A Look into NYU’s Most Popular Elective


Veronica Liow

An NYU classroom. “The Science of Happiness” is one of the most popular electives that students take.

Ria Mittal, Contributing Writer

Happiness is something everyone strives for, but no one really knows how to achieve. Fortunately for us, NYU’s most popular elective, “The Science of Happiness,” attempts to put the pursuit of happiness into more tangible and achievable terms.

The class is all about understanding our minds and behaviors as stressed out college kids, exploring the levels and complexities of our mental health and building a positive environment for both our minds and our bodies. This conversation seems to be one lots want to participate in, as “The Science of Happiness” is one of NYU’s most popular classes. During a full class, there are so many students in the auditorium that some are forced to sit on the stairs.

Taught by Alan Schlechter and Dan Lerner, two hilarious and incredibly intelligent people, this class aims to change one’s perceptions on what it means to be happy and how one can achieve that. After attending one singular lecture myself, I can safely say it does.

As I sat in the completely packed lecture hall, a few things about the course stuck out to me. The relatable content that was rooted in science and fact paired with the way in which it was taught made it abundantly clear why so many people seek to be in this class.

Isaac Geovanis-Schwartz, a College of Arts and Sciences junior, attributed the class’s popularity to the way in which it opens up the conversation about mental health and illness.

“I think this class touches on a lot of things people are feeling,” Geovanis-Schwartz said. “A lot of people don’t feel like they’re as happy as they should be or could be, and they come to this class to sort of get a new perspective on how they can make the most of their time here.”  

Geovanis-Schwartz claimed that what he learned in this class so far has already impacted his day-to-day happiness. While the class is popular for its light workload, Geovanis-Schwartz thinks everyone walks away with a new perspective. “[Students] come here, and they’re all pleasantly surprised by how much they can take away from it,” he said.

The class I attended happened to be CAS senior Laana Popat’s first class, and she was visibly excited about all there is to learn in this course. Having heard such good things about the class and having read the article about the popularity of Yale’s “Psychology and the Good Life,” she said, “As soon as I saw that I was off the waitlist, I immediately clicked enroll.”

Not only is this course held in high regard by those who are actually in it but also by students who have just heard of it. Claire Sopala, a freshman in Gallatin, hasn’t taken the class but still acknowledges how important the subject matter is.

“With so much talk of mental health in today’s day and age, it is valuable to have a class that teaches the science behind happiness and how to attain it,” Sopala said.

Students from all walks of life want to learn about happiness, so it’s no wonder “The Science of Happiness” is NYU’s most popular elective course.

Email Ria Mittal at [email protected].