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online college coursesWith rising costs associated with going to university, many progressive colleges have been looking for ways to teach those who can not afford a traditional college course, or otherwise do not have the time to visit a traditional classroom. The internet is a low-cost distribution method and is a perfect vehicle for learning topics with both textual, audio and visual cues to assist the student.

The sites below offer free online college level classes to anyone willing to spend the time on them. Each differ – some have all of the materials online and some may want you to purchase (borrow?) a textbook to follow along with. Each of them offers complete courses with only one thing missing: the credit for the coursework to put towards a matriculated degree.

MIT OpenCourseware

online college courses

Massachusetts Institute of Technology was a pioneer in offering online college courses and they still have the most diverse and in-depth collection of classes available anywhere. Their online offering is an archived version of real courses that have been taught at MIT, and you may need to purchase the textbook to follow along with the class. These courses come highly recommended.

Carnegie Mellon OpenLearning

online courses

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Carnegie Mellon, based in Pittsburgh, PA, has a variety of courses available for anyone online. While the selection is not as great as MIT’s, many core courses are presented in an easy to follow online format. Their courses are similar to what a paying student would receive minus the course credit or access to an instructor.

Khan Acadamy

online courses

Salman Khan began putting videos on YouTube to help with tutoring a cousin. When he started receiving feedback that they were helping a lot more people than just his cousin, he realized he was on to something good.

Today, there are over 1000 videos on KhanAcademy, which is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Most videos are about math. However, there are also many other topics that he explores. Even Bill Gates has said that he uses Khan to teach his kids about math. These are not college courses per-se, but the math he introduces in them are at college level and many people praise them for being clearer and easier to comprehend than actual college courses!

University of California at Berkeley

online courses

UC Berkeley has put online videos and audio of many of its most popular courses up on their Webcast website. They do not include the text materials which can be very helpful for taking online college courses. However, you can still learn a lot by watching the videos of the lecures.

They have lectures for ongoing courses and also historical class archives on their website, as well as videos of recorded events and one-off lectures.

Stanford University iTunesU

free online college courses

Stanford has made many of their courses and lectures available via iTunes in iTunesU. This collection is great if you are on the go or want to listen to courses while commuting. They have an impressive collection of content available, all for free. The downside is that you need to use iTunes to view their content.

Tufts OpenCourseware

free online college courses

Tufts uses the OpenCourseware format to offer full content on a number of their programs. Worth mentioning from Tufts are their Medical and Dental school courses as well as selections from other courses.

Open University LearningSpace

free online college courses

Learningspace offers content from the Open University, based in the UK. This university pledges to be open and accepts many different kinds of students in its real world classrooms. It also opened up its content to anyone online. The online college courses are laid out extremely well and offer many different topics with skill levels going from beginner up to expert.

Johns Hopkins OpenCourseware

online college courses

Johns Hopkins is a respected medical school outside of Baltimore, Maryland. They offer a selection of courses from their school which would be of particular interest to medical students.

Get to work!

The sites above are free as in free beer. However, if you wish to make the most out of them you will still need to make the time commitment to sit down and watch or listen to the course content. You may not receive college credit for learning via these sites but you will definitely turn out a better person!

Image credit: Shutterstock

  1. foxxxypapa
    August 10, 2015 at 9:17 am

    I would not give more money to Jerry Falwell and his band of merry moralists if Liberty University was the last college of any kind in the Universe. I happen to know that he has enough money coming in from supporters to make that college either a heck of a lot cheaper for all students online and on campus or to make it completely free for everyone especially those that need it to be free. As far as not trusting a place that offers courses for free.....are you insane? In a world where only the truly rich get to have a decent life that came easily and the rest of us have to scrabble to make that decent life happen; I think anything that provides the rest of us with some of the ideas that are presented to the rich is totally worth the while and not worth throwing away. Get away from Liberty University before it sucks your mind of what is truly right and wrong in this world and give yourself the chance to decide for yourself what is right and wrong.
    Run, I say, as fast as your little fingers and/or feet can take you. Run, run,run!!!!--

  2. Online reviews
    November 5, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    i think its just perfect idea to learn online.

  3. Athrun Althrun xala
    October 27, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    The thought of free online college classes scare me. I'm actually attending a paid one because the whole free college just doesn't sit well with me. If your interested in a fully accredited online college check out http://www.luonline.com I assure you that you wont be disappointed.

  4. Athrun Althrun xala
    October 27, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    The thought of free online college classes scare me. I'm actually attending a paid one because the whole free college just doesn't sit well with me. If your interested in a fully accredited online college check out http://www.luonline.com I assure you that you wont be disappointed.

    • Anne
      March 9, 2015 at 4:04 am

      Why would the idea of a free class to learn something not 'sit well' with you??? What a silly comment! Be thankful free knowledge is available. I realize your comment is old but it was just annoying to read it!

  5. Vince Bardent
    October 26, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Fantastic resource for those looking to further their education! I'm extremely impressed with the vast amount of schools offering free courses and study! I attended Liberty University then http://www.luonline.com to obtain my online Christian degrees

  6. Pankaj C.
    October 17, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Thank you very much!

  7. Jack Simpson
    October 12, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    I was unaware you could take free online college courses. I recently just graduated from Liberty University Online. It was a wonderful experience, but it was not free. I actually just made a donation at http://www.lugiving.com.

  8. Jack Simpson
    October 12, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I was unaware you could take free online college courses. I recently just graduated from Liberty University Online. It was a wonderful experience, but it was not free. I actually just made a donation at http://www.lugiving.com.

  9. Bhoysterpearl
    October 5, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Hi Jeff, as was previously suggested by Digital Art Empire, the Open University offers credited distance learning education, check it out at http://www.open.ac.uk/. Be under no illusion their standards are in no way diluted in comparison to a regular 'brick' university!

  10. Digital Art Empire
    October 5, 2010 at 10:27 am

    yes there is open university

  11. IronHedge
    October 5, 2010 at 1:30 am

    academic Earth would have to be the best resource

  12. Brandt Absolu
    October 4, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    You forgot Connexions (cnx.org), a different kind of open courseware site made up of small knowledge "chunks" developed by Rice University.

  13. Brandt Absolu
    October 4, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    You forgot Connexions (cnx.org), a different kind of open courseware site made up of small knowledge "chunks" developed by Rice University.

    • Dave Drager
      October 4, 2010 at 2:26 pm

      That seems like a great site for finding coursework - I hadn't heard of it before. Thank you!

    • Brandt Absolu
      October 4, 2010 at 3:10 pm

      Yeah, I love it. It's helping me survive engineering statistics right now.

    • Dave Drager
      October 7, 2010 at 12:02 am

      Thanks for the site!

  14. TAA
    October 4, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Great post! Although online education does not require class attendance, it still consists of dynamic interactions with lecturers and professors. Online education involves thorough planning before taking the big steps in finishing a degree. Thanks!

    • Dave Drager
      October 4, 2010 at 11:49 am

      Correct. To get the 'fullest' experience you need to plan out your coursework - these are often available on a university's website. You can emulate a whole 'degree' program from most of these courses with the correct amount of planning.

  15. ali
    October 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    vvv tanx u

  16. Limo in baltimore
    October 2, 2010 at 7:35 am

    WOw really like the khan academy.

  17. Yuvaraj S
    October 1, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    This is also useful...
    http://nptel.iitm.ac.in/

  18. Yuvaraj S
    October 1, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    This is also useful...
    http://nptel.iitm.ac.in/

  19. Dave Drager
    October 1, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    None that I know of. If there were such a loophole it would be exploited to obtain college degrees cheaply. The system is basically set up so that you need to take courses from an 'accredited' course where it can be documented that you did learn the knowledge. Although you can transfer credit in, each class is typically reviewed to make sure it means the university conferring the degree's standards. Otherwise the degree that the university hands out is 'watered down' by having unqualified graduates.

    But, that being said, the whole system is set up to reward people who are good at tests, quizzes and homework - not necessarily who is able to learn the information. I think the worldwide environment is ripe for some sort of 'free' accreditation and validation via online coursework.

  20. Abhijit
    October 1, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Academic earth's great!!!

  21. Jeff
    October 1, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Is there any (legitimate) online colleges that actually award credit for courses? Credits that would transfer to another college?

    • Dave Drager
      October 1, 2010 at 2:29 pm

      None that I know of. If there were such a loophole it would be exploited to obtain college degrees cheaply. The system is basically set up so that you need to take courses from an 'accredited' course where it can be documented that you did learn the knowledge. Although you can transfer credit in, each class is typically reviewed to make sure it means the university conferring the degree's standards. Otherwise the degree that the university hands out is 'watered down' by having unqualified graduates.

      But, that being said, the whole system is set up to reward people who are good at tests, quizzes and homework - not necessarily who is able to learn the information. I think the worldwide environment is ripe for some sort of 'free' accreditation and validation via online coursework.

    • Digital Art Empire
      October 5, 2010 at 8:27 am

      yes there is open university

    • Bhoysterpearl
      October 5, 2010 at 5:33 pm

      Hi Jeff, as was previously suggested by Digital Art Empire, the Open University offers credited distance learning education, check it out at http://www.open.ac.uk/. Be under no illusion their standards are in no way diluted in comparison to a regular 'brick' university!

  22. AnkammaRao
    October 1, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    check out http://freevideolectures.com as well

  23. Saikat Basu
    October 1, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Yale has its own free video lectures too at - http://oyc.yale.edu/

    Then there's Academic Earth which we have covered a few times before.

    Much needed post Dave :)

  24. Saikat Basu
    October 1, 2010 at 6:03 am

    Yale has its own free video lectures too at - http://oyc.yale.edu/Then there's Academic Earth which we have covered a few times before.
    Much needed post Dave :)

  25. Anand
    October 1, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Google awarded $2 million to Khan Academy and bill gates favorite teacher

    • Dave Drager
      October 1, 2010 at 10:16 am

      Read that news not a day or so after I wrote this list up - it was such great news knowing the history of the site and how they started!

  26. AnkammaRao
    October 1, 2010 at 7:25 am

    Also Check http://freevideolectures.com/ . It is the biggest collection Online video Courses. It has more 740+ Online Courses, 18000+ Videos from Top 20+ Universities on 35+ Categories. Most of then are down loadable in MP4, FLV, 3GP, MP3 and Torrents

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