Free online courses (sometimes called MOOCs) have reshaped how people learn, develop their professional skills, and prepare for career and life changes. Some of the most respected colleges in the world offer courses in nearly every field of interest you can think of. But how do you know a free online course will be worth it? That’s what College Consensus is here to explain with our ranking of the best colleges offering free online courses.
Recommended Online Colleges & Universities
Explore our featured online programs to find the right match for you today.
The College Consensus Guide to the Best Universities for Free Online Courses
To be entirely transparent, it’s challenging to measure free online courses against each other. There’s such a wide variety in difficulty, pricing, format, length, and credit that no two programs are alike. So, to give students a guide to free online courses that are available today from reputable, accredited institutions, College Consensus did what we do best – research.
To create the Top 50 schools for online courses ranking, editors researched courses offered by Consensus-ranked schools, which means they have a sufficient number of published rankings and student reviews to qualify. Consensus features only accredited colleges and universities that are known and trusted regionally and nationally. From there, colleges are arranged solely in order of how many free online college courses they offer, from most to fewest.
The University of Michigan online division offers free college courses online. Lifetime learners have an opportunity to take free online courses to meet the many unique educational objectives of students across the world. Through its partnership with Coursera current U-M students, faculty, and staff have free access to thousands of learning experiences like the Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills class. And the edX platform also to provides free educational opportunities in the disciplines of Science, Medicine, Health, Computer Science, Education, Business, and Art. The length of courses vary. For a small fee students can earn a certificate of completion when they successfully complete the coursework.
The University of Michigan is the flagship university of the state’s university system. It was established in 1817, 20 years before Michigan became a state by the judges and governors of the Michigan territory. As such, the University of Michigan is the state’s oldest institution of higher learning. UM holds the distinction of being one of only a handful of premier research schools in the United States.
Stanford University offers free online college courses through their Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (VPTL) that are accessible by lifelong learners. Students can learn new skills to further their career or just to enrich their everyday life. Stanford’s Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offer more than 175 free courses in a variety cutting-edge fields. Courses include the Tools of Design Thinking, Organic Semiconductors, Artificial Intelligence in Medicine, Writing Adventures, Child Nutrition and Cooking, and also the America’s Poverty and Inequality course. Stanford offers its free courses through iTunes, YouTube and Stanford eCorner.
Stanford University is a private institution of higher learning that was established in 1891. Stanford is a top rated world-renowned university is located near Silicon Valley in California. The school consists of three colleges broken down into 40 departments; in addition to four schools of professional studies. The Stanford undergraduate program is considered the most selective school in the nation. Their alumni include astronauts, billionaires and a plethora of congressional representatives.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s division of online learning offers Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Through its partnership with Coursera students can take courses like Machine Learning for Accounting with Python or earn a specialization. UIUC is proud to offer educational opportunities to eager learners through high-speed connections throughout the world. Students have the choice of free online college courses that include the fields of Finance, Cloud Computing, Taxation, Business, Law, and Education, among another one hundred other options.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was established under the Morrill Land Act in 1867. It also holds the distinction of being a sea grant and space grant school, in addition, its flagship status as a part of the University of Illinois system. Its 6,200+-acre campus is home to nearly 50,000 students. UIUC is considered among the country’s top universities by US News & World Report.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), through the MIT Open Learning Library, MIT Open Courseware, and MITx on edx offers free online college courses that explore a variety of subjects in many disciplines. These Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) provide comprehensive coursework that includes videos, discussions, and exercises to ensure a student understands the material presented. Most MIT OpenCourseWare courses, like Calculus, are provided without college credits, while other free courses online with certificates are available. Many MIT MOOCs are self-paced, downloadable, and require no registration. Choose from over 200 available free courses and programs that include Education, Global Warming, Mechanical Engineering, Python, Machine Learning, Game Development, and Quantum Information, among many others.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was established in 1861 in accordance with the Morrill Land Grant Act. As a general rule, MIT is typically ranked among the top five universities in the world. Its 166-acre campus abuts the beautiful Charles River that separates Cambridge from Boston.
The University of California, Irvine’s UCI Open platform offers free college courses online across a wide variety of fields and disciplines. Its Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are provided through its partnership with Coursera. Should one decide to take free online college courses from UCI, course options include TEDx Talks by the University of California, Irvine faculty. UIC also offers ZotTalks– perspectives in the evolving field of educators. Courses are offered as cohorts or on-demand.
The University of California, Irvine is a member school of the University of California system. It was established in 1965 and is the youngest member of the Association of American Universities. UCI was dedicated by then President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. The school’s suburban 1,500+acre campus is home to a student enrollment that exceeds 35,000. Money magazine recognizes UCI as the third best university in the country.
Ready to start your journey?
University of Minnesota allows students to take free online college courses. By partnering with Coursera for Minnesota, it can offer U of M students, faculty, and staff free access to courses and specializations. The course topics are interesting and valuable to improving students’ skills. And the courses range in topic from Google Maps to Systems that Create Sustainable Foods. The University of Minnesota does not offer college credit for these free courses. If a student would like a certificate of completion, he is charged a fee for the certificate.
University of Minnesota offers six specializations. The Healthcare Marketplace offers an overview and history of the entire health care industry from doctors to medical technological advances. HR Management gives students a foundation in the principles and policies of managing human resources. This program discusses the legality of hiring, firing, and managing employees. A scientific approach is taught as a way to research and handle concerns. Information Systems gives a foundation in the principles of information systems management. User interface design will give a foundation in industry design standards for the creation of useful interfaces for users. There are also courses in recommender systems and software development lifecycle.
Johns Hopkins University’s Office of the Provost offers free college courses online across a variety of disciplines and fields of study. Johns Hopkins University boasts that more than 5 million lifetime learners have taken its noncredit, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). These courses require no registration and are offered on Coursera and Johns Hopkin’s website. Course options include Software Development, Genomic Data Science, Patient Safety, Clinical Trial Design, and Neuro-hacking in R. The university also offers a series of courses in a focus area like the Epidemiology in Public Health Practice Specialization.
Johns Hopkins University was established in 1876. The school consists of ten divisions offered on campuses in Baltimore, Washington, DC, and internationally as well. Johns Hopkins is often recognized among the top universities in the world. Combined, the Johns Hopkins campuses are home to more than 26,000 students. Johns Hopkins University operates with ten colleges and schools covering a vast array of studies.
The University of Pennsylvania proudly offers free online college courses through their partnership with edX and Coursera. Penn’s Arts & Sciences’ online learning program includes fascinating perspectives that have been offered since 2011. When one chooses to take free courses online with certificates, require a small administrative fee, while the noncredit courses are available to lifetime learners anywhere in the world. Choose from Math, Business, Entrepreneurship, Ancient Philosophy, Law and Robotics.
The University of Pennsylvania was established in 1740, nearly 280 years ago. It holds the distinction of being a member of the nine colonial schools founded before the Declaration of Independence. Penn is responsible for the creation of the first business school, the first medical school, and the first student union in the country. The University of Pennsylvania has been an integral part of the important scientific advancements that include the first commercial computer — UNIVAC, and the development of the COBOL programming language.
Harvard University offers lifetime learners an opportunity to take free online college courses that can facilitate the advancement of one’s career or simply allow students to pursue their life goals and personal passions. Choose from this elite university’s many free college courses online. Noncredit courses include topics in Environmental Science, Investment, Finance, Culture, Machine Learning, and Architectural Imagination. Coursework for these free online courses is available on a number of online platforms that include edX, iTunes, and Harvard Extension School, among others.
Harvard University was established in 1636 and is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The school consists of 11 academic divisions that provide classes across the greater metro area of Boston. The historic main campus in Cambridge is only a few miles from Boston’s city boundaries. Harvard’s academic library is the world largest as it is home to more than eighteen million volumes of multimedia resources.
The University of Colorado System offers noncredit free online college courses through their Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) division – noncredit, tuition-free through Coursera. The University of Colorado System is a system-wide effort by the school to provide free noncredit courses open to students across the globe. Lifetime learners across the world taking advantage of these open online courses hail from more than 190 countries. Students can choose to take free online college courses in the areas of sustainability, programming, business, palliative care, cybersecurity, engineering to name just a few. Additionally, the UC system offers specializations like the Wilderness First Aid Specialization.
The University of Colorado System is an organization of public universities across four campuses — Colorado Springs, Denver, Boulder. The Aurora campus is home to the University of Colorado’s medical facilities. The university system in Colorado boasts an alumni association of more than 450,000 located across the globe. Together, all four campuses offer approximately 800 outreach programs in a variety of health care disciplines to the residents of the Centennial State.
Recommended Online Schools
Explore our featured online programs to find the right match for you today.
University of Maryland, College Park offers free online college courses with many massive open online courses (MOOCs) through edx and Coursera. UMD offers free MOOCs to both students and faculty. This program helps students to advance their careers within their current employment. UMD allows students various topics ranging from cybersecurity to programming.
The interview research and preparation course gives students a foundation in cognitive, emotional and social traits while showing them strategies for improving their presenting skills. Students learn how their own talents and interests can blend with their strengths to allow them to find employment that matters. The dealing with missing data program teaches students to understand surveys and methods and using data for calibration purposes. The framework for data collection and analysis course gives strong foundation in data collection. Students learn to find sources that match their research needs. Students take that research and break it down into understandable parts and create a plan to find errors and correct them.
Purdue University has free college courses online with over 100 massive open online courses (MOOCs). Purdue teamed up with companies who create free online courses to allow students an experience that is interactive with students around the world. Purdue’s mission is to change the world with the innovative research and education. They have a large selection of innovative online professional development and training.
Some of the courses offered as a MOOC is AP Computer Science, which is a Java programming tool with structures of data. This is a computer science that gives students a foundation in keywords, sorting, and algorithms. This is intended for those who are interested in entry level programming. They have a course in probability focusing on random variables and distribution models. Students study models of distribution including random variables to prepare them for employment in data science. This program includes a data analysis and statistics class, which gives students a foundation in distribution of probability models, exponential, beta, and normal distribution.
University of Virginia offers free college courses online with a massive open online course (MOOC). They are free and anyone around the world can take them. UVA offers over 100 different free online courses. But it does not provide college credits for these courses. The MOOCs do not offer one to one instructor feedback to students. UVA has teamed up with Coursera, Udacity, Udemy and others to offer these online courses. MOOCs are typically smaller and integral to a specific curriculum. Offerings range from social sciences to business administration and are available for beginners to advanced learners.
The MOOCs typically are four to six weeks and taught by renowned professionals. Students can learn at the pace that works best for them. They can test what they’ve learned as well as participate in exercises that are interactive. There is no charge for these courses. Some of the popular courses offered at UVA are Agile Development, which teaches the principles of agile development. Students learn to run sprints, manage various teams, and create a flexible culture. In the Business Strategy Specialization, students gain an understanding of the dynamics of management with a strategic perspective.
The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) offers many free online colleges courses through the Continuing and Professional Education division for those who wish to learn but have no need to earn college credits for the work they have completed. Self-paced online coursework is typically required to be completed in fifteen weeks, or less. UC Davis’ open campus allows learners to take classes without being enrolled as a UC Davis student. Coursework covers a diverse set of disciplines that include education, conflict resolution, equine studies, and technology, among others. Through edx, students can take a Wine Tasting: Sensory Techniques for Wine Analysis course. And there are over one hundred courses on Coursera in various areas.
The University of California, Davis was established in 1905. The school is a public institution of higher learning that is considered a space grant school and a land grant school. UC Davis began as a learning option for agriculture professionals. The University of California, Davis has been recognized as the 29th best national university in the country. The suburban 7,00+-acre campus is located about 10 miles west of the state’s capital, Sacramento.
The University of California, San Diego offers free online college courses through their education extension division. These noncredit Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are available in the fields of Data Analysis, Business Leadership, Healthcare, and Digital Arts. Through high- speed connections, the UC San Diego Extension provides tuition-free courses to enrich the lives of anyone with an educational objective and an Internet connection. The UC San Diego Extension also offers international programs
The University of California, San Diego was established in 1903 as Scripps Institute of Oceanography. It became a member school of the University of California system in 1960. The school’s 2,100+-acre campus is home to nearly 39,000 students. Academically, The University of California, San Diego is recognized as a Public Ivy, and ranked 16th best in the world according to US News and World Report.
The University of Colorado, Boulder’s Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) offers Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) related to the many of the academic-based degrees offered by the university. These free college courses online are available without college credits in a variety of study areas that include business analysts, leaders in the educational community, electrical engineering, and aerospace, among many offers. The OSI operates with three fundamental objectives. It helps transition education opportunities, re-imagines what a learning experience should be, and to expands educational opportunities for lifetime learners worldwide.
The Morrill Land Act established the University of Colorado Boulder in 1876 before Colorado became a state. It is a land grant and space grant university. The University of Colorado Boulder is the flagship institution of higher learning of the University of Colorado system. The school consists of nine schools with more than 32,000 students, across a 770+-acre campus. The University of Colorado Boulder is home to one of the largest collections dedicated to natural history a The Museum of Natural History.
Duke University’s online platform offers more than 80 Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for lifetime students inhabiting countries across the globe. There are free courses online with certificates included as a part of the Duke’s online Coursera. A Coursera Certificate acts as official verification that the certificate-holder has successfully completed the coursework. The majority of Duke’s courses run four-to-six weeks and requires about nine hours of work weekly. Learn from a top university in the areas of computer programing, proactive environment applications, and animal kingdom conservation. Some classes include Introduction to Machine Learning, Health & Well-Being Coach Training, and Fintech Law and Policy.
Quakers and Methodists established Duke University in 1838. Duke’s campus exceeds 8,500-acres; it is home to nearly 16,000 students. The school has consistently ranked among the top national institutions of higher learning by Kiplinger, Forbes, The Washington Post, the US News & World Report, and The Wall Street Journal. Duke University requires undergraduate students to live on campus their first three years of study.
Rice University offers Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) across a variety of disciplines. A MOOC is another name for classes or a series that are free college courses online. Completing a MOOC class or course will not earn the student college credits, but will fulfill the learning objectives of those studying. Rice University MOOCs reach lifetime learners in 190 countries across the world. Its free online courses cover topics like computer programming, finance, math, healthcare, business, and personal development for everyday life.
Rice University’s full name is William Marsh Rice University. It was founded in 1912 in response to the death of its namesake and first offered education tuition-free. The school focuses on undergraduate studies. Its 200-acre urban campus is located next to the Texas Medical Center and near the famous Houston Museum District. Rice University is located in the vicinity of NASA, and, as such, many graduates find employment there.
Arizona State University’s online platform includes nearly 70 Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for learners around the world. These free college courses online provide no college credit but are offered in the fields of education, healthcare, business, communication, music, and economics, among many other classes. For those who wish to continue their education or personal development, you are advised to take free online college courses from
Arizona State University was established as a land grant university in 1885 while it was still a territory. Its three locations combine to offer more than 50,000 students a dynamic place to learn. These campuses include the Tempe campus, the West campus and the Polytechnic campus; their serve the education needs of the greater Phoenix area. Forbes has recognized ASU as one of the highest value educations in the country. Arizona State University offers an online distance-learning platform that has partnered with Starbucks.
The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Professional Education offers free online college courses through its partnership with Udacity, edX, and Coursera. Students who complete these noncredit Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) study at their own pace, on their own time, tuition free! Students have the opportunity to select from basic classes like Operations & Supply Chain Principals or Introduction to Electronics. Or they can choose from world-renowned coursework that includes Analytic Modeling, Linear Circuits, Health Informatics, Music Technology, and Engineering. Many of Georgia Tech’s online courses are available as CEU’s, for a nominal charge. Upon completion, online learners receive a digital badge, as verification upon completion.
The Georgia Institute of Technology was established in 1885 and is a member school of the University System of Georgia. The school operates branch campuses in Savannah, France, Ireland, Singapore, and China. The university consists of six colleges with importance dedicated to technology and the sciences. The school’s urban campus is nearly 400 acres and home to nearly 30,000 students.
Recommended Online Schools
Explore our featured online programs to find the right match for you today.
The University System of Georgia, in partnership with Coursera, offers twenty free online college courses (MOOCs) in many areas of study and disciplines. Students can refine their career goals by enrolling in the school’s popular free online courses. Coursework guides students to explore a career and helps them find the pathway to achieve their career goals and objectives. The University System of Georgia provides opportunities for students entering the workforce, or lifelong learners to take free online college courses regarding Cybersecurity, Business Modeling, and Professional Writing.
The University System of Georgia is a state-back collection of 26 institutions of higher learning within the state of Georgia’s boundaries. The university system administers guidance to nearly 60 public libraries through the state. The system was created in 1931 by the state’s General Assembly enactment of the Reorganization Act. It acts as a state-run oversight agency in all matters of higher education in the state of Georgia.
Yale University offers two ways for students to access free online college courses. Open Yale Courses gives students free access to a group of intro classes taught by Yale professors. Their mission is to make education accessible to everyone. All of the OYC courses are produced in a Yale classroom. They are on video, audio and transcript formats. Students do not need to register. These are not degree or certification classes. The courses cover all areas from astronomy to the classics to Italian language and literature.
Yale University also partners with Coursera to offer MOOCs. These are in video format and are not degree or certification courses. They are free and open to anyone around the world. Some of the courses available are Introduction to Breast Cancer. This course focuses on the biology of breast cancer, risk factors, treatment, and prevention. This course is for anyone wanting to learn more about the disease. America’s Written Constitution is another course which introduces students to the Constitution, including separation of powers, rights, and federalism.
Columbia University offers Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in partnership with Coursera, edX, and Kadenze at no cost to the student through their ColumbiaX program. ColmbiaX’s free online college courses provide no college credits but are available in a number of fields and industries that include the applied sciences, the education of teaching professionals, and the field of medicine. The esteemed faculty of Columbia University participates in the ColumbiaX program, which offers professional certificates for the completion of certain programs of study. Check out the comprehensive resources available online from Columbia University.
Columbia University holds the distinction as one of the seven Ivy League Universities. It was originally chartered in 1754 by the British royal family in response to the establishment of Princeton University in nearby New Jersey. And, it is one of nine institutions of higher learning that was established prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Several of the country’s founding fathers are alumni of Columbia University.
Doane University has teamed up with edX to provide free college courses online with their massive open online courses (MOOCs) through DoaneX. Some of the courses offered by DoaneX are free, while others have a cost associated with them. Students can audit the free online courses. The courses that have a fee provide a certificate at the end of the course. It is open enrollment, so students can enroll at any time. And the university uploads more courses regularly.
The BioStatistics course teaches students how to identify data and learn how to collect it. They begin to recognize, as well as create east experiments. They learn the difference between interval and point estimating. In Leading Organizational Change in Healthcare, students understand organizational behavior. They study the data about the key pieces of organizations. They learn how to diagnose, develop, and implement organizational change. And the Cannabis Cultivation and Processing course trains students in the cultivation and processing of cannabis, from seeds to end products.
The State University of New York (SUNY) has created an OPEN SUNY online platform across the 64 institutions of higher learning that make up the State University of New York system. Students who choose to take free online college courses from SUNY’s MOOC program can select from many study areas. These include public administration, travel, education, humanities, law, business, and computer science, among many other disciplines. Students have the flexibility to study at their own pace from the renowned SUNY faculty.
The State University of New York is a system of institutions of higher learning located through the Empire State. It holds the distinction of being the largest state university systems in the United States. The unified state university system was established in 1948. When combined, the many campuses in SUNY have a total enrollment of more than 600,000 students and an adult education enrollment that exceeds one million.
Ready to start your journey?
The University of Washington’s Professional & Continuing Education department partners with Coursera and edX to offer free college courses online. Thee classes include video instruction, class specific assignments, and tests regarding a student’s retention of the knowledge. U-Dub is one of sixteen member schools offering Coursera tuition-free, noncredit classes for those looking to advance their professional knowledge or to explore a personal passion. Most Programs are structured to require 3 hours of work, one day a week.
The University of Washington is a public institution of higher learning that was established in 1861 under the Morrill Land Act. Its urban 700+-acre campus is home to nearly 47,000 students and located within the region of Puget Sound. The school also holds the distinction as being the flagship school of the state’s university system.
Berklee College of Music offers around 48 massive open online courses (MOOCs) through several different organizations. They even offer MOOCs in Spanish and Portuguese. These are free courses that allow students access to innovative artists, song writers, and best selling authors. MOOCs can give students a look at what Berklee course could be like if they wanted to enroll on their degree programs. Berklee does not give course credit for MOOCs.
MOOCs are offered via video content and instruction is provided by Berklee faculty. MOOCs offered at Berklee are Music Technology which includes study of areas like creating electronic music sounds, the art of music and sound production, and technology used for recording vocals. Music Theory, Harmony, and Ear Training allows students to develop musicianship while gaining a foundation in music theory. Music Business and Entrepreneurship gives students knowledge in copyright law, music business, and creativity and entrepreneurship. Music Therapy teaches how to improve health and wellness with music. Songwriting centers on writing song lyrics. Performance and Improvisation provides an introduction to jazz and guitar.
Northwestern University offers free courses online with certificates with their massive open online courses (MOOCs). They have over forty courses available to students and faculty at no charge. Participants in this program can receive course certificates. This program allows students to improve skills and strengthen their knowledge in fields that are in high demand. With these certificates, students can expand their qualifications for employment.
For a charge, students can take MOOCs that includes graded feedback from the instructor. Northwestern also offers specializations in MOOCs. This allows students to take a deeper dive into a specific topic. A specialization option gives students online classes, feedback that’s graded, and a project. Some of the topics offered are the Modern Robotics: Mechanics, Planning, and Control Specialization which takes a look at robot dynamics and kinematics. The Social Media Marketing Specialization includes a foundation in social media as well as connecting with potential customers. They offer an Organizational Leadership Specialization program which covers marketing, design innovation, and leadership and negotiation.
Emory University offers free massive open online courses (MOOCs) in partnership with Coursera. While this courses are free, they do not receive a credit hours and will not apply towards a degree. These free online courses are mainly virtual and consist of videos on a wide range of topics from copyright for multimedia to understanding violence. One popular course is on weight management. Students study the underlying reason for obesity and how food has evolved. Students study how people have changed their biology by over eating and are resistant to weight loss. The addicted brain is about drugs and how they alter the brain. Students learn about the drug policies of the government.
Emory University is widely recognized as one of the elite Southern Ivies, the private research universities that offer the South’s counterpoint to the Ivy League. Founded in 1836, Emory has long been an intellectual capital in the South, and played a crucial role in developing Atlanta into a cosmopolitan city. But Emory doesn’t hide in its ivory tower; its outreach and service to the community is well-known, and MOOCs are just a portion.
With Coursera, Michigan State University offers a variety of different massive open online courses (MOOCs). And the school also has a partnership with edx. The MOOCs are free courses that do not have credit or degree programs. They offer four different specializations and four courses that are project based. MSU currently offers a specialization in Entrepreneurship, Journalism, photography, and game development and design. They also have project courses in music, infographics, writing scripts, and transmedia.
Michigan State University dates back to 1855, and played an incredibly important role in the development of American higher education. As an agricultural and applied sciences school, Michigan State was the model of the Land Grant University – essentially, every institution known as State University or A&M owes its existence to Michigan State. Today, MSU continues to make education accessible to all through programs like its MOOCs, and its online degree programs.
Rutgers University partners with Coursera to offer Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to lifelong learners throughout the globe. The students follow an asynchronous format through the school’s partnership with Coursera. The free online college courses (i.e. MOOCs) include Revolutionary Ideas, the Analysis of the Universe, Marketing Strategies, or Supply Chain Essentials. Rutgers, through Coursera, also offers a 3 part free online series entitled Soul Beliefs.
Rutgers University was established in 1766 as Queen’s College. It is a part of the nine colonial universities that were founded prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It also holds the distinction as the largest university or college in the Garden State of New Jersey. The school is a land grant, a space grant, and a sea grant higher learning institution. Its 3 campuses are home to nearly 69,000 students. It has been classified as a ‘public’ Ivy League school.
California Institute of Arts offers massive open online courses (MOOCs) in collaboration with Coursera and Kadenze. They offer programs called specializations which include certifications. These programs have a small fee associated with them. The fees are based per certificate or there is a premium membership. They also offer free online courses without certification. None of these courses offer college credit or degrees.
In Digital Arts students will gain a foundation in electronic music. They will learn how to program software to create digital sounds. In Game Design, students gain a foundation in design and storytelling. This series has five courses allowing students to experiment with all things video game, including design, story and character development. In Graphic Design, students engage in a series of five courses in which they gain a foundation in the process and history of graphic design. They learn the history and value of typography.
Wesleyan University offers the ability to take free online college courses with their free massive open online courses (MOOCs). Through a collaborative relationship with Coursera, Wesleyan University offers over 30 free courses. Their mission is to provide a robust and innovative access to education through various means. They offer degree programs, certifications and free open classes. The MOOCs do not receive college credit, but can be helpful in learning valuable information.
Some of the popular MOOCs are a creative writing specialization. This course highlights three writing genres: memoir, short story, and narrative essays. Students will understand the techniques of a good writer including description, settings, and note worthy characters. In Understanding Memory: Explaining the Psychology of Memory through Movies, students gain a foundation in human memory and a scientific study of it. This course uses movie clips to show different pieces of memory. The instructor talks about the science behind memory in a way that’s nontechnical and easy to understand.
Georgetown University through its GeorgetownX program offers free college courses online — otherwise known as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) — through its partnership with edX. MOOCs can be audited for free, while some free courses online with certificates charge a nominal fee for the certificate. Students select from courses that include The Divine Comedy, BioEthics, Sign Language, and Quantum Mechanics for Everyone. While some MOOCs are offered with internal deadlines, many others are self-paced.
Georgetown University was established in 1789 as the Georgetown College. Georgetown University’s notable alumni include Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and President Bill Clinton. Georgetown University holds the distinction as being the oldest Catholic University in the nation and maintains the longest running student debate society in the country. Georgetown’s urban campus in the heart of the nation’s capital and is home to nearly 18,000 and is partially located along the Potomac River.
Princeton University offers a variety of massive open online courses (MOOCs) as part of their mission for online education. Courses are free and Princeton does not give credit for the courses. Its goal is to give a learning opportunity to students locally and around the country. The university partnered with Coursera, edx, and NovoEd to provide these courses to students. In addition to its offerings on Coursera and edX the university also has one course on Kadenze.
Some of the popular courses include Civil Liberties which allows students to take a look at the moral impact of civil rights claims by taking a deep dive in the evidence and opinions of the Supreme Court. The Art of Structural Engineering teaches students the foundation of classic and contemporary design of vaults. They gain an understanding of the structure of engineering. Reinventing the Piano allows students to gain an understanding of the history of musical scales, the relationship between keyboard instruments. Students develop an understanding of the piano and how it can be acoustically and digitally reinvented. And Buddhism and Modern Psychology is one of the school’s most popular MOOCs of all time.
Rochester Institute of Technology offers free courses online with certificates. They offer a series of free and decreased cost courses with a program they call RITx. They have teamed up with edX, a nonprofit online educational platform. Through RITx, a student can listen in to, or audit, a class for free. The free version does not have a certificate or degree. However, once a student starts listening, that student has the option to pay a small fee to upgrade to the certificate option. They have three different paths from which a student can choose. They have the XSeries certificate, the professional certificate and the MicroMasters program.
The Cybersecurity Fundamentals course teaches students basic working knowledge of networks and system administration. Students also learn how to protect networks from intrusions and other vulnerabilities. The Design Thinking Fundamentals course uses strategies to help students identify business problems. It teaches them methods to evaluate, understand, and apply feedback from testing prototypes. The Public Speaking course teaches students that becoming a great public speaker involves research, preparation, and critical thinking. Students will learn methods to control anxiety and gain the skills to prepare better speeches.
Davidson College and edX offer Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) through a collaborative effort. The esteemed faculties who teach on on-campus provide the same quality education through the DavidsonX program. Free online college courses from DavidsonX include US Voting Fraud, Linear Algebra (2 part series), Medical Genomics, and Electronic Literature. Many online tuition-free courses are self-paced with rolling enrollment dates; while others begin at set times during the year. MOOCs are considered a school’s added value component.
Davidson College is a private institution of higher learning that was established in 1837. The school maintains two campuses — the historic main campus covers more than 650-acres and the lake campus exceeds 100-acres. Together these campuses are home to nearly 2,000 students; many of which study abroad. Davidson College is considered among the most selective colleges/universities in the nation.
The University of California, Berkeley partners with edX to offer free college courses online for lifetime students living across the world. BerkeleyX offers Professional Certificates, MicroMasters, and MOOCs. In 2012, the school opened the Berkeley Resource Center for Online Education (BRCOE) to provide a variety of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that can be audited at no charge, and without college credits. However, free courses online with certificates, charge a small fee for the issuance of the course certificate. Course subject vary from law to medicine to nutrition and more!
The University of California, Berkeley is one of ten research institutions of higher learning that make up the University of California system. It holds the distinction as the flagship university of the state’s system. The school was founded in 1858 and now has a student enrollment that exceeds 42,000. The school operates from its 1,200+acre campuses. Additionally, the school owns more nearly 7,000-acres of land. UC Berkeley is regularly ranked as the top public research university in the nation.
Boston University offers free online courses in partnership with edX. Their massively open online courses (MOOCs) are offered on a wide range of topics. Students can audit, or listen to, them for free with no certification or course credit. Or for a small fee, students can choose to get a certificate.
In Platform Strategy for Business, students learn how to create a platform for business. They learn the difference between platform and product firms and how their structures are different. In Leading in the Digital Age, students learn how to lead in the digital age and that it’s a series of continuous learning. Students learn to build trust and form teams virtually. They learn how to break through boundaries and become effective leaders. They understand that change comes about through dynamic learning and creativity. They understand the value of creating personal leadership plans.
Dartmouth College offers Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) through their partnership with edX. The partnership created is called Darmouthx. Many free college courses online are available without a certificate, while other free courses online with certificates are offered with some form of advanced study credit. Lifelong learners can select from Strategy Management, The German Opera, and the Philosophy of Science. Dartmouth’s mission is to expand access to education for those who wish to continue their studies.
Dartmouth College, established in 1769, is the ninth oldest institution of higher learning in the country and a member school of the original nine colonial colleges. It rural main campus exceeds more than 250-acres along the Connecticut River. Dartmouth actually owns more than 30,000 acres in the region. Collegiate ranking agencies consistently rank Dartmouth College among the top universities in the country.
Vanderbilt University offers free massive open online courses (MOOCs). The school sees MOOCs as a chance to connect with potential and previous students and give them the power of discovery through free online courses. MOOCs are available worldwide to students. The video sessions offer a diverse mix of courses for students to take at their convenience.
Some available courses are Android App Development. This course gives students access to core Java programming languages, features and patterns to create sustainable mobile applications. The Justice, Mercy and Mass Incarceration course gives students a strong foundation in mass incarceration as an ethical concern in need of discussion and change. Students study the disproportionate amount of vulnerable populations that are incarcerated. They discuss the reality of jail further impoverishing people. The Understanding the Music Business course takes a look at the music industry across the US but with special interest in Nashville. Students learn the foundation of recording, marketing, and live performance.
The University of Texas at Austin offers University Extension courses for students looking for continuing education or lifelong learning courses. The University Extension classes are presented as online courses that students can access from anywhere they have internet access. They offer courses with three different online formats but do not offer them for free, because UT gives college credit for their extension courses. They offer a wide range of classes from anthropology to accounting to Shakespeare. The university also partners with edx to offer a variety of MOOCs.
The University of Texas at Austin is the flagship of the UT system and Texas’ foremost public research institution. For nearly a century and a half UT has been the intellectual, research, and cultural center of Texas, and the environment of learning and exploration spills over into the city of Austin as well, one of the cultural hubs of the Southwest. UT’s outreach to the community and the public is wide, and made wider by its online program.
The University of Florida, through its distance-learning platform and partnership with Coursera, offers a variety of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for lifelong learners with Internet capability. These free online college courses cover fascinating subjects that include an Orbital Perspective, Fixing Healthcare, Tech MeD, and Work Personality Types. Music lovers can audit a course regarding the Genesis of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The University of Florida is recognized as the most senior member school in the State University System of Florida. Its origins begin in 1853; it has been open and operating regularly from the same campus since the early 1900s. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the school as a ‘high research university.’ It holds the distinction of having the 8th largest student enrollment in the country.
The University of Texas Arlington has teamed with edX to create the UTArlingtonX platform. This digital distance-learning program offers Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)– free online college courses — in a variety of study areas. Coursework covers a wide range of topics that include The Science of Yoga, Emerging Technologies, Introduction to Engineering, and Cluster Analysis. It is noted that most free courses online with certificates require a small fee to cover the cost of issuing the completion notice.
The University of Texas Arlington was founded in 1895 as Arlington College. The school’s urban campus is 400+-acres is located about halfway between Fort Worth and Dallas. It is home to nearly 42,000 students. It is a member school of the University of Texas System since the mid-1960s. UT Arlington holds the distinction of generating the highest ratio of baccalaureates in the country. UT Arlington is recognized as one of the fastest growing research universities in the public sector.
Babson College through a collaborative effort with edX offers Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)in the school’s specialty, entrepreneurship. These free college courses online are available to audit, while some free courses online with certificates charge a nominal fee to cover the cost of the certificate. Most MOOCs are directly business-related and include Business Analytics, Financial Decision Making, Conscious Capitalism, and Corporate Responsibility.
Babson College was founded in 1919 as Babson Institute. Its mission is to provide a premium education to the future’s entrepreneur. Its 800+-acre suburban campus is home to nearly 2,300 students. US News recognizes Babson as having the best MBA program for longer than the past two decades. Babson has partnered with nearby Wellesley College and Olin College to form a collaborative educational effort known as BOW. Wellesley Massachusetts is considered a part of the greater Boston metropolitan area.
The University of Rochester is a SARA (The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements) institution of higher learning. As such, Rochester’s free college courses online have been accredited by a national accreditation agency. Lifetime learners have the chance to fascinating courses that include Modern Astronomy, Music and Consumer Behavior & the Basics of Supply and demand. The MOOCs offered by the U of R adheres to its strict Standards of Practices set forth for online learning options.
The University of Rochester was founded in 1850. The school holds the distinction as being one of the biggest employers in the State of New York. U of R’s Eastman School of Music(as in Eastman Kodak) holds the elite status as the finest music program in the nation. Its music library is home to the third largest academic music collection in the country. Its 600+-acre campus is home to a student population that exceeds 11,000.
University of New Mexico offers a series of massively open online courses (MOOCs) in partnership with Coursera. The university offers both individual courses and specializations. Students are able to take these courses for free, but receive no credit or certificate for them they can also choose to pay a fee and have their assignments graded and get a certification for the entire specialization. A specialization consists of an entire sequence of courses.
University of New Mexico offers a new specialization called Web Application Development: Modern Full Stack Architectures. It’s available in English and Spanish. It has five courses; each course lasts four weeks. It ends with a project that takes 10 weeks. Students learn how to develop Web applications. They learn frameworks, data modeling, designing databases, and security.
The University of Oklahoma offers online and self paced classes. They believe that students should have the ability to learn and study when it’s convenient for them. Their mission is to provide a flexible and innovative learning environment. The University of Oklahoma has teamed up with Janux to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs). Students watch videos, share notes and collaborate with students across the country. While the courses are free, they do not provide college credit. UO students can take these same courses for a fee and receive college credit for them.
Elementary Business Statistics gives students an introduction to the theory and methods of statistics. Students learn the benefits of hypothesis testing and learn how that data can be the impetus for developing the theory behind the test. Students learn about testing for means and proportions and the difference between the two.
Brown University in partnership with edX offers Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)to lifetime learners around the world. Students have the option to take free online college courses in the disciplines of Engineering & Design, Memory Ethics, and Insight into a Patient’s Medical History. Some online courses issue certificates of completion for a nominal fee. Through its collaboration with edX, Brown University strives to maintain their school’s mission of inclusion education opportunities.
Brown University was chartered before the American Revolution, in 1764. The school is one of the original nine colonial colleges and, holds the distinction as being one of the 7 elite Ivy League schools in the country. Brown University was one of the first institutions of higher learning that awarded doctoral degrees. Brown is considered one of the most selective universities in the country with an admission acceptance rate of approximately 7%. Many of Brown University’s buildings are located within the federally-recognized historic neighborhood of College Hill Historic District in Providence.
Ohio State University offers free college courses online with their massive open online courses (MOOCs). OSU partners with edx to offer a handful of free classes. Courses help students acquire knowledge to benefit their current employment, or encourage them to enter a degree program. OSU does not give college credit for the MOOCs. The MOOCs are offered through video, podcasts and content on iTunes U. In addition to benefiting from online learning, students can connect with others from all over the world that are viewing the same MOOCs.
Some of the popular MOOCs at OSU are Applied Regression Analysis which gives students a theoretical and practical look at statistical modeling emphasizing regression, both linearly and multiple regression. One of the methods of analyzing response data in health has been with regression modeling. Media Writing and Editing provides students with a newsroom in a virtual world. Students focus on research, writing and reporting with an interest in the community and social media. Biology and Management of Weeds and Invasive Plants gives students a foundation in the biology and management of plants that get in the way of activity and ecosystems.
Recommended Online Schools
Explore our featured online programs to find the right match for you today.
What are Free Online Courses All About?
Just a few years ago, it seemed that MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, were a passing fad that no one could take seriously (They said the same thing about online degrees). On the one hand, doubters said that free college courses online that didn’t carry any credit couldn’t possibly be worth the investment. On the other, alarmists worried that no one would go to college anymore if they could take free online college courses. Either free online courses could never compete with colleges, or colleges could never compete with them. Only a few realized that free online courses could enrich college education, continuing education, and lifelong learning, and colleges could provide these courses with real substance and rigor.
The naysayers were wrong on both counts, which became clear over the years, as more elite and respected colleges and universities began offering free and low-cost online courses of their own. From worldwide luminaries like MIT, Harvard, and Yale, to trusted public universities across the nation, students could find free online college courses that could inspire, inform, and transform their lives and careers. Some of the most innovative colleges in the nation are turning to free online courses. Hardly a flash in the pan, MOOCs are helping to shape what higher education will look like in the future.
Today, there are a wide variety of free online courses available to students. Some are entirely for fun and learning while other free online courses promote well being. They offer engaging, entertaining formats for adults and seniors, but no college credit (and some even have content like the most unusual degrees.) Some programs are intended for continuing education credit for working professionals who need to keep up a license or certification, such as Registered Nurses or Paralegals. Some programs culminate in a certificate that can carry real job market recognition. And some even offer transferable college credits toward a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree (though they are rarely free). Students can find free online courses in virtually every field and industry, every level of education and experience, and every available media format – video, readings, interactive chats, and more.
What are the Benefits of Free Online College Courses?
There are many benefits for students who take free online college courses.
Online college courses often cost less than on-campus courses or are completely free. The affordable reduced cost allows students to save money on transportation and travel expenses, textbooks, and other fees.
Taking free online college courses allows students to gain knowledge on their own time without adhering to the rigid schedule of traditional college courses. With self-paced learning, they can study and work as fast or slow as their schedule permits. Additionally, better course design and delivery efficiency make it easier for instructors to optimize course materials and quickly update or revamp content to meet student needs.
Online college courses provide easy access to a wide range of classes worldwide. Students can take a course from other institutions that their schools may not offer. They also provide increased access to higher education for students who might not otherwise be able to afford or attend traditional brick-and-mortar universities. Greater access allows more students to achieve the education and life they want.
What are the Types of Online College Courses and Learning Experiences?
Online classes include college courses for credit, courses for professional development, courses for personal growth, and also classes just for fun. There are different formats for these classes.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
These are free online college courses offered by universities or other institutions, typically for unlimited participants. MOOCs are large-scale online courses universities offer worldwide with various topics and disciplines. Examples of MOOC providers include Coursera, edX, and Udemy.
Certifications and Professional Development Courses
Professional development courses help students gain the skills needed to excel in their desired field. These courses can sometimes be used for college credit. Online certification courses are a great way to expand and update your skills, often focused on a particular job role, programming language, or subject matter. Platforms such as Codecademy and freeCodeCamp provide interactive online courses, helping you learn coding skills with the aid of instructors. Other examples include Harvard Extension School, Alison, and WordPress Academy.
University and Community College Classes
Many universities, colleges, and community colleges are also starting to offer free online college courses that students can use for college credit. These courses may require payment for tuition and fees or be free.
What are the Different Types of Free Online Courses?
The delivery of courses can be Synchronous or Asynchronous. In a synchronous course, students follow the same course modules at the same time. In an asynchronous course, students work independently and at their own pace.
The xMOOC, or extended MOOC, is the traditional type of online course that is widespread today. They are more instructor-led and involve completing activities, video lectures, and assessments. The focus is more on providing structured content and instruction to prepare learners to pass examinations and complete the course. Unlike cMOOCs, there is less emphasis on collaboration and social learning.
A cMOOC or connective Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) based on peer-to-peer learning. This type of online learning differs from a traditional MOOC in that it is more collaborative and social instead of mainly focusing on course materials, videos, and quizzes. cMOOCs allow learners to develop personal learning networks as they share experiences, resources, and reflections.
What are the Top Providers of Free Online Courses?
In the US, Coursera, edx, and Udacity currently offer the most free online college courses in a massive open online environment.
Who Should Take a Free Online Course for College Credit?
Anyone interested in completing coursework outside of a traditional classroom is a potential candidate for a free online course. This includes current students looking to fill electives and add flexibility to their schedules, working adults wanting to pick up additional credits to complete their degree, job seekers hoping to develop new skills, and those simply wishing to challenge themselves and gain knowledge.
How Long Do Free Online Courses for College Credit Take?
The length of a free online course for college credit depends on the type of course, the number of credits offered, and the course requirements. Generally, classes range from 3 to 6 credits and may take as little as a few weeks or up to a semester to complete depending on the course structure. Courses may also occur continuously, allowing students to work and submit assignments at their own pace without a predetermined deadline.
Are Online Courses for College Credit Difficult?
It depends on the course. Some free online courses are quite challenging and require considerable dedication and hard work, while others are more basic and can be completed with minimal effort. It all depends on the course’s quality and the instructor’s expectations.
Are Free Online Courses for College Credit Worth It?
Online courses for college credit are a great way to get a jump start on college courses or test drive a subject you’re interested in before committing to an entire course. Depending on the school and the specific course, free online courses can provide the same level of content as traditional courses.
However, since the courses are free and usually offer fewer direct student services, the total college credit earned or accepted by other institutions for the course may be limited. Students should investigate the school offering the course, the available credits, and any other requirements before enrolling in free online courses for college credit.