Most Unusual College Courses of 2010

When touring a college campus, it's impossible to imagine the number and scope of classes the school may offer. Course topics may range from the basic freshman English to something far more exotic. In the post below, guest blogger Jayson Jones offers his list of the most unusual courses of 2010. 

A guest post by Jayson Jones:

Fotolia_7514014_XS For most, the college years entail years of prerequisite (AKA boring) classes that require lots of studying and effort to pass with high marks. There are, however, some exceptions to the norm. Even some of the top academic institutions are beginning to offer unique (and even downright strange) courses to help students learn in a more creative and interesting way that they can relate to. Evidently, even colleges are striving to keep up with popular culture. We've searched high and low to find the most unusual college courses in the United States. Here's what we discovered.

Tree Climbing: Cornell University offers a tree climbing course in lieu of playing sports. That's right; students can learn how to climb in the canopy of a tree then move from tree to tree in the air. This unusual class satisfies a physical education credit. 

Dogs and How We Know Them: This course seems like a given for all those dog-lovers out there. Offered at Harvard University, the class examines the history of dogs and how their domestication and breeding has been conceptualized. It examines the social behavior and symbolism of the role of dogs in the lives of human beings.

The Joy of Garbage: This one definitely sounds like a made-up course, but Santa Clara University offers a science course that examines decomposition and sustainability through the study of actual garbage (including nuclear waste). Students visit local landfills and sanitation plants on field trips.

Maple Syrup Making: Alfred University has a course in maple syrup making where students learn how syrup is made, then taste and make their own. Yum!

The Science of Harry Potter: Frostburg State University offers a course in which students learn about physics by studying the Harry Potter series, and whether the phenomena in the books could be plausible given genetic engineering, antigravity, etc.

The Science of Superheroes: Using a familiar context of superheroes (Spider-Man, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, etc.), UC Irvine professors teach students about the physics of flying and fluid dynamics.

Pro Wrestling: This class won't actually teach you to wrestle like a pro, but it will review the cultural history of wrestling and how the depiction of American masculinity has been represented through time. The class is offered at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as part of the Comparative Media curriculum.

Growing Marijuana: Cannabis may still be illegal in most states even for medical purposes, but Oaksterdam University, with campuses in Michigan and California, offers a 13-week certification program on the art of growing medical marijuana. That's really out there, dude!

And then of course there is the most quintessentially cliché course (which I always assumed was merely a form of satire): Underwater Basket Weaving. Offered at Reed College in Portland, Oregon and at UC San Diego, students learn how to make wicker baskets by first soaking them in water.

So there you have it, folks. 2010's list of unusual college courses from around the nation. Doesn't this list make you want to go back to college and sign up for at least a few of these classes?!

Jayson Jones is a junior at Collins College with a focus in Fashion Design. He's an amateur blogger, and you can find his work at, or follow him on Twitter @jaysonjonez.

Z. Kelly Queijo

Author: Z. Kelly Queijo

Kelly is founder of Smart College Visit and Smart College Consulting. When she's not creating content for the blog or clients, tweeting, or hosting #CampusChat, she's planning her next mobile move.

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