Top Universities with the Best Free Online Courses –

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Top universities from around the world are offering free online college classes that include recordings of lectures to interactive courses with assignments and final projects. These types of learning opportunities can be a great way for job seekers to boost their skill set, gain valuable knowledge, and enhance their likelihood of career progression.

With an overall goal of making high-quality education accessible to any person, in any location, several elite universities are offering free college classes to interested individuals. In return, the institutions are able to compile research that can be used to improve their courses and develop better technologies for online and classroom-based learning. The offerings are non-credit courses, but some provide a certificate of achievement or completion.

The common term that’s come to define these free classes is MOOC, which stands for Massive Open Online Courses. Many of these universities offer free classes via a MOOC platform, such as Coursera, edX, and Udemy. Take a look at ten big-name universities offering free online college classes.

1. University of California, Irvine

The University of California, Irvine offers a variety of courses on a wide range of subjects. Here are several that might spark your interest:

Better Business Writing in English: This course promises to help you develop a personal voice in your writing, giving you the opportunity to practice your writing skills in different types of business communications.

Introduction to Electronics: Learn about the basic components of electronics: diodes, transistors, and op-amps. Perfect for those who want an insight into electrical engineering.

Games without Chance: Combinational Game Theory: A beginner’s guide to combinational game theory. The course covers the mathematical theory and analysis of simple games without chance moves.

2. Harvard University

Harvard is the oldest higher education institution in the U.S. The Ivy League school is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Online learning website  edX hosts Harvard’s free courses. These self-paced courses are free on an audit basis, but a certificate can be awarded for a fee. Each course will provide information on how much time is required, the difficultly level, and information on instructors.

3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has an Open Course Ware project offering around 2400 free undergraduate and graduate courses in almost every conceivable subject area. MIT’s Open Course Ware platform is a gateway to non-credit course materials that are provided in a range of formats such as lecture notes, assignments and exams. Courses offered include the following:

  • Introductory Biology
  • Public Transportation Systems
  • Statistical Method in Economics
  • Music and Technology
  • Fundamentals of Probability

4. Columbia University, New York City, New York

Unlike some free online colleges, Columbia University has no limit for financial aid eligibility for any of its students receiving financial aid awards. Financial aid packages at Columbia include grants, not loans, so the money does not need to be paid back after graduation. In addition to Columbia’s generous financial aid packages, students from families with a calculated annual income under $60,000 will not be charged any tuition or fees. Also, families earning less than $100,000 annually will see large reductions. While Columbia does not offer many online degrees, the School of Engineering and Applied Science does have some flexible online courses and programs. Columbia ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 3rd best national university in the country.

5. Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Zero parental contribution for families earning less than $60,000 per year – Duke University.

First-year students at Duke University from families earning less than $60,000 per year will receive substantial financial aid packages that cover all tuition. In fact, income of less than $60,000 will lead to an expected parental contribution of zero dollars. Most of the financial aid awarded at Duke is need-based, but there are a limited number of merit-based scholarships awarded to incoming first-year students, which wipes out the cost of attending this prestigious school. Once the university determines the number for the expected family contribution, a financial aid award is built. Financial aid awards consist of grants, scholarships, work study, and very limited student loans with a $5,000 per year maximum. Duke offers several online programs and classes, though most of the online degrees are at the graduate level. Duke University ranks #12 in best national universities, according to U.S. News and World Report.

6. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is an international research university which aims to advance teaching and research in science, technology, engineering, management and business studies. Here’s a selection of the online courses they offer:

Introduction to Fintech: Learn about the innovations, technology and regulation driving the transformation of finance in Asia’s first FinTech MOOC (Massive Open Online Course).  This course  will be taught by leading experts.

Making Sense of News: This six-week course will develop your critical thinking skills to allow you to better identify reliable information in news reports and become better informed.

State, Law and the Economy: If you’re interested in learning about economics, this course is a great place to start. The course teaches essential economic concepts relevant to the study of political economy.

7. Stanford University

Stanford Online is the website through which Stanford University offers all its online courses. While you would have to pay tuition to complete a certificate or degree through the platform, the university’s open learning courses are available to anyone for free. This includes courses offered by the different university schools, such as Stanford School of Medicine and Stanford Business School. These open courses are particularly useful for those looking for Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits, which can be earned by completing certain courses on the website without needing to spend a cent.

8. Michigan State University

Michigan State University is another top University that has been established around 150 years ago with an aim to spread knowledge and best curriculum among the global learners. The MSU has forged enduring partnerships to solve the most pressing global challenges while providing life-changing opportunities to academicians. Find out popular courses offered through its online medium:-

Become a Journalist: If you wish to study Journalism, this is one of the best courses where pressing need of journalism’s impact on social and issues and trends is being taught. Learn best practices and ethical standards for newsgathering processes though this free online course.

Getting Started With Music Theory: If you are a music aficionado, this course is a real treat for you offered by MSU. Get introduced with the elements of music theory and explore all about the pitch, rhythm, meter, notation, scales, keys, key signatures, meter signatures, triads, seventh chords, and basic harmony.

Write Your First Novel: Book Lovers, who wish to turn their stories into another novel should enroll for this free course as MSU offers an opportunity to learn how to write and complete a full-length novel of 50,000 words. Your dedication and hardwork will land you up with a complete manuscript at the end of the course.

9. Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

Yale University has redefined online learning to greater heights. That said, the university doesn’t only make use of Coursera but also other common platforms, such as YouTube and iTunes. As such, it’s easier for students to access Yale’s free online courses anytime, anywhere, even without account registration. Speaking of Yale University’s partnership with Coursera, participants can purchase an online certificate as proof of completion. Yale University offers several methods of online access via Coursera. The first option includes an Audit Mode where participants can access most course materials without a fee. For accessing graded projects/assignments and earn a Certificate of Completion, students must purchase the Certificate experience. However, if students can’t see the Audit option, they can either access the online courses as a Free Trial or a “Full Course, No Certificate” option. Some of the free online courses offered by Yale University through Coursera include Moral Foundations of Politics, Introduction to Classical Music, America’s Unwritten Constitution, Financial Markets, and Constitutional Law.

Admission Requirements: 

  • Interested participants can either sign-up for a Coursera account or access YouTube/iTunes immediately for course completion.


  • New England Commission of Higher Education

As one of the prominent schools around the United States, Yale University introduced free online learning programs through its Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning. Through this initiative, Yale University offers free online courses to its students on different platforms, including YouTube and iTunes. As such, students can easily accomplish free online courses anytime without registration and other fees. For instructors, Yale’s Poorvu Center offers consultations, observations, and services for helping its members with assignment development, section planning, course design, and effective use of technology.

10. Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, North Carolina

Full-time undergraduates can attend tuition free – Warren Wilson College.

Warren Wilson College recently announced a free tuition plan for North Carolina residents who are eligible for federal and/or state need-based financial aid. Full-time undergraduates admitted to Warren Wilson for the first time can attend tuition-free. According to the institution, the remainder of student tuition after federal or state financial aid is applied will be paid through Warren Wilson scholarships (merit or athletic). If scholarships are not applicable to the student, need-based grants and a unique work-grant will be applied. The school promises that student loans will not be applied toward the cost of tuition. Warren Wilson is a top-ranked liberal arts institution. In fact, the school ranks #143 in best national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.



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