College and University Blog

Free Online College Courses Available from Prestigious Colleges and Universities

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “The best things in life are free!” but you might be unaware that some online college courses fall into that category! Several of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the U.S. now offer various classes over the internet – for free!

The college experience is changing, and all college students are no longer twenty-somethings that live on campus in dorms, thanks in part to the recent trend in distance learning and the availability of online college classes.

The Rising Trend of Online College Programs

Although the thought of taking classes online was initially a foreign concept when things were first getting off the ground, online college programs are now considered just about equal to their physical, on-campus counterparts. This means that more and more people now feel comfortable enough to take college courses online.

Enrollment in online degree programs has soared in recent years, and a study performed by the Sloan Consortium, a non-profit group that tracks online education, found that more than 20% of all college students took at least one course online in 2007. That percentage accounts for nearly four million college students, nearly double the number that took online courses in 2003, and the numbers are constantly rising.

Free Online College Courses

Online college courses really can bring the classroom to your living room with a simple click of the mouse, but cost is still a major factor that keeps people from enrolling in college. Free online college courses do not provide college credit, but they are a great way to take a test-run before taking the plunge and enrolling in an expensive full-time program. You can try out some of the many free courses available and see if online education is right for you before you spend anything.

Plenty of people simply enjoy learning for the sake of learning, and these free online college courses are a great way to learn without spending a fortune.

Some of the many schools offering free courses online for include the following:

  • Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT) The MIT OpenCourseWare program now offers 1900 free online courses across a wide spectrum of topics. These online courses are taught in both audio and video formats. MIT OpenCourseWare
  • Tufts University also uses a free OpenCourseWare program to provide learners with online courses. This great university is constantly expanding their available selection to share knowledge with all who want to learn. Courses are easily categorized by school, and all necessary supplementary materials are provided online. Tufts OpenCourseWare
  • John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health also gives you the chance to take advantage of OpenCourseWare and gain access to some of the school’s most popular courses. Study topics such as Adolescent Health, Chronic Diseases, and even Mental Health or Refugee Health. John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health OpenCourseWare
  • Stanford University provides the opportunity to download free courses, faculty lectures, interviews, music, and sports right onto your iPod or computer thanks to a partnership with Apple iTunes. You can even burn CDs of the courses and listen to them in your car on your way to work. Stanford University on iTunes
  • Yale University provides free and open access to introductory courses taught by distinguished Yale faculty thanks to Open Yale Courses. Yale is attempting to expand access to educational materials to all who wish to learn. Courses were recorded in the Yale College Classroom and are available in video, audio, and text transcript format. Yale Open Courses
  • University of California at Berkeley has been called one of the best public universities in the U.S., and the school has been offering free online courses since 2001. Hundreds of free courses in a wide variety of subjects are now online – both current and archived courses are available. UC Berkeley Online Courses
  • Carnegie Mellon University offers free online courses and course materials through a program called Open Learning Initiative. Independent learners can study and learn at their own pace without instructors or charges. You can keep track of your own progress by creating a free online account. Carnegie Mellon University Open Learning Initiative
  • University of Washington has a program called UW Educational Outreach which gives people the opportunity to explore learning in ways that you probably never even imagined. You can study HTML, Hamlet, and World War II … just for starters! UW Educational Outreach

These are just a few of many colleges and universities that are currently offering free online courses to anyone who is interested. If you have the desire to learn, you just need to know where to look — the courses and materials are most likely out there somewhere!


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.