Majors You Didn’t Know You Liked

Exercise science

The exercise science program here at North Dakota State focuses on preparing “students for entry-level positions in any of the four health-fitness settings: commercial, community, corporate or clinical,” according to the major’s official page.

The program is legit too. It’s accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs through the American College of Sports Medicine.

Cole Scherbenske, a senior in exercise science, said in his program he learns “everything from the fundamentals of movement and how the body works to how it processes different food.”

Scherbenske said they learn about the “energy cycle” and how exercise affects the body.

The last class required for an exercise science major is a 520-hour internship, according to Scherbenske. The internship Scherbenske picked was at TNT Kid’s Fitness & Gymnastics where he works with kids and adults with special needs.

Scherbenske said this internship has shown him “the importance of exercise, not only in your neurotypical and your physically typical athlete or individual, but also for children, also for people with special needs.”

According to Scherbenske, TNT runs a program for people with Parkinson’s disease and it has helped people show improvement when medication has not. Scherbenske said this internship has been “bar none” his favorite part of exercise science.

As a whole, Scherbenske said the best part of the exercise science program is the faculty. “It’s rare to find professors that care as much as the professors in exercise science do.”

Scherbenske said there were tough professors, but he knew he could always get help if he needed it. “They want me to succeed. That wasn’t just for me; that was for every student,” Scherbenske said.

According to Scherbenske, the instructors in the exercise science program cared about him beyond his education and wanted him to succeed in the real world as well.

Emergency management

NDSU also offers a very unique degree in emergency management, where students “study hazards, vulnerability and the consequences of their interaction on households, organizations and communities, and what can be done about it,” according to the emergency management department.

Students in this program include those that are minoring in emergency management, and they can go into careers ranging from law enforcement to counseling to public administration.

According to the department, “Studying emergency management will give you an edge on the job market and help you protect yourself and your family.”

Wyatt Nelson is studying emergency management and said the program is “very much a family. We all know each other. We all support each other. We all have our different quirks and abilities, but we all definitely spend time together and figure things out like a family.”

Nelson said that unlike some majors “there’s much more to (emergency management). There are broader areas than just being an emergency manager.”

The professors, according to Nelson, really care about his future. “I love my professors,” Nelson said. “They’re all very nice. They know their stuff.”

A lot of emergency management is understanding different scenarios and preparing for different events, according to Nelson.

The emergency management program offers minor tracks as well. The homeland security track delves into threats against the country, including terrorism and data breaches. The vulnerability and capacity building track “focuses on developing knowledge and about human suffering caused by disaster and how that can be reduced.” The risk and resilience management track focuses on “building safer, stronger communities.”

All of these tracks have specific majors they pair best with, and each minor program has different classes students can add to their schedule.

Multicultural programs

The office of multicultural programs “believes in assisting the NDSU community in creating a culturally diverse and sensitive campus by providing student-centered support programs, cultural events and tools for personal growth experiences,” according to the office.

The program focuses on recruitment retention and outreach through its office in the Memorial Union.

Jaclynn Davis Wallette, director of multicultural programs, said, “We meet with students in regard to situations they may find themselves in while they are students here on campus.” The office meets with students on a range of issues, including housing, student aid and classes.

The office also offers a space to study for students as well as scholarships and information on how to receive an admissions waiver.

“I think it’s very important to have diversity in the classrooms,” Wallette said. “It’s important to have diversity in student organizations, and it’s important to have diversity on campus when people are socializing and learning about what is happening around them, regionally, locally and nationwide. It’s important to have perspectives that students can learn from.”

According to Wallette, they do some cultural programing, most recently helping to facilitate a Native American powwow.

“Every spring we have a powwow, and it’s an opportunity for tribes, statewide and within the region, Minnesota, South Dakota, and this year we had people from Canada attend, and so it’s an opportunity, to share the culture of the powwow,” Wallette said.

The powwow is a social event for Native Americans, and the tribes involved are also eager to share their culture with others through song and dance, according to Wallette.

The multicultural programs office is always open to collaborate with another organization or department to bring about cultural programing. The office is more than happy to visit with people about cultural awareness.


If you’re wondering if geology is right for you, Lydia Tackett, assistant professor in the geosciences, outlined the ins and outs of the major for you.

Tackett said geology is a very interdisciplinary field that includes looking at fossils and paleontology to understanding our changing world today to even construction. According to Tackett, geology can be applied toward the climate in the oceans, the geochemistry used for things like cellphones and even astrobiology and asking questions about whether aliens are out there.

“It’s kind of a discovery major,” Tackett said, and it’s a major students don’t usually have much exposure to coming into college. “So don’t be nervous if you don’t have any experience. We’ll teach you all you need to know.”

Not only does the major offer broad field experience, but it also has some “awesome field trips,” according to Tackett, including ones to places like Lake Superior or the Bahamas.

Tackett, a paleontologist, said two of her coolest finds have been a triceratops tooth and a shelled squid fossil called a nautiloid.

For students looking to go into energy, or who are interested in staying in North Dakota, geology is also useful for going into a field that interacts with petroleum or coal, including environmental remediation, which deals with the clean up of oil spills and other environmental problems.

For students who aren’t sure about geology, but want to give it a shot, some of the general education courses within the major include paleontology, mineralogy and physics. The major also requires field experience, which looks good on resumes.

“Our classes are fun. You don’t need to know anything coming into it,” Tackett said.

Interior design

If your interests lean more toward design, the interior design program at NDSU is the only one in the state, and it’s accredited, according to Susan Ray-Degges, the interior design program coordinator and professor.

The four-year program not only trains students to sketch and draw on paper, but it also puts students a step ahead by showing them how to use the latest technology in the field so they come out of their college experience fully trained.

The small class sizes students can expect will be the same throughout their four years at NDSU.

However, Ray-Degges warned students who are considering the major that it’s “not HGTV.” According to Ray-Degges, “Students will be spending hours in a test studio. It’s text based. You can’t cram.”

Through these hours of studio work, students can expect to get experience with projects that think about global design, accommodating special needs like wheelchairs and inclusive design.

“It can improve people’s function,” Ray-Degges said.

All of this practice contributes to making students successful once they leave the university.

“The best part of (interior design) is being able to be creative all the time and understand the deeper meaning behind design concepts,” interior design student Sarah Randall said.

In the first year, students learn the basics like how to use tools, how to draw the basics, hand drafting, learning about color and texture and building models, all of which will turn into a final project of about four pages. However, this is only the beginning, as most seniors will turn in a 30-page final project.

From there, students can expect to move through classes that teach them about residential design, programming and collecting information on clients, commercial design like office or retail space and health care projects.

Ray-Degges advised students who are going into interior design or are interested to be prepared to do a lot of work. She said this is one of those areas where people need to be passionate about it for it to be worthwhile.

Randall’s advice to first-year students is, “Fight through the first year. I promise it gets much more manageable after that, and it is all so rewarding in the end.”

University studies

What happens if you’re in your junior or senior year and still haven’t picked a major? Turns out, that’s not a problem, as long as you have a plan.

Jessica Bauer, an advisor and lecturer for the advising resource center, handles what is known as a university studies major.

Bauer works mostly with juniors and seniors who don’t feel like what they want to do fits into a preexisting major.

“It’s really for the students who feel like, “I know what I want, but it doesn’t fit a major,’” Bauer said.

But getting a degree in university studies isn’t easy. There’s a process students must follow. First, there’s a proposal, a letter or statement the student must write justifying why university studies is the best option for them.

Then there’s a course listing, where students present what courses they’ve taken and which they plan to take to fulfill academic requirements, totaling a minimum of 120 credits.

The final part is a cover form so the student and faculty can see what their path to graduation is.

The major is part of the College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, although that doesn’t mean students can’t have areas of emphasis that fit into science, technology, engineering or mathematics fields.

While this option has recently been revamped as Bauer has taken on the position, one of her goals is to make it a more viable option for people who choose to pursue it.

At the end of the degree program, all students do a capstone project that reflects on their knowledge, growth, job preparation, research and how to talk about their degree with employers.

The ultimate goal of the university studies major is to help students find something they love to study, Bauer said.


Leave a Reply