11 totally unexpected things you can get your Ph.D in

Though many of us can’t wait to escape our undergrad days, there are a select few who elect to return to school to pursue an even more prestigious phase of education. That’s right, we’re talking about Ph.Ds. Hey, is there a doctor on the plane?

In the United States, over 50,000 Ph.Ds are granted each year in a variety of fields and practices. While many of these seem like perfectly reasonable undergrad programs, the idea of being a “doctor” in quite a few of these fields is definitely unexpected. And though the list of available doctoral studies varies by country, here are the ones you probably haven’t heard of here in the United States.


Zodiac lovers, you may want to sign up for this one. A Ph.D in Personality Studies focuses on social psychology as it relates to personality! Students in the Yale University Social/Personal Psychology Ph.D program research topics like the links between frustration and aggression, public opinion formation, and interpersonal processes.


That’s right, you can get your Ph.D in Fisheries Science. At Oregon State University, students focus on analysis of fish populations, water quality, and fish and invertebrate physiology! Their program also offers concentrations in sub-fields like liminology (the study of lakes and freshwater), toxicology, and water pollution.

3Wood Science

Wood science is just that. The study of wood and wood products! The State University of New York offers Wood Science Ph.Ds in a variety of focus areas. Tropical timbers, wood anatomy, and wood treatments are things you might focus on during your time as a Wood Science Ph.D student.

4Ceramic Sciences

Although ceramics might seem like a hobby, you can actually become a pottery doctor! Well, you can earn a Ph.D in Ceramics. At Alfred University, the Ceramics Ph.D program trains students in ceramics engineering, problem solving, and the industrial applications of ceramics.


This one blew my mind. You can get a doctorate degree in Acoustics, aka sound design and engineering. At the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute, coursework includes sound design, audio engineering, recording sciences, as well as stranger fields like psychoacoustics (the psychology of sound).


Okay, we’re not talking about snail mail here. A Doctorate of Letters, or DLitt, is considered one of the most prestigious Ph.Ds in existence. Most are only awarded honorarily to those who contribute to the humanities on a massive scale, but a select few universities offer the program. At Drew University, students focus their studies in different liberal arts fields like history, literature, spirituality, and fine arts, and prepare a dissertation in their field.


Remember that random one-off folklore research assistant on The Vampire Diaries? Well here’s her doctorate program! The Ph.D. in Folklore is one of the trendier fields of study on the list. The University of Missouri offers a Folklore Ph.D program, during which students can study oral history, feminist folklore theory, and ethnographic writing. Sounds like a Ph.D in fairy tales — sign us up.

8Educational Assessment/Testing/Measure

Yes, you can be a Doctor of Standardized Tests and ruin the lives of recess-hungry children everywhere! Only joking, the Ph.D program actually focuses on the important ways that students learn and should be assessed based on their skills. At James Madison University, students learn about research, assessment methods, public policy, and test theory!

9Library Science

Even our libraries need doctors! Library Science students focus on library history and research methods. The Library Science Ph.D program is focused on providing students with careers in research fields, and The University of Illinois boasts the oldest program in the country!

10Parks and Rec

Someone call Leslie Knope because this program rocks! A Ph.D in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management from NC State University preps students in fields like advanced leisure theory and research statistics. Although advanced leisure theory could not sound less relaxing, the field trains experts in recreation and tourism management. That’s Dr. Leslie Knope, to you.


And finally, Yale University’s doctorate program in Dramaturgy preps students to work in theaters as artistic producers and dramaturgs, as well as in literary criticism. Criticism is the primary focus of the program, so basically you can get a degree in Your Theater Opinions. Amazing.

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