12 Weird (But Awesome) Classes That Have Actually Been Offered at Colleges

Weird college classes
Frostburg State University offers a course titled "The Science of Harry Potter". TinoM under Creative Commons

Choosing your class schedule might just be the most frustrating part of college life.

After a monthlong dance over the delicate tripwires that are 8 a.m. lectures and horrible professors, you log on to register for the one class you actually need to graduate on time — only to watch the open seats vanish before your eyes.

Then, in a panic, you sign up for three different philosophy classes just to fill your schedule.

But let’s be real.

College is an existential crisis all on its own, and you certainly don’t need another lofty professor telling you we’re all just specks of dust hurtling into the void on a giant rock and that society is built on the very arbitrary concept of good and evil, and something about shadows in a cave and for the love of puppies what is the meaning of this life?!


What I’m trying to say is if your tuition money has to go somewhere, you might as well enjoy the class. And what’s more enjoyable than Yeezy and coffee? Probably nothing.

If you have to fill some blanks in your schedule, look around for classes that spark your interest — you’ll have some fun, and you might even learn something useful along the way.

12 Weird College Classes That Have Actually Been Offered

To get you started, here are a few (very real) classes from recent years to inspire your search through the underbelly of the course catalog.

1. Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse: Disasters, Catastrophes, and Human Behavior

This online course from Michigan State University looks at how humans behave during catastrophes and disasters.

Students navigate challenges as they learn about the planning and management that promotes group survival, and, more importantly, what a catastrophic event would mean for humanity.

(Also, it’s open to anyone who wants to take the course — college students and non-students alike!)

2. The Art of Walking: The German Novella

Centre College offers this course on walking, for those of us who never learned how.

OK, not really. It’s actually an exploration of German culture’s wandering traditions through literature and weekly hikes — so I guess there’s some thinking involved.

3. Introduction to Beekeeping

While we should all learn how help our very significant and very-quickly-dying-out pollinating friends, you could actually get college credit for it.

This course from Temple University teaches students the science and art of beekeeping, and explains the critical role of bees in our ecosystem.

4. The Science of Harry Potter

This course at Frostburg State University was the brainchild of Professor Plitnik (who sounds like he might be an actual Harry Potter character) and an exploration of the physics behind the magic throughout the beloved book series.

5. Lemonade: Black Women, Beyonce & Popular Culture

The University of Texas at San Antonio offers a class, that explores “the theoretical, historical, and literary frameworks of black feminism, which feature prominently in Lemonade,” by looking at black feminist literature, theory, film and music — pretty much everything Lemonade is.

6. Coffee 101

Exactly what it sounds like: This course from Oberlin Experimental College focuses on “coffee and its history for the average Joe” (I see your coffee pun).

Oberlin Experimental College has a whole program devoted to allowing people from the school and surrounding town to develop and teach not-so-ordinary courses. Honorable mention: Beginning Dungeons and Dragons.

7. How to Stage a Revolution

Ohio State University is busy training the next generation for revolt. Just kidding (maybe), but it does offer a course that looks at different revolutionary movements to better understand why some succeed and others fail.

8. The #selfie

Someday, when society as we know it lies in ruins, alien archeologists from 300 million light-years away will sift through billions of photos of duck-faced girls and shirtless dudes — and it will be just as weird for them as it is for us.

But that’s not exactly what this class, which was available at Duke University, touched on. Instead, it focused on the history of portraiture and the modern idea of “everyday life.”

I promise, the course sounds way more intriguing than the title would lead you to believe.

9. Tightwaddery, Or the Good Life on a Dollar a Day

“Money doesn’t buy happiness.”

Ah yes, wise words — and the entire premise of this class from Alfred University, where students learned that the connection between happiness and money is “a lie perpetrated by capitalists in order to sell their products.”

Which might be true, but the class explored the idea on both theoretical (through discussions about students’ relationship with money) and practical (through a study in how to live frugally) levels. It’s like Penny Hoarding 101!

10. The Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius and Sonic Aesthetics

A whole semester with Kanye West. Just imagine.

Yeah, OK — not my cup of tea.

However, the premise for this course from Washington University in St. Louis is pretty interesting. The class focuses on Kanye’s influence on music, fashion, politics and videography, and examines the way these things direct our views on fame, gender, sexuality and race. A really neat angle on a pretty eccentric guy.

11. Patternmaking For Dog Garments

The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York offers this class, which is exactly what it sounds like.

Students learn how to turn basic sketches into patterns for dog clothing, and it’s actually more complicated than you would think. Students use a doggie dress form to understand the slopes and body features of different dog breeds, so there’s a science involved.

And I mean, come on, this knowledge could come in very handy some day.

12. Wasting Time on the Internet

The University of Pennsylvania once offered this class, which aimed to reframe the idea of wasting time on the internet, instead calling the World Wide Web the “greatest poem ever written.”

Nice try, Penn. This is probably just an excuse to spend a whole semester watching cat videos.

And If you’ve made it to the end of this post, you’ve succeeded at wasting at least 10 minutes on the internet, so A+ for you!

Your Turn: What’s the strangest class you’ve ever taken?

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She once took a class where the final was a weekend camping trip — and she almost failed.