5 Universities Offering Free Theology and World Religions Courses Online

See our list of universities offering free online theology and world religions courses. Learn about what courses are available, what topics they cover and whether you can use them to get college credit.

Online Theology and World Religions Courses for Credit

Free courses in theology and world religion are typically offered through a university's humanities, theology or anthropology department. These courses don't result in college credit, and students are not graded.

Students looking for a credit-bearing option might want to consider Education Portal's vast collection of online courses. This resource offers one of the most economical options for earning college credit. The Religion 101: Intro to World Religions course could prove useful to students who would like to survey the history and belief systems of the world's major religions. Instruction is delivered via free lesson transcripts. Registered members can also access entertaining video lessons and self-assessment quizzes for a small fee. Some of the chapters in this course are listed below:

  • Bygone Religions - Explore primal religions, mystery cults, Greek myths and Roman religious practices as well as the definition and origins of religion.
  • World Religion: Islam - Study the origin and spread of Islam and identify the scientific accomplishments during the Islamic Golden Age. Instructors also discuss the five pillars of the Islamic faith.
  • World Religion: Judaism - Learn about Jewish belief systems and laws. The history of Jewish denominations, rituals and holidays is also discussed.
  • World Religion: Christianity - Find out what's in the Gospels and survey the history of the early church, the Crusades and the Reformation.

Free Online Non-Credited Theology and World Religions Courses

University of California - Irvine

Religion & Social Order focuses on the role of religion in society. Through a series of PowerPoint presentations, students examine how religion has impacted society through art, politics and popular culture. The program explores topics as diverse as the Salem witchcraft trials and UFO sightings in addition to how the Protestant faith affected America's development as a country. No textbook is cited as a requirement, and links to related websites and articles are provided.

University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame's free online theology courses look at the relationship between God and humankind from a Catholic viewpoint. In each course, students can download syllabi and lecture notes. Each course has a list of required reading, generally from books students must acquire on their own, although selected excerpts of some textbooks are available online for Latino Theology and Christian Tradition. Much of the required reading for Foundations of Theology comes from the Bible. Students can download videos of lectures for Jews and Christians throughout History as well as a list of helpful websites.

Utah State University

Students interested in exploring the concept of religion as a cultural phenomenon can access video lectures, lecture notes, quizzes, visual aids and a list of additional resources. The syllabus names a general textbook, which students can purchase online. Course materials cover the rituals, language, symbols and myths of religion, along with religion's place in society, its organizational structure and adaptability in the face of change. Though credit isn't offered for completion of USU OpenCourseWare classes, students may be able to earn credit for knowledge acquired through a departmental examination.

Yale University

Both of these Open Yale courses include video lectures and handouts which can be downloaded separately or together as a zip file. The course pages provide links to facilitate purchasing course texts. Introduction to the Old Testament looks at the scripture both as a chronicle of ancient Israel and as a foundation for Western ideas, while Introduction to the New Testament gives students the chance to examine these books as literature and historical records.

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