9 Majors That Didn’t Exist When Your Parents Went to College

Posted July 25, 2012

Accelerated growth of technology in the past decade, as well as the current political and environmental instability across the globe, has inspired the creation of several new college majors. Some of these new majors are designed to prepare students for a very particular trade or niche in the job market. Other majors offer a multidisciplinary approach to their curriculum and attempt to embrace all the complexities of our fast-changing world. Here are nine examples of majors that didn’t exist when your parents went to college. Please note, some of the majors we’ve named are very broad in their definition.

  1. E-Business:

    Today, nearly every business can be regarded as some form of an e-business. E-Business curriculum is updated frequently to address changes in technology and trends, including developments in social media, e-commerce, and website operations. But the major is basically grounded in the study of information technology in combination with traditional business matters, including economics, marketing, and accounting. Whereas technology was once understood as enabling a business, it is now, in the 21st century, driving the creation of new business models.

  2. New Media:

    While your parents grew up reading these strange physical objects called books and newspapers, you probably grew up reading Charles Dickens or The New York Times on a Kindle or iPad instead. As the publishing industry continues to shift its content from print to online, New Media has become a popular major at many schools. New Media majors generally combine journalism and communications studies with courses on the design and management of digital media. This major can prepare you for a career in digital media planning, web publishing, or even graphic design.

  3. Biotechnology:

    Biotechnology, a hybrid that combines biology and technology, uses living organisms to enhance crops, biofuels, fabrics, medicine and medical treatments, to the benefit of our planet’s population. But keep in mind, we’re giving you a very general definition of this cutting-edge field. The scope and curriculum of biotechnology programs is extremely broad, with the foundation being a traditional study of biology.

  4. Nanotechnology:

    Scientists and engineers in the field of Nanotechnology work with and find applications for things that are really, really, really small (a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick). The National Nanotechnology Initiative, first organized in 1998, continues to encourage interest in and the study of nanotechnology and how matter at the nano level can be manipulated for scientific, health, and engineering applications. Nanotechnology programs are generally offered at the graduate level.

  5. Computer Game Design:

    Ten years ago, even though Doom was around and about to experience a resurgence in popularity, finding a school that offered a degree in computer game design was pretty much impossible. However today, more than 150 colleges offer majors in computer game design. Some computer game design programs focus on programming, while others on the actual art and design of such games. According to the Entertainment Software Association, employment numbers in the video game industry continue to grow, along with the average starting salary. If you want to contribute at all to the storyline of a game, something beyond just walking around a basement and blowing up demons, you might want to consider a minor in English literature.

  6. Informatics:

    Informatics is the study of information technology and computer-based applications and how they might utilize tools from the worlds of communication, mathematics, and multimedia. Creating a 3-D animation to help explain a surgical procedure to a patient? That’s just one example of informatics at work. As technology continues to develop, options for the application of informatics to almost any field grows as well. Each college defines the emerging field of informatics a little differently, and their curriculum will reflect this.

  7. Robotics Engineering:

    Until recently, a degree in robotics engineering was something you heard about in films like the first, er, we mean the fourth Star Wars. But in 2006, thanks to the growing use of robots in a number of fields, the Worchester Polytechnic Institute launched the first robotics engineering bachelor’s degree, combining the study of engineering and computer science. Many more programs are now available across the country. Some programs may require applicants first complete advanced mathematics or pre-calculus courses prior to applying. A degree in Robotics Engineering can be applied in a diverse variety of careers, including those in military defense, healthcare, manufacturing, and energy production.

  8. Environmental Studies and Sustainability:

    Environmental Studies as a major has been around for awhile, but sustainability is relatively new as a companion area of study. At colleges across the country, environmental Studies and Sustainability programs continue to grow as renewable energy, climate change, and food and water shortages become the defining issues of our time. Environmental Studies degrees are interdisciplinary and include courses in health, history and culture, and agriculture.

  9. Emergency Management:

    The incompetence of FEMA’s response to Hurricane Katrina, and in particular its then-emergency response chief, Michael Brown, revealed a need and increased the demand for emergency management professionals who understand how to handle a natural or man-made disaster. A degree in emergency management is no substitute for real-world experience, but college study will bring you up-to-date on the latest developments and policies in the field and will only help you when it’s time to manage the aftermath of a real-life disaster.

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