25 Non-Traditional Universities You’d Love to Get Into

Have you decided that you don’t want to attend an Ivy-League university? Do you feel that most colleges don’t offer what you envision for your life and your career goals? Perhaps this list of twenty-five non-traditional universities, colleges and schools can shed some light on ways to avoid the traditional college grind.

The list below is organized alphabetically by careers, and the colleges where you can receive training for those careers are linked within the career descriptions. You’ll discover that some careers may offer more than one college or study option, and we’ve included those opportunities as well.

  1. Aeronautical Intelligence: You don’t need to join the Air Force to become proficient in the field of aeronautical security and intelligence. Just apply to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to prepare for vital security and intelligence jobs available worldwide.
  2. Air Traffic Manager: If your idea of a great career is to manage air flights, then try Middle Georgia Aviation Campus, located in Eastman, Georgia. In 2007, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) placed Middle Georgia College at the top of a distinguished list of new Air Traffic Collegiate Training (AT-CTI) programs in the country.
  3. Archaeologist: If you like to dig and you like to discover buried treasure, you can realize your archaeological leanings at Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute in Erie, Pennsylvania. Academics include antrhopology/archaeology, applied forensic sciences and geology.
  4. Bagpiper: If your dream involves becoming an accomplished bagpiper, you have several options. You can stay in the states and earn a major in bagpipes at a traditional university such as Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Otherwise, why not save up those pennies and head to the College of Piping in Scotland? If that last option doesn’t fit your budget, the College of Piping also offers Internet classes and a summer school in California.
  5. Bakery Science: Sure, you love to bake. But, do you know how those key ingredients work together to create the final product? Your knowledge, gained at the AIB Baking Science and Technology Resident Course, is the key to gaining employment by food industry businesses.
  6. Bartender: Sure, you might make a mean shot of scotch, but can you make a Ramos Gin Fizz or a Prince Parker Swizzle? Your drink-making repertoire is as important as your personality and your management skills when it comes to landing a high-paying job as a barkeep. Learn how to become a professional bartender at The Bartending College. Numerous physical locations and online training make this school appealing.
  7. Blacksmith: If you want a short-term and affordable blacksmith program, try the Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing in Charlottesville, Virginia. VIB offers weekend workshops and weeknight classes for introductory courses, intermediate blacksmithing and for advanced project courses.
  8. Bowling Industry Management: Vincennes University in Vincennes, Indiana offers a well-known bowling industry management program for students who want hands-on training in a fully-equipped 18-lane bowling center.
  9. Casino Dealer: Billed as the world’s largest casino school, The Casino College offers courses for a career as a casino dealer. A very affordable tuition and internationally-located campuses provide hands-on or online training for a job that can take you around the world.
  10. Chinese Medicine: Practice and teach Tai Chi, Dayan Qigong, Asian body therapy and Chinese herbal medicines at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco. If you like what you learn, you can go as far as a Master of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine in an ACAOM-accredited degree program.
  11. Country Musician: You could study country music in the states at any number of traditional campuses, but why? Instead, take a trip to Australia to study at the Australian College of Country Music, an initiative of the Country Music Association of Australia. Singers, songwriters and musicians aged between 18 and 35 are eligible to attend this two-week intense residential program where you can study under Garth (Porter, not Brooks).
  12. Dog Training: You don’t need a massive college loan to attend Animal Behavior College, a dog obedience instructor program. But, you must have a fondness for dogs, if not for their masters. Training is just one side of this career, as you can expand into canine massage, doggie daycare, grooming and even into veterinary medicine or technology.
  13. Fire Scientist: Why attend a traditional college to learn about fire management when you can learn about fire science at the Institute of Fire Science in New Hampshire? Get hands-on experience in training with burn cells and real appliances as you learn about comprehensive fire investigation.
  14. Floral Design and Shop Management: Golden West College’s floral program provides hands-on experience with accreditation by the American Institute of Floral Designers, AIFD.
  15. Forensic Examiner: Almost every scientific and technical field has a forensic application, and each application needs an expert. You can help to fill that void with courses from the American College of Forensic Examiners, an independent, scientific, and professional association representing forensic examiners worldwide.
  16. Game Developer: if you want a career in game development, no doubt you have heard about Full Sail. But, DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Washington, is beginning to make its mark as a worldwide leader in computer interactive technology education and research — and, DigiPen may prove a less expensive option for you.
  17. Human Ecologist: College of the Atlantic is no ordinary college, as the curriculum centers around one major — human ecology. Design your own courses around this theme and three resource areas: arts and design, environmental sciences and human studies. No matter your proclivity, be it business, food, education or the arts (writing included), this school provides a breeding ground for non-traditional students, theories and careers.
  18. Hypnotherapy: Why not attend America’s first nationally-accredited college for hypnotherapy at the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in California? This school also offers a distance-learning program and a Professional Hypnosis 101 course at no charge, so you can learn whether this career is for you.
  19. Jockey: If you have the physical characteristics and drive to become a jockey, then the North American Racing Academy is perfect for your career goals. This is an accredited college located in Lexington, Kentucky, and it offers the only college degree program in the United States focused on producing jockeys who also are proficient in the care and management of racehorses.
  20. Makeup and Wig Design: Don’t scoff at this program, as it is part of a very intense design and production school offered by University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA). These courses are geared to help students take full responsibility for productions as designers and technicians. If makeup and wigs don’t trip your trigger, then try costume design or technology, scene design, lighting or sound design and more in a college career designed to upstage all others.
  21. Massage Therapy: The Boulder College of Massage Therapy in Colorado has graduated more than 4,000 massage therapists since 1975. This may seem like a small number, but their goal is to remain small, non-profit and focused on retaining national acclaim for their accredited studies.
  22. Mortician: Do you crave a career in funeral aftercare, embalming or funeral home merchandising? Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science in Ohio offers accredited courses for associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. If you’ve already completed core courses at another college, you can transfer to learn more about how to run a funeral home from top to bottom.
  23. Prison Minister: Granted, you must lean toward Christianity to be interested in this course, but the Billy Graham Center’s Institute for Prison Ministries may be just right for you if you plan to become a prison minister. This center offers credentials in programs such as correctional chaplaincy, reentry leadership and correctional ministry focuses.
  24. Race Car Driver: NASCAR comes to mind, but other types of racing exist such as formula cars, dirt track, dragsters and more. Begin early (in high school) by reading books written by race-car drivers, spend a lot of time at race tracks to get to know the drivers and their teams, attend driving days offered by local car clubs and save up money to attend a school such as Rotary Rockets, Jim Russell Racing Drivers School or Bertil Roos among many others. Jim Russell also offers courses for race car mechanics.
  25. Race Horse Groom: If you love horses and want to make a decent living, then try Olds College’s race horse groom training program on for size. This Canadian college offers hands-on training in a thirteen-week certification program that focuses on horse handling techniques, grooming, feeding and nutrition, health care and race track management.