Graduates of so-called Mickey Mouse degrees have skills that are vital to a successful economy, a report says.
University of Plymouth runs a surf science and technology degree
Courses in golf management, cosmetic science and surfing have previously been attacked for devaluing academia.
But according to vice-chancellors' group, Universities UK, they are valuable preparation for jobs in emerging and established industries.
The report looked at 26 universities which developed degrees alongside employers and found them effective.
Universities UK's president, Professor Drummond Bone, said: "Critics and media commentators have sometimes referred disparagingly to some of these courses as Mickey Mouse degrees.
"This publication - which we could equally have called The Mouse That Roared - is our response.
"While some of the degrees featured were unheard of a few years ago, graduates with the skills developed on these courses are essential to the success of the economy."
The Higher Level Learning report highlights degrees from universities which focus on business and enhancing employability.
Among them are:
- A four-year degree in brewing and distilling at Heriot-Watt University, designed to educate potential managers and teach the science and technology of processes.The course has close links with the industry, with representatives sitting on an educational board and giving lectures.
- A degree in surf science and technology at Plymouth University which aims to prepare future managers for the growing surfing industry.
- An applied golf management studies degree at Birmingham University which is said to produce future coaches and managers for a game that has five million players across the country and is worth about £4bn to the economy.
- A cosmetic science degree at London Metropolitan University developed with global cosmetics company Elizabeth Arden and covering research, marketing and technical sales.
When an industry is worth billions of pounds, it is quite right that there should be a range of courses offered to ensure a workforce with diverse and specific skills, Prof Bone said.
He added: "Higher level learning demonstrates how effectively universities are focusing their teaching to meet employer and student demand, as well as Government aims for the UK economy."
The publication comes ahead of the final report of Lord Leitch's review for the government, Skills in the UK.
In his interim report published last December, he underlined the importance of higher level skills to the UK economy and the role that universities can play in delivering this.
In a foreword to the report, Alan Johnson, education secretary, said: "As the HE sector begins to operate in a competitive market, employer-led provision will enable delivery of the skills that the labour market needs, and that students want."
Richard Lambert, director-general of the CBI, added that highly skilled graduates were needed if the UK was to retain its position as the fifth largest economy in the world.