Fame 101: Celebrities With College Courses On Them

February 13, 2014  |  
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These days not only can we watch celebrities in movies and on TV, buy their music, attend their concerts and follow them on social media, we can also study them in college. From Beyoncé to Michael Jackson – check out our list of celebs who’ve inspired college courses. Which courses would you take?


Rutgers University has offered a women’s studies course on Beyoncé entitled “Politicizing Beyoncé.” The course compares and contrasts Beyoncé’s music videos and lyrics to important Black Feminist works, encourages critical consumption of media, and explores issues of female empowerment and stereotypes.


Professor, author and radio host Michael Eric Dyson taught the “Sociology of Hip Hop: Jay-Z” at Georgetown University in 2011.

Lady Gaga

In 2009 the University of South Carolina offered “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame,” a course focusing on Gaga’s global relevance. One year later the University of Virginia offered a similar course that further examined Gaga’s pushing of social boundaries: “GaGa for Gaga: Sex, Gender and Identity.”

Kanye West

At the University of Missouri students can enroll in “English 2169: Jay-Z and Kanye West,” an intermediate English course focusing on the careers of both rap artists as they relate to history, poetry and the American Dream.


Madonna was the inspiration for a college course at the University of Amsterdam in 1997: “Madonna the Phenomenon.”

David Bowie

“The Phenomenology of Performance: David Bowie,” a look at Bowie’s cultural significance and artistry, has been a course selection at the University of Southern Maine for ten years.


In 2003, grad student Georgia Roberts taught “The Textual Appeal of Tupac Shakur,” a comparative history of ideas course that explores the historical influences present in Tupac’s rhymes and dissects his thinking on race, culture and economics. Professor Michael Eric Dyson has also taught a course on Tupac at the University of Pennsylvania.

Bruce Springsteen

In 2013 Rutgers University began offering “Bruce Springsteen’s Theology,” a freshman seminar that examines his use of biblical allusions in lyrics. Other colleges that have offered courses on the rock icon include the University of Rochester and Princeton.


“Spirituality & Politics of U2” is a course exploring the spiritual and political messages within the group’s music and is currently offered at Saint Mary’s College.

Marvin Gaye

In addition to teaching courses on Jay-Z and Tupac, Professor Michael Dyson has also taught a course on soul legend Marvin Gaye at the University of Pennsylvania.


University of Iowa students can seek English credit in “Elvis as Anthology,” a course that not only studies Elvis’s music and movies, but also his cultural influence as it relates to African-American history.

Michael Jackson

“Michael Jackson: The Business of Music” is an MBA course offered at Clark Atlanta University that takes an in depth look at the King of Pop’s business practices and “how he negotiated his tours, record deals and merchandising, and how he revolutionized legal practices related to entertainment copyrights, trademarks and licenses.”


In the summer of 2012 Syracuse University offered “The Music of Radiohead.” The course focused on the rock band’s music and cultural influence over the past decade.

Bob Dylan

Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan’s career and societal significance is explored in the Willamette University intensive writing course “Changing Times: The Music and Lyrics of Bob Dylan.”

The Beatles

Numerous college courses at various universities around the world have been offered on the Beatles and their music, but in 2009 Liverpool Hope University took it to a whole other level when they became the very first to offer a master’s degree in Beatles studies. We’re not sure what job that would get you these days, but you never know…

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