Top 10 Degrees for Intellectuals

Intellect is a very marketable commodity. We tend to think that smart people end up in research and higher education jobs – which is often true. But there have always been a number of lucrative alternatives to the ivory tower that require a similar amount of sheer brainpower. If you are one of the sharper knives in the drawer, you should consider turning this gift into a rewarding career. The following is a list of good career tracks and degree programs for people with an intellectual bent.

1. Actuarial Science

Many actuaries are convinced that they run the world, but this is partially correct. An actuary helps insurance companies understand the statistics of given financial risks. They help the finance industry predict fluctuations in the market and project potential profits. There are few industries that have not at some point crossed the desk of an actuary. This makes the Actuary business very lucrative. But it requires people that can understand and apply complicated mathematical concepts, and often attracts people that would otherwise become math or economics academics.

The Degree Program:

The Actuary career can begin in general Mathematics or Economics degrees. Specific degree programs in Actuarial Science are also now quite common.

2. Bioethics and Ethical Compliance

Bioethicists serve as a resource for policy makers and medical professionals dealing with complicated ethical issues related to how we treat and use our bodies. With the growth of biotechnology, genetic research, and related advances in health science, bioethicists are becoming a more visible part of the research process. Everyone from the NIH to big pharma has bioethicists on hand to deal with these philosophical questions. In addition, any medical care facility or research institution must comply with a number of state and federal regulations, which are often complicated. Bioethicsts and ethical compliance administrators help institutions navigate these critical concerns.

The Degree Program:

Most Bioethicists begin in either Philosophy or a pre-Med program and work through graduate school toward a bioethics research program. People on the more compliance-oriented side of the business are well-advised to take a degree in one of the biomedical sciences before landing that first compliance job.

3. Bond Trading/Finance

Many jobs in the finance world are fairly routine or involve sales. But deep within the constant flux of the global market are people able to construct complicated financial deals and apply complex mathematical and economic principles to predictions about future trading. People smart enough to understand these dense theoretical concepts in the context of the bonds or futures markets are very valuable to investors – all based on their interest and facility in complicated math.

Featured Schools
1. Ashford University - BA - Business Administration - Finance
2. Grand Canyon University - BS - Finance and Economics
3. Post University Online - BS - Finance

The Degree Program:

Rather than the standard Business or International Business degree, many successful analysts or traders start in more academic Math or Econ programs.

4. Cognitive Psychology

Psychology is a traditional refuge for the intellectual. Cognitive psychology is a more specific discipline that studies the way our brains and behaviors related, especially in terms of how we learn, remember, and respond to our experiences. This field is at the cutting edge of the science and philosophy of mind, and has much to say more generally about the human condition. There is a lot to occupy the intellectual in this career track, especially one with a knack for writing research grants.

Featured Schools
1. Ashford University - BA - Psychology
2. Grand Canyon University - BS - Psychology
3. Post University Online - BS - Psychology

The Degree Program:

Start in a Psych program and be prepared for years of difficult, but very interesting, graduate school.

5. Editor

This one can be a hard sell, given the decline in traditional print media careers. But there still is a lot of opportunity for editorial roles in the publishing industry and online media. Editors with a knack for finding and cultivating talented writers are still a valuable commodity, and this career would be of interest to anyone that is constantly drawn to current cultural and political dialogue. If you can land a good editorial position, you will have joined a long legacy of public intellectuals.

Featured Schools
1. Ashford University - BA - English
2. Grand Canyon University - BA - English Literature
3. Victory University - BA - English

The Degree Program:

English. Really, this degree still has many real-world applications. There are now even some programs more tailored for the publishing industry.

6. Historian/Archivist

There are a variety of historian hats to wear. In addition to the traditional History professor career, institutions and museums – even some industries – require people trained in understanding history and knowing how to record, collect, and store information. Whether you are more interested in the material science of conservation or the educational side of sorting out history, there are a few richly intellectual careers this direction.

Featured Schools
1. Ashford University - BA - History
2. Grand Canyon University - BA - History
3. Victory University - BA - History

The Degree Program:

A History degree is a good place to start for the more education side of the business. For the conservation and archivist side, there are universities that offer programs tailored to these specialties. People with these degrees are rare enough to be valuable.

7. Higher Education

This is a catch-all category for careers that involve teaching at the undergraduate or graduate level. Many teaching jobs will leave professors time to pursue their intellectual interests, as publication is a standard expectation for the average academic. But be ready for the administrative side of the business as well – at least until you hit tenure.

Featured Schools
1. Jones International University - MEd - Higher Education Leadership and Administration
2. Kaplan University - MS in Higher Education - College Administration and Leadership
3. Walden University - MS - Higher Education

The Degree Program:

You will need a terminal degree in your field, so go with your interest and work your way through grad school.

8. Information Engineering

Electrical Engineering is often considered the most difficult Engineering discipline, but Information Engineering is emerging as the most intellectual. This branch of engineering is interested in the way business, industries, and institutions use or deliver information. This requires a detailed technical knowledge of Information Technology, but it also requires an ability to think about cutting edge technology through the lens of the philosophy of language and the science of communication. The best Information Engineers are more researchers than technicians.

Featured Schools
1. DeVry University - Bachelor's in Computer Information Systems
2. Post University - BS - Computer Information Systems
3. Saint Leo University - BS Computer Information Systems

The Degree Program:

Degrees in Information Engineering and Operations Research are available at some of the best universities out there, but schools at almost every tier now offer an entry-level degree in this field.

9. Learning and Curriculum Design

This growing field is becoming a good option for intellectuals that are not interested in a higher education faculty position, but want to be involved with the education industry. In fact, this career track is proving to be fairly lucrative, as it provides access to some of the higher levels of education administration over time. If you are interested in the science of learning and cutting edge technological applications that make classrooms more effective, this is a good direction to go.

Featured Schools
1. Capella University - MS - Instructional Design for Online Learning
2. Post University - Master of Education - Instructional Design and Technology
3. Walden University - MS - Instructional Design and Technology - General

The Degree Program:

Degrees that blend Education and Computer Science are optimal. There are now many schools that offer degrees specific to Learning Design and Adult Education.

10. Social and Behavioral Research

Social and Behavioral Researchers study the behavior of people and the ways we are affected by our cultural, social, and economic environments. This career requires a very specific kind of intelligence, which is the ability to recognize patterns in social data and communicate these patterns to academic and popular audiences. Because of its focus, researchers in this field have significant impact on policy development, trends in education, and a variety of fundamental components of our society. This is a good direction for the intellectual that wants to make a difference.

Featured Schools
1. Brandman University - BA - Social Science
2. Colorado State University - BS - Applied Social Science
3. Ashford University - BA - Applied Behavioral Science

The Degree Program:

You can start in Sociology, Economics, Politics, or any general liberal arts program. This type of research will then require graduate school that becomes increasingly specialized as you encounter the brand of social works that fits your skills the best.