English, Biology, History. These college majors of yore are taking a backseat to a new wave of highly specific—and timely—areas of study.
As the work landscape changes, the educational landscape has to adapt as well. Just in time for graduation (which will likely bring a flood of resumes to recruiters' inboxes), here are a few majors that probably didn't exist when you were in college—and why they're relevant to the growing workforce:
1. Robotics Engineering
What: Bachelor of Science in Robotics Engineering (the first in the country)
Where: Worcester Polytechnic Institute — Worcester, MA
Why: No longer just the stuff of Hollywood movies, robots are becoming an integral part of the way we work—from hotel bellhops to factory workers—these machines provide a powerful addition to the workforce. But someone has to build them first. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that by 2018, the demand for qualified robotics engineers in the workforce will grow by 13 percent. Some institutions now offer graduate studies in AI (Artificial Intelligence), as well.
2. Online Journalism
What: Bachelor of Science in Online Journalism
Where: Boston University — Boston, MA
Why: Sure, blogs existed five years ago, but major publications were still relying heavily on print magazines and newspapers rather than the world wide web as a main source of revenue. Today, however, online content is king—requiring a whole new set of skills to manage and track articles. Other colleges even offer Social Media as a major, or Master's programs in Data Journalism.
3. Game Design
What: Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Entertainment Arts & Engineering Emphasis
Where: The University of Utah — Salt Lake City
Why: In 2015, the estimated worth of the global online gaming market is $41.4 billion. Mobile gaming is booming, too, and projected to be worth $100 billion by 2017. Plus, with the rising trend of gamificationin the workplace, it stands to reason companies will need people to build these products—whether it's an actual game or an internal software with a game component.
4. Cyber Security
What: Bachelor of Business Administration in Cyber Security
Where: University of Texas at San Antonio — San Antonio, TX
Why: Cyber warfare is a serious threat to businesses and the country (Sony, anyone?). As more and more sensitive information is exchanged electronically, vulnerabilities in this area abound. The Pentagon is "desperately short of people who have capabilities (defensive and offensive cybersecurity war skills) in all the services and we have to address it," said former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. To understand the politics and strategy behind this subject, some institutions now offer a Master's program in Technology and Policy as well.
5. Human-Computer Interaction
What: Bachelor of Science in Human Centered Design and Engineering
Where: University of Washington — Seattle, WA
Why: Technologies are becoming more interactive and more personal. Understanding how a smart thermostat reacts to human action (i.e. turning down the heat as more people enter the house), for example, is vital to technological progress. Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) students study the user interface, software, design, usability and social and ethical dimensions of technology. From a users' first interaction with a technology to his or her daily use of it, HCI students work to integrate products into our lives in a thoughtful way.
What: Bachelor of Business Administration in Electronic Business Marketing
Where: Western Michigan University — Kalamazoo, MI
Why: Amazon's success should be argument enough that online retail isn't a phase—it's an entirely new business model. As more companies opt for an online-only presence over a brick-and-mortar shop, the traditional business strategy needs to change, too. Enter: a new wave of E-Biz pros.
7. Data Science
What: Bachelor of Science in Data Science
Where: University of San Francisco — San Francisco, CA
Why: Big Data was all the tech industry talked about in 2011. We're still feeling the residual effect today—and for good reason. Not surprisingly, a university nestled in the tech hub of San Francisco offers an undergraduate degree in understanding and interpreting Big Data. More numbers are tracked and recorded electronically today than ever, and if this data is understood and communicated properly, it can be a valuable asset to a company's bottomline.
If these majors aren't futuristic enough for you, take a look at the growing number of "Interdisciplinary Studies" majors (a rising trend over the last 30 years) where students work with advisors to essentially create their own curriculum and major of study. In our new world of flexible work schedules, job hopping and a growing gig economy, a uniquely personal major like Interdisciplinary Studies may be the most intuitive of all.
All photos: Shutterstock
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