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5 most obscure majors on campus

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MAY 29, 2015

As young incoming freshmen make their way to college, many dread the question that will define their academic careers: “What is your major?” It is important to come to the realization that you cannot remain undecided forever. As a hip UC Berkeley student, however, an engineering or political science major just won’t do. It’s not that we can’t all be computer science majors — it’s just that we don’t want to be that mainstream. Here are some of the most obscure majors at UC Berkeley, for those who seek to hop off the bandwagon.

5. Geography

You may ask, “Who needs to major in geography now that we have Google maps?” But geography majors do not simply study the locations of countries. They study earth’s landscape in relation to human environment. As landscapes change, so does human geography. From built landscapes to tropical climates, the major allows for a lot of choice for the free-spirited student who wants a smaller classroom setting.

4. Foreign languages

UC Berkeley’s language programs take you beyond simply learning a language. They teach you to embrace an entirely new culture through literature, cinema or history, among other focuses. For those who choose to study abroad, learning the language is the key to truly immersing oneself in a different culture. From classes in Arabic to Czech, the opportunities are endless. Speaking from the perspective of a French major, there is nothing like reading the maddening thoughts of French playwrights and poets or writing your thesis in a different language.

3. Gender and women’s studies

Gender and women’s studies is not just a major for women. Everyone should be a feminist, and if you don’t know why, looking into this major may be the most informative decision you will make during your entire experience at UC Berkeley. It is not just about understanding women’s rights but also about understanding gender and sexuality in a social and historical context. Because it is a small department, gender and women’s studies is known to have a supportive community.

2. Forestry and natural resources

Do you want to chop a log with an axe? Then forestry is the major for you. The forestry major doesn’t necessarily mean you want to be a park ranger. Over the years, the focus has shifted from managing forests to sustainability. Choosing between two concentrations — professional forestry and natural sciences — forestry students study the art and science of managing forested landscapes. More than two-thirds of the students are female, a bit of an anomaly in the field. One of the oldest programs at UC Berkeley, forestry has a 100-year-old legacy to uphold.

1. Interdisciplinary studies field

Can’t find a major that quite fits your quirkiness? Don’t know which major to choose between? Fear not. Interdisciplinary studies field is a program that allows students to sculpt a research plan that culminates in a senior thesis. The best part about this major is that if you are at odds between two — or more — disciplines, it allows you to combine them.

Contact Charlotte Passot at [email protected].

MAY 29, 2015