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5 Standout Majors at Colleges Around the Region

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All Abuzz

Apiculture is the study and practice of beekeeping. It also happens to be a program in the University of Delaware’s Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology.

UD’s farm has a working on-site apiary, where graduate students focus mostly on research, with some help from undergrads looking to get comfortable with beehives and learn biology. “The students get quite a bit of choice,” says Debbie Delaney, associate professor of apiculture at UD.

Since the apiary was established in 1949, the program has offered a variety of different facets, including teaching, extension and research. It aims to provide a hands-on experience focused on the honey bee and other native pollinators. There’s also an emphasis on the history, biology and ecology of the honey bee.

With a degree from the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, students go on to careers at the USDA, Forest Service, consulting firms, nature societies, learning centers or biology-focused jobs. There’s also the private industry with pest control. “There are a lot of job options,” Delaney says.

Lofty Goals

Delaware State University touts its Bachelor of Science degree in aviation as the “best flight education opportunity on the East Coast.” The program provides students with education and experience in their preparation for careers in the aviation industry.

With concentrations in aviation management or professional piloting, the program has received funding through a state grant. This allows for the purchase of new airplanes to replace the school’s fleet over time.

Students typically enter the four year program right after high school, and they can begin flying as freshmen. “They don’t have to wait a year like other aviation programs,” says Michael Hales, director of aviation programs at DSU.

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At the end of eight semesters, the goal is for students to receive six FAA certifications. Graduates typically have 300-350 flying hours. “It’s a pretty robust and challenging program,” Hales says.

Graduates can then move on to being instructors, which is a common way to build hours toward the minimum 1,000 flight hours needed to be hired by an airline. In fact, many of those looking for work as instructors get hired by DSU’s program. “We’re proud to say that, within 12 months of graduation, all of our professional pilot majors are sitting right seat as a first officer at a regional airline,” says Hales.

Digging History

Most universities don’t offer art, archaeology and history in one spot. Bryn Mawr College’s Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology is among the exceptions. Here, undergrads and graduate students dig deep into the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern worlds. “The anatomy of our department is noteworthy,” says Astrid Lindenlauf, an associate professor and the department chair.

Bryn Mawr’s interdisciplinary program offers the opportunity to travel. It’s crucial for students to reach out to the international community to get to know both the scholars in the field and the archaeological sites. “That’s an expectation for all graduates,” says Lindenlauf.

Graduates of the programs move on to academic or research careers, additional studies, or museum internships. And given the department’s small size, it’s easy for professors to work one-on-one with students. “We can help them really become the kind of scholars and researchers they want to become,” Lindenlauf says.

Get Inside Your Head

Delaware State University is the only institution in that state offering a Doctor of Philosophy degree in neuroscience. Among the most innovative in the Mid-Atlantic region, the program has seen rapid growth since its launch in 2007. It offers students the resources of three institutions while uniting researchers working on the cutting edge of neuroscience. “Right now, it’s primarily focused on neurobiology—things related to how neurons work and how they contribute to learning,” says Melissa Harrington, DSU’s associate vice president for research.

Students work with a statewide network of neuroscience faculty that includes the Nemours Foundation and the University of Delaware. Most of the research is focused on using animal models to understand how the brain works, with an emphasis on neuro-degeneration.

Upon graduation, most students move onto research or teaching positions, while others find work with private companies. “We’re about split between graduates going on to research or teaching,” Harrington says.

Cutural Immersion

Founded by Augustinians in 1842 as a school for immigrants from the Emerald Isle, Villanova University nurtures these strong roots through its Center for Irish Studies. Every year, up to 300 students take courses in eight disciplines through the center, which offers both a major and a minor. All are taught in partnership with a variety of faculty across the university.

One hundred students a year study abroad in places like Galway, Dublin, Belfast and Ballina. There’s also an eight-week summer program in Dublin for rising sophomores.

The center’s director, Joseph Lennon, encourages students to try at least one class through the center—and they usually come back for more.

“It’s a way for them to develop their interests,” he says.

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