It is necessary that we decipher between a professional and non-professional course in order to aid prospective undergraduates students to make informed decisions. This article would, however, take a look at the most popular non-professional courses across the world. But let us describe explicitly the two types of courses.
Professional degrees revolve around the law (JD), medicine (MD), Nursing, Pharmacy, Engineering, Dentistry, Architecture or business (MBA). The professional courses provide practical training in the form of apprenticeship/internship in order to keep updating standards and practices. After your first degree, you would have to be certified and receive a license from a professional regulatory body through an oral or written examination. Professional course admission usually faces stiff competition in terms of admission. For example, the Nigerian Medical Association confer licenses to Medical Practitioners in Nigeria and so it is in other countries. And it is believed that they should be paid better. However, the advent of technology has rather proved this wrong. Trust you have seen fashion designers earning even more than Medical Doctors! Surprising isn’t it?
Non Professional courses are also referred to as liberal courses such as arts, commerce, basic sciences, humanities, social work, fine arts, music, drama, creative writing etc. There is less competition in liberal courses. The non-professional courses are more theoretical than professional courses. Note that the fact that they are not professional courses does not mean they are irrelevant or cannot hold water. They can, but earning these degrees is not as rigorous as its counterpart
Let us quickly delve into our topic- Top 10 unprofessional degrees
1. Social works
According to the International Federation of Social Worker, “Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work. Underpinned by theories of social work, social sciences, humanities, and indigenous knowledge, social work engages people and structures to address life challenges and enhance well-being”. Social work is an academic discipline and profession that concerns itself with social functioning and overall well-being of individuals, families, groups, and communities. Those in this field are called Social workers, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Master Social Worker or Licensed Advanced Practicing Social Worker. When we say social functioning, we mean the way in which people perform their social roles and the structural institutions that are provided to sustain them. The social work industry can be traced back to the 19th century with some of its roots in voluntary philanthropy and in grassroots organizing. Social work could be in the social sciences faculty in an institution. Social work is affiliated to other courses such as sociology, psychology, political science, public health, community development, law, and economics. As a social worker, you can work in the Hospital, Law firm, government, Non-Governmental Organization, churches, community agencies etc.
In order to operate as a social worker, you must earn at least a Bachelor of Arts in Social Works or a postgraduate degree in social work if your first degree was not related to social works.
2. Fine arts
If you are able to draw or paint well, you would most likely be advised to take a course in fine arts. Even though drawing and painting is part of it, there is more to fine arts. Fine art is “a visual art considered to have been created primarily for aesthetic and intellectual purposes and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolour, graphics, and architecture.” The fine arts subfields include painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and poetry, theatre, dance, film, photography, video production/editing, design, and conceptual art. You can acquire the bachelor of arts, masters and even PhD in Fine Arts. Even though earning an academic degree is not a requisite for working as an artist, spending four years studying Fine Arts can go a long way as a professional artist.
Everyone can sing, but not everyone can study the arts of making good music. Music is vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion. When you talk about music, you talk about tempo, rhythm, pitch, dynamics, texture etc. Music as a course bothers around the creation, performance, significance, genre, and the definition of music based on culture and social context. There are a variety of training schools apart from those in the institution that focuses on music as a profession and as an academic discipline. As an academic discipline, you study Musicology, Music Theory, Zoomusicology or Ethnomusicology for a minimum of four years as an undergraduate degree. Some also train to be professional musicians, singers, composers, songwriters, music teachers, music history professors, sound engineers etc. Graduate degrees conferred in music include Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Music Education, Masters of Music and PhD in Music Theory.
4. Communication Studies
You do not necessarily need to have certified or licenced to work as a communication expert.
Communication is simply the transmission of information from a sender to a receiver with an expectation of feedback. As an academic discipline, communication studies deals with processes of human communication. The discipline encompasses a range of topics, from face-to-face conversation, health communication, organizational communication, mass communication (print, broadcast and new media, signals, language etc. Communication studies deal with how messages are interpreted through the political, cultural, economic, semiotic, hermeneutic, and social dimensions of their contexts. As a communication graduate, you can work as a public relations officer, journalist, an academic etc. you would spend a minimum of 4 years to bag an undergraduate degree in communications. Masters of Arts and PhDs are also available in Communications. It is an interdisciplinary course in that it can be a social science or pure arts course.
5. Political Science
As the word implies, it is related to governance because the majority of those that work in government are called politicians, but note that they did not necessarily have to study political science or a particular course to be a politician. That is a major reason why it is an unprofessional course. Political Science is a branch of social science that deals with systems of governance, and the analysis of political activities, political thoughts, associated constitutions and political behaviour. Political science comprises other disciplines such as comparative politics, political economy, international relations, political theory, public administration, public policy, and political methodology. In some schools, international relations and political science are usually in the same department or faculty. As a political science graduate, you can work in government agencies, law firms, schools etc. You spend a maximum of four years at the undergraduate level while your masters of science and PhD in Political science depends on the school you enrol.
6. English Studies
Studying the English Language as a course means learning and exploring written and spoken texts created in English literature- Poetry, drama, novels, short stories, English arts, styles and usage etc. As an English Studies major you partake in courses like Gender studies, publishing, journalism, creative writing, liberal arts, communication studies, cultural studies, disability studies etc. As an English graduate, you can work in career fields such as publishing, teaching, research, advertising, public relations, law, and finance. English is available in the undergraduate, masters and doctoral levels. It takes four years to bag your Bachelor of Arts degree in English Studies.
This is another branch of social science that studies the behaviour and interactions of economic agents, how economies work and the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services Graduates of Economics typically work in sectors like real estate, finance, government agencies, law, politics, social institutions etc. A prospective economist spends four years in the university and can go ahead to earn a Masters and Doctoral degree in Economics.
8. Agricultural Science
This course is rather one of the most important unprofessional courses since every human must eat to survive. Gone are the days when farming, a branch of agriculture was regarded as an occupation for illiterates. For a fact, farmers are advised to get a form of formal education to help them hone their skills and increase productivity and output. Agricultural Science is a multidisciplinary course that borders around the natural, economic and social sciences that are used in the practice and understanding of agriculture. Some subfields in this course include soil science, horticulture, livestock, agricultural engineering, agroforestry, entomology, plant pathology and a host of others. As an agric graduate, you can be a Horticulturist, Agricultural Engineer, Food Scientist, Animal Geneticist. Agricultural economists etc. You can spend 4 – 5 years at the university to bag a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Science. They are also available in the Masters and Doctoral degree.
9. Environmental Management and Toxicology
This is a course that is about sustainability, organizational structure, responsibilities sequences, processes and preconditions for the implementation of environmental corporate policy in order to maintain ecological balance. Climate change has been a popular and important topic making headlines across the world with its activists aimed at proffering solutions to protect the earth from degradation due to human activities for future generations. This course takes about five years to complete and it is also available across all degree levels. Graduates of this course usually serve as consultants to the government or NGOs on environmental management issues.
10. Religious Studies
The last on our list is Religious Studies. It is an academic field that revolves around research into religious beliefs, behaviours, and institutions. They achieve this by emphasizing systematic, historically based, and cross-cultural perspectives in order to interpret and explain different forms of religion. Religion and theology are not the same in the sense that the former attempts to understand the religious behaviour and belief from any religious viewpoint, while the latter understudies the nature of supernatural forces such as deities. A graduate of this course can serve in the academics, as an aid worker, chaplain, mediator, counsellor, charity fundraiser, civil service administrator etc. Religious studies is available across all degree levels but a four-year undergraduate programme is a start.
From this above list, it is safe to say that earning a degree in an unprofessional course is very professional as there are diverse career opportunities just like its counterpart. But it is important you think through and make a decision on what you enjoy doing in order to have a prosperous and profitable career life.