Free Courses From Prestigious Institutions You Can Complete Anywhere

If you’ve been wondering what to do with your free-time after finals week, a free online course might be just the thing to keep your mind occupied and explore your interests without the pressure of it affecting your GPA. Several universities are currently offering free online courses with the choice of paying a small fee for proof of passing certificate. Signing up is easy and time-frames vary, allowing you to learn at your own pace.

1.    Learning How to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help you Master Tough Subjects (University of California San Diego)

Duration: Approximately 15 hours to complete

Description: This course gives you easy access to the invaluable learning techniques used by experts in art, music, literature, math, science, sports, and many other disciplines. We’ll learn about how the brain uses two very different learning modes and how it encapsulates (“chunks”) information. We’ll also cover illusions of learning, memory techniques, dealing with procrastination, and best practices shown by research to be most effective in helping you master tough subjects. 

2.    Shakespeare’s Hamlet: The Ghost (Harvard) 

Duration: 3 weeks

Description: In the first act of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the Ghost of the dead King of Denmark appears to his son, setting off a chain of events that culminates in the play’s notoriously bloody finale. But how would this mysterious figure have been understood in Shakespeare’s world?

Harvard professor Stephen Greenblatt (John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities) guides learners through an exploration of the Ghost in Hamlet, considering both its uncanny theatrical power and the historical contexts from which it emerged.

3.    PredictionX: Omens, Oracles & Prophecies (Harvard) 

Duration: 1 week 

Description: Humans have always sought to know their future, be it the destiny of an empire or an individual's fate. Across cultures and history, we find people trying to find their place in the Universe by attempting to gaze into the future.

Join us for this one-week, immersive learning experience as we explore “pre-scientific” prediction systems ranging from ancient Chinese bone burning to the Oracle of Delphi to modern astrology and tarot, with practitioners and Harvard faculty leading the journey. We will examine the details of over a dozen prediction systems as well as theoretical frameworks connecting them.

4.    Modern Art & Ideas (Museum of Modern Art) 

Duration: Approximately 13 hours to complete

Description: This course is designed for anyone interested in learning more about modern and contemporary art. Over the next five weeks, you will look at art through a variety of themes: Places & Spaces, Art & Identity, Transforming Everyday Objects, and Art & Society. Each week kicks off with a video that connects works of art from The Museum of Modern Art’s collection to the theme. You will hear audio interviews with artists, designers, and curators and learn more about selected works in the additional readings and resources.

5.    Justice (Harvard) 

Duration: 12 weeks

Description: Taught by lauded Harvard professor Michael Sandel, Justice explores classical and contemporary theories of justice, including discussion of present-day applications. Topics include affirmative action, income distribution, same-sex marriage, the role of markets, debates about rights (human rights and property rights), arguments for and against equality, dilemmas of loyalty in public and private life. The course invites learners to subject their views on these controversies to critical examination.

6.    CS50's Introduction to Artificial Intelligence with Python (Harvard) 

Duration: 7 weeks

Description: CS50’s Introduction to Artificial Intelligence with Python explores the concepts and algorithms at the foundation of modern artificial intelligence, diving into the ideas that give rise to technologies like game-playing engines, handwriting recognition, and machine translation.

7.    Healing With The Arts (University of Florida)

Duration: Approximately 13 hours to complete

Description: Through art projects—including visual arts, dance, writing, and music—along with spiritual practices and guided imagery, Healing With the Arts gives you the tools to heal what you need to heal in your life: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

8.    Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies (Harvard) 

Duration: 6 weeks

Description: This business and management course, taught by Harvard Business School professor Tarun Khanna, takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and solving complex social problems. You will learn about prior attempts to address these problems, identify points of opportunity for smart entrepreneurial efforts, and propose and develop your own creative solutions.

9.    The Science of Well-Being (Yale)

Approximate Completion Time: 19 hours

Description: In this course, you will engage in a series of challenges designed to increase your happiness and build more productive habits. As preparation for these tasks, Professor Laurie Santos reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change. You will ultimately be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life.

10.    Introduction to Philosophy (The University of Edinburgh) 

Approximate Completion Time: 16 hours

Description: This course will introduce you to some of the main areas of research in contemporary philosophy. Each module a different philosopher will talk you through some of the most important questions and issues in their area of expertise. We’ll begin by trying to understand what philosophy is – what are its characteristic aims and methods, and how does it differ from other subjects? Then we’ll spend the rest of the course gaining an introductory overview of several different areas of philosophy. 

11.    Introduction to Classical Music (Yale) 

Approximate Completion Time: 39 hours

Description: Using a simple and enjoyable teaching style, this course introduces the novice listener to the wonders of classical music, from Bach fugues to Mozart symphonies to Puccini operas.

12.    Fashion as Design (Museum of Modern Art) 

Duration: Approximately 18 hours to complete

Description: Fashion as Design focuses on a selection of more than 70 garments and accessories from around the world, ranging from kente cloth to jeans to 3D-printed dresses. Through these garments, we’re going to look closely at what we wear, why we wear it, how it’s made, and what it means. You’ll hear directly from a range of designers, makers, historians, and others working with clothing every day—and, in some cases, reinventing it for the future. Studio visits, interviews, and other resources introduce the history and development of each garment and their changing uses, meanings, and impact over time.