8 Ivy League Colleges That Offer Free Online Courses

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Universities and colleges traditionally have made room in some of their classes for learners who are not enrolled in the school.

With demand growing for distance learning, this tradition of universities opening their doors to the community is evolving, too. Now, you can live anywhere and have access to college-level courses, often free of charge.

At the nation’s Ivy League schools — eight elite private institutions in the nation’s Northeast — you can sign up to audit certain courses for free, online. These are called “massive open online courses,” or MOOCs. The Community for Accredited Online Schools explains:

“In most cases, MOOCs are entirely free. While some MOOC providers do charge a fee, it’s usually a small fee in exchange for a certificate of completion or some other non-degree credential earned upon successful MOOC completion.”

Some universities offer MOOCs through their websites. Others use third-party platforms, including Coursera and edX. Many of these classes are free of charge. But each school labels its free classes differently, so read course descriptions carefully to confirm.

Read on to learn about free online classes at the eight Ivy League colleges and universities.

1. Brown University

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Brown University, the seventh-oldest college in the U.S., remains at the forefront of modern education. The independent institution in Providence, Rhode Island, is a leading research university.

In partnership with edX, Brown University has created BrownX, the hub for its free online courses.

The current BrownX catalog has a handful of courses, covering topics in engineering and medicine.

2. Columbia University

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Columbia University, a private research university located in New York City, is the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the U.S.

Columbia has offered MOOCs through Coursera since 2013. Today, the school’s Coursera subjects include construction management, social policy, finance and economic development.

After its success with Coursera, Columbia partnered with edX, too.

ColumbiaX offers a broad range of free classes on subjects ranging from artificial intelligence (AI) to pediatric HIV nursing.

3. Cornell University

Cornell University
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Cornell University is a private research university founded in 1865 in Ithaca, New York.

Through Cornell Online, you can access and search all online courses and programs. On the left side of the Cornell Online home page, click “Cost” and check “Free” to search for no-tuition classes.

Cornell also offers MOOCs through CornellX, which uses the edX platform. Here’s you’ll find interesting courses like The Ethics of Eating, Wiretaps to Big Data: Privacy and Surveillance in the Age of Interconnection and Structuring Business Agreements for Success.

CornellX courses can be audited free of charge or, to earn a verified certificate, for a small fee.

4. Dartmouth College

worker
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Dartmouth College, located in Hanover, New Hampshire, was one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

Dartmouth offers free MOOCs on the popular edX platform.

The collaboration was born, edX says, to “enhance the Dartmouth liberal arts model of teaching and learning.” And so you’ll find a variety of free liberal arts classes, like Introduction to Italian Opera, alongside courses in computer science, like C Programming: Getting Started.

You can audit courses for no tuition charge or earn a verified certificate by paying a small fee.

5. Harvard University

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EdX was founded by professors from Harvard University and MIT, and so it is no surprise that Harvard offers its free online courses through the platform. No need to fight to stand out among the large pool of highly qualified applicants to study on the historic campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Eager students anywhere can choose from among Harvard’s extensive collection of free online classes. For instance:

  • Have you ever wondered how meteorologists can predict the weather days in advance? Enroll in the Science of Weather to find out.
  • Become a more informed consumer taking a course explaining how the FDA regulates pharmaceuticals.
  • For a real brain tease, sign up for Fundamentals of Neuroscience and learn how sensory perception works.

6. Princeton University

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Princeton University, located in Princeton, New Jersey, is a research school that is, in its words, on a mission to “to prepare students to pursue meaningful lives and to help address the challenges of the future.” The nation’s fourth-oldest institution of higher education has been preparing students its way for more than 270 years.

Princeton’s free online courses are listed at its PrincetonX site, under the heading “Princeton University MOOCs.”

A couple of current examples include the free Making Government Work in Hard Places, which draws on experience from reform leaders around the world and, also free, The Art of Structural Engineering: Bridges.

7. University of Pennsylvania

Fisher Fine Arts Library, University of Pennsylvania
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Philadelphia is home to the first institution of higher learning in the United States to refer to itself as a university, the University of Pennsylvania.

The University of Pennsylvania’s Online Learning Initiative provides numerous online education options, but all of the university’s for-credit courses are tuition-based.

The school’s free, non-credit offerings are given through Coursera and edX.

8. Yale University

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At Yale University, located in New Haven, Connecticut, many freshman-level courses are free and open to the public through the university’s Open Yale Courses. These classes include Introduction to Ancient Greek History, Fundamentals of Physics I and II, Introduction to Psychology and Freshman Organic Chemistry I and II.

To find more classes, browse free online Yale courses at Coursera. You can dive into topics like Everyday Parenting: The ABCs of Child Rearing or Age of Cathedrals, where you’ll come to appreciate the role Gothic cathedrals played in the High Middle Ages.

Have you ever taken advantage of free MOOCs? If so, tell us about your experience by commenting below or the Money Talks News Facebook page.

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