Free online courses are a great way to improve your job prospects – they add a little something extra to your resume and are a great talking point at job interviews, as well as a great way to pass your free time.
With so many well-established higher education institutions now offering free online courses, it can be difficult to decide which one to choose.
We have rounded up some of the most popular free online courses from some of the best schools around the world. This list is not exhaustive; it just gives you an idea of the many schools that offer online learning experiences.
Top Universities Offering Free Online Courses
1. Harvard University
Harvard University offers over 600 free online courses and lets you sample Ivy League education for free. These are just a few of their courses that you can take advantage of:
The Life and Works of Shakespeare: Learn to read the works of William Shakespeare while learning about his biography over the course of four weeks. The course also covers Elizabethan and Jacobean history and modern interpretation.
Justice: An introduction to moral and political philosophy, Justice examines the critical analysis of classical and contemporary theories in this 12-week course. You will read texts by Aristotle, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Jon Stuart Mill and John Rawls.
The impact of climate change on health: Climate change is more topical than ever. Find out how global warming affects human health and how we can help mitigate its effects in this seven-week course.
2. University of California, Irvine
The University of California at Irvine offers a variety of courses on a wide variety of subjects. Here are a few that might pique your interest:
Best Business Writing in English – This course promises to help you develop a personal voice in your writing and gives you the opportunity to practice your writing skills in different types of business communication.
Introduction to Electronics – Discover the basic components of electronics: op-amps, diodes, and transistors. It is perfect for those who want an insight into electrical engineering.
Games of Chance – Combined Game Theory: A Beginner’s Guide to Combined Game Theory. The course covers mathematical theory and analysis of simple games without random moves.
3. Georgia Institute of Technology
The Georgia Institute of Technology has been offering online courses since 2012. Since then, 3.3 million people have taken advantage of these world-class courses in a variety of subjects. Here are a few you might like:
Data Analytics in Business – This course will help you understand data and business analytics. You then have the opportunity to apply these business analysis algorithms and methods to real business datasets.
Innovation Leadership – A 6-week course for anyone who wants to become an innovation leader. You will learn why innovation leaders are essential for growth and how you can become one.
Supply Chain Principles – This 15-hour course is an excellent introduction for anyone considering a career in supply chain. It helps you understand the extended supply chain and informs you about the career paths available to you.
4. École Polytechnique
École Polytechnique is a leading French institute bringing together excellence in research, academics and innovation at the forefront of science and technology. It offers 29 online courses, 10 of which are taught in English and 19 in French. Here are a few that might interest you:
An Introduction to Probability – Taught in French, this two-part course offers weekly lessons that teach the basics of probability, giving you a step-by-step yet comprehensive understanding of probability and its use in the real world.
How to Write and Publish a Research Paper – Designed for students with prior academic research experience, this course will do exactly what the title says. In English, you will learn how to accurately write and publish a full academic article in four weeks.
From Particles to Stars: If you’ve ever wondered how the universe was formed, how it evolved over the last 14 billion years, or even what the universe is made of, then this course is for you. The course lasts 10 weeks and is taught in French.
5. Michigan State University
One of the largest universities in the United States, Michigan State University offers a variety of online courses. Here are some that may interest you:
Become a Journalist – Report the News: Examine the impact of journalism on social trends and issues. Learn about best practices and ethical standards for news capture processes. This course lasts around 6 months and is ideal for aspiring journalists.
Write a Screenplay for Film or Television – Over the course of 20 weeks, you will write a full screenplay for a motion picture for film or television. You will learn a structured process that will allow you to create a polished script.
Game Art Specialization – This entry-level course teaches you the fundamentals of producing 2D and 3D game art over a six-month period.
6. California Institute of the Arts
The California Institute of the Arts is ranked 20th globally for art and design in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020. The school offers several creative avenues:
Graphic Design Specialization – This 6-month course provides the foundational skills required for graphic design. You will also complete a project that can be used for a professional portfolio.
Sharpened Visions – A Poetry Workshop – This 10-hour course will introduce you to key poetic concepts and techniques through the study of a variety of poems by modern and contemporary poets. You will also have the opportunity to write your own poetry and receive professional feedback.
The Language of Design – Form and Meaning: In this course, you will objectively analyze a graphic design work and question its effectiveness. This course is aimed at beginners and lasts about eight hours.
7. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is an international research university that aims to promote education and research in science, engineering, technology, management and business. Here is a selection of the online courses on offer:
Introduction to Fintech – Learn about the innovations, technologies and regulations driving the transformation of finance in Asia’s first FinTech MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). This course begins on May 15 and will be taught by leading experts.
Understanding the News – This 6-week course will develop your critical thinking skills so you can better recognize reliable information in the news and be better informed.
Political Science, Economics, and Law – If you want to learn more about economics, this course is a good place to start. The course teaches basic economic concepts that are relevant to studying economics.
8. UCL (University College London)
One of the best schools in the UK, ranked 8th in the world in the latest QS World University Rankings. They offer a variety of courses including:
Anthropology of Social Media – Why We Publish: A 5-week course in the impact of social media and a comparative anthropological approach to social media use around the world.
Citizen Science and Scientific Crowdsourcing: An Introduction – Delivered by UCL’s Department of Geography, this course gives you a basic understanding of citizen science and introduces you to the scientific literature in the field.
Culture, Health and Wellbeing: An Introduction – This course will help you develop, lead and evaluate health and wellbeing work within a museum, arts, heritage or cultural organization. It is an excellent introduction for anyone wishing to work in this field.
9. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MIT is highly regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in the world, ranking first in the world in the latest QS World University Rankings. Here is a selection of their online courses:
Number Theory I: This graduate course covers a variety of topics in algebraic and analytic number theory.
Microeconomic Theory and Public Policy – If you are interested in economics, why not learn from one of the best? This course uses microeconomic theory to analyze public policies. It teaches you the basics of economics and you can take the course at your own pace.
Bookmaking: The Renaissance and Today – For those looking for something else, this course examines the impact of new technologies on the recording and dissemination of words and images during: the invention of the printing press in 1450, the adaptation of electricity to communication technologies in the 19th century and today’s digital media.