, then perhaps you should consider the master's degree program in yoga studies at Loyola Marymount University.
Dubbed the first yoga studies master's degree program in America, Loyola's program includes classes ranging from yoga philosophy to the history of modern yoga. Incorporated in the program is a trip to India and lots of readings of yoga literature. You'll also learn yoga teaching techniques.
The study of yoga at a master's degree level could lead to a variety of opportunities, including a career as a yoga educator or perhaps even as a sought-after guru.
3. Master's degree in nanotechnology, University of Central Florida
Nanotechnology, which deals with the manipulation of individual molecules and atoms, is an incredibly important field, and it's involved in everything from cancer treatment to auto repair. If studying extremely small things in an attempt to solve problems intrigues you, then consider the master's degree program in nanotechnology at the University of Central Florida (UCF).
Set to launch in fall 2014 with 10 students, this program will have students developing the "scientific knowledge necessary to make discoveries, along with the business and entrepreneurial skills they need to take those discoveries to the market," according to UCF.
Who knows? Maybe it's first, UCF, second, a discovery, and third, a Nobel Prize. It could happen.
4. Dual master's degree in architecture and computer science/information technology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Some things just go great together. Peanut butter and jelly. Pita chips and hummus. But architecture and computer science or architecture and information technology? Actually, yes, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is making the leap.
"The premise of the dual degree program is that design has become increasingly important to computer scientists and at the same time computation has become important to designers," according to the UNCC website. "… As computing has matured as a discipline, it has expanded its focus to include the physical and virtual settings in which users interact with the machine. … As firms rely more and more on computation, those who know how to think, program and script will be able to change the way architects design and practice."
In this dual master's degree program — which includes a master's in architecture and either a master's in computer science or information technology — you'll start out with the subject you lack a background in and then move on to the subject you've studied during undergrad. As the fields become more integrated in the workplace, having both degrees can potentially prove very useful.
5. Bachelor's degree in mathematical thinking and visualization, University of Washington, Bothell
After earning this degree, you'll probably never ask "When am I ever going to use that?" of math again.
Set to launch in fall 2015, the bachelor's degree program in mathematical thinking and visualization at the University of Washington Bothell combines mathematics, statistics and visual studies to give you the ability to recognize math in the real world. You'll take courses ranging from mathematical reasoning to visualizing quantitative data. It has a lot of practical applications as well. For instance, if you ever want to become a math teacher, combining this degree with education courses could help you reach that goal.
Nobody knows yet where any of these degrees will lead, and there are sure to be plenty more unusual educational options in the future. But even if you're just considering the sheer value of being on the cutting edge of something new or pursuing a path few have pursued, the possibilities are nearly endless for those who apply and are accepted into these programs.
"New degree program focuses on global diseases, medicine," Shannon Findley, Baylor Lariat, March 20, 2014,
"UCF to Offer New Nanotechnology Degree," University of Central Florida, March 27, 2014
Yoga Studies, Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, Loyola Marymount University, http://bellarmine.lmu.edu/yoga/
Master of Architecture III/Computer Science-IT Duel Degree, University of North Carolina at Charlotte,
Mathematical Thinking and Visualization, University of Washington, Bothell, http://www.uwb.edu/ias/undergraduate/majors/mathematical-thinking-visualization