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15 Of The Wackiest College Classes Taught In America Today

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

Colleges and universities around the United States are experiencing post-pandemic enrollment decline, and it has become more of a challenge for these tertiary education institutions to retain and attract students espeically given the high cost of tuition, despite potential promises of student loan forgiveness.

But fear not!  Administrations are pushing new and unique course offerings running the gamut from physical activity (surfing, tree climbing), to little activity at all (clap your hands for credit, how to fail), to popular culture (Lady Gaga, Beyoncé) to serial killers (Ted Bundy? Jeffery Dahmer? Seriously?) in the hopes that they will shake-up the often hum-drum life of dry lectures, early class start times and repetitive instruction.

Introduction to Surfing and Tree Climbing

These two courses come off as the least wacky of the bunch. Pepperdine University in Malibu takes advantage of its location to offer a one-credit surfing and ocean safety course. Classes fill almost instantly when registration begins! a course description promises.

Across the country at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., students can take a course on how to get up a tree, move around in it and even climb (or swing?) to another tree.

Popular Culture

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Music fans can take a course on Beyoncé called “Nature of Society: Beyoncé and Intersectionality” at Texas Christian University where they are taught the characteristics of the Houston-born pop queen. Open discussions in class also cover such bold topics as racism, classism and sexism. The University of South Carolina offers “Lady Gaga and The Sociology of Fame” to explore the sociology of pop culture through the rise of music icon Lady Gaga. Also discussed in this course is how superstardom is the result of business, law, media, sexuality and fandom.

Perspective law-students at University of California Berkeley can take “Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular ‘Logic’ on TV Judge Shows” where they examine both “Judge Judy” and “The People’s Court” to determine whether these shows reflect the legal system or distort it.

For students with a more literary bent there are “Harry Potter: Understanding Good & Evil” at High Point University in High Point, N.C., and “How ‘The Simpsons’ Saved American Literature” at Hoftra University on Long Island.

And since we love watching people crash and burn on TV students have an opportunity to explore these major failures in a course called “Topics: Failure” taught at the Clive Davis Institute at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.


A UCLA Extension seminar offers “Dealing Tactfully with Difficult People” which sounds like a beneficial course for overly-sensitive students trained to view all interactions as potential microagressions. Participants learn specific strategies for dealing with behaviors such as verbal attacks and put-downs, complaining, thoughtlessness, manipulation, attention-seeking, excessive talking, withdrawal, rule-breaking, excuses and feigned helplessness.

If you are at Montclair State in Montclair, N.J. and decide to pursue a communications major you can take “Going Viral” where you will explore media concepts and theories and contemporary viral phenomena, especially how social media are transforming the way we do business, politics, entertainment and activism.

The Wackiest Of The Bunch

If you share Joe Biden’s love of ice cream you can take a lecture on ice cream manufacturing at Penn State University. If you have ever wondered how and why people manipulate their bodies there is “Nip, Tuck, Perm, Pierce, Tattoo, Embalm: Adventures with Embodied Cultures” at Alfred University in Alfred, N.Y.  If puppets are your thing, go to the University of Connecticut where can learn about puppetry production around the world, including the performances’ social, political and religious contexts.

But the pinnacle of pedagogical wackiness takes place at two different universities.

“Music 113: Music in Performance” aka Clap for Credit is a one-credit course at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, that students can take as many as three times. Students show up to one 50-minute lecture each week, listen to a musical performance for each class — then clap when those performances conclude.

And if you are at High Point University taking that Harry Potter course you can also indulge your fascination for serial murderers in a four-credit course on “Serial Murder.” Students at this university study the origin of serial killers — including people such as Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy — and exactly what makes their gruesome acts so fascinating.