Do you celebrate Halloween year-round? Do you harbor a secret love of the supernatural? Are you a horror movie fanatic? Do you actively seek out books that give you the chills? Have you ever wished you could take a class focused on something creepy? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re in luck! Many colleges and universities offer classes on the spookier side of life. Here are eight of the scariest offerings at schools across the country. Studying for midterms won’t be the only thing keeping you up at night now! (Please note: Some courses may not be offered every year.)
1. Zombies at Johns Hopkins University
Do you love The Walking Dead? Then you'd love the Zombies course offered at Johns Hopkins University. While it won’t teach you how to survive the zombie apocalypse, it does explain why zombies have become so popular in modern media. It explores the “birth” of the zombie and its evolution over time, paying special attention to the idea of zombies in cultures with slavery. This English course is perfect for fans of creepy literature and dark history!
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2. Folklore & the Supernatural at the University of Pennsylvania
Do you have a firm belief in the supernatural world? You’re not alone—the University of Pennsylvania does too. Folklore & the Supernatural explores the human relationship with ghosts, fairies, vampires, witches, and many other things that go bump in the night. With a cross-cultural focus on the development of traditional beliefs in the supernatural, this class is sure to share enough scary stories to keep you up all night!
3. Witches & Witchcraft at Georgetown University
Which witch is which? That's the main question being answered in Witches & Witchcraft at Georgetown University. This course explores witchcraft in Europe and how the phenomenon reached Salem, Massachusetts—the epicenter of the famous trials. Offered through the History department, the seminar also covers African and Native American beliefs, the impact of colonization, the ideas of good and evil, and more. And the instructors use a variety of resources, including trial records, plays, music, and even material objects like witch bottles and implements of torture.
4. Expository Writing: The Underworld at Harvard University
Have a gnawing curiosity about the afterlife? Harvard University has you covered. Expository Writing: The Underworld attempts to explain how and why the underworld has stood the test of time. By exploring archetypes and depictions of the underworld from ancient literature along with modern books and movies, this class tries to get to the bottom of why the underworld keeps getting reimagined. Harvard also features other spooky courses like Biopolitics & Vampire Aesthetics, and Supernatural Storytelling: Ghost-lore, Occult Legends & and the Politics of the Paranormal.
5. The Haunted Screen: Understanding the Horror Film at the University of Arizona
Ever wonder why jump scares and gory violence never fail to give us the heebie-jeebies? Well, the University of Arizona is prepared to explain. The Haunted Screen: Understanding the Horror Film attempts to understand what causes this fear and how backgrounds can affect what scares us, examining fear through the lens of horror movies across the ages. It’s every movie lover’s dream: watching horror films in class! If you can't sign up for this class, don't worry—UA also offers other creepy courses like a humanities seminar on The Paranormal, the Supernatural, and the Human Experience.
6. Pain & Torture Through History at Tulane University
What’s better than good old-fashioned pain and torture? Tulane University wants you to give you the opportunity to learn all about it. While Pain & Torture Through History won’t directly teach you how to torture someone, it does examine how torture has evolved over time, from the physical to the psychological. It also examines who torturers are and the change in the use of torture by governments.
7. The Undead South: Horror & Haunting in US Southern Literature at Dartmouth College
Zombies, vampires, and ghosts—oh my! Dartmouth College is ready to fill your undead fantasies. The Undead South: Horror & Haunting in US Southern Literature seeks to understand the horror of the American South through racial, cultural, historical, economic, and political lenses. By looking at classic gothic literature and modern interpretations of the undead, this course explores how the South has become a place rich in haunting history.
8. The Archaeology of Death at the University of Colorado Boulder
Who isn’t fascinated by morgues and corpses? If you can’t get enough of death, look no further than the University of Colorado Boulder. The Archaeology of Death explores it through the ages with a focus on the human reaction. By looking at different customs for planning, carrying out, and dealing with death and dead bodies, you’ll examine human cultural history and mortuary practice in the ancient and modern world.
As you can see, you have plenty of fun, spooky options for electives in college. In this case, the content may actually be scarier than finals week! If a class isn't offered during a certain semester, explore your college's course catalog—there's bound to be something you find interesting that also earns you credit. Happy haunting!
There are plenty of other schools that offer courses to give you the spooks! Start looking for them with our College Search tool.