Emerson College in Boston has announced that it will soon offer a degree in making people laugh.
The communications and arts school said Wednesday that starting in September 2016 it will be the first college to offer a four-year bachelor of fine arts in comedic arts degree. The degree will be grounded in the history and theory of comedy with practical learning and a focus on preparing students for careers in comedy performance, writing and production.
The degree is in response to what Emerson calls the "marked rise of comedy's impact on American culture and its global influence."
Martie Cook, director of the comedy major, told WBUR's newscast unit the degree will give a leg-up to aspiring comedians.
"Comedy, like all arts, is an incredibly competitive field. So it is important, I think, to have a degree. The more trained you are the better you're going to be," she said.
President Lee Pelton says "the new major will combine an academic focus with hands-on opportunities."
Emerson's alumni already famous in the comedy world include Jay Leno, Denis Leary, Steven Wright and producer Norman Lear.
With reporting from the WBUR newsroom and The Associated Press