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Universities with the Best Free Online Courses
Free online courses are offered by real schools. Learn which courses are available, what topics they cover and which ones lead to real college credit.
Free Online Course Info
All of the schools listed below are well-known universities with a variety of free online course offerings. Most of these courses - often called OpenCourseWare (OCW) - are not awarded academic credit. Course materials can be accessed at any time, no grades are involved and the coursework is self-directed. While the courses are free, students may need to purchase textbooks or download software in order to get the most out of the course.
Education Portal has free courses in video format available in such areas as business, math, English, science and social science. Ten-minute video lessons are taught by subject-matter experts and include quizzes to help check progression. Students who complete courses can earn transfer credit by passing a College Board CLEP exam. CLEP scores are accepted at over 2,900 schools in the U.S., but those interested in transferring credit should check that the college or university they attend accepts the CLEP exam.
Carnegie Mellon University offers non-credit courses and materials through its free courseware program, the Open Learning Initiative. Self-paced courses involve lessons and self-assessments in subject offerings that include statistics, biology, chemistry, French and English.
MIT OCW offers more than 2,000 free undergrad and graduate courses from dozens of subject areas, including biological engineering, economics, health sciences, media arts and management. These non-credit courses are available in text, audio and video formats and some are translated into other languages. Students may have access to lecture notes, assignments and exams, and many of the course materials can be downloaded.
Tufts University has free OCW courses that are available to anyone with Internet access. Many of the courses available are in the sciences, such as medicine, dentistry and veterinary science. The courses on this site don't hold credit value, but students may have access to course materials, such as homework assignments, lecture notes and other supplementary materials.
UC Berkeley offers free online videos of their courses dating back to 2005. The classes, both current and archived, are available as podcasts and video webcasts. Courses cover a range of subjects including astronomy, computer science, engineering, law and philosophy. The courses on the site don't generally include homework assignments or exams.
UC Irvine began providing OCW in 2006 and has a robust offering of free courses, materials and lecture series. The university listing of non-credit courses covers topics like physics, organic chemistry, capital markets and computer science. Many courses include video lectures, readings, homework assignments and exams.
UMass Boston offers free, non-credit courses on the school's OCW website in subjects such as history, psychology, nursing and public policy. Students have access to materials provided on the site, which can include lecture materials, projects and homework assignments.
Student can access free courses from the University of Michigan in such subject areas as engineering, information science, Spanish and chemistry; the website even has curriculum originally offered in the U-M medical school. Depending on the course, students can find lectures, handouts and assignments, as well as student presentations and projects.
Notre Dame offers OCW in areas such as theology, English, math and peace studies. These free, self-directed courses were originally offered at the university and can include lectures, readings, homework and quizzes.
Utah State University provides access to free online courses through OCW. These non-credit courses include everything from anthropology to wildland resources. Course resources may include lecture notes, homework and reading assignments. The materials can be downloaded or viewed directly on the site.
Free courses from Yale University include video lectures that were recorded in live classrooms at the school. The course materials include video, audio and transcript formats of the lectures, and may also include suggested readings, quizzes and exams. Some instructors provide access to supplemental materials. Non-credit courses include studies in psychology, organic chemistry, political science and English, and the course materials may be viewed on the site or downloaded in a ZIP file.