Here at TheBestSchools.org, we try our hardest to focus on the positive. We make it our mission to emphasize the opportunity, enrichment, and enlightenment that greet you as you embark on your college education.
However, we would be in dereliction of our civic duty if we did not also take pains to better prepare you for the peril that may await you upon graduation. Indeed, we have frequently warned our readers to ready themselves for a challenging job market and we have spoken at length about the implications of excessive student loan debt.
But today we focus on a far more terrifying danger, and one for which adequate preparation is nothing short of a life or death matter. Of course, we speak of the impending Zombie Apocalypse.
At the risk of sounding alarmist, the end of civilization as we know it could well be nigh. While we won’t bore you with the troubling scientific evidence (which we are willing to surmise has been largely suppressed by a government intent on preventing public panic), there is ample cause to believe that a viral epidemic could soon reduce the greater sum of the earth’s population into variously listless hordes of undead, flesh-craving monsters.
The way we see it, as a prospective college student, you have only two choices: be prepared or be zombie-food.
Fortunately, you are in a tremendous position to plan for the future. The college admission process is defined by the bevy of difficult choices that you must make. From campus culture to geographical location to reputation, there are countless factors that will go into your selection process.
Your intended course of study is an important one. Never more so will this be apparent to you than when you find yourself in an epic struggle to preserve humanity’s dimming light in the face of a zombie-related doomsday scenario. Not to put too much pressure on you at this already stressful time in your life, but hope for the survival of our species may depend on your choice of college major.
Don’t be deterred either by your lack of zombie-hunting prowess or by your limited experience exercising survival skills in the absence of civil order. These things take practice.
Instead, consider yourself fortunate to be at this exciting crossroads in life. You also stand on the threshold of your training for a world after this one.
As a prospective college student, you stand a good chance of being among the living — among those who must forge a strategy for survival, among those who will shoulder the unenviable burden of rescuing and rebuilding civilization. If indeed you do plan to be among these, you must choose your college major wisely.
Conventional wisdom says that your college major does not define who you are. But in the smoldering hellscape that will be left behind when the zombie virus does infect your friends and neighbors, your major could significantly improve your chances of living and even thriving.
Therefore, as a public service and in the interest of the preservation of our species, we urge you to consider the merits of these 25 college majors, selected for their particular value and relevance to graduates in a job market populated by festering cannibal corpses.
Choosing a Major for a Zombie-Infested World
1 Agricultural Sciences
If you are to achieve long-term survival in the context of a zombie-related doomsday scenario, you must create a safe, secure, and sustainable fortification. Here within, you and your fellow survivors will establish a self-sufficient community.
In his definitive survival handbook, The Zombie Survival Guide, Max Brooks advises that your best chance of surviving is to procure a tract of land that is sufficiently arable, that is adjacent to a constant source of freshwater, and that offers opportunities for constructing sturdy and protective shelter. It is also of the utmost importance that the land you choose is far from densely populated areas like cities and suburbs. The more remote, the less likely you are to have an unwanted run-in with a zombie neighbor. Also avoid establishing your settlement near roads, streets, or strip malls. Venture off the beaten path for maximum safety.
Of course, now that you and your community are living in relative isolation, it will be absolutely essential that you achieve a sustainable way of planting, irrigating, and harvesting food supplies. As an agricultural sciences major, you will help your community to produce, gather, and stockpile food. You will also learn how to manage crop cycles, optimize growing conditions, conserve soil, and cultivate an environmentally sound setting for ongoing food production.
Your community’s viability will depend entirely on how well you can collectively grow, manage, disperse, preserve, and replenish fresh food in an otherwise contained setting. The remoteness of your settlement should allow you to move about your surroundings with cautious freedom. However, in the event of a zombie siege or a sustained assault by human assailants, it will be important for you to be able to maintain a constant food supply without leaving your fortification.
As an agricultural major, you bring a great deal of value to an undead world by providing a fresh, locally sourced, and nutritious alternative to human flesh.
2 Animal Husbandry
Closely related to agriculture though a bit more romantic in nature, animal husbandry concerns the management of livestock. Food scarcity will become an all-too-real fact of life for those living in isolated pockets of human civilization. Those who have both the resources and the knowledge to domesticate, breed, and proliferate chickens, cows, pigs, sheep, and goats will be at a distinct advantage.
Naturally, chickens, cows, pigs, sheep, and goats don’t just farm themselves. Moreover, few relocating urbanites or suburbanites are likely to arrive at the compound with much experience handling farm animals. Make yourself a useful and rare commodity by majoring in animal husbandry.
The course of study will instruct you on stabling, breeding, feeding, and caring for traditional livestock animals. You will learn the important logistical dimensions by which a stock of live animals can be responsibly and humanely channeled into a steady, sustainable source of food. You will also learn proper safety precautions for working with and handling live animals.
These skills will also be of value in training and caring for beasts of burden such as horses and oxen. Both may be considered valuable modes of transportation by short distance in the absence of either navigable roads or a source of petroleum.
The skill set needed to care for and manage the traditional spectrum of agriculture animals may offer your community distinct nutritional and labor advantages not just in terms of surviving but perhaps even in terms of eventually rebuilding society. Realistically though, you should expect the first few years following your graduation to be defined largely by urban warfare and violent sociological regression. Consider this a great time to transition from your animal husbandry degree program into a real-world apprenticeship.
3 Applied Sciences
Creating a secure, livable, functional, and sustainable community in a remote location is not without its engineering challenges. Indeed, contrary to the rosy outlook provided by your guidance counselor, your transition from on-campus living to homesteading in an abandoned colonial ore-mining village (for instance) will not always be easy. But showing up with the right set of skills could make a significant difference.
Often, your community will be in the difficult position of having to create something from nothing. Whether it be the establishment of a sturdy fortification, the construction of sound structures, the harnessing of a renewable energy source, the advent of labor technologies, the implementation of agricultural strategies, or any number of unnamed endeavors, the applied sciences major will be critical. It will be your job to lead problem-solving efforts. And since a vast majority of the “problems” you will face will be a matter of life or death, you could not be more important to the long-term viability of your community.
Bear in mind that the Applied Sciences major could draw your focus toward any number of specific subordinate studies. Though the larger field concerns technological ingenuity, engineering innovation, and project leadership, applied sciences could lead you toward a specialty or set of specialties. As you move into your area of focus, consider a direction that will make you inherently valuable in a rebuilding society.
Biochemistry, electrical engineering, civil design, industrial design, mechanical engineering, and mechatronics rank high among the applied sciences foci that are most likely to benefit your long-term survival. Often, an applied sciences major will also have the opportunity to study military strategy and technology, the value of which cannot be overstated. Your chances of survival will depend less on your ability to confront a gathering zombie horde — an engagement which you will want to avoid — than on your ability to establish a secure, defensible, and tactically weaponized fortification for the protection your community.
As an applied sciences major, you will have the chance to learn and hone the skills necessary to do this and more. For every tactical problem that your community encounters, you will have a chance to be a part of the solution.
Part of learning how to survive in the remote wilderness will concern your ability to transform said wilderness into something resembling civilization. You and your fellow survivors will literally be pioneers, vying to persist in harmony with nature while also harnessing that which it has to offer for your survival. But of course, you won’t have much chance of survival just milling about in the open. You need a compound that can support human life while also protecting said life from the dangers lurking outside. Unless you expect to magically stumble upon a giant military-grade compound IKEA assembly kit (I believe it’s called a Körgenstuhl), your community will need the skills and knowledge that can only come from a major in architecture.
First and foremost to the safety and security of your community is a fortification capable of withstanding an onslaught of lumbering but countless and inexorable zombies, as well as withstanding the more cunning and strategic intrusion that will be attempted by bandits and looters. Of course, beyond the walls of this fortification, your community must also erect livable quarters, a multi-use common space, agricultural structures, a healthcare center, and a host of other facilities conducive to internal self-sufficiency.
If you are detail-oriented, good with numbers, have a strong sense of spatial reasoning, and are at all predisposed to sketching scaled, miniaturized versions of buildings, you’ve probably already given some thought to a major in architecture. News of the approaching Zombie Apocalypse should only strengthen your interest in this potentially life-sustaining career. Your building skills and your knowledge of structural engineering will be critical.
You’ll also learn how architectural design and environmental systems must coexist in order to produce a setting capable of sustaining human and natural life. In all likelihood, not only will your settlement be remote, but it will be strategically perched at a vantage that readily facilitates defense. This will pose any number of architectural challenges for which your education will be essential.
Your critical thinking skills and your capacity for abstract reason will make you an indispensable asset to your fellow survivors as you confront daily practical difficulties for which constructive solutions (literally) must be created. As a person who is trained in the science of creation, you will tap into your experience as an architecture major on a daily basis.
Biology is the study of life, which will ironically be of the utmost value to you in a world crawling with the undead. There are a few critical things that you must understand about the Zombie Apocalypse. Its cause is, according to most expert sources, not supernatural. To the contrary, the undead are victims of a viral epidemic for which there are no known vaccinations or cures. This means that our ability to understand, prevent, and perhaps even treat the virus will depend on our shared knowledge and understanding of life.
According to Max Brooks’s The Zombie Survival Guide, the virus is caused by a chemical called solanum, which begins by consuming the brain of its host before ultimately penetrating the entire circulatory system. What distinguishes this solanum virus — and what consequently makes zombies so difficult to repel — is that the infected brain does not require oxygen to propel the body. As an undead host, one’s body is able to largely function regardless of cellular decay or damage.
In essence, the zombie functions in a manner altogether distinct from that of human life. This poses a compelling quandary, not to mention a problem of momentous proportions from an epidemiological standpoint. A major in biology puts you in the admittedly dangerous, but potentially heroic, position to achieve any number of breakthroughs in our understanding of and ability to neutralize the solanum virus.
Even beyond this encompassing mission, your major in biology will make you an asset to a community that must engineer creative solutions to food production, healthcare, and responsible use of the natural environment. A course of study in biology will most assuredly make you a value to your fellow survivors on a day-to-day basis. But most importantly, it is also from this degree program that you might ultimately produce a cure that could save the world.
As you transition from life in an urban or suburban setting to a settlement deep in the wilderness, your knowledge of the flora around you will aid significantly in your fitness for survival. The flowers, trees, herbs, berries, nuts, seeds, fruit, and fungi around you hold many of nature’s secrets. Majoring in botany will help you to unlock these secrets.
From the search for medicinal solutions in the forest around you to the cultivation of growable food sources within your settlement, your botany major will make you an expert in plant species and their benefits, and should help to make you fluent in plant diseases, poisons, remedies, and topical solutions.
Your skill set will make you an excellent source for knowledge of air, water, and soil quality. You will also help to guide your community toward plant reproduction that is sanitary, sustainable, and industrious. You would also play an important role in your community’s hunting and gathering expeditions, guiding survivors toward nourishing plant life, while steering them away from growth that is hazardous, poisonous, or just doesn’t taste very good.
The knowledge you obtain as a botany student will give your community a particular advantage when it comes to outlining the nutritional value of your food sources and optimizing your collective intake. Survival is not just a matter of fighting off blood-drooling ghouls. Diabetes, heart disease, and obesity will still be real health risk factors, even in a post-Armageddon reality. As a botanist, you can help your community to make intelligent dietary decisions.
As you can see, your botany major will also require you to work in close coordination with other skilled members of your community. Your major will make you a linchpin for your community’s agricultural, medical, and culinary operations. As a botanist, you should be equally comfortable working with plants, humans, and, to a lesser extent, the walking undead.
7 Business Administration
❝My Business Administration major prepared me for the Zombie Apocalypse… how about you?❞
Granted, in an undead world, there won’t be much use for your million dollar smartphone app idea. Nor will your corporate-ladder climbing ambitions make you any less likely to become an amuse-bouche for discerning zombie diners. The skills that you acquire as a major in business administration will, however, be of considerable practical value to you and your fellow survivors. While business administration starts as a theoretical study of business, its applicable value will become readily apparent as you lead the charge for organized survival.
The true value of your business degree stems from the lessons you will learn about leadership, delegation, operations management, project implementation, and contingency planning. Depending on your foci within the scope of your major, you could bring a lot to the table.
From a zombie perspective, “human resources” largely refers to a very plentiful source of food. For the business major, this refers to the function of managing the needs, responsibilities, expectations, and ambitions of your fellow survivors. You could help survivors discover and cultivate hidden talents like farming, smithing, or zombie-slaying.
You may also find that the distinct leadership skills you’ve gained through your major make you particularly skilled at adjusting to new and emergent obstacles. Your brand of leadership may be molded by events around you. For instance, a surge of internal instability may require you to preserve order by acting as a hands-on, day-to-day operations manager.
By contrast, on the day your compound is besieged by legions of groaning necrotics, you will want to tap into your skills as a transformational leader. Indeed, this is the point at which your operation must shift its focus from daily survival to armed confrontation.
Your stewardship as a business-savvy leader could determine whether your operation thrives like a Macy’s or gets swallowed up into oblivion like a Bamberger’s.
8 City Planning
Today, your average city is a colorful mix of metropolitan elites, hipster bohemians, and low-income families. Opportunities for recreation and commerce abound. Indeed, one might argue that the city is where all the action is.
The very same truth will apply in the post-apocalyptic world. All the action will be concentrated in the cities. Dense population centers ensure a rapid spread of the solanum virus and the steady source of human flesh will draw roving undead suburbanites inward. The greater likelihood in this event is that the United States military will intervene by way of quarantine and mass nuclear inoculation. You probably don’t need a college degree to know that you will want to be long gone by then.
You may, however, benefit from a degree in city planning as you attempt to navigate a rapidly crumbling infrastructure, as you seek ways of escaping a city’s borders, as you strike out into the wilderness to create your own settlement, and as you negotiate an organizational, infrastructural, and practical balance therein. As an urban planning major, you will explore the core principles of urban design, investigate the concepts of land use and re-purposing, gain insight into the delicate relationship between planning and the environment, and become familiar with an array of geographic information systems.
These areas of knowledge will make you a natural leader as your band of survivors carefully traverses an urban landscape marked by death and carnage. Use your knowledge of urban design and layout to outflank mindless zombie lurkers. Use your familiarity with your particular urban war zone to evade military blockades and surmount a combination of traffic bottlenecks, exploding bridges, and felled overpasses. Avoid highway rest stops, no matter how badly you want a Cinnabon.
So much of your survival will depend on your ability to escape in spite of these challenges. As an urban planning major, think of yourself as Kurt Russell in Escape from L.A. (and, to a lesser extent, Escape from New York). Without you, your fellow survivors may never make it beyond the borders of the city you know so well. Should you succeed in navigating your community to safety, you will play an absolutely vital role in guiding the development of a sustainable infrastructure and in creating an organizational framework by which to maintain this infrastructure.
Clearly, a degree in urban planning gives you a lot of job opportunities. Whether you are leading a bedraggled crew of shell-shocked survivors through a fiery urban hedge-maze, or providing logistical oversight to the nurturing of a new civilization, your skills will be in demand.
This is going to come as a shock to many young college entrants, but when a mass extinction event such as the Zombie Apocalypse does occur, your smart phone will become a super-expensive paper-weight. If you think your 4G network coverage is occasionally dodgy now, just wait until the world’s cell phone towers go up in flames. Not only will you no longer be able to solve barstool debates by simply Wiki-ing something, but you’ll have to create safe and practical ways of maintaining communication between the members of your party without the benefit of texting or emojis. This is true whether you are enveloped in an infected area or you have succeeded in reaching and establishing a proper settlement.
A communication major will learn the art and science of delivering, disseminating, receiving, interpreting, and acting on information. The coordination of all activities depends on a modicum of effective, clear, rational, and purposeful communication. Learning how to overcome the absence of a centralized electronic communication infrastructure will be of critical tactical importance as you coordinate action at different points within your settlement or as you remain in contact with members of your party who are foraging, hunting, gathering supplies, conducting reconnaissance, or plotting military maneuvers in the field.
Your degree will make you an authority on creating and proliferating strategies of communication that ensure these activities are conducted safely and with a reduced risk of casualty. You will use what you have learned to help create and maintain a reliable system for mass internal communication, whether by closed-circuit broadcast, device-to-device engagement, or even distribution of print materials. Your goal is to ensure that the members of your community remain informed of important news regarding their health, safety, and the daily struggle for survival. Consider yourself your new settlement’s chief public information officer.
Your major will also provide you with an array of managerial skills that will make you particularly valuable when it comes to delegating responsibilities, mediating disagreements, and negotiating compromises. Your skills as a communicator will be essential to keeping the peace and promoting progress within your settlement.
Your ability to shape messages with intuition and transmit them with reliability gives you and your fellow survivors a distinct strategic advantage over a zombie horde that lacks the ability for articulation.
10 Criminal Justice Administration
Sadly, zombies will not be the only threat to the stability of your society. As civilization descends into chaos and disorder, there will be those among us who descend with it. As is often the case when natural disaster, armed conflict, or infrastructural collapse strike, the lowest common denominator will makes its presence felt.
A vacuum of power inherently facilitates the rise of banditry and warlordism. Scarcity of resources intensifies the threat posed by these populations. As you establish and protect your society, those who have chosen to exploit the reigning disorder will pose a constant threat, both of assault while you are in transit and of invasion while in your fortification.
You can create the proper defenses against this threat, do your best to avoid confrontation, and arm your community with the proper combat skills should confrontation occur. However, there is little that you will be able to do to stem the tide of wanton and destructive behavior outside of your protected society. On the bright side, evidence suggests that banditry and warlordism are both relatively unsustainable living strategies, the practitioners of which will experience generally limited odds of longterm survival.
Therefore, your focus must be on ensuring that your own delicately constructed society does not itself succumb to the baser human instincts reflected by such survival strategies. Enter the Criminal Justice major. As one studied in the field of administering justice, exercising mercy, protecting public safety, and enforcing the letter of the law, you will play the important role of drawing the line between order and chaos.
Your studies in criminal justice administration will inform you on the finer points of operational command leadership, incident response strategy, penalty enforcement, and corrections. These skills will be critical both as a response and deterrent to those within your society who might otherwise be tempted to violate the precarious balance established there within. You will learn how to manage and confront those who would otherwise undermine the safety, security, and basic rights of your fellow survivors.
This knowledge will also imbue you with a well-constructed sense of ethical responsibility, both for yourself and the members of your community. You will play a key role in helping to create a body for legislating basic rules and providing for the personnel and structure through which to enforce them.
Every community will differ in its needs, largely depending upon its size and cultural makeup. However, by focusing your college career on the administration of justice, you place yourself in a strong position to ensure that your fledgling society is safe, secure, fair, and equitable.
11 Culinary Services
Zombies and human beings do have one thing in common: We both get really cranky if we don’t feed. For their part, zombies are decidedly less omnivorous than human beings, sticking closely to a diet of living flesh. According to The Zombie Survival Guide, though zombies will resort to consumption of any and all living flesh, human meat is highly preferred.
If given the chance, human beings prefer and nutritionally benefit from a diet that is more varied. Moreover, survival in the Zombie Apocalypse does require a modicum of general physical well-being that can only come from exercise and a balanced nutritional strategy. This places a great responsibility on those who are skilled in the preparation, preservation, distribution, and rationing of food.
This is why we recommend a comprehensive course of study in the culinary arts and services, particularly for the college aspirant with a talent for taste. If you can picture yourself presiding over food prep for a team of hungry zombie-hunters, fresh from a day’s work, this may be the major for you.
Of course, there’s much more to it than that. In a time of food scarcity, you would be possessed with the invaluable capacity to yield comestibles, apportion non-perishables, and make well-informed decisions about that which is and which is not healthfully safe to plate. This latter skill is especially important if you find yourself in a context where the electrical grid is no longer a functioning reality. Saving, storing, and protecting food supplies from spoilage and infestation will be critical to the survival of your society.
Equally important are the kitchen management skills that accompany this major. Keeping a sanitary workplace, presiding over a cook staff, and ensuring a timely and efficient service will all be essential to the health and morale of your fellow survivors. A food-poisoning event could look an awful lot like an early-stage zombie outbreak, which would obviously have fairly disastrous results. Your diligence as a culinary major could make the difference between an evening of fine dining and a grisly massacre.
It is also not insignificant to note that a refined set of knife skills could come in handy both in the kitchen and in the event that one must ward off a small-scale incursion of zombies.
No one wants to hear your opinion on why the housing bubble burst. Chances are, it has something to do with the relatively poor track record that zombies have shown in making mortgage payments. But fear not: your talents as an economist will not be wasted in the undead world. Commodities trading will take on a whole new meaning after the apocalypse.
As a student of economics, you may be the most qualified among your fellow survivors to help maintain a healthy balance sheet between income (goods being produced) and expenditures (those being consumed) for your tiny, autarkic community.
Even if dollar bills are more useful as toilet paper than currency, your knowledge of supply and demand will be truly consequential. The science of economics offers several explanations for the complex and interdependent systems that sustain the production, distribution, and consumption of goods, be they food, lumber, fuel, or ammunition. Some of these commodities may exist in plentiful supply, while others may suffer from growing shortages. As an economics major, your part in this natural experiment will be to manage and find balance in this equation.
Though zombies are not particularly bright, they do benefit from the strategic advantage of requiring nothing for survival but living animal meat. They also don’t want much in the way of creature comforts. By contrast, humans have considerable needs for which accounting must be made. Creating a functioning community and reviving civilization will mean more than bare-subsistence survival. As an economist, you will be in a position to evaluate your community’s comparative advantages vis-à-vis other scattered human settlements, as long-distance trade networks slowly and painfully revive. In short, your knowledge will help you to foster a prosperous and thriving community, in stark contrast to the chaotic orgy of viral cannibalism inhabiting the outside world.
This is one profession in which your outlook may actually improve with the impending Zombie Apocalypse. To be sure, standardized testing will be a thing of the past as educators work to focus on decidedly more practical interests. Though traditional reading, math, and science courses will be building blocks in the educational process, the grading system, ranking, and curving procedures traditionally associated with education will fall by the wayside. Students will largely be motivated instead by the intrinsic understanding that failure makes you significantly more vulnerable to being eaten by a zombie.
We have a grave responsibility to protect our children and instill in them everything they need to thrive in this world. In a time of Zombie Apocalypse, these needs will change slightly. Your history lessons will likely be divided between that which occurred following the year 1 AZ (After Zombies) and that which occurred in the BZ (Before Zombies) era. Science classes will expand their focus from Drosophila mating and frog dissection to include taxonomy of the undead. Considerably more classroom time will be dedicated to training in armed combat.
As an education major, it will be your charge to instruct with knowledge, compassion, patience — and some level of urgency. It’s a tough world out there and our young learners will literally be eaten alive if not properly prepared. To the end of securing a future for your community and for the world at large, you must take an active part in creating a self-contained educational system. Design classrooms, author curricula, and provide pedagogical support to those with specialized skill sets of value to young learners. As a teacher, you are the thin red line (or blue, depending on your politics) which stands between our children and ignorance — as well as ignorance’s closest relation, a horrible bloody death.
On the bright side, as a teacher in a post-apocalyptic learning environment, you may instruct your charges with freedom, ingenuity, and creativity. Without high-stakes standardized testing, the only stakes you have to worry about are life and death.
Let’s be honest here for just a moment. All of these efforts at creating a sustainable community are well and good. But if you aren’t doing anything to solve the root problem, you might as well be a cheese plate at a zombie cocktail hour. As human meat supplies dwindle in urban hot spots and suburban neighborhoods, zombie hordes will instinctively begin fanning out in search of sustenance. They will find your settlement eventually, either in limited numbers or in irresistible wave after wave of putrescent force. Resistance can only buy you so much time.
This means that survival cannot be your only goal. Identifying a cure for the zombie virus must also be a top priority. As an epidemiology major, you could truly have the opportunity to help restore humanity’s dominion over the earth. Epidemiology is the biological science which studies patterns of infection and attempts to trace infectious agents to their points of origin. The ultimate goal of this discipline is to achieve a better understanding of a given pathogen and the pathological state it engenders, so as to derive methods for its prevention, treatment, and cure.
The scientific community largely concedes that the permeation of the solanum virus is what causes zombification and that the condition can only be communicated by way of bodily fluid, which is why you should a) avoid being bitten by a zombie; b) avoid sharing your cola with a zombie; and c) avoid romantic relations with a zombie. Beyond these facts, little is known about solanum, where it comes from, and how we can prevent it. Further, the condition of zombification is considered largely untreatable because the host body is itself already dead once the transformation is complete. The only known treatment for zombieism is two decisive blows to the head with a firearm or, failing that, a heavy blunt object such as a tire iron or garden gnome.
As an epidemiology major, your studies will be dedicated to expanding our shared understanding of the zombie virus and, eventually, to at least developing an inoculation to protect survivors from infection. Equally important will be the development of some pharmacological, radiological, or even electro-magnetic strategy for neutralizing the virus (and its host body) in a manner slightly more sanitary than the traditional mode of zombie disposal.
Declare a major in epidemiology and stand on the front line in the war to save humanity.
15 Environmental Sciences
Admittedly, now that the civilized world is a steaming heap of rubble, we can all agree that we could probably have done a better job at environmental preservation. On the other hand, if you have managed to escape your particular urban or suburban war zone and establish a settlement in the wilderness, you will get a second chance at harmonious cohabitation with the earth.
In fact, it will be your only chance of survival. Hot button environmental issues like global climate change and fossil fuel emissions may seem pretty secondary when your front yard is infested with rotting deathwalkers. But the truth is, these issues have never been more consequential. Among the things that you will probably be forced to live without are electricity, municipal waste disposal, running (read: flushing) water, and a neighborhood recycling program. There will be those human beings who, in the absence of civil order, will be reduced to an essentially feral state.
Distinguish yourself from those who descend into savagery by becoming an environmental sciences major. As an environmental sciences major, you will learn how to conserve resources, how to compost waste responsibly, how to reduce excessive consumption, how to produce clean energy, and how to enjoy the bounty of your surrounding wilderness while ensuring its continued fertility.
Most importantly, your knowledge and input will be critical to architects, agriculturists, and civil engineers as they attempt not just to rebuild society, but to do so in a way that is inherently more sustainable and ecologically sound. With nine-tenths of humanity dead, this will be our chance to push the reset button and finally learn to live in harmony with nature. You will bring an essential body of knowledge, so we can get it right this time.
16 Energy Studies
Once the zombies are in control, they will have very little use for a well-maintained electrical grid. They don’t watch television, they don’t use coffee makers, and no zombie in history has ever employed a vacuum cleaner. Evidence also suggests that zombies are quite effective at tracking prey in absolute darkness.
It won’t matter much to your settlement either way. An effectively remote fortification should place you far off the electrical grid regardless. It will likely be entirely up to your community to achieve energy independence. As we have stressed at multiple points throughout this guide, you will want to secure a settlement in close proximity to a running source of fresh water. You should also find yourself in the vicinity of an ample natural source of lumber. Moreover, by establishing your settlement at a strategic elevation, you secure both your defensive vantage and direct access to sunlight. The same elevation should also avail you of some windier conditions.
Each of these is a potential source of replenishable energy. As a major in energy studies, you will lead your community as it harnesses, harvests, and sustains a variety of natural energy sources. Your work will impact every aspect of daily life from the production of heat and light to the facilitation of large-scale farming operations and the powering of life-saving machinery. Learn how to channel hydroelectricity, to burn timber responsibly, to gather solar energy, and to use windmills to power electric generators.
The ability to create and use power has historically set us apart from the undead. As an energy studies major, you will keep the lights on for your community.
17 Human Services
In a context where humans are being eaten left and right, “Human Services” sounds a bit like a Soylent Green-sponsored course of study. But in fact, this has nothing to do with serving human meat for dinner. Human Services refers to the array of civic functions typically performed by a number of agencies from community outreach and social work to public administration and policy analysis.
With the total collapse of civilization, your state and municipality will inevitably cease performing even the most basic social services from policy development and law enforcement to trash disposal and after-school youth programs. Each community will be forced to fill these gaps in order to become a fully functional and self-contained society. If you feel that you are at your best when helping others, this could be the major for you.
As a human services major, you will learn how to coordinate the efforts of multiple agencies, how to make support resources readily accessible to all parties, how to distribute personnel in order to optimize the efficiency of varying agencies, and how to engage in outreach and information campaigns aimed at the public health and safety. Chances are the last of these will be largely dedicated to finding a sensitive way to inform otherwise uneducated citizens about the dangers of consorting with the undead.
Your studies in human services will guide you as you open the lines of communication between members of your public and your settlement’s elected government or, failing that, the person with the biggest gun. Personnel and resources will likely be limited in this post-political environment, but your work could go a long way toward building some semblance of civilization for your community.
18 Integrated Water Resources Management
❝My Water Resources Management major prepared me for the Zombie Apocalypse… how about you?❞
Once again, we can’t stress enough just how important a constant source of fresh running water will be to your survival as a community. It should also be clear, then, that your community would be well-served by an individual with a profound and actionable knowledge of that water source. Channeled properly and responsibly, your water source will not only quench your community’s thirst, but also provide for agricultural irrigation, bathing, fishing, and even travel.
By dedicating your college studies to the marine and freshwater sciences, you will bring a wealth of knowledge to your community about how to use the bodies of water nearest your settlement for these purposes without disrupting the ecological balance upon which your survival depends. You will learn how to test water quality, observe the habits of aquatic life, and help your community avoid hazardous plant life, animal species, and bacteria.
Help your community to normalize processes for yielding potable drinking water, farming free range fish, and treating water for public use by way of filtration, purification and, if necessary, desalinization. For the purposes of safety, your familiarity with regional waterways will also be of considerable value to your transportation strategy. One of the great bonuses of spending much of your time around water is that zombies are not very strong swimmers. Your chances of survival in a waterborne zombie attack are generally pretty good.
Major in water resource studies and keep your community both hydrated and alive.
Creating a community from scratch in the depths of the wilderness is not as easy as it sounds. The true scope of this undertaking will be among the greatest challenges you have ever faced in your life — except, of course, for escaping the downtown deathtrap that your city has become. Once you have extricated yourself from this less-than-ideal environment, you must not only build a society, but also keep it running.
This means properly stockpiling munitions, keeping an inventory of survival necessities, coordinating the physical distribution of goods, and using available data to forecast future needs. A logistics major will gain the knowledge and procedural know-how to anticipate, confront, and resolve the practical challenges we historically associate with a consumer culture.
While survivors in the Zombie Apocalypse will no longer have the luxury of stalking FedEx tracking numbers online or placing special overnight delivery orders at Target, the timely distribution of fuel, artillery, food, medicine, and other goods either within your fortification or to members or your community working in the field could be a matter of life or death. As a logistics major, it will be your charge to project these needs and coordinate the most practical, efficient, and ergonomically consistent ways of fulfilling them.
Your logistics major will also make you the transportation czar for your community. Depending on the resources available, this may entail as much as administrating, scheduling, and maintaining public transport vehicles or as little as ensuring that people aren’t illegally parking their horses.
20 Mechanical Engineering
Depending on certain factors such as your geography, your escape plan, and your strategy for long-term survival, you may or may not benefit from a fusion-powered, armor-plated, all-terrain vehicle capable of deploying lethal force, traversing zombie hordes without impediment, and withstanding a military-grade blast from above or below. Naturally, if this is your situation, you will be glad that you acquired your degree in mechanical engineering.
Your education should give you the tools and knowledge to create just such a weaponized abomination, as well as any number of other more pedestrian innovations. Presuming that your armored vehicle has safely stewarded you to your new settlement, life will soon throw countless challenges your way. You will apply your mechanical engineering education to a wide range of practical questions, all with the objective of improving your community’s chances for long-term survival.
Your knowledge of circuitry will help your community turn energy into power. Your understanding of fluid mechanics will help your community produce innovative solutions to agricultural challenges. Your knowledge of aerodynamics and robotics could be invaluable if your community ever intends to use unmanned drone technology to conduct reconnaissance, warfare, or recreational airborne battlebot tournaments.
Fashion your community’s smartphones into radio transmitters, weaponize your fortification, or transform an ice-cream truck into a combat-ready assault wagon. And if you think you might be a visionary capable of designing the world’s first reliable and discreet zombie detector, consider how much your major in mechanical engineering could benefit the world. Use the wealth of knowledge that you will gain as a mechanical engineering major to remove human beings from harm’s way while taking the fight directly to the zombie.
Having a cold is the worst. The constant runny nose. The scratchy, sore throat. The always-present threat that taking a cough medicine which causes drowsiness will make you a sitting duck when the zombies break through your community’s first line of defense. You know what we’re talking about. You’ve had a cold before.
Of course, a cold is only one of a million things that could impair your health in a post-apocalyptic world. Anybody who has ever played Oregon Trail knows that homesteaders face an array of health hazards from malaria to dysentery to drowning by unfordable river. As a pioneer in the wilderness, your settlement will face these challenges, as well as the hazards of everyday life such as broken legs, concussions, and heart attacks. Also, now that much of the civilized world has burnt to the ground, there’s all kinds of random stuff floating around in the air and that just can’t be good for you.
In the world immediately following a sustained doomsday event, nursing and medical majors will have their hands full. If you like to help people and you aren’t squeamish about everything that dysentery implies, one of these might be the major for you. Of course, the study of medicine could mean a lot of different things. Your options include nursing, general practice, surgery, neurology, pediatrics, neonatology, and even podiatry. Don’t underestimate the importance of good arch support when you are forced to out-sprint an undead attacker.
Whatever your area of focus, your medical studies will become life-saving skills. Learn to treat patients in combat zones, to provide care without the benefit of modern life-support technology, and to differentiate the symptoms of zombification from those of common influenza.
If your community is doing everything right, you will not only be in a position to cure the sick and heal the injured, you will also be delivering the next generation of pioneers and zombie-hunters.
22 Military Strategy
During the Zombie Apocalypse, everybody is a soldier. Whether you like it or not, you will be recruited into the Army of the Living. By majoring in military strategy, you could be a leader in this army.
From the moment that you band together as a unit of survivors, to the journey that you undertake to emerge at your settlement, to the day that this settlement is ultimately penetrated by an insatiable mass of zombies, you will be working to stay alive in a war zone. A major in military strategy will provide you with a background in tactical movement, urban combat, defensive positioning, offensive maneuvering, and discipline within a chain of command. You’ll learn light weapons use and deployment of heavy artillery. You will also gain the ability to face your fears with fortitude, and the wherewithal to motivate others to do likewise.
You will play a key role in your community’s capacity to defend itself. Take a lead in designing a fortification that is strategically sound, that is perched in such a way as to facilitate ready defense, and that provides a pre-positioned fall-back shelter. As to this last point, you will also prepare your community for the eventuality of zombie penetration by ensuring that your fellow survivors have been properly trained in hand-to-hand combat, weapons use, tactical engagement, and personal discipline.
Turn your community of ordinary citizens into a well-oiled brigade of cold-blooded zombie killers. Major in military strategy and learn how to win the war against an unending infantry of the undead.
They say that laughter is the best medicine, but in actuality medicine is the best medicine. Unfortunately, both may be in short supply when the undead walk the earth. Given the conditions of general chaos and infrastructural decay around you, the risks of tetanus, cholera, and botulism will never have been higher. The need for antibiotics, inoculations, and narcotics will be substantial.
Once looters and military personnel have liberated the world’s retail and production outlets of their supplies, it will fall upon your community to procure the necessary materials to produce your own remedies. As a pharmacology major, you will learn about the chemical compounds that produce proven medicinal substances, you will gain an understanding of the way that certain chemicals interact with the body, you will learn the side-effects of various treatment strategies, and you will study the complex dynamics between the human body, its pathologies, and the drugs needed to treat them.
Your studies in the production, administration, and medical precaution associated with pharmacology will make you essential to preserving the long-term health and viability of your fellow survivors and your community as a whole. It will be up to you to synthesize treatments and remedies using only what is at your disposal, including the flora, fauna, and other features of your natural environment.
As a major in pharmacology, your importance to the world’s survival cannot be overstated. In the face of a massive viral epidemic, no weapon is more powerful than the cure. Even as you ensure the continued health and well-being of your fellow survivors, your larger mission will be to work with others in your community to synthesize a chemically derived immunization, as well as an antidote for those who are yet in the earliest phases of zombification.
24 Physical Education
Nothing makes the work of a zombie easier than a person who is out of shape. As the film Zombieland illustrates in all too vivid detail, the least active among us are inherently the first to go. Cardio is a must.
Though physical education is a discipline often overlooked and undervalued in the public school curriculum, it will take on a whole new level of importance in the After Zombie era.
Of course, the content of physical education must also change. Low-impact activities like badminton, pickle ball, and Newcomb will be replaced by grappling, gauntlet running, and stamina training. Dodgeball will still be played, but the ball will be rigged with a light-charge explosive. The goal of physical education will be to prepare and harden students for survival. If you feel that you have the character and leadership skills to take on this responsibility, you should consider a degree in physical education.
As a major in physical education, you’ll learn how to instruct others toward personal fitness goals, how to coach individuals into a cohesive team, and how to motivate your students to achieve new heights of strength, speed, and physical excellence. You’ll also learn some of the basics of human anatomy, sports medicine, muscle development, physiology, and kinesthetics. Your education will make you a singularly valuable source for organization, instruction, and encouragement in the context of physical fitness, training, and even recreational sports.
Channel these skills into creating a community of well-trained, physically fit, and fiercely competitive survivors.
Admittedly, there won’t be much time for lying around on a couch talking about your feelings in the time of the undead. Besides, it’s not that complicated. You’re afraid of being eaten by a zombie or being turned into a zombie or watching as your Great Aunt Hortence becomes a zombie. These are rational fears and not altogether uncommon among young graduates. You don’t need a psychologist to cope with these normal post-college concerns. However, even in the Zombie Apocalypse, understanding the mysterious inner-workings of the human mind will remain an important preoccupation.
As you attempt to forge a stable and lasting community, one of your biggest obstacles will be the divergent values and opposing wills of your fellow survivors. As preferable as it may be to zombieism, human nature will remain a huge practical pain in the butt even at this late juncture in the life cycle of our species. People will argue, disagree, and call each other creative but cruel names. This is where a psychology major could have a profound impact on the trajectory of his or her community.
Psychology focuses on individual and collective behavior, two factors which will determine whether you produce a harmonious and self-sufficient society or a cesspool of in-fighting, recrimination, and mutiny. Take the lead in helping to mediate conflict, mollify rogue factions, and bridge ideological gaps. You will help the members of your community to move beyond personal differences in favor of shared survival.
Your training will also make you a source of calm for those dealing with apocalypse-related anxiety, a source of support to those learning critical life skills for the first time, and a source of comfort to those coping with the grief of seeing loved ones transformed into oozing flesh-eaters.
So now that we’ve considered the college majors which are most likely to benefit your survival, it’s time to acknowledge out loud what we’ve all been thinking. In a lot of ways, being a graduate in a time of Zombie Apocalypse is really hard. You may long to return to the carefree lifestyle you enjoyed on campus, but it’s now time to make sense of a world in which jobs are scarce, the economy is on a downward trend, and responsible adults that you once knew are now trying to eat you.
The truth is, it takes time to find yourself and you’ll need to be patient. A philosophy major can give you the intellectual instruments you need to stay on this path and to help others in their own internal journeys.
Of course, philosophy is not strictly reserved for your internal process. The field is dedicated to creating an open discourse over ideas, to stimulating abstract and critical thinking, to exploring the conceptual and ideological frameworks that guide human interaction, and to understanding the social contracts which anchor human civility.
Consideration must also be given to the harsh existential questions raised by survival in a world where dangers are many, pleasures are few, and hot showers are in short supply. A major in philosophy may arm you with the uniquely rational disposition to cope with your reality and with the rhetorical gifts to help others do the same.
Perhaps most importantly, a course of study in philosophy will imbue you with a strong sense of ethical propriety. Refine your understanding of the complex and varied schools of thought governing human behavior in order to bring an eye of ethical discretion to your community. One reason that so few zombies ever establish fulfilling or lasting personal relationships is because they lack empathy and the ability to hold stimulating conversations. With a major in philosophy, you can help to ensure that your community is caring, compassionate, and conversational.
As a recent graduate, you have plenty of challenges ahead. Between looking for a job, moving out of your parents’ house, and notching your first personal zombie-kill, you are at a pivotal moment in your life. Major in philosophy and learn how to make sense of this moment and, consequently, how to make the most of it!
Brooks, M. (2003) The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead. Random House (Kindle Edition).
Fleischer, R. (2009) Zombieland. Columbia Pictures.