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Schools with the Best Free Online Courses

Higher Education Articles January 1, 2013

Various universities in the country offer free online courses. These courses, popularly referred to as Open Courseware (OCW), do not attract academic credit. Students can access course materials at any time; there are no grades involved and students get to manage the coursework themselves. Even though the courses do not cost a penny, students may have to buy textbooks or download software in order to optimize their benefits from the course. In this article, we have listed various free online programs offered by well-known universities.

Carnegie Mellon University

This university has a free courseware program known as the Open Learning Initiative. The courses do not attract credits and the materials are readily available online. Students can pace themselves in these courses that include lessons and self-assessed coursework in a variety of subjects including English, French, chemistry, biology, and statistics.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Over 2,000 graduate and undergraduate courses covering many different subject areas that are offered by MIT OCW. These include management, media arts, health sciences, economics and biological engineering. These are non-credit courses that can be accessed in various formats including video, audio and text format; translations into other languages are also available. Assignments, lecture notes and exams are accessible by students who can also download several course materials.

Tufts University

Free OCW is offered by Tufts University that anyone with internet access can utilize. Several of the courses include science topics such as veterinary science, dentistry and medicine. While there are no credits value assigned to the courses offered on the site, students may be able to access course materials, including lecture notes and homework assignments, and other materials of a supplementary nature.

University of California – Berkeley

The online courses offered by UC Berkeley are free online videos that date back to 2005. Both current and archived classes can be accessed as video webcasts and podcasts. Coursework covers a variety of topics such as philosophy, law, engineering, computer science, and astronomy. Ordinarily, no exams or homework assignments are included in the courses offered.

University of California – Irvine

This university has been providing OCW since 2006 and has a rich variety of free lectures, materials and courses. The non-credit courses cover subjects such as computer science, capital markets, organic chemistry, and physics and include exams, homework assignments, readings and video lectures.

University of Massachusetts (UMass) – Boston

Free courses are offered on the school’s OCW website in various topics including subjects such as public policy, nursing, psychology and history. Access to materials is provided at the site, and those include homework assignments, projects, and lecture materials.

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan gives free access to courses in such topics as chemistry, Spanish, information science and engineering; the OCW includes curriculum that originally related to the U-M medical school. Assignments, handouts and lectures can be found by anyone interested; in addition to projects and student presentations.

University of Notre Dame

OCW is offered by this school in various subjects including peace studies, math, English and theology. These are self-directed courses offered initially at the school and include quizzes, homework, readings and lectures.

Utah State University

OCW courses offered by the Utah State University include a variety of topics from wild land resources to anthropology. Students are given access to various resources such as reading assignments, homework and lecture notes that are downloadable on the site; students can also choose to view them directly on the website.

Yale University

Yale University’s free OCW courses feature videos of classroom lectures recorded at the school. Courseware includes lectures in transcript, audio and video formats. There may also be exams, quizzes and suggested readings. Access is provided by some instructors to supplemental materials. There are non-credit courses in study areas such as English, political science, organic chemistry and psychology. Students may either view course material live at the site or download them in the form of a zip file.

If students want to receive credits, they can transfer credits, if they pass a College Board CLEP exam. More than 2,900 colleges in the country accept CLEP scores; in case students interested in transferring credits, they should inquire whether the college or university accepts the CLEP examination before they enroll there.

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