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New Niche Courses: From an Apprentice Star MBA to Yoga Studies

Paul Greatrix rounds up some of the more unusual courses on offer at universities and colleges around the world.
This article is more than 4 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

It’s some time since we last looked at some of the more unusual university courses out there – which some might view as a bit out there and strange but more kindly souls might describe as rather niche.

Previous favourites, which have set a pretty high bar in their nicheness, included:

A new kind of degree apprentice

The most surprising and novel course announced recently though must be this new MBA from Arden University. It’s also possibly the first course to be named after a real living person in quite this way, yes it’s the Karren Brady MBA:


We’ve worked closely with Baroness Karren Brady to develop an MBA which hones in on key business activities, equipping you with the skills needed to address shortages commonly faced in business and the confidence to hit the ground running in a management role.

The Karren Brady MBA is an industry-led programme, designed with the development of world-class leaders in mind. Combining Baroness Brady’s wealth of real-world leadership experience with a contemporary curriculum focused on the inter-connected management functions of a successful, sustainable business, the Karren Brady MBA is truly unique.
As one of the UK’s most accomplished businesswomen, Karren’s years of leadership experience have informed the development of this online MBA, and her fascinating insights into life behind the boardroom doors have helped shape a qualification which cultivates the skills required by employers today – and tomorrow.

I don’t know how much actual teaching Baroness Brady does but in any case it is certainly a distinctive course proposition from Arden. I’m hoping the other Apprentice names won’t be far behind.

Luxury learning

Also at the premium end of the market we have this new Global Executive Master of Luxury Management degree, a joint degree being offered by the University of Wollongong, Dubai and the Politecnico di Milano as part of which you “Study in Dubai, Paris, Geneva and Milan, exploring a world of luxury with UOWD” and all for only US $38,624:

The Global Executive Master of Luxury Management (GEMLux) degree will give you a truly international insight into the luxury goods and services market, with study tours to some of the world’s most iconic luxury shopping capitals. On completion of the degree, you will earn a dual qualification from UOWD and the internationally renowned MIP Politecnico di Milano in Italy.
Students will be prepared to launch an iconic luxury brand, understand the luxury retail experience, promote a major luxury shopping destination and create unique and unforgettable experiences.

The course aims to open up “a world of professional opportunities in this flourishing international market”, such as: Luxury Brand Manager, Brand PR Specialist, Head of Brand or Visual Merchandiser. Right.


In the slow lane

Meanwhile in the Buddhist-inspired and nonsectarian Naropa University in the US, you can study for this MA in Yoga Studies

Most academic programs offer a theoretical abstract study where there’s no practical application of the value of the teachings in your life. And most teacher training programs lack a critical historical awareness of the continuities and discontinuities of pre-modern yogic traditions in the modern global practice of yoga.
Naropa’s low-residency MA Religious Studies: Yoga Studies program addresses both. Rooted in academic rigor and contemplative inquiry, the program blends the best of a comprehensive traditional academic training in the history and philosophies of yoga with a deep engagement into yoga’s most transformative meditative practices. This approach allows you to engage in deep practice—something that you can’t do in almost any university in the world, without sacrificing academic rigor and an expansive historical understanding.

Modules include Yoga & Globalization, Hindu Tantra and Sanskrit I–IV as you follow a distinctive course grounded in the rigorous study of the diverse and complex history, philosophies, and practices of yoga from its earliest origins until the present day. What’s not to like.

And a couple of others you may have missed

This Abertay University course, which is bound to be emulated elsewhere, is in Ethical hacking.

Another novel offering is this degree apprenticeship in ’social change’ offered by Queen Mary, which involves a range of partner charity organisations.

And my personal favourite, the University of Florida is expanding an online gardening class. Students get access to a gardening kit and 24/7 garden cam and are able to grow their gardens while living outside of North Central Florida.

Are there other niche courses we’ve overlooked?

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