List of Free Online Religion Courses, Classes and Learning Materials

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

Free Online Course Info

Several universities, through their OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiatives, offer free courses and learning materials related to the study of religion in the Christian-Judeo tradition and beyond. Typically, these institutions provide online access to some of the materials used originally in on-campus or full online courses. Learners accessing these materials don't interact with professors or receive grades. Though none of the schools listed here grant credit directly for use of these open resources, students in certain cases may be able to earn credit buy passing separate exams.

Free Online Religion Class List

Ancient Israel at New York University

This course approaches the study of ancient Israel using evidence that comes from archaeology and ancient literature, relying heavily on clues from the Bible. Learners don't need prior knowledge to appreciate the 27 videotaped lectures, in which students approach ancient Israel from diverse perspectives. NYU offers learners the option of interacting through OpenStudy, an online network through which learners may join study groups, ask questions or work with peers on assignments.

Anthropology of Religion at Utah State University

Presented through video lectures and photographic images, this course examines the relationships between religion and society. The textbook is written by the professor, whose lectures may also be accessed in PDF text documents. Each of the 10 chapters is followed by a quiz, for which students can check the answers online. Utah State University offers its students the opportunity to earn credit by exam for knowledge gained from the use of free online educational resources. Some credit-earning options include passing a departmental exam, the CLEP, DANTES Standardized Subject Tests or IB exams.

Historical Jesus at Stanford University

Learners may access 11 audio podcast lectures for this course through iTunes University. Based more on history than theology, this class investigates historical evidence about Jesus to help students make their own belief-system decisions.

Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature at Yale University

Offered through Open Yale, this course contains 26 lectures, which may be accessed as low- or high-bandwidth videos, transcripts and audio files. The videos are also available through YouTube. Students analyze early Christian literature as ancient text rather than holy writing. A textbook written by the author is employed as a resource, in addition to several other books.

Jews and Christians Throughout History at University of Notre Dame

Learners can access the 21 lessons for this course through a combination of lecture notes and videos on the school's website or through iTunes University. Videos aren't available for all the lessons. The syllabus lists 10 required and 4 recommended textbooks to help students explore hostilities between Christians and Jews, the reactions of Jewish authors and possible effects on modern theological ideas.

Philosophy of Religion at University of Oxford

The audio files for the 8 lectures in this course are available through Oxford's website, iTunes or RSS feed. Handouts with links to other resources are also accessible. Students explore a variety of arguments for and against the existence of God.

Politics and Religion at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Topics in this graduate-level seminar include political behavior, nationalism, church-state relations, social movements and terrorism. This course is based on the readings, including books, which may be purchased online, and several journal articles. Learners can access notable examples of the five assigned response papers on the OCW webpage. File decompression software may be required to open downloaded .zip files.

Religion and Law in Ancient Greece at University of California - Irvine

PowerPoint presentations on various topics, such as Apollo, Athens, ritual, the Delphic Oracle, Demeter and ancient Greek magic are available to students, as well as a list of links on related topics. The syllabus lists 2 required texts and additional recommended readings.

Religion and Social Order at University of California - Irvine

Lectures for this course are available to learners through 12 PowerPoint presentations. The syllabus lists print and media resources necessary for study. A list of links on related topics is also available. The course looks at religious phenomena across different cultures and time periods, with a focus on how religion affects social change and power relations. Students apply classical and contemporary anthropological theories to a variety of aspects and types of religious experience.

Science, Magic and Religion at University of California - Los Angeles

The 20 lectures for this course are available in video format through YouTube. The course takes historical and psychological approaches to the study of science, magic and religion as belief systems. Topics discussed include shamanism, medieval alchemy, witchcraft, Isaac Newton and secular humanism. The syllabus from the university's website provides access to additional readings and other media as well as PowerPoint presentations and a list of texts.

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