7 Versatile Degrees for Keeping Your Options Open
We don’t need to tell you that choosing a degree program is a big life decision. In the near future, you’ll be investing time, money and a lot of effort into completing an academic program, and in the long term, that academic program can both open—and close off—entire career pathways. While the opportunity that comes with this is certainly exciting, it can also be a little bit scary.
We’ve all heard the stories from people who’ve wanted to be nurses or teachers from a young age—but what do you do if you’re not completely sure? And what happens to them if it turns out they don’t really like those roles? It’s a legitimate concern. One way to hedge against that uncertainty is to narrow your focus onto academic programs with versatility.
While a versatile academic focus might not come with the straightforward career clarity of pursuing a degree in accounting or nursing, it can make things a little easier if you want to pivot later on in your professional life.
So what degrees offer the most versatility? We’ve highlighted seven versatile degree options along with some of the jobs commonly associated with them.
7 Versatile degree options worth consideration
1. Business Management
If you know you want to keep your studies focused on business but don’t want to lean too far toward a specialization like human resources or accounting, this degree is an excellent all-around option. Business Management is an extremely flexible degree that allows you to explore a variety of fields: project management, data analytics, financial decision-making, leadership strategies, human resources, logistics and supply chain issues, and more.
The skills developed in a Business Management program can prepare you for a wide range of roles. This includes banking, customer service, finance, marketing, and operations management positions. Whether you intend to find work within an established business or hope to one day set out on your own as a business owner, this degree program can provide an excellent foundation to branch out from.
2. Computer Science
If you’re tech savvy, not afraid of a little math and have an eye to the future, studying computer science can be an appealing versatile option. Software, data management and automation efforts present a broad array of opportunities for graduates in this field. Computer science skills can be applied to roles within software development, web development, business intelligence and software quality assurance, to name a few.
But studying computer science doesn’t mean you’ll only have to work in the field of software or tech. The structured, logical way of thinking required for success in Computer Science courses can be applied to a lot of data-centric, problem-solving roles.
“Classes that are both programming-intensive and theoretical teach you how to think, how to analyze things rationally and [critically], and how to explore edge cases that others may overlook,” explains Gerrid Smith, chief marketing officer at Joy Organics.
Aside from being a therapist or clinical researcher, there are many ways a degree that teaches you how to analyze human behavior can help you in your career. After all, you’ll likely be working with other people, and having a solid foundation on what motivates them will be extremely helpful in the workplace.
More than that, though, psychology has many links to fields like marketing and sales. Isabel Ludick, marketing director at Excited Cats, says her Psychology Bachelor’s degree has helped inform her work.
“Marketing goes hand-in-hand with psychology and communication,” Ludick explains. “Being able to study these fields for three years, I was provided with a
unique perspective and the right foundational knowledge when it comes to content marketing, PR and brand coordination.”
No matter what an organization does—making products, offering services, promoting political or charitable causes—there is always a need to get the message out and in front of the right audience. That’s where marketing comes in. Part sales, part data analysis, part technology and part psychology, a Marketing degree gives you a foundation for how to find customers, connect with audiences and find collaborative possibilities. Digital media specialists, market research analysts and sales managers are all jobs that often require a Marketing degree.
Brandon Schroth, co-founder of Nomad SEO, believes that studying marketing is great for people who are analytical, like learning new things and have effective communication skills.
“In marketing, we are always working with data and research, so a good marketer needs to be comfortable with metrics and know how to interpret them,” Schroth says. “In addition, you need to have strong writing skills since marketing can involve writing everything from simple captions to newsletters or articles.”
Marketing is a field that has a something to offer every kind of personality. “I like that the work is varied and never gets boring,” Schroth adds.
5. Information Technology
Another potentially appealing option for digital natives, an Information Technology (IT) degree can serve as an excellent starting point for a variety of network-related careers. As computers and devices are practically everywhere in the day-to-day operations of a business or organization, there are many different fields that look for people with IT skills: help desk support, cyber security, network administration and IT project management are just a few examples of information technology careers you could branch out into.
Troubleshooting network issues, ensuring secure data migration, protecting consumer information and determining the best technical solution for business needs are valued skills an Information Technology degree program can equip you with.
While a Finance degree might make you immediately envision sharp dressed bankers working solely on Wall Street, the truth is there’s a practical versatility to this area of study that doesn’t require spending time in a New York City subway.
Understanding financial planning best practices, investment strategies and the big picture of how different areas of a business or organization come together and influence profitability are broadly useful skills. Financial analysts, financial managers and budget analysts are just a few examples of jobs that are open to those with degrees in finance. Whether you work for a global corporation or a small family business, an understanding of finance basics is a great asset to have.
Trysta Luhanga, a project manager at Home Depot and founder of This Travel Dream, believes that earning a degree in finance was critical to her understanding of all aspects of her work.
“Having a degree in finance gave me the foundation I needed to fully understand the costs associated with running projects and mitigating risks before project deployment,” Luhanga explains. “Mitigating risk is a big part of project management, and my finance background taught me to analyze all potential risks.”
The ability to effectively communicate—whether via written report, oral presentation or billboard advertisement—is an undeniably important skill to master. Whether you’re appealing to a mass audience or trying to understand difficult interpersonal office dynamics, a degree in communications gives you solid tools you’ll use every day, at home or at work.
Julie Navickas, assistant academic advisor at Illinois State University and public relations manager at Burning Soul Press, says that a degree in communications has offered her versatility and flexibility throughout her career.
“Communications degrees build a tremendous amount of transferable skill sets,” Navickas says. Navickas uses interpersonal communication on a daily basis in her work advising students and in her spare time while handling public relations for a small publishing company. “Communication is incredible, highly versatile and offers transferable skills coveted by any professional organization.”
Taking on college with confidence
Has this narrowed-down list of versatile degree options helped you develop a clearer academic focus? Take some time to research your options further and rest assured knowing that you’re not locked in to just one possible career track—you have options!
No matter the degree program you ultimately choose to pursue, you’ll want to have strong academic habits to make your time in college a success. Start by learning from the best with our article “Academic Success: 7 Simple Habits of the Best Students.”