Have you always wanted to learn more about science or literature? Are you thinking of changing your career or going back to school? Do you want to improve your business skills? If you’re certain that returning to college is what you’d like to do, visit our list of best online colleges to find a program that suits your needs. If you’re interested in testing the waters of online learning – or if you’re simply craving an intellectual challenge – read more about free, online learning opportunities below.
Open courseware projects (OCWs) are free courses, often designed and offered by the best schools in the nation, that are perfect for independent learners. Open courseware projects provide high-quality study materials and are designed so that students can study completely at their own pace. Now there are more options for independent learners than ever before. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offer diverse online courses (for free!), but unlike OCWs, these classes are taught in real time by professors who give assignments, quizzes, and tests – just like in an actual course.
These open courseware projects are available in a wide range of formats, bringing together everything from lecture notes to videos to reading material. Here, we’ve highlighted some of the best open courseware resources in each of these subjects, offering amazing free resources for learning that come from leading professors, top-tier universities, online accredited colleges, and experts all over the world. If you don’t find what you’re looking for in these projects, make sure to check out our archive of free course materials here.
From building green to touring amazing cities, these open courseware projects will let you learn about an incredibly diverse range of subjects in architecture.
- HKU Architecture: Hong Kong University shares a range of courses on architecture, many dealing with sustainability and green architecture, in this OCW project.
- MIT Architecture: Head to the architecture department at MIT for some high quality courses on the subject.
- NYU Architecture in New York: Explore the neighborhoods of New York with some help from this tool created by NYU.
- University of Virginia Architecture Podcasts: Through this resource, you can hear from top professors at U.Va. on a wide range of architecture-related issues.
Economics and Business
If you’re interested in educating yourself on how to start a business or how the global markets work, these OCW projects are a smart place to start.
- Economics Interactive Tutorials: Here, you’ll find a collection of Java tutorials that will teach you about the basic principles of economics.
- Kaplan University School of Business: Head to this OCW project to take advantage of two courses on business: “Introduction to Business” and “Academic Strategies for the Business Professional.”
- LSE Event Transcripts: Get transcripts from lectures and events at the London School of Economics from 1999 up until the present day.
- Professional Education, Testing, and Certification Organization International: PEOI has hundreds of courses in the works, but currently only offers a handful in business and economics topics.
- SBA Learning Center: The Small Business Association offers loads of resources for budding entrepreneurs on their site, including courses, videos, and texts on business.
- Sloan School of Management OCW: MIT isn’t just a great place to learn about STEM; the school’s OCW project also offers a wealth of courses in business and economics.
- The Free Nonprofit Micro-eMBA: Those working in nonprofits, or who hope to, should take advantage of the learning modules here. They’re designed to help with management, fundraising, taxes, and leadership in the nonprofit sector.
From electrical engineering to nuclear engineering, these OCW projects will teach self-directed learners just about anything they want to know about the field.
- Electrical Engineering: Professor James Svoboda of Clarkson University’s courses in “Electrical Science,” “Linear Circuits,” and “Instrumentation” can be found here.
- engAPPLETS: This Java-based project provides access to modules for learning about fluid dynamics, statics, and dynamics.
- Engineering Graphics: Here, you’ll find notes, games, quizzes and more from Professor Stephen Crown that will help you engineer graphics for the Web.
- Gerald Recktenwald’s Teaching Page: Visit this site to see what engineering professor Gerald Recktenwald is teaching this semester. You’ll also get inks to helpful study and professional resources as well as being able to follow along with the readings and information presented in his courses.
- KFUPM OCW: The open courseware project at KFUPM provides access to dozens of courses in aerospace, architecture, civil, construction, chemical, computer, electrical, mechanical, and systems engineering.
- METU OCW: The Middle East Technical University offers a wide range of free courses in English for those who want to learn more about engineering. Other topics are covered as well, from anthropology to game technology.
- MIT Engineering: MIT has one of the best engineering programs in the world and you can learn more from professors at the school through free engineering courses. You’re linked to the aerospace engineering project here, but there are also courses available in every other engineering program MIT offers.
- NC Learning Object Repository: North Carolina’s LOR has a large open course library which includes great offerings like “Engineering Physics.”
- NPTEL: India’s National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning provides free access to numerous courses, the vast majority of them on engineering topics.
- Nuclear Engineering: Former professor Bill Garland shares his expertise on the subject of nuclear engineering through this amazing collection of resources.
- Stanford Engineering Everywhere: Stanford’s free program in engineering offers up courses in computer science, AI, linear systems, and computer engineering.
- TU Delft OCW: The Delft University of Technology shares numerous resources in engineering and computer science (in English) that range from topics like biomedical engineering to sustainable development.
- University of Memphis Civil Engineering: Learn the basics of civil engineering measurements from the course materials provided by U Memphis here.
Want to play a role in building a greener future? Learn more about the science and technology that will make it possible through these projects.
- Energy + Environment OCW: Here, you can find OCW resources focused on energy sources and environmental science.
- Environmental, Earth, and Ocean Sciences UMB: UMass Boston’s OCW project offers a lot of different courses, but a large number, 12 in all, are in the Environmental, Earth, and Ocean Sciences.
- FAO Corporate Document Repository: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN’s Corporate Document Repository is an excellent source of reading materials related to environmental issues that impact food safety, energy, and wildlife preservation.
- Tulane Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences: Stephen A. Nelson from Tulane offers access to six courses he has taught at the school over the past few years, from mineralogy to petrology.
- United Nations Online Learning: While not limited strictly to environmental issues, the bulk of the courses offered for free by the UN do touch on environmental science.
Music, art, and theater are covered in these creative OCW projects.
- Art, Metaphor, and Life: Take advantage of a free course from Sauk Valley Community College on this site, though it’s also home to an amazing list of resources for learning about all things arts and humanities.
- BBC Sing: Want to learn how to sing? The BBC has brought together a wealth of tutorials and videos to help you belt it out with the best of them.
- Berklee Shares: The Berklee College of Music offers up a number of free music lessons online that can help budding musicians and vocalists hone their skills.
- MIT Music and Theater Arts: Explore musical structures, harmony, hip hop, playwriting, lighting design and a host of other fine art topics through MIT’s OCW project.
- Studio Art at Capiliano: While Capiliano’s OCW project is hardly limited to art alone, it’s noteworthy for being one of the only to offer studio art course materials.
- Yale History of Art: Yale offers free courses in art history, though currently there is only one available, covering Roman Architecture.
Brush up on American law through these amazing resources.
- Center for the Study of the Public Domain: Here, you can listen to dozens of lectures on copyright and public domain, watch videos, read articles, and even see bigger projects done by CSPD.
- Lewis & Clark Law School Webcasts: Get career help, explore exciting topics, and hear from practicing lawyers and professors in this lecture series.
- Multimedia HLS: Harvard Law School offers a great collection of videos related to legal topics.
- American University Washington College of Law Podcasts: Need a little law-related listening material? Head to this site to access podcasts on legal topics related to U.S. law and beyond.
Literature and Writing
Improve your understanding of great works of literature and the written word through these collections of open resources.
- Berkeley Journalism: Berkeley’s webcasts include a number of lectures and courses on journalism that explore topics like food writing and The Wire.
- MIT writing and Humanistic Studies: Explore numerous writing courses at MIT that will help you to address controversial topics, write strong essays, and even use new media.
- Poynter News University: Poynter offers aspiring journalists and writers a chance to improve their skills through free online classes that cover a wide range of topics.
- Purdue OWL: You won’t find many amazing tools for improving your writing like those at Purdue. The college has extensive educational materials for everyone from professional writers to those who are non-native speakers.
- UCF OpenSpace: Take courses in “Professional Writing” and “Blogging for Educational Environments,” on this OCW project from the University College Falmouth.
- VCCS Litonline: Students can find a huge repository of free learning materials for studying literature online through this award-winning collection.
- The Writing University Podcast: The University of Iowa’s prestigious Writer’s Workshop offers up some useful podcasts on writing and literature here.
Brush up on your basic math skills and explore the complex world of calculus with a little help from these great repositories of courses, lectures, and learning materials.
- Clay Mathematics Institute Summer School: You don’t have to be a student of this summer program to use the resources it provides, including numerous lectures on a wide range of complex mathematical topics.
- Duke Mathematics Department: Find useful links, reading lists, and course syllabi on this prestigious college’s math department site.
- MathVideos.net: Stephen Toner, a mathematics professor at Victor Valley College, provides loads of learning tools for algebra, statistics, and calculus here.
- MSRI Math Lectures: Hear from some of the most brilliant minds in mathematics in these lectures from the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute.
- MyOpenMath: With five free math textbooks and counting, this site is a great place to go for a free education in everything from pre-algebra to calculus.
- SIGMA Maths Support Centre: Need a little help with your math? Here, you’ll find support for rotating assortment of math topics. Right now, free videos are available to teach you how to use matrices.
- Video Calculus: Created by Selwyn Hollis as the University of Houston, this site is home to 55 videos on the basics of calculus.
Medicine and Health
Whether you’re hoping to become a doctor or are just interested in the medical and health fields, these OCW projects offer numerous resources well worth taking advantage of.
- JHSPH OCW: Johns Hopkins, one of the most prestigious medical schools in the U.S., offers dozens of free courses from its public health program.
- Open Michigan Medical: The OCW project at the University of Michigan includes a huge collection of medical courses and resources.
- Tufts OCW: Visitors to the Tufts OCW collection will find free material from the School of Dental Medicine, School of Medicine, School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and the School of Veterinary Medicine.
- Harvard Medical School OCI: Want to learn like a student at Harvard Medical School? Head to this collection to find resources related to topics like chemical biology, osteoporosis, and more.
- Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology: These resources, focused on health technology, are the result of a cooperative project between MIT and Harvard.
These course collections and resource projects offer up educational materials in topics like physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and much more.
- Academic Earth Science: Academic Earth is packed with great educational videos, including those in computer science, chemistry, biology, and physics.
- AMSER: The Applied Math and Science Repository is full of resources that students, teachers, and professionals can use to improve their knowledge and skills.
- The Biology Project: Check out the Biology Project for helpful problem sets, activities, reading materials, games, and other resources on biology topics.
- ChemEd: Take advantage of some great chemistry learning modules when you visit this resource-laden site.
- comPADRE: The physics and astronomy education communities worked together to build this great network of online resources for students and teachers interested in either, or both, fields.
- Field Techniques: Find course notes, exercises, and a reading list that will boost your field techniques in geography.
- The Harvey Project: Created through collaboration by educators, researchers, physicians, students, and instructional designers, this site is home to numerous “learning assets.”
- HippoCampus: HippoCampus is home to free courses, videos, and tutorials in math, science, and social science.
- iLumina: iLumina is a digital library of undergraduate teaching materials for STEM topics, including courses, images, videos, lectures, and more.
- Links for Palaeobotanists: Study ancient plants in your spare time with the help of dozens of links of the subject found on the University of Würzburg’s site.
- Matthias Tomczak’s Oceanography Website: Those interested in expanding their knowledge about oceanography can head to this site to explore lecture notes, exercises, and PDF books.
- Merlot Science and Technology: MERLOT, or Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching, is home to thousands of articles on science and technology topics.
- MIT School of Science: Biology, cognitive sciences, chemistry, Earth science, mathematics, and physics are all part of the science collection at MIT.
- Modern Physics: Take advantage of dozens of lectures on physics topics, like general relativity and atomic spectra, through this great collection.
- OLI Courses: The Open Learning Initiative is home to 18 free courses. While some are in language and writing, the majority address STEM areas.
- Physical Chemistry Lecture Notes: Colby College offers up lecture notes on courses in quantum mechanics, spectroscopy, reaction dynamics, and more.
- Plant Biology: Head to this University of Maryland site to get access to hundreds of resources on plant biology.
- SciTalks: Listen to some brilliant scientists talk about science and technology topics through this collection of lectures.
- UIUC Plant Biology: Take advantage of course materials and articles for dozens of botany and plant biology courses courtesy of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
- The Virtual Classroom: There are nine different chemistry courses to take here, some at the undergraduate level and some at the graduate level.
- VisionLearning: VisionLearning is an open library of learning modules on a wide range of science topics including biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science.
- Visual Quantum Mechanics: Kansas State University’s physics department offers up an assortment of resources designed to help non-science students learn more about the fundamentals of quantum mechanics.
From sociology to anthropology to psychology, these projects are smart places to seek out social sciences learning materials.
- Conversations with History: The University of California Berkeley offers learners access to more than 500 lectures on history and political topics from some of the most well-known academics in America.
- Notre Dame Sociology: While OCW at Notre Dame is fairly expansive, there’s an excellent collection of sociology courses to choose from. You can also find courses in anthropology, Middle Eastern studies, and more.
- NYU Open Education: From a social history of New York to statistical lessons for behavioral sciences, NYU offers a great collection of open learning resources in the social sciences.
- Open NH: The state of New Hampshire has brought together a number of self-paced tutorials, courses, and collaborative spaces on it’s Open NH website that touch on social studies, education, and literacy.
- OpenUW: The University of Washington’s open educational site is an amazing place to find courses on literature and history.
- SALMON Psychology: Professor Paul Kenyon pulled together this great collection of resources for learning and studying psychology.
- UMSL Sociology: Here, you’ll find a collection of course materials from Robert O. Keel, a professor of sociology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
- UNCW Sociology and Criminal Justice: Take a look at sociology from a criminal justice point of view with some help from Jammie Price at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
These OCW projects address cutting edge technologies and can be a great way to learn more about the technology that we use today and that we may be using tomorrow.
- ADUni: While the ArsDigita program is no longer going on, learners can still take advantage of the course resources used.
- Coursera: Coursera, one of the most notable purveyors of MOOCs, offers numerous courses in technology from leading professors at Stanford, Columbia, and Georgia Tech.
- edX: If you enjoy MIT’s OCW collection, then check out the school’s online course collaboration with Harvard, boasting dozens of free online courses in everything from biology to artificial intelligence.
- Free Courseware Project Information Systems: The University of the Western Cape makes it easy to take courses in Information Systems with offerings addressing Java and PHP programming.
- Google Course Builder: Tired of just taking online courses? Why not make your own? Google makes it possible by providing the code to power online courses.
- Oxford Internet Institute: Webcasts from the University of Oxford can educate on all things Internet-related.
- Paris Tech: Paris Tech might be located in France, but the open resources it offers for learning, including courses in programming, computer architecture, and computer science, are in English.
- Sofia: On Sofia, learners can take courses on Flash, Webpage authoring, network security, and Java programming.
- Tokyo Tech: The Tokyo Institute of Technology is a smart place to look for free educational resources on technology. Currently, the site houses notes from 164 courses and 16 video recordings.
- Udacity: Another high-profile MOOC provider, Udacity offers hi-tech courses in topics like Web development, game development, and AI.
- W3 Schools: If you’re aiming to learn how to program, visit this site for tutorials in every kind of programming language used today.
- Wolfram Demonstrations Project: Head to Wolfram’s Demonstration Project to use interactive tools that help explain a wide range of technology and science principles.