AMHERST, Mass. -- John Dwork never feels guilty when he steps outside to play with his Frisbee. The flips and tosses are course requirements for the 'Professional Flying Disk Entertainment and Education' major.
'When you take the time to take a look at what I've done, it's completely legitimate,' Dwork, a Hampshire College senior said Tuesday. 'It's just the title that's unusual.'
Dwork, 24, a New York City native, combined business, psychology and dance classes with lots of Frisbee flinging to graduate from the 1,100-student experimental college with the off-beat degree.
But Dwork insisted his major has prepared him for life after college.
'I didn't just play Frisbee in college,' he said. 'I got what is really a typical education. I probably did a lot more work than a lot of people are required to do.'
The liberal arts college allows students to design their own majors and earn degrees by taking classes, doing research projects and defending their work to faculty committees.
Dwork maintained a B average in management, marketing and economics courses at the nearby University of Massachusetts to complement his Hampshire projects.
One effort involved analyzing the physiological and psychological stresses experienced by Frisbee players. Another was a paper comparing freestyle Frisbee playing to dance.
Dwork first picked up a Frisbee in 1975 when he spotted someone twirling a disc on his finger tip in Central Park in New York. He went on to become the world Frisbee freestyle champion in 1978 and 1979.
He has performed in the Rose Bowl and on television shows ranging from Wide World of Sports to Sesame Street. In the midst of his schooling, he took a year off to tour with a Frisbee freestyle troupe he organized called The Wizards.
'Frisbee is, for me, a discipline, very much like dance or the martial arts are for others,' he said. 'I use it to inspire me to learn things that have nothing to do with Frisbee.'
Dwork said he has learned to be an 'entrepreneur, an organizer.' He has given lectures to graduate business majors and has done marketing work and endorsements for sporting goods companies, he said.
Dwork's not sure exactly what he plans to do after graduation, but said he'll continue his involvement with Frisbee.
'It's paying off already,' he said.