Race track management, offered only at the UA, was considered one of the most ""unusual"" college degrees to receive, according to CareerBuilder.com.
UA's Race Track Industry Program provides students with the knowledge for multiple career paths in the horse racing industry. Students can choose the ""animal path,"" which instructs them in fields such as horse training or breeding, or the ""business path,"" which trains them in the management side of the industry.
Douglas Reed, the director of the Race Track Industry Program, explained that the ""extremely diverse"" industry is part of what makes the program so unique. He said that the industry contains entertainment such as gambling, food, and beverages, in addition to being a ""world renown"" competitive sport.
So why is the UA the only university to offer this program?
Reed said that people in the industry sought officials within the business, which required college educated individuals. The idea was ""shopped around"" to different colleges, and the UA was the only one willing to try it.
""It was initially done as an experiment,"" he said.
Edward King, a junior in the program taking the business path, said that he knew he wanted a career in horse racing because he grew up around it. He said the first time that he heard about the program was on TVG, a horse racing channel, but he also worked for a trainer who was an alumnus of the program, who told him about it and helped him get in.
King said that the program helps prepare him to work in the industry by meeting different types of people within it, as well as learning about the business side and how the industry is conducted as a whole.
""It's given me a whole different definition, rather then just the one I grew up with,"" he said.
In past years, more than 80 percent of graduates from the program got a job right out of school, according to Reed, and enrollment in the program this year ranged from 40 to 50 students.
Reed said that he was ""a little worried about the future"" in job placement due to the economy, and that networking and guest speakers brought into the program is one of the many ways that help students get jobs.
Ann McGovern, a 1982 graduate of the program and previous president and general manager of Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino, said that the program allowed her to become proficient in the practices and language of the racing and gaming industry. She said that, as someone who always loved horses and business, the program was a ""perfect fit"" for her.
She added that making contacts within the industry, like other students and alumni, was an important factor in finding a job. Networking with alumni allowed her to meet the general manager of a racetrack, who put together an internship for her.
""Not a lot of industries allow you to have face time with key players in that industry,"" she said.
For more information, please visit http://ag.arizona.edu/rtip.