Choose a Relevant Degree

Learning on the Job

Business, English, Law – these are perennial subjects for degree programs, and they’ve stood the test of time. When students enroll in these programs, they already have some idea of what they’ll study. But would you pursue a Master’s degree in something as new as online video games? What about a PhD in Google Glass?

Of course there’s nothing wrong with colleges using technology in the classroom. High-tech learning forces instructors to keep their skills up to date. And it assures students that what they learn is relevant in the real world.

Building a course around these topics is great, too. But designing a whole curriculum around the next big thing could more problematic. For example, some universities let students major in social media. The University of Nicosia (UNic), located on Cyprus, just “launched a new Master of Science degree program in digital currencies,” reports Andrew Couts in Digital Trends.

“The degree is meant for business professionals, government officials, and entrepreneurs, and will help them ‘better understand the technical underpinnings of digital currency, how it will likely interact with existing monetary and financial systems, and what opportunities exist for innovation in digital currency systems,’ according to the university.”

The most prominent digital currency right now is Bitcoin, which has only been around since 2009. We might wonder where UNic found professors with the experience to teach this brand-new subject.

A Master’s degree typically requires around two years of advanced courses and seminars. It seems hard to believe that there could be enough research and content to build an entire graduate program around something as new as digital currency.

The value of majors like business or English is that they’re likely to be around for a long time. But with digital currencies, who knows? What seems shiny and new today may become as quaint as a telegram. Obsolescence may be the biggest problem with Master’s degrees based on innovative ideas.

If you’re looking for a cutting-edge degree program, keep these questions in mind:

  1. Review the full list of required courses. How many of them directly relate to the subject you want to study?
  2. Read the professors’ bios. Do they have many years of experience in this subject? Does all their knowledge come from the classroom, or do they have real-world, practical experience in the field?
  3. You may not need a complete degree program in this one technology. Could you take just one or two courses to satisfy your curiosity?
  4. To get the best of both worlds, consider the advantages of specialization. You could enroll in something more traditional, like an MBA program, and then add a few courses in some hot new subject you want to explore.

Ultimately, there is value in the college experience, no matter what degree you pursue. But you may derive more confidence from a degree in an established subject, rather than the flavor of the month.

Written by: Michael Mussman
Michael is Editor of Forward Thinking, the Ashford University blog.

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Forward Thinking

Every day great ideas, advice, and information are discussed around the institution. This knowledge is shared with students, alumni, friends, and faculty, but on a small scale. This blog was created to engage a larger audience, a group of lifelong learners who read, think, and provide valuable feedback. Forward Thinking is meant to be more than a blog; it’s another way of learning – for us and for you.

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