College Course Nicknames
April 17, 2017 10:45 AM   Subscribe

The history department at my alma mater used to have a real softball of a class called "Papal Succession [Year]-[Year]". Those needing a GPA boost were often instructed to take this course. For this reason, it was colloquially known as "Popes for Dopes". Looking for similar examples!
posted by stinkfoot to Education (64 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
We had "Rocks for Jocks" and intro geology course that didn't have too much math.
posted by advicepig at 10:47 AM on April 17 [7 favorites]

"Rocks for Jocks": an easy version of Geology 101, is a classic.
posted by homodachi at 10:47 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]

We had "Stars for Tards" which is wildly uncool.
posted by Grandysaur at 10:49 AM on April 17

In the '80s, we had a science elective called the Physics of High Fidelity Sound. The nickname was Hi Fi Sci.
posted by TORunner at 10:50 AM on April 17 [4 favorites]

Physics for Poets is another classic along the lines of the aforementioned Rocks for Jocks.
posted by matildaben at 10:50 AM on April 17 [4 favorites]

Less pithy and less obvious, but we had "Physics for Med Students", which was meant derisively (as opposed to Physics for Engineers or Physics for Physicists)
posted by brainmouse at 10:51 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]

I took a late-morning class that was called something like A Geologic and Environmental History of the Earth that was a sort of combo geology/palentology intro course. I called it Dinos for Winos because everyone stumbled in hungover on Fridays.
posted by coppermoss at 10:52 AM on April 17 [16 favorites]

We also had "Rocks for Jocks", which was geology for non-science majors.

We took it to the next level by having "Falling Rocks for Jocks" which was physics for non-science majors, and "Underwater Rocks for Jocks" which was marine geology for non-science majors.

Biology for non-science majors didn't follow the formula. It was lovingly named "Bio for the Brain-dead".
posted by Elly Vortex at 10:53 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]

There was an intro music theory course beloved by burnt-out seniors colloquially called "Clapping for Credit."
posted by muddgirl at 11:09 AM on April 17 [33 favorites]

"Myth and magic" for a math and logic class. (I didn't take the class and as I understand things, it was the odd prof—not the subject itself—that explained the nickname.)
posted by she's not there at 11:11 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]

In addition to Rocks for Jocks, we had Introductory Statistics for Non-Majors, which was (cringeworthily) nicknamed "Statistics for Autistics".
posted by sourcequench at 11:15 AM on April 17

We called the Personal Exercise Management course "Run for Credits". Anyone in the know would fake their early performance as being terrible, because you were marked on your improvement.

A lot of people also took the Beekeeping course. I'm not sure if that was easy or just an odd topic that people liked to joke about.
posted by shockpoppet at 11:17 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]

I went to a college where everyone had to take two semesters of physics. There were for a long time two versions of the intro physics sequence - one that was mostly taken by physics majors and other masochists (such as me), and the "normal" version that was taken by everyone else. While I was there the "normal" version of the class was reorganized to be based on "active learning" instead of lectures that nobody went to. Some of my physics-major friends called the new version "physics for potted plants".

(I also had a friend, a math major, whose name was the same as the acronym for the "new" intro physics class. She didn't like it.)
posted by madcaptenor at 11:17 AM on April 17

"Art in the Dark" which was some art class a lot of people had to take that meant you spent a bunch of time in a darkened classroom looking at slides.
posted by sperose at 11:20 AM on April 17

Beekeeping is cool!

We had a class that was officially titled, Women who love women in English literature. They didn't want to "saddle" us with the word "lesbian" on our transcript.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:26 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]

The intro math course for doofuses (like me) at UIUC in the early 00's was referred to as "Numeracy" because it was like Literacy, but you know, with numbers. I think on the transcript it was just called Math 105.
posted by juniperesque at 11:31 AM on April 17

An introductory astrophysics course was called Flying Rocks for Jocks at my alma mater.
posted by freezer cake at 11:40 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]

We just suffixed names with "gut," e.g., "astro-gut" and "mouse-gut" (not internal rodent anatomy, the pre-intro computer science course). Distributional requirements meant that even liberal arts majors had to take three classes in the social sciences and three in the sciences.
posted by praemunire at 11:40 AM on April 17

Any low level math class was Remedial Counting.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 11:42 AM on April 17 [4 favorites]

My state university had both "Stars for Tards" and "Rocks for Jocks". Mentioned above, but there was an extra nuance. Both of these classes (somehow) counted as a laboratory science credit. At my school, B.A. degrees needed 3 science classes, one of which had to be a lab science. So these classes filled extremely quickly because they were the simplest lab credit to get that requirement filled.
posted by TomFoolery at 11:49 AM on April 17

Not a nickname precisely, but it was a running joke at UNC that despite having many highly respected undergraduate programs in business, pre-med, etc, the highest-paying major on average was cultural geography. Because that's what Michael Jordan majored in.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:54 AM on April 17 [11 favorites]

OSU used to have three-digit course numbers, with 100s being survey classes, 500s being upper-division "major" classes, and 700s and up being graduate-level. The remedial math class was Math 050, and so we called it 05-slow.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:55 AM on April 17

"Heroes for Zeroes" was a course in Greek and Roman Mythology.
posted by carmicha at 12:15 PM on April 17 [4 favorites]

Cornell used to have a course in the Hotel school that involved a seminar with the Hotel school dean. The name I always heard for it was "Cookies with Clark".
posted by suelac at 12:16 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]

At my school COMM 150 - Intro to Film Studies was "Friday Night at the Movies".
posted by Rob Rockets at 12:18 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]

Oh, there was also an intro-level math course that everyone called Fun With Shapes.
posted by coppermoss at 12:28 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]

Our astronomy class was stars for stoners.
posted by nakedmolerats at 12:32 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]

My undergrad called the science core courses for the non-science majors "baby" courses. So "baby-bio" "baby-chem" etc were usually filled with education majors fulfilling requirements.
posted by librarianamy at 12:33 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]

In John Guare's play Six Degrees of Separation, one of the characters says that at Harvard they call 'The Holocaust and Ethics' 'Krauts and Doubts.' No idea if that was ever true.
posted by Ragged Richard at 12:36 PM on April 17

Science course that had something to do with earthquakes that was supposed to be easy credit for any non-science/med/engineering types. Can't tell you what the real name was because everyone called it "Shake and Bake."
posted by BlueBear at 12:37 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]

Our version of Shake and Bake was officially Earthquakes and Volcanoes.
posted by metasarah at 12:47 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]

U Chicago had an idiotic required Art course known as "Cut and Paste".
posted by LizardBreath at 12:48 PM on April 17

Carleton College had "Twinkles 10" (intro astronomy) which I proudly took along with other science-challenged classmates.
posted by DrGail at 12:50 PM on April 17

Our remedial math class in college (the only math class I ever got an A in in my life) was nicknamed Fun With Numbers.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:55 PM on April 17

Astrophysics at the UofC was known as "Flying Rocks for Jocks".
posted by Hypatia at 1:18 PM on April 17

U Chicago had an idiotic required Art course known as "Cut and Paste".

Made all the more annoying by the fact that, at least when I was there, they had a very specific list of courses that met the Arts general education, which didn't include any higher level courses. So I spent all my spare time in the theater, and took courses like "Intermediate Stage Design" and "Ensemble Acting," and met my spouse-to-be in "Staging Terror", but had to go take an architecture course because "Intro to Theatre 10100" was the only theater course that met the requirement.

I graduated over 10 years ago and that still annoys me.
posted by firechicago at 1:26 PM on April 17

Psychology 230 was Human Sexuality; thus "Dirty 230"
posted by zinful at 1:39 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]

Faculty do this too. My husband teaches at a liberal arts college where the first semester one is a student, each freshperson chooses one of a dozen or so subject-centered seminars that act as a sort of homeroom and extended orientation. Some of them are more rigorously deployed than others; one year there was a particularly vague one we ended up calling, as a personal in-joke, "Learning to Use Your Feet." A surprising number of students arrive on campus not ready to use their feet at the college level.
posted by jocelmeow at 1:42 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]

Rocks for jocks (geology 101)
Stars for studs (astronomy 101)
posted by triscuit at 1:43 PM on April 17

Not at the easy level, but there was a 400 level course offered by the Materials Science department that we called "Quantum Mechanics for Non-Believers". The official name was Electronic & SemiConductive Properties of Materials or somesuch. It was less theoretical equations and more math than the Physics department's "Quantum Mechanics for Believers" (for physics majors).
posted by jlkr at 1:58 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]

We had Evolution of Human Behavior, an evolutionary bio class which was popularly known as "Sex". The grading standards were made tougher more recently, leading the campus paper to run an article headlined "Rough Sex".
posted by phoenixy at 2:12 PM on April 17 [7 favorites]

Physics for Poets! I took this and loved it and learned all about black holes! Also "A Class with Numbers in it" is what we called our 3-credit quantitative requirement at my liberal arts school.
posted by sockermom at 2:13 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]

This is sort of the opposite of the direction you were thinking, but UChicago also has Social Sciences survey courses as part of its Core curriculum, some of which are notoriously hard, which is why "Self, Culture, and Society" became "Self-Torture and Anxiety."
posted by firechicago at 2:15 PM on April 17 [6 favorites]

School had mandatory electrical engineering classes as part of the curriculum. EE for non-engineering majors was known as "Wires." EE for engineers was "Cables."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:35 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]

re:Physics for Poets, Patton Oswalt has a great routine on such a class that you might enjoy.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:44 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]

I believe Physics 10 at Berkeley was actually officially called Physics for Future Presidents. Shortly before I graduated, they went on some kick of pushing departments to make these sorts of courses and give them cute names. Previously you could identify the "this course exists solely for people to fulfill a distribution requirement and we hope they take it and leave with some actual appreciation for our subject" courses because they tended to be 2 units (the minimum required to meet a distribution requirement) rather than the usual 3 or 4. Or they were just lower division courses that didn't count towards any major.

Somewhat like firechicago, I took Physics and Music (which might have been a whole three units) solely because I was annoyed that you weren't allowed to count graduate courses for distribution requirements. It was my last semester and I'd never actually bothered to meet the physical science requirement, but I'd taken the graduate version of a course that did. The course was quite good, even if it did some appalling handwaving.
posted by hoyland at 3:51 PM on April 17

I took a class known as 'Astrophysics for Poets' whose professor actually went so far as to include questions on the tests where we had to id celestial bodies on the basis of oblique references to them in snippets of English Verse.

I also took a popular full-year core curriculum course about the history and culture of China which was known as 'Rice Paddies'. (This was in the 80's. I don't know if it's still called that; I can imagine it being considered disrespectful in 2017.)
posted by bertran at 4:42 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]

Any low level math class was Remedial Counting.

At my college we called this "Math for Actors and their Goldfish". At Mr. Freedom's school it was "Math for Dumb Liberal Arts Majors".

Not nearly as snappy!
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:44 PM on April 17

Oh! Michigan State has a major in packaging. The intro course was commonly referred to as "Gift Wrap 101".
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:47 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]

I took:
Astro for Distro (distribution requirements)
Kinder Chem ("kinder" as in Kindergarten, not as in "kind")
posted by belladonna at 5:13 PM on April 17

Astro for jocks and stoners.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:28 PM on April 17

My physics class for non-science majors was known as Physics for Trees. (I understood absolutely nothing and still got a B+.)
posted by Neely O'Hara at 7:05 PM on April 17

At my law school, there's a series of tax classes, and people who aren't planning to practice tax law generally only take the first one, which is known as Baby Tax for that reason.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:29 PM on April 17

We had a required health course (! in undergrad!) called "Health and Wellness," commonly called "Death and Hellness."
posted by daisystomper at 10:02 PM on April 17

At my engineering school (which only offered degrees in science, engineering, math and business) everyone had mandatory freshman classes called "Great Ideas in Western Literature" which got shortened to Great Fucking Ideas or GFI for short.

We also had the ubiquitous Business Major level classes , but were usually just called idiot _____ ie idiot chem, idiot math, idiot physics.
posted by koolkat at 3:13 AM on April 18

I believe Physics 10 at Berkeley was actually officially called Physics for Future Presidents.

There is a book of the same title which appears to be based on that course.
posted by madcaptenor at 5:21 AM on April 18

I took a class the summer after my freshman year called "Introduction to College Studying". We made poster collages and did outlines of magazine articles. It was the single easiest class I've ever taken.

We called it the GPA Class, because everyone was there to get an easy A and keep their scholarship.
posted by tryniti at 5:31 AM on April 18

Physics for Poets is another classic along the lines of the aforementioned Rocks for Jocks.

I don't know about you folks, but "Physics for Poets" wasn't just the nickname at my school, it was the actual name in the course catalog.
posted by solotoro at 6:27 AM on April 18

An off-the-wall one, but I'm friends with a number of materials science and engineering grad students.

They take a course that they call 'Storytime with [Professor]', because it starts off as the material for this class but quickly devolves into stories about this guy's life, which are apparently entertaining.
posted by actionpotential at 6:45 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]

Oh, another one, since personal/non-widely-accepted nicknames are OK: my college had a distribution requirement that students (unless they were majoring in history or sociology or something) had to take a class in "Foreign Cultures". But most students, forced into taking this as a gen ed class, would just take the class in the culture of their own heritage -- the Indian foreign culture class was almost entirely Indian students, ditto for the Chinese culture class and Chinese students, etc. I took "Jewish Life in Eastern Europe" aka "Jews for Jews".
posted by phoenixy at 10:00 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]

Kiddie Lit: a 200 level children's literature course required for education majors, i.e., actually relevant for majors, though due to the nature of the material, not especially taxing.

(Admittedly, TIL via a quick google that it's a common term for the subject, not just a cute name for that particular course.)
posted by she's not there at 1:59 PM on April 18

A "Ged Ed" level nutrition course called "Food for Dudes" - It was a class I enjoyed
posted by cindywho at 10:43 AM on April 19

The required law school course on wills and decedents' estates is known as "stiffs and gifts."
posted by kelborel at 12:37 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]

My college had "Mathematics of Many Cultures"
posted by vegetableagony at 9:38 AM on April 21

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