Academically Cool

Sure, you’ve got your basic composition, and your statistics, and your garden-variety American history. Any ol’ university can do those. But where else can dental students learn as they sculpt an anatomically correct skull?

Jeremy Knowles stands next to colorful costumes with LED lights.

Cool Programs

We are Rebels — and we buck convention any chance we get. So why should you expect our academics to be any different? UNLV’s academic programs are crossing boundaries and blending fields to develop innovative approaches to health care, entertainment engineering, and more.

Closeup of golf club next to ball
Emily Black sits on hanging hoop with red background
Four men in matching jackets on compueters
Dental Medicine professor stands on desk while students have hands raised in the air.

Cool Classes

EED is just one of our innovative programs that yield students who tackle problems from a variety of perspectives — and think outside the box. From magic and witchcraft to building robots using Legos, these wild courses can put sword fighters in training and future presidents ready to deal with environmental catastrophe.

students passing our pool noodles in class

Fundamentals of Life Science

In an effort to engage with students in the lecture hall setting, assistant professor in resident, Christy Strong sought out examples of active learning experiences that would translate well in a lecture setting — hence the pool noodles. Students use the pool noodles to perform large-scale modeling of mitosis and meiosis, which provides a quick and easy way for Strong to determine whether or not the class as a whole is understanding these processes. It also provides students with an opportunity to interact with each other and with the instructor in a more dynamic way.

Rusting artifacts from Walking Box Ranch

Colloquium in Public History

In an effort to preserve a key part of Nevada history, students are learning how to become “history detectives” — using seemingly mundane clues such as paint colors, clothing materials and styles, and metal carving details to figure out and catalog the likely time periods, manufacturers, and other details of artifacts rescued from a barn at the Walking Box Ranch. In addition to in-class detective work to catalog the UNLV-owned ranch artifacts, students gain practical experience as they visit the ranch, and learn how museum curators work, and to make it easier to either donate the items to local/state museums or one day return the artifacts to the ranch for public viewing.

View of plane taking off in rearview car mirror

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

One of many specialty seminars offered to Honors College students each semester, Professor Dan Bubb’s Planes, Trains, and Automobiles course focuses on the pivotal role that transportation has played in shaping the American economy and culture. A former airline pilot turned historian, Bubb ends the semester with a VIP tour of McCarran International Airport where students get an inside look into the operations of a major public airport.

robotic hand

Technology Commercialization

If you’ve ever wanted to know how a product comes to market, this is the course for you. The course teaches students how to commercialize a product and take it to market. Throughout the course, students do a feasibility analysis on tech projects, especially around the Las Vegas area to help local start ups. This not only helps the community come together, but students are exposed to which questions they should ask and what effective tools will make a product successful. There is a big focus on conducting customer interviews and talking to people. You are able to learn much more about an industry if you’re engaged and asking questions, learning if there is a market for your product, and finding who you can sell it to.

Man stands in front of a wall of television screens

Communication and Pop Culture

The goal in this class is to interrogate popular culture as a significant site for understanding the personal, social, and political identities embedded in who we are as individuals and communities. Students utilize cultural and critical theories in communication to identify and make sense of the impact popular culture has on local, national, and international levels of influence. By the end of the course, students will become more enlightened and informed consumers, observers, and even creators of popular culture and media.

Plate of food

Restaurant Management Operations

What’s the best way to showcase everything our students have learned as they work toward their degree? A student driven pop-up restaurant experience, of course! Students in this “ultimate culminating experience,” are placed on a management team to drive their service, which is open to the public. Students are given several opportunities to explore positions working in both front and back of the house, and serve as everything from general manager to sous chef. This hands-on approach requires the teams to work on every aspect of the restaurant business, from exploring menu development and recipe creation, budgeting to marketing and advertising, food photography and more, all resulting in a final business proposal — preparing students to become the industries’ top leaders.

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Legal Clinic on Law, Ethics and Advocacy

An education student as a member of a law firm? Yep, you heard that right. Students in this course not only learn about law, ethics, and advocacy related to special education, but they also become members of the Thomas & Mack Legal Clinic. Through an experiential and collaborative process with law students, education students provide educational advocacy for children and their adult decision makers who could not otherwise afford legal representation.

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First Year Seminar: Civic Engagement

Solving our most pressing issues such as climate change, school shootings and assault weapons, economic inequality, and police transparency, requires collaboration instead of confrontation. Students in the College of Education First-Year Seminars civilly engage these issues in debate, think critically, communicate about differences, perceive and understand global/multicultural issues, and embody the ideal of citizenship. The term concludes with a poster presentation showing their volunteer efforts to help alleviate a community social issue. 

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Directed Studies in Film

This course explores the art and science of research innovation by way of a unique transdisciplinary learning lab that merges the curricula of EPY 729 (a doctoral-level case study seminar) with FIS 450 (an undergraduate-level film directing class). The course disrupts—and therefore innovates—traditional classroom-based learning. Under the supervision of Dr. Stefani Relles, a higher education researcher in the College of Education, and Professor Charles Burmeister, a film professor in the College of Fine Arts, students theorize and then pilot test ‘cinematic research methods’ that merge ethnographic and filmmaking techniques as they produce a true film — a short documentary on social justice issues that can potentially satisfy the peer-review criteria of both academic disciplines: social science and filmic arts.

Girl adds wax to a model skull

Clinically Oriented Anatomy

While the Clinically Oriented Anatomy course in the School of Dental Medicine is science, its process is art. The class replaces gross anatomy dissections with sculpture by challenging second-year students to learn the structures in the skull by meticulously building wax models.

Learn more about Health Sciences

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Urban Adventure

This experiential, scenario-based class puts students right in the middle of the action to solve a metropolitan crime. Utilizing core skills and knowledge from across the urban affairs disciplines, students enhance their interpersonal communication and critical thinking abilities, their leadership and collaboration skills, their capacity to interact with the media, their ability to empathize with people and understand how communities provide social support, their knowledge of the justice system, and ability to conduct a criminal investigation.

Learn more about Urban Affairs

Two people playing baseball

Popular Culture In 19th Century America

Elizabeth Nelson's Popular Culture In 19th Century America examines the history of pop culture as a way to engage major social, political and economic issues in American history. Not only do students get to use a stereograph (the nineteenth-century version of view master) to look through nineteenth-century magazines and popular books and novels, but they take the learning outside, as they play nineteenth-century baseball on the academic mall and participate in a digital treasure hunt through the Lied Library databases — ending the semester with a tea party, complete with china tea service, scones and cucumber sandwiches.

Learn more about Liberal Arts

Pile of legos


“Not now, I’m working with my Legos. It’s important.” For anyone who wants to be able to say that and mean it, Paul Oh’s mechanical engineering elective Robotics teaches students mechanism design, programming, and electronics through hands-on labs — using Legos. It also delves into the ethics of robots in society, so we don’t have a Terminator-style uprising coming out of the Beam Engineering Complex.

Learn more about Engineering

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Stage Combat

Guest instructor Kris Pruett’s advanced Stage Combat gets the stars of tomorrow ready for the sword fights of today. Starting with unarmed combat, Stage Combat gets students used to working safely with a partner before learning the finer points of fighting. Drawing on classic fencing techniques, Stage Combat teaches dynamic storytelling through fighting. Now if they can learn to do it on skates, they could make a case for the Golden Knights pregame show.

Learn more about Fine Arts

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Food As Medicine

As part of the Food as Medicine course in the School of Medicine, students had the rare opportunity to go behind the scenes of Wynn Las Vegas to see how this culinary operation works. Students quizzed some renowned chefs at the award-winning restaurants, observing their exacting standards and learning about vegan menus, allergen awareness, and third-party food analysis.

Students walk outside of the Business School building

Business Connections

A first-year seminar run by the Lee Business School, Business Connections offers prospective students a taste of what the major might entail. For John Starkey’s class, though, it’s a chance to do some good at the same time. One class raised more than $5,000 for four local charities, including the Trauma Intervention Program to benefit Oct. 1 victims.

Student demonstrates biometrics technology applied to golf

Whether your interests lie with a pre-professional program that will lead you to an advanced degree, or something unique that will let you explore and push the boundaries of what’s possible, you can find your fit at UNLV.