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Colleges and Universities Offering Free History Courses Online

See our list of the top free online history courses. Learn about what courses are available, what topics they cover and whether you can use them to get college credit.

Online History Courses for Credit

Study.com's collection of courses offer a cost-effective option to students looking for a flexible form of online learning that can save them some of the time and expense associated with completing a traditional course. Unlike the free courses listed in the section below, these history classes can be used to earn college credit applicable toward a degree program. Instruction is delivered in the form of free text lessons. There are also 5-10 minute video lessons and self-assessment quizzes available to registered members who pay a nominal fee. Available history courses include:

  • History 101: Western Civilization I - Lessons begin with an overview of prehistory and the civilizations of the ancient Near East, Greece and Rome. Instructors also cover the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Elizabethan Era.
  • History 102: Western Civilization II - Instructors discuss imperialism in the 17th and 18th centuries along with the era's political, scientific and industrial revolutions. The course concludes with chapters on World War I and II and Western civilization since 1945.
  • History 103: U.S. History I - Topics of study cover U.S. history from first contacts with the Americas' indigenous peoples to the end of Reconstruction. The American Revolution and the country's early presidencies are covered in between.
  • History 104: U.S. History II - Chapters in this course range from the Gilded Age and American imperialism to the Cold War and contemporary America.
  • History 106: The Civil War and Reconstruction - Causes of the war and key battles are among the topics addressed in this course. Instructors also delve into the war's conclusion and the effects of Reconstruction.
  • History 108: History of the Vietnam War - Use this course to explore roots of the Vietnam War as well as U.S. involvement during the administrations of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

Free Online Non-Credited History Courses

University of Michigan

  • History of the American West covers topics relating to the birth of the American West, including Manifest Destiny, Indian relations and the Mexican-American War. Materials for this free OCW course include downloadable PowerPoint slides used in class lectures, supplemental reading materials and an interactive class syllabus. The downloads are available as both pdf. and .ppt files.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • The Ancient City examines ancient buildings of Rome and Greece while exploring the connections between urban architecture and the sociopolitical world during this time period. Textbooks are not included for free, but there is an extensive list of Web resources and assignment descriptions for self-assessment.

Utah State University

  • History and Civilization covers the creation, culture and transformation of several Western civilizations and different belief systems. The course materials include readings, lecture notes and lists of important terms to know. PowerPoint slides from the original in-class lectures are also accessible. The school offers options to earn college credit for the course through various examination options.

University of Massachusetts - Boston

  • Nineteenth Century Europe covers a spectrum of topics ranging from the Industrial Revolution to the German unification. Written assignment topics and lecture notes are included in the online materials, but the textbook must be purchased to participate in the reading assignments.

The Open University

  • Welsh History and its Sources provides a list of resources that lead students to a greater understanding of the history of Wales. Website links, history timelines, audio files and video excerpts are included in the outline of course materials. Online students may need Adobe Acrobat or Windows Media Player software to access the files in this course. No college credit is awarded for this free course.

Harvard University

  • World War and Society in the 20th Century: WWII includes videos of 24 recorded lectures that cover topics on the Cold War, the war on the home front, the Japanese perspective and the aftermath of the war, among others. Each video is 50 minutes long.

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