It's not uncommon anymore for Universities to offer odd courses with strange titles. It's really not that strange, either, for students to turn those strange courses into an area of expertise for their careers.

But rarely can one-off courses be turned into an actual bachelor's degree. I say "rarely," because in the 1990s, on student at the University of Indiana turned his music studying into the first ever bachelor's degree in Rock and Roll History.

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Who is John Jackson?

You might know John Jackson as the one-time guitar player for The Jayhawks, but he's also got a pretty prestigious job with Sony. He is the vice president of A&R and Content Development for Sony's Commercial Music Group, and he happens to oversee the back catalog for Elvis Presley, as well as catalogs for Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash.

He also works closely with the Estate of former AC/DC lead singer Bon Scott, and helped organize an event in New York City.

But he wouldn't be so lucky to have this job, had it not been for the education he received while attending Indiana University in the 1990s, where he became the first person ever to receive a Bachelor's Degree in Rock and Roll History.

`John Jackson, musician, Rock and Roll History Degree
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How do you get a Degree in Rock History?

Jackson began attending Indiana University in 1992, and one of the first courses he took was the "History of Rock 'n' Roll Music" with then-professor Glenn Gass, who had been teaching the course for almost 20 years at IU. It was only an elective at the time, but did count toward some music degrees the university offered - none of them, though, directly involving rock and roll.

Jackson enjoyed the course so much, he decided to continue pursuing it, taking every rock history course the university would offer. He even offered to be Gass' assistant if the professor ever needed help with anything in his department.

Four years later, Jackson took his course load, put it into the Individualized Major Program that IN offers, and came out with "The World's First Bachelor's Degree in Rock History."

Since then, the university has begun offering an Undergraduate Certificate for Rock History, but the course load requires the following:

  • History of the Blues
  • History of Rock 'n' Roll Music I, II, and III

It also required at least six credit hours from the following courses, each of which are 3 credit hours:

  • The Music of the Beatles
  • Music of Frank Zappa
  • Music of Jimi Hendrix
  • The Music of Bob Dylan
  • The Music of the Beach Boys

It's unknown how many people have followed in Jackon's path and gotten a similar degree, but he has certainly put his to good use.

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