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.
Free Online Course Info and Requirements
Free courses in theology and world religions are typically offered through a university's humanities, theology or anthropology departments. These courses don't result in college credit, and students are not graded. Students generally must purchase textbooks separately. Specialized computer programs or applications such as Adobe Reader or QuickTime may be required to access files.
The Open University
Studying Religion is a 20-hour introductory course that looks primarily at the religions and belief systems in India and Britain. Students can download video lectures, transcripts and discussion questions. Religion Today is a 15-hour look at the role of religious practices in contemporary society through transcripts of lectures that students may download. No other study materials are provided.
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
- Foundations of Theology: Biblical and Historical
- Jews and Christians throughout History
- Latino Theology and Christian Tradition
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.
- Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature
- Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)
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.