Course Catalog

The Experimental College

The Experimental College is both a student organization and a department of the college that sponsors for-credit courses taught by Oberlin students, administrators, townspeople, and faculty. Run by a small committee of students, “ExCo” exists to give students, faculty and community members the opportunity to learn to teach and to push the boundaries of teaching in innovative ways. It also allows students to learn underrepresented and nontraditional materials, giving them a chance to broaden their horizons past the typical college academic experience. Originally chartered in 1968, ExCo supplements the regular curriculum by offering classes not typically available in traditional courses of study. The number of classes offered through ExCo varies each semester, but there are usually between 50 and 80. Each semester we have a selection of classes that have been taught before, some of them dating back several decades, and a group of brand-new courses. These courses reflect the current academic, cultural, social, political, and intellectual trends of the Oberlin community.

Applying for an ExCo

Most courses use an online application system (such as Google Forms) to get a sense of which students are interested in taking their course and to choose whom they accept based on the community they are trying to create in their classroom. Please note that this application process can be highly “competitive,” with some instructors receiving well over ten times the number of applicants as they have room to accept. We’ve tried to compile links to all the application forms, but you can also directly email the instructor(s) of the course you are interested in and they will send you the application. If you email them and do not hear back, contact and we will reach out on your behalf. For the application links on our website, please visit We ask that all prospective students apply for the course, including community members, high school students, and college faculty and staff. Each course has a capacity limit determined in joint by the instructors and the ExCo Committee. This limit applies to all students in the class, regardless of the number that are officially registered on Presto.


If you are a community member, high school students, or a member of the faculty or staff of Oberlin, you don’t have to worry about registering for the course, so feel free to skip over this next part. If you’re an Oberlin student, you have the option to register for your ExCo and have it show up on your transcript. To register for College credit for an ExCo course, students must be consented by the ExCo instructor and can then register using PRESTO. The deadline for ExCo add/drop is Wednesday, February 13th, the same as the Registrar’s deadline for other College courses. No exceptions can or will be made, and ExCo has no control over this deadline. Consult the Spring 2018 Schedule of Classes on the Registrar’s webpage ( for ExCo Course CRNs. Please note that NAME is the ExCo Committee Presto Coordinator, and is therefore listed as an instructor for all ExCo courses, but is not the instructor you should contact if you have questions about a specific course. For more information about registering for your ExCo, we recommend you check our website, If you have any difficulties registering for your course, please contact your instructor(s) to make sure they properly consented you into the class, or email Jessica Lear from the Registrar’s Office at


Students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences and/or the Conservatory of Music may receive academic credit for work in ExCo courses. Coursework requirements vary from course to course, as supervised by the Committee. Up to eight credits of co-curricular courses (ExCo, Athletics, LEAD, PAL, etc) can be counted toward graduation. Most ExCos are either 1 credit courses or 2 credit courses. A “1 credit” class is the equivalent of 0.25 courses; a “2 credits” class is the equivalent of 0.50 courses. A select few courses can be taken for either 1 or 2 credits. All students wishing to receive less than the standard amount of credit are still expected to complete all the work required for the course. Instructors may receive credit for up to one credit more than the number for which the course is being offered. Instructors who teach for no credit are still required to complete all ExCo duties and assignments. Those who fail to do so will be banned from teaching for a minimum of two semesters.

Many Oberlin students find that they do not have room in their schedules to add in any ExCo credits. For those who want to join an ExCo but not add it to your transcript, we ask that once you receive the email from your instructor(s) stating that you’ve been consented into the course, please respond letting them know that you will not be registering for credit but are still interested in taking the course. This way the instructor(s) can hold your place in the class list before contacting students on a waitlist. Please keep in mind that all students are held to the same standards, regardless of whether the course is listed on their transcript. That means students not taking the course for credit, often called “auditors,” are still expected to show up to class, participate, do the assignments, and be respectful of their classmates and instructor(s). We understand that the lack of a grade on your official transcript makes it harder for instructors to hold you accountable, but the integrity you demonstrate in your ExCo course is part of what has helped this program survive 50 years. We aren’t always taken seriously by other departments on campus or by various branches of the administration, and the continued participation and dedication of all ExCo students plays a significant role in establishing ourselves as a student organization and college program that is worth Oberlin’s time and money.

ExCo Committee

The ExCo Committee is made up of small number of Oberlin College students. Members of the Committee perform a variety of functions to maintain the ExCo Program, including reviewing course applications and interviewing potential instructors; planning and hosting the ExCo Fair; allocating SFC funds to instructors; working with administration to affect policy; and helping instructors brainstorm any problems that might arise throughout the semester. The ExCo Committee also makes itself available to all students and community members taking an ExCo course. Anyone with questions or concerns regarding their ExCo may always meet with a member of the Committee to address their course and brainstorm potential solutions. The Committee meets once a week on Sunday afternoons, and each member holds an additional two hours of “office hours” throughout the week. These are listed on our website, If you have questions or comments about ExCo, email us at

Currently, the officers of the ExCo Committee are:

  • Lars Gallegos-Dreith (he/him/his)
  • Emily Spezia-Shwiff (she/her/hers)
  • Marah Ajilat (she/her/hers)
  • Serena Zets (she/her/hers)
  • Veronica Mahoney (she/her/hers)

Courses Offered This Semester: