Educational Side-Gigs

Graphic by Jacky Chao | Outreach Manager

While you may come into your freshman year with a carefully mapped-out plan of exactly which classes to take each semester, don’t forget about electives! Elective classes can give you a nice break from difficult major courses, connect you with students in different majors and schools, and broaden your learning experience. Whether you want to pick up a new skill, brush up on a language you took in high school, or just learn something new, check out these electives to round out your academic experience.

Music + Arts Classes:

Thought you wanted to leave your band days behind in high school but missing your creative outlet? Consider learning a new instrument! Courses for beginners include piano (MUSI 2317), guitar (MUSI 2315) and vocal instruction (MUSI 2325). UTD also offers a variety of performing ensembles, including a string orchestra (MUSI 3118), choir (MUSI 2127) and wind ensemble (MUSI 3120), for experienced students who prefer a larger group setting. If visual art is more your thing, try your hand at Chinese Calligraphy (ARTS 3341) or a photography course (ARTS 2350).

Language Classes:

The breadth of language courses at UTD can prepare you for success in international situations such as work or study abroad experiences. Continue advanced classes of the language you learned in high school or try something new! There are seven different languages to choose from, including Arabic (ARAB), Japanese (JAPN), Korean (KORE) and German (GERM).

Physical Education:

You may have been relieved to be done with gym classes in high school, but Physical Instruction courses at UTD are in a league of their own! This can be a great way to get in exercise if you’re not so good with keeping your own fitness routine. For the Fall 2021 semester, consider Beginning Yoga (PHIN 1120) or Martial Arts & Self-Defense (PHIN 1121). Past offerings have included Beginning Swimming, Tennis and Aerobics.

Dance Classes:

Break up a long day of sitting in lectures with a class that gets you on your feet! Experience a variety of dance styles, including ballet (DANC 2334), tap (DANC 2336), jazz (DANC 2333) and modern dance (DANC 2332). If you’re more interested in exploring the cultural, creative and historical significance of dance, Understanding Dance (DANC 1310) can be a fun way to fulfill your Creative Arts core requirement.

Honeybee Biology:

If you’re a biology major, Honeybee Biology (BIOL 3388) is one of the most unique major-related elective options available to you. The course takes a deep dive into honeybee physiology, hive organization and behavior, the impact of bees on society and beekeeping techniques. The best part? Students have the option to get hands-on experience using the campus apiaries. Now that’s the bee’s knees.

Personal Development/Other:

Develop skills that will serve you well in college and beyond! Learn how to budget and manage your money with Personal Finance (FIN 3300), understand how to fuel your body with Human Nutrition (HLTH 1332), or get some extra practice for that end-of-semester final presentation in Public Speaking (COMM 1315).

Literature Classes:

If you thought that college-level English classes were all Shakespeare and the same classics you read in high school, think again! A variety of upper-level literature classes (most of which require the completion of the Language, Philosophy, and Culture core requirement) will get you reading and discussing everything from Chinese literature (LIT 3337) to contemporary science fiction (LIT 3316) to Harry Potter (LIT 3317). Topics, authors and texts change every semester, so you’re bound to find something that interests you.

Fulfilling Core Requirements:

While there are usually one or two classes that are most popular for fulfilling core requirements (you’ll be able to tell by the number of sections that are offered each semester), there are plenty of other options to switch it up! Don’t want to take a psychology class for your Social and Behavioral Science requirement? Try Intro to Gender Studies (GST 2300). And if you’re wanting to fulfill the Creative Arts requirement but aren’t a big art fan, classes on music (MUSI 1306), film (FILM 2332) and theater will also work.

Keep in mind that some of these classes require prerequisites and may not be offered during all semesters. Be sure to consult your degree plan and talk to your advisor to choose classes that will fit your degree plan and will allow you to stay on track for a timely graduation.

While it’s important to structure your course load in a way that allows you to complete your major requirements, you’ll certainly have a better college experience if you enjoy what you’re learning. Remember that you get to make your learning experience what you want it to be, so don’t be afraid to broaden your horizons and take a class or two for fun!