List of Free Online Graduate Courses, Classes and Lectures

See our list of the top free online graduate courses. Learn about what classes are available and what topics they cover to find the course that's right for you.

Free Online Graduate Course Info

There are a number of major universities that offer free online graduate courses in a variety of academic and technical disciplines. Many of these self-guided classes are offered through the OpenCourseWare (OCW) consortium. The formats for these non-credit, non-degree offerings may include video presentations, readings, lecture notes and assignments, and users do not need to log in or register. Students should be aware that the courses may not be presented in their entirety and that they will not be able to interact with faculty.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

MIT's OCW system offers graduate courses in business, the humanities, science, social science and other academic areas. PDF materials can include assignments and solutions, lectures, readings and course syllabi. The course in Digital Typography provides online learners with a background in the art and history of typographic composition. The class emphasizes the adaptation of traditional type forms for the digital environment. Lecture topics include those related to form, legibility and unstable lettering, and Java is needed to complete the class assignments.

Economic Crises introduces students to current issues in macroeconomics. The curriculum focuses on financial crises and fluctuations, as well as the role of the asset market in today's economy. The course provides lectures, homework assignments, selected readings and exams. Studies in Women's Life Narratives is designed to help independent learners define feminism and feminist scholarship. Selected readings and assignments explore colonialism, color, gender, indigenous culture and migration. This course originally required the purchase of a number of books, and these are listed on the class website.

Notre Dame University

Through the OCW program at Notre Dame University, online learners can pursue graduate-level classes in architecture, English, peace studies and theology. During the Forms of Democracy class, users can study the two main issues associated with American literature: the democratic nature of books and the cultural influence of representative politics. Authors in this course include Alexis De Tocqueville, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry David Thoreau. Readings, discussion questions and assignments are provided.

Nature and the Built Environment examines the effect of the natural world on architecture, objects and the cities of the distant past. The course's eight lectures are available in PDF format, and topics include the evolution of design styles, building geometry and structural order.

Tufts University

The OCW offerings at Tufts University include professional and technical topics in agriculture, biology, geographical information systems (GIS), multilateral negotiating and pain management. Class materials can include text-based lectures, images, slides, examples of student work and supplemental reading materials.

The One Health class is part of the University Seminar series and is especially relevant for those with a background in engineering, health and medical sciences. In this self-guided course, interested professionals can explore the complex health issues currently facing the globe, including those related to animals, humans and the natural world. Other topics include antibiotic resistance, dairy farming and sustainable agriculture.

Theories of Public Policy provides students with the opportunity to enhance their understanding of the lawmaking process. Independent learners who pursue this investigative course can find out why government takes a selective role in civic life, what factors are used to develop policies and how organizations, people and political establishments influence policy decisions.

University of California at Irvine

In addition to courses in education, engineering, law and library studies, the University of California at Irvine offers a series of four graduate video seminars in public health. The topics for the 2012-2013 Graduate Seminar include prevention research and practice, pain management for pediatric cancer patients and the reproductive issues facing those living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in South Africa. Each lecture lasts for a little less than one hour.

University of Massachusetts at Boston

The OCW offerings at the University of Massachusetts include a number of graduate-level classes in subjects like counseling, critical thinking, science and public policy. Action Research for Educational, Professional and Personal Change is a 600-level class that can help students acquire the critical thinking tools they need to assess the policy-related changes that take place in organizations and schools. The original class required the use of two textbooks. The school provides users with handouts, questionnaires and homework assignments.

Substance Abuse and the Family is presented in PDF format, and the class also includes a number of required textbooks, supplemental publications and Web-based materials. In addition to the impact of addictive behavior patterns on the family and recovery, the class addresses issues related to diversity, gender, social justice and violence.

University of Michigan

The Open.Michigan resource is similar to OCW, and graduate courses are offered on topics in public health and policy, chemistry and information studies. The available materials include syllabi, lectures and assignments.

A Cultural and Material History of the Book is a 600-level class that discusses primitive, printed and electronic reading materials from antiquity to the present. Individual topics include those related to authorship, censorship, distribution and production. Selected readings, assignments, handouts and a lecture are provided.

The 500-level class, Game Theory, is designed for information science students and emphasizes the use of strategic decision-making theories to solve problems. The class is especially applicable for those working in analysis, management and policy development. Users can download the syllabus and six lectures.

Utah State University

At Utah State University, students can take online graduate courses in a variety of disciplines, including engineering, humanities, instructional technology, physics and psychology. Those who are new to online communication may benefit from Blogs, Wikis and New Media for Learning, a class that teaches online learners how to use mapping, photo sharing and social bookmarking tools. This project-based course also includes lectures on audio and video podcasts, folksonomies, tagging and screencasts.

Data Visualization Theory and Practice provides students with an opportunity to explore the concepts and importance of visual data. Course objectives include the ability to identify and work with data visualization techniques and understand multidimensional presentations. In its original format, the class required the following software: Adobe Illustrator, ArcView, Cam Studio, CMap, MatLab and Microsoft Excel. Users can access selected readings, lessons, assignments and directions for a course project.

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