The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Best and worst-rated courses for Fall 2023

From first-year writing seminars to the infamous Gen Chem, students have a lot to say when it comes to rating their classes.
Lexie Perez
Graphic depicting the Rate My Professors website with three rated classes. (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)

It’s that time of the year — the dreaded season of class registration. There are hundreds of classes available in the fall and trying to find the best (or worst) lineup to fill your schedule can be intimidating. We searched the class registration portal and the Rate My Professors website to find some of the best and worst-rated classes. 

It is important to note that ratings can not be proved for accuracy. Additionally, multiple professors may teach the same course, so do extra research before adding anything to your cart. 

Top College of Arts & Science courses

GSS 2242: Women Who Kill

Tags: AXLE: Perspectives

Rate My Professors rating: 4.7/5.0

Professor Kathryn Schwarz will explore the history of violence in Western culture in gendered terms. Her syllabus poses questions like, “How does the capacity for lethal acts give women access to power?” If you are looking to learn more about feminist theory, this is the course for you. Schwarz has been described as the “best prof [one student has] had at Vanderbilt” and a “comforting, chill, and wise” individual in and out of the classroom from a Dec. 7, 2021, entry on Rate My Professors. 

JS 1111: Jews and Hollywood

Tags: AXLE: First-Year Writing Seminar

Rate My Professors rating: 4.1/5.0

If you are new to Vanderbilt and reading this article, welcome! There are a plethora of fascinating topics to learn about for your required First-year writing seminar. In this small seminar, Professor Judith Klass will explore the influence of Jewish leaders in Hollywood, discussing issues of representation and roles in contemporary and historical film. 

Sophomore Elizabeth Arceneaux previously took this course and attested to the high Rate My Professors rating. 

“It was a great insight into the beginnings of Hollywood with a professor who was so knowledgeable about the topic,” Arceneaux said.  

Bottom College of Arts & Science courses

ARTS 1505: Graphic Design 

Tags: AXLE: Humanities and the Creative Arts

Rate My Professors rating: 1.4/5 

Graphic Design with Professor Qais Assali has one of the lowest scores I have seen on the site. This course is project-based and discusses essential design principles, but many of the ratings share that it is generally confusing. 

“This was probably the most frustrating class I have taken at Vandy. You will have lots of homework, [and] it is very time-consuming. I expected to learn Illustrator or get introduced to graphic design in this class, but I was very wrong,” a rating on Rate My Professors from Jan. 12, 2023, reads. “The professor is very unclear about his instructions. He changes the syllabus all the time.” 

Other reviews note that, as long as you complete the project, it is easy to receive a high grade. But for students hoping to gain a deep knowledge of design applications, potentially consider exploring other art studio classes. 

CHEM 1601: General Chemistry

Tags: AXLE: Math and Natural Sciences

Rate My Professors rating: 3.6/5 

Gen Chem. Need I say more? The dreaded pre-med requirement (or pre-med weed-out, whatever your perspective may be) has five lecture options listed for the fall 2023 semester. Out of the five professors who teach this course, Dr. Shawn Phillips has the lowest rating on Rate My Professors with a 3.6/5. One rating on this platform from May 20, 2022, gave Phillips a 3.0 for quality and a 2.0 for difficulty. 

“Gen Chem is notoriously difficult, and if you look for a professor who teaches, Phillips is not the best choice,” the rating reads. “If you want a period to destress and learn better from the textbook, then he’s an excellent choice. I met my best friend in this class, but unless you feel lucky, try for a different professor.”

Top Blair School of Music classes

MWEL 1150: Chakra Yoga

Rate My Professors rating: 5/5

Whether you are a Blair student or an incredibly musically disinclined person like myself, Professor Jennifer McGuire’s one-credit yoga class is the perfect way to unwind from the chaos of college. This course will explore the seven chakras through “gentle yoga practice,” for amateurs and experts alike. It is offered only on a pass/fail basis. 

Sophomore Bella Miggiani shared that she still practices the techniques she learned over a year ago. 

“I loved that class, hopefully I can take it again (you can take it twice for credit). I feel like I learned a lot about my body, and I still practice some of those poses today,” Miggiani said. “It was especially rewarding to take during freshman year, even though I know that’s a rarity because it’s in really high demand.” 

MUSE 1200: Steel Drum/Pan Ensemble

Rate My Professors rating: 5/5

This performance class is open to all members of the Vanderbilt community and has stellar scores on Rate My Professors. The class meets every Sunday for two hours with Professor Mathew Britain, and students will gain knowledge on the music and dance repertories of the island of Trinidad, in addition to at least one public performance on steel drums and pans. 

Junior Allison Hebdon, a current member of the Steel Drum and Pan Ensemble, explained that the ensemble is a great opportunity for non-music majors to explore classes in Blair. 

“I love getting to participate in a steel drum class. I get to play [music] with people of all music levels while learning a new instrument,” Hebdon said. “Anybody can join, not just music majors. It’s a great start to my week and gives me a nice break from all of my STEM classes.”

Bottom Blair School of Music classes

MENT 1120: The Business of Music 

Tags: Eligible for Undergraduate Business Minor 

Rate My Professors rating: 3.8/5 

As noted on the enrollment description, enrollment in this class is extremely limited as all seats are reserved until open enrollment. If you’re looking for a one-day-per-week class, this could be of interest. However, students note on Rate My Professors that the tests are largely based on memorization and that the class felt unorganized. 

“[Dr. Michael Porter] manages to turn an interesting topic into something incredibly boring with lectures that drone on and don’t really have a purpose,” a Rate My Professors entry from Nov. 18, 2022 reads. “[It is a] low-stress class and not hard to do well, but felt pretty disorganized overall, especially considering our midterm kept being pushed back for like five weeks for no apparent reason.”

MUSL 1200: Introduction to Western Classical Music

Tags: AXLE: Humanities and the Creative Arts

Rate My Professors rating: 3/5 

While this class is advertised as being open to students with no music background, many students said otherwise. Given that it fulfills an AXLE: Humanities and the Creative Arts credit, this class could be worth it to some, but a sophomore who is being kept anonymous for protection from academic retribution shared her struggles with the class. 

“I ended up withdrawing because it was very difficult,” the student said. “We were required to distinguish between pieces of music that were so similar to each other you had to have a trained ear to recognize the small differences. The professor was also rude and condescending and had no intentions of helping me do well.”

Top Peabody College classes  

PSY-PC 1117: What Makes Us Kind?

Tags: First-Year Writing Seminar

Rate My Professors rating: 4.1/5 

Taught by Dr. Amy Needham, this first-year writing seminar explores topics in kindness, play and child development. It is initially open only to child development, child studies and cognitive studies first-year students, so I suspect it may fill up fast. Needham has an overall rating of 4.1/5 and the class itself is often rated 5/5. Students note in their reviews that the class is often led through discussions and the paper assignments are thought-provoking. 

During Spring 2023, this course was offered as an honors seminar for students in the Peabody College Honors Program and was listed as HONS 1830W. Sophomore Ava Schwartz attested to the discussion-based class and reflections she took away from the course. 

“It is completely discussion based, which I’ve loved. It’s also an honors seminar right now, so with only 16 students, everybody is really able to take part and contribute,” Schwartz said. “I have learned so much about the psychology of kindness and empathy, especially in the context of current world events. Given today’s political climate, I think that this information is so relevant and important, and I’d recommend the class to anyone.”

PSY-PC 1250: Developmental Psychology

Tags: Eligible for MHS and Psychology 

Rate My Professors rating: 4.8/5 

This class has seven different professors available with nine sections. Dr. Jonathan Lane has a 4.8/5 rating on Rate My Professors with several entries rating him a 5.0 on quality. Developmental Psychology is a prerequisite for many psychology classes and gives an overview of human development emphasizing the period from conception through adolescence. Students on Rate My Professors note that Lane collaborates well with the TAs and offers a good mix of videos and lectures. 

“If you put effort in and come to class, he will see that,” a Dec. 8, 2022 entry on Rate My Professors reads. “There are only a few tests and papers throughout the semester, but he makes it easy to succeed if he sees that you’re putting effort in.” 

Bottom Peabody College classes 

SPED 1210: Introduction to Exceptionality

Rate My Professors rating: 4.1/5 

This introductory special education course is required for all education majors, regardless of speciality. Dr. Joseph Wehby is usually the professor for the course and is often accompanied by a graduate student as a TA. 

“Professor Wehby is knowledgeable about the subject material. However, the disorganized nature of the class and almost nonexistent feedback from projects and exams makes the class rough and a slog. Tests ask about the implementation of teaching procedures for special education children, yet, this was barely taught in class. The TA was much better.” 

As someone who took the course in Spring 2022, I would have to agree. Wehby has been in the field for nearly 30 years and is very knowledgeable, but there is almost too much content for a 15-week course. 

HOD 2100: Understanding Organizations

Rate My Professors rating: 2.7/5

This class is required for HOD majors but is not open to first-year students. The course title is quite straightforward: Students will learn to apply organizational theories to specific challenges within organizations. Students noted that Dr. Kimberly Bess, one of the professors for the course, heavily relies on the TAs to teach the class and often reads directly from the lecture slides. Her overall quality score has never received a five out of 27 reviews. 

“Content is fine but all she did was read off slides,” a Dec. 17, 2022 Rate My Professors entry reads. “Gave us assignments over breaks and didn’t give us details on the final until the very last week.” 

Top School of Engineering classes 

BME 2100: Biomechanics 

Rate My Professors rating: 4.1/5 

This biomedical engineering class with Dr. David Merryman has received several 5/5 scores on Rate My Professors. Prerequisites include PHYS 1601, MATH 1301, CS 1101, 1103 or 1104. 

“Attendance is not required, but definitely still go to class. There’s no textbook, but you don’t need one anyways, because his lectures are super helpful,” a review from Dec. 22, 2018, reads. There’s a small amount of homework that is helpful for learning and is a nice grade boost. Exams are challenging, but fair. Loved this class!”

Bottom School of Engineering classes 

CS 2201: Program Design and Data Structures

Tags: Eligible for Data Science Minor and Scientific Computing

Rate my Professors rating: 4.1/5 

In Fall 2023, this computer science course has four sections, with three of the four taught by Dr. Gerald Roth. Although Roth has an overall score of 4.1/5, the six most recent reviews on Rate My Professors — which were all written in 2023 have rated the class a 1/5. 

“Despite Roth being very knowledgeable, his class is a nightmare,” a review from July 20, 2022 reads. “Projects take 20+ hours per week, there is no clear grading rubric, and he expects perfection on each project. He also never gives a break: projects are back-to-back even during exam weeks. Roth is stuck-up and will make you feel dumb; he discourages many bright minds from CS.”

CHBE 2100: Chemical Process Principles

Tags: Required Prerequisite: MATH 1301, Required Corequisite: CHEM 1602

Rate My Professors rating: 2.6/5 

This class is a foundational course for chemical engineering students and has very contested Rate My Professors ratings. Some students praise Dr. Bridget Rogers’ strict yet clear grading policies while others note that office hours are difficult to attend and the class is disorganized. 

“Her classes are very disorganized and she’s extremely unavailable to her students,” a Rate My Professors rating from Feb. 10, 2021 reads. “There have been so many instances where she made a mistake but would rather send her students on a goose chase than just fix and upload a new [clarification] to Brightspace.”

View comments (3)
About the Contributors
Jorie Fawcett
Jorie Fawcett, Senior Advisor
Jorie Fawcett ('25) is from Tiffin, Ohio, and studies secondary education and sociology in Peabody College. She previously served as Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor and Life Editor. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find her teaching, reading or pretending to study at Local Java or Suzie's. You can reach her at [email protected].
Lexie Perez
Lexie Perez, Graphics Editor
Lexie Perez (‘26) is from Northern Virginia and is majoring in climate studies and human and organizational development and minoring in business in the College of Arts and Science. She enjoys listening to 70s and 80s pop music, doing the daily Wordle and rooting for the Nashville Predators and Cincinnati Bengals. She can be reached at [email protected].
More to Discover

Comments (3)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
All The Vanderbilt Hustler picks Reader picks Sort: Newest
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
bella mimi
7 months ago

kind of a mean article to write when all you’re doing is reproducing information already on rate my professors to make some professors look awful, especially because this article has so few examples, it’s like a very small number of professors have it broadcast on the hustler that students hate them. rate my professors can be extremely problematic, as you note with your lackluster disclaimer at the top — and can recreate racist and sexist bias, etc. etc. i would advise you to think about what this article might be doing. gen chem is one thing bc everyone hates it, but a small graphic design class, for example, barring the prof doing something actually evil — it feels a little mean to single it out

Red-pilled student
7 months ago

Gerald Roth is one of the greatest of all time. Change my mind.

Thank You
1 year ago

This is true journalism.