By Christy Strawser

BIG RAPIDS (CBS Detroit) Here’s a new way to help Michigan’s ‘ale-ing’ economy .. Get a first of its kind college degree.

Ferris State University is offering a unique program: an associate’s degree in the brew industry.

Students will learn bar management, entrepreneurship, small business management, and the technicalities of brewing and fermenting processes, safety and sanitation.

“This will bring national attention to Ferris and increased distinctiveness to the FSU Hospitality Management program,” the preliminary curriculum approval form says.

The form adds there are newly developed fermentation science programs launching in Michigan and around the country “and we will continue to see more as the craft brew industry grows.”

“Breweries and brewpubs are the fastest growing segment within the restaurant industry,” the form says.

Michigan is home to 180 craft breweries. In 2014, craft brewers produced 22.2 million barrels of brew, and saw an increase of 22 percent in retail dollars. The state’s beer sector employs more than 64,000 people, Ferris’ document says.

“For any local person coming up in the industry, it’s something to check out. I would definitely hire them (a degree holder) over someone who has been a home brewer. A degree always helps,” said Ryder Anderson, a Ferris alumnus who’s a manager at North Peak Brewery in Traverse City. Anderson has a degree from Ferris’ hospitality management program.

The new brew degree is a two-year associate’s program.

“Traditional students are and will be drawn to the distinctiveness of the degree program, the quality of programming, and the high availability of jobs within the craft beer industry,” Ferris’ curriculum document says.