Strange School Classes, Out of the Box College-University Courses

Written by College Cliffs Team At, our team, comprising seasoned educators and counselors, is committed to supporting students on their journey through graduate studies. Our advisors, holding advanced degrees in diverse fields, provide tailored guidance, current program details, and pragmatic tips on navigating application procedures.

Reviewed by Linda Weems I got started researching colleges and universities about 10 years ago while exploring a second career. While my second career ended up being exactly what I’m doing now, and I didn’t end up going to college, I try to put myself in your shoes every step of the way as I build out College Cliffs as a user-friendly resource for prospective students.

Updated: February 23, 2024, Reading time: 11 minutes

Find your perfect college degree

College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Let’s face it: Being in college is both a great opportunity and, at times, an insurmountable challenge. There’s no arguing that a college education paves the way for that lucrative and fulfilling dream career.

And as much as it is a time to explore their newfound sense of independence, college students find that making the daily decision to attend college classes amid the hurdles of student life can be utterly frustrating.

College students struggle with sticking to their class schedules for a number of reasons. To graduate on time, some fill the gap by enrolling in a class that doesn’t excite them, hence the lack of motivation to sit through it.

It can be equally infuriating to end up taking three different philosophy or management classes just to satisfy your required course credits.

And seriously, who wants to spend a chunk of their time each day doodling in class? If the thought of your college professor with a fondness for one-way lectures drives you nuts, you are not alone.

Students may not always realize it, but losing the motivation and energy to attend class, and deciding altogether to skip them, has costly implications. That said, the importance of choosing college classes that ignite your interest can’t be overstated.

College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Interesting Classes? Think Strange.

You should pick college classes that not only enrich your faculty of knowledge but also make you look forward to attending. Only by choosing classes that are not only mentally enriching but also enjoyably fulfilling will you genuinely appreciate the academic side of college life.

But here’s where it gets really interesting. In a world where higher education is synonymous with formalities, customs, and regulations, there exist college classes that defy the norms by having some of the most ridiculous college courses.

And yes, they are absolutely offered by various colleges and universities across the United States (and globally, we’re sure).

Out Of The Box College-University Courses

10. Patternmaking for Dog Garments

Veterinary school classes may talk about dressing up dogs in lectures, and often for the fun of it. But for The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, dog garments are a serious business.

In this class, students create basic sketches and turn them into unique patterns to be used for dog garments–and they say it’s not as easy as anyone thinks. Who would’ve thought generating dog patterns is more difficult than designing clothing for humans?

A doggy dress model is used to determine the slopes and other bodily characteristics of various dog breeds. Apparently, developing dog garments isn’t just about fashion; there’s science behind it.

9. Wordplay: A Wry Plod from Babel to Scrabble

This college class is heaven for students who love wordplay. Currently offered at Princeton University in New Jersey for freshmen undergraduates, this course encourages students to challenge one another in word games such as Boggle and Scrabble. Aside from building their vocabulary, playing with words enhances students’ comprehension.

Word Play has also become a popular course among Princeton students seeking a firmer grasp of word combinations.

8. The Joy of Garbage (now Energy and the Environment, Garbology)

This college class not only serves as a reminder of that incinerator scene in the movie “Toy Story 3”; it is also an eye-opener for students who couldn’t care less about the environment.

Offered at Santa Clara University, it emphasizes that students should find treasure in their own garbage–or better yet, make treasures out of it.

This course, which falls under Environmental Studies and Sciences, focuses on the common methods used by society to get rid of unwanted trash and the implications of these actions on the environment. Moreover, the course enables students to dig deeper (pun intended) into the possibility of making money out of junk.

7. The Physics of Star Trek

Science fiction, which essentially points to the entertainment media, drives conversations on topics that the physical sciences are yet to uncover. As such, philosophical and ethical discussions on the sciences often include science fiction.

The Physics of Star Trek is offered at Santa Clara University in California. As the course’s name suggests, the massively popular television series “Star Trek” is used to explain the laws of Einstein and Newton in physics, as well as the physics of transporter beams, laser swords, warp drives, inertial dampers, particles, and time travel.

The concepts of race and metaphysics are also discussed. This class may not be for everyone, but for science geeks and avid Star Trek fans, why not mix academics and entertainment?

6. Street-Fighting Mathematics

Inspired by the insanely popular video game “Street Fighter,” the Street Fighting Mathematics course centers on the methodologies used for problem-solving without calculated solutions.

It acquaints students with various mathematical approaches–such as analysis, analogy, reasoning, generalization, and approximation–as problem-solving techniques and sharpens their analytical skills.

Offered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as part of its Independent Activities Period (IAP), this course tackles interesting cases for solving problems the street-fighting way.

5. Black Women, Beyonce & Popular Culture

The English Department of the University of Texas in San Antonio offers a course that tackles “the historical, social, literary, and theoretical structures of black feminism”–with entertainment on the side.

This class dissects “Lemonade”, the chart-topping single from pop icon Beyonce, focusing on the song’s historical and cultural implications.

Essentially, the course is centered on the black feminist’s type of film, music, literature, theories, and behavior as depicted in her single. Topics on gender, class, race, and pop culture are also discussed.

4. #Selfie Class

Intriguing as it may seem, this course is offered at the Department of Writing at the University of Southern California. It is formally called “Writing 150: Writing and Critical Reasoning, Identity and Diversity.”

Why #Selfie Class? It all started with one assignment in this writing course that required students to produce five selfies of themselves and write an essay on how those generate or hide an individual’s sense of identity.

It sparked bigger discussions on how the history of portraiture or taking photos connects with today’s lifestyle and, apparently, called for a class of its own.

3. How to Waste Time on the Internet

Oh yes, you read that right. There is actually a class that will just require you to sit still and stare at your computer screen for an hour or so. It was initially offered by the English Department of the University of Pennsylvania in 2015.

Attendees are mostly creative writing students who simply need to take laptops with them and interact in social networks, bots, listservs, and chat rooms, so they experience the thrill of online chatting, YouTube surfing, and tweeting.

At the end of it all, the activities should be transformed into a literary work such as a poem or anecdote.

The course also aims to answer the question of whether or not the World Wide Web can be considered as “the greatest form of poetry ever written”, which then begs the question: is it accurate to call it “wasting time online” it isn’t as useless as society thinks it is?

2. Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

Sounds a lot like a horror movie in the making, but don’t let this course deceive you. An online college class first offered in 2012 at the School of Social Work at Michigan State University, Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse doesn’t primarily talk about zombies or zombie attacks.

It discusses how human behavior and psychological dynamics play out in times of Earth-shattering catastrophes such as meteor crashes, the Black Death, earthquakes, and other disasters on families, civilizations, and societies.

The idea of the “zombie apocalypse” was primarily used as an attraction to draw more students.

The seven-week course is set on the M.O.L.I.E. (Multimedia Online Learning Immersive Experience), a digital learning tool that fuses learning and teaching, technology, and art to generate unique experiences that define an ideal learning environment.

Historical and hypothetical evidence is presented in this college class, along with online forums and traditional discussions.

Students in “survivor groups” participate in the simulation of a cataclysmic event mockup in the form of a theoretical zombie pandemic. They actualize strategic planning and preparation techniques that are deemed critical for human survival.

1. Cannabis 101

Cannabis is widely regarded as an inexpensive yet safe and effective option for certain pharmaceutical drugs for the cure of chronic pain and certain illnesses.

Still, the legalization of medical cannabis all over the country hangs in the balance, as this is one of today’s most heavily debated and highly sensitive political topics.

But if you ask several U.S. colleges and universities, cannabis is worth exploring–at least within the realms of the academe and for the purpose of research and study.

Perhaps more “controversial” than “bizarre” is cannabis classes that are offered in colleges across the country. To date, the number of Cannabis course offerings has seen a steep rise, with classes focusing on cannabis as it relates to the sciences, agriculture, healthcare, business, the law, or politics.

Calling itself “America’s first cannabis college”, Oaksterdam University tackles the “legal, logistical, political, and economic perspectives of working with the cannabis plant for every learning path.”

The University of California-Los Angeles supports cannabis research and has, in fact, established a UCLA cannabis research center for the purpose of studying the medical utilization and health benefits of cannabis.

In 2016, “Medical Cannabis” was first offered as a graduate-level college class at the University of Vermont. Classes focus on the chemistry, side effects, and medicinal uses of cannabis in line with the social, economic, and political implications of marijuana use.

In 2017 and the years prior, the top university Harvard Business School also offered master classes on the marijuana industry.

More Offbeat Classes You Could Have Attended

Over the years, a number of college classes in certain universities were so odd they drew the interest (and ire) of observers and gained media attention. While they have been discontinued, we think they belong to the honorable mentions:

Biology of Jurassic Park

Apparently paying tribute to the cult film “Jurassic Park”, this class was offered by Hood College in Maryland in 2011.

It centers on the ecology, evolution, biodiversity, behavior, physiological mechanisms, and extinction of dinosaurs that were studied to gain sufficient knowledge on the history of Earth as well as the progressive development of organisms.

Nope, the course did not tackle resurrecting the creatures and showcasing them in a national park.

The Science and Sociology of Harry Potter

In the fall of 2015, Frostburg State University offered a special topics sociology class that delighted fans of J.K. Rowling’s best-selling novel series.

The Science and Sociology of Harry Potter was a three-credit course that did not include witchcraft or wizardry in discussions; instead, it highlighted the science and sociology behind the magical effects used in the Harry Potter series, including regrowing of bones, wall walking, teleportation, and anti-gravity to explain the mechanism behind the flying broomstick.

The Phallus

In 2007, Occidental College in Los Angeles, California didn’t escape the watchful eye of the media (and curious spectators) when they offered “The Phallus” class.

It raised eyebrows because the was exactly what people thought it was: detailed discussions on the definition of the phallus, the types of phallus, the connection between the phallus and the male penis, the relationship between phallus and fetishism, and phallologocentrism.

It also covered sensitive topics such as the whiteness and significance of the phallus, the genital organs, fetish, masculinity, and femininity.

The Art of Walking

Sounds a lot like a class aspiring models wouldn’t miss in fashion school, doesn’t it? But the Art of Walking tackled an entirely different concept altogether.

It was about walking to discover the traditions of German culture through literary works and occasional day tours. Offered at the Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, it was included as part of study abroad programs in Germany and France.

Students walked on philosophical or historical tours to museums, cemeteries, mausoleums, gardens, and parks to appreciate the works of famous authors Emmanuel Kant, Leo Tolstoy, and Charles Dickens.

museum tours - strange college classes
Image Source

Indeed, being in college requires that you take your academic life seriously and actively participate in activities that could positively impact your career path in mind.

Nevertheless, it is also a period of discovering your interests–and taking classes without compromising your enjoyment is one way to do it.

If you think that you need additional credits–and some break from the predictability of your college life routine–do check if your college or university’s college courses list offers strange college classes that you will look forward to attending.