Ranking of Universities that Offer Free Courses Online

Published Sep 24, 2008

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There are lots of universities that offer free courses online. But which ones are the best? This list answers that question by ranking 20 universities with free online courses.


1) Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was the obvious choice for number one on this list. MIT offers more than 1,800 free courses online. Course materials are of exceptional quality and include a wide range of home-study materials.

2) The University of California, Berkeley

The University of California, Berkeley is another great place to find free courses online. Users can choose from more than 100 webcasts and podcasts of current and archived courses. The school also broadcasts on-campus events and popular guest speakers.

3) Stanford University

Stanford University has partnered with iTunes to make Stanford course materials available to everyone. Users can download free courses, lectures and other educational materials. Downloads can be burnt to a CD, played on a computer or transferred to an iPod.

4) The Open University

The sheer number of free courses available through The Open University puts this school in the top five. Courses cover a wide range of topics, including art, history, business, education, computers and technology, law, math, foreign languages, human health and science.

5) Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University is on this list thanks to its ambitious Open Learning Initiative (OLI) project. This project is unique because it provides free courses specifically designed for self-learners. Courses consist of entire campus-based courses that have been repackaged into an online format.

6) Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

The Kutztown University of Pennsylvania offers one of the largest free entrepreneurial training resources in the United States. Their collection features more than 80 free online education programs. Course topics include everything from accounting and finance to marketing and small business tax.

7) Yale University

Yale provides a nice selection of introductory courses taught at the university. The courses--all of which were recorded in a Yale classroom--are available in audio, video and text formats.

8) University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame offers a distinctive set of free courses to self-learners around the world. Course topics include architecture, anthropology, peace studies, physics, philosophy, political science, sociology, theology, languages and literature.

9) University of California, Irvine

UC Irvine offers an interesting collection of free courses that can't be found anywhere else. Topics range from spa operations to regulatory requirements for pharmaceutical products. Courses are taught in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

10) Utah State University

Utah State offers a fantastic collection of courses. The courses consist of the same materials used in Utah's campus-based courses and cover many different topics, including anthropology, biology, economics, engineering, history, mathematics, physics, psychology and theatre arts.

11) University of Massachusetts, Boston

Self-learners can take advantage of all sorts of free courses when they access UMass' OpenCourseWare program. Most courses include lecture materials and other learning resources. Course topics range from biology and mathematics to nursing and health sciences.

12) Tufts University

Tufts University's many schools--the School of Medicine, the School of Dental Medicine, School of Arts and Science, Fletcher School, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and Friedman School of Nutrition and Policy--make free courses available through Tuft's well-designed OpenCourseWare program. Courses include lectures, readings and other popular course content.

13) John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Anyone with an Internet connection can freely access dozens of John Hopkins' most popular courses. All of the courses cover public health topics. Most include lectures, readings and panel discussions.

14) University of Utah

The University of Utah made the list because the school offers dozens of free courses through their nine different departments. Course offerings cover a range of topics, including English, physics, economics, business, history, teaching, art, chemistry and pharmacotherapy.

15) Michigan State University

Michigan State University just recently started offering free courses online, but the school has already built up a great collection of course options. The school's educational resources feature formal course content and materials designed specifically for self-learners. Most courses fall into one of three categories: horse management, international business or zoning and planning.

16) United Nations University

The United Nations University doesn't offer courses that would be of interest to everyone, but they do provide free courses relevant to the mission of the United Nations. Course topics include software technology, social research, and environment and health.

17) University of Southern Queensland

Australia's University of Southern Queensland offers an interesting selection of free courses through the school's OpenCourseWare program. Some courses are a product of the school's Tertiary Preparation Program. Other come from one of the school's five faculties.

18) Capilano University

Canada's Capilano University is a great resource for self-learners. The university offers nearly 20 free courses with high quality study materials. Course topics include studio art, philosophy, math, geography, chemistry, geography, computer science and art history.

19) Brigham Young University

Students looking for something a little less educational and a little more personal enrichment-oriented should look no further than Brigham Young. BYU offers dozens of free enrichment courses through its well-organized independent study program. The university also offers several free religion courses.

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