They teach that in college?: These unique classes, programs and majors may surprise, impress or amuse you


Stockton University

This spring, the university received a unique gift of more than 15,000 items of memorabilia related to Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan. The collection is valued at more than $1 million.

The school announced it is taking advantage of the donation by developing a class on collecting (with the exhibit as its focus) for the spring 2023 semester.

Foraging for edible plants
Rowan University

Offered through the School of Earth & Environment at Rowan, this course explores why humans forage for edible plants. They discuss modern diets and myths about the dangers of foraging for plants. 

Students learn to identify edible plants and to recognize inedible/poisonous ones in the U.S., with an emphasis on the mid-Atlantic. Students learn to recognize edible plants and to forage safely and sustainably.

Human spaceflight
Stevens Institute of Technology

This course, offered in the space systems engineering master’s program, provides the conceptual framework for developing space missions of human spacecraft starting from a blank sheet of paper. It describes and teaches the human space mission design and analysis process. 

The process-oriented course aims to equip each participant with practical tools to complete a conceptual design and analyze the impacts of evolving requirements. 

At the end of this course, students will be better able to tie mission elements together and perform tradeoffs between system design and mission operations that must occur during the early stages of planning in order to deliver cost-effective results.

Maritime archaeology
Monmouth University

This course, presented by the Department of History and Anthropology, helps students explore the underwater history of New Jersey through readings, lectures and fieldwork, including the use of side-scan sonar and camera-equipped remote operated vehicle technologies. 

It is one of many offerings that bolster Monmouth University’s highly regarded marine and environmental biology and policy program and the Urban Coast Institute.


Artificial Intelligence Incubator
Ocean County College

Ocean County College was one of 15 colleges nationally (and the only one in New Jersey) awarded a $40,000 grant from the American Association of Community Colleges, Dell Technologies and Intel, as part of the Artificial Intelligence Incubator Network initiative. 

The funds will go toward building an AI incubator that will provide greater access to AI computing power, tools and resources to foster the skills needed to fill the growing demand for skilled AI workers.

Coastal Lakes Observing Network
Monmouth University

Through CLONet, Monmouth scientists and students train and equip community members to monitor the health of Jersey Shore lakes and file their readings into an online database.

Monmouth received $300,000 from the Jules L. Plangere Jr. Family Foundation to support the citizen science initiative, which provides students hands-on field experience while shedding new light on the causes of harmful algal blooms afflicting New Jersey lakes.

Rowan University

Esports is among the hottest new fields in decades. So, Rowan University said, “Game on.”

The school is offering an exciting track to bridge the popular wave of online, interactive play with academic coursework — the Esports Industry & Entertainment Experience Certificate of Undergraduate Study, an interdisciplinary program within the Ric Edelman College of Communication and Creative Arts that was created to meet the rising demand.

Forsenic Genealogy Innocence Lab
Ramapo College of New Jersey

Students use emerging tools of forensic genetic genealogy to help solve cases of wrongful conviction using real client files. 

The class includes using genetic genealogy to identify target families from DNA evidence left at crime scenes, the use of traditional genealogy, criminal procedures and post-conviction relief, and confidentiality within legal and genealogical contexts. 

All investigative leads are reported to a client’s attorney.

Sustainability — energy concentration
Stockton University

Students in the energy concentration, as part of their coursework in the School of Natural Science & Mathematics, are trained to define a new path forward, toward efficient, high-performance energy systems, new building innovations, new design possibilities and creative transportation alternatives that promise a cleaner, healthier and prosperous future.

Students in the energy concentration develop an expertise in renewable energy (including solar, wind, geothermal and other clean power options), on how to build energy systems (with training in energy audits, infrared building inspections and modeling of building energy performance) and green design (with a focus on design of zero-energy and high-performance buildings, renewable materials and alternative energy systems).


Rowan University

Rowan University’s MBA is the first and only AACSB-accredited program in the country offering business-focused cannabis coursework designed to meet the evolving needs of the cannabis industry.

New Jersey Institute of Technology

The school’s fintech Bachelor of Science degree is the first of its kind in the state. Students have the opportunity to combine the traditional field of finance with the rising demand for professionals with advanced technology skills and education. 

The program offers courses in artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, cybersecurity, machine learning and more. NJIT also provides advanced education through its fintech concentration in the master’s program, and a certification program.

Forensic science
New Jersey Institute of Technology

The degree program, the first in the state, launched with anticipation and has garnered praise — and federal support — for its hands-on approach and ability to inspire students into STEM. 

The Bachelor of Science degree features three tracks — forensic biology, forensic chemistry and digital forensics — and provides students with extensive experiential crime scene and lab experience. An accompanying pre-college initiative offers students pathways to pursue degrees at NJIT.

Happiness studies
Centenary University

The school announced the world’s first Master of Arts in happiness studies in March. The interdisciplinary program is designed for leaders who are committed to personal, interpersonal, organizational and societal happiness. 

Directed by internationally renowned expert and author Tal Ben-Shahar, the program has generated more than 200 admissions applications, as well as national and international media attention.

Teaching physics
The College of New Jersey

TCNJ’s School of Science and School of Education continue to battle the national shortage of physics teachers by producing qualified educators at a pace that ranks among the best in the nation.

The college has again been recognized by the Physics Teacher Education Coalition with the 5+ Award after graduating six well-prepared physics teachers in the 2020-2021 academic year. 

The 5+ Award is given to the 0.1% of U.S. institutions that graduate five or more future high school physics teachers in a single year. TCNJ has earned the distinction in three of the last five years, putting the college among national leaders despite its midsized student enrollment.

William Paterson University

The degree is the first Bachelor of Science program in professional sales offered by an AACSB-accredited institution. The experientially based degree prepares students for careers in sales, sales management and sales leadership. 

Students practice skills in the Professional Sales Lab, and through the National Sales Challenge, an intense series of selling competitions. A partnership with Baroan Technologies provides a real-world case study and access to company leadership.