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List of Free Online World History Courses and Classes

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

Online World History Courses for Credit

While free online world history courses may contain most of the materials and lectures used in the original college classes, students cannot obtain academic credit for utilizing the majority of them. Study.com's online courses, however, offer an affordable option to students who'd like to earn credit without spending the time and expense required to complete your typical college class. For a small fee, registered members can access self-assessment quizzes and short, entertaining video lessons taught by experts in their subject area. Some of the courses available to students interested in world history are listed below:

History 107: World Conflicts Since 1900 includes chapters such as:

  • Understanding World Conflicts - Topics include the nature of modern wars and conflicts, the United Nations as a peace-keeping force, and the role of international organizations in world conflicts.
  • The First World War (1914-1918) - Examine the powder keg of Europe during WWI, famous battles of the war, America's entry into the war, and related historical details.
  • The Cold War (1945-1991) - Review the 'two super powers,' post-war Germany, the birth of NATO, and more.

An AP World History prep course which includes chapters on:

  • Asia, Africa & America (1000-1300 CE) - Look at Chinese dynasties, Aztecan history, the Incan empire, and the histories of Japan, Korea and Vietnam.
  • Colonialism - Study the Holy Leagues, Baroque painting, Francis Bacon, the English cival war and colonialism in Africa and the Americas.

History 101: Western Civilization I contains chapters like:

  • Prehistory - Study topics like the Ice Age and Great Flood as well as the transition from villages to cities.
  • The Dark Ages - Examine Germanic tribes, early churches, the Roman economy, and more.

History 102: Western Civilization II includes chapters on:

Free Online Non-Credited History Courses

Yale University

  • European Civilization: 1648-1945 includes 24 video or audio lectures, each lasting approximately two hours. A short written synopsis of the material is included for each lesson. Topics include absolutism, exceptionalism, Napoleon, the middle class, nationalism and imperialism, among other subjects. Students will need to obtain several textbooks at a cost if they want to fully learn from the course and be able to complete the reading assignments that accompany the lectures.

San Diego State University

  • The Experience of Colonialism 1850-1914 is one of the teaching units in world history offered by San Diego State University in partnership with the National Center for History in the Schools (UCLA). Aimed at the high school level, this course provides lessons, activities, illustrations and student assessment questions about colonialism. One can learn about various factors contributing to industrial imperialism, like ideologies, political parties, technological revolutions and economics. There is a list of related resources and information on how this unit corresponds to national and state standards for world history.

University of Notre Dame

  • History of Ancient Rome looks at Rome from the time of the city's founding through the demise of the Roman Empire. Students can read through notes from selected classroom lectures and access discussion questions on the lecture topics. Essay assignments and writing tips are included in the course materials. Three textbooks are recommended as well as other readings; users would have to purchase these. Students are given a list of free online resources that serve as supplements to the course material.
  • Islamic Societies of the Middle East and North Africa: Religion, History and Culture contains written lectures, illustrated with maps of the region, to explore Islamic societies from their beginnings through the present day. Nine lectures are provided, along with handouts explaining terms. In addition, students can access an online version of the Qur'an. Class assignments are available if users would like to complete them.

Columbia University

  • History of the World Since 1500 CE is comprised of 21 videos that are each a little over one hour, available through Columbia's YouTube channel. Topics covered include European colonization of the Americas and Africa, Islamic governments, China during the 1800s and the Cold War. No study materials or reading assignments are provided.

University of California - Berkeley

  • International and Global History since 1945 includes 26 audio podcasts of lectures from iTunes U. No other course materials are provided. The lectures look at the changes that have taken place around the world since the end of World War II in 1945, including the Cold War and the end of colonialism. The division of Europe and East Asia after the war is also explored.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • The Making of Modern South Asia examines India from 2500 BC through current times. Links for a few of the reading topics and videos are available, and several PDFs that list key terms are provided. Students get a list of related resources including links to online maps and photo essays. A list of exam study topics is provided, but not the exam questions.
  • The World Since 1492 examines the last 500 years of world history with special regard to European colonization, the formation of a bourgeois society, the development of capitalism and the creation of the countries we know today. Though full lecture notes are not available, students can download supplementary information in the form of PDF handouts. Users are not able to access the long list of required readings and suggested films for free, so although a list of reading assignments and essay questions is included, users may not have adequate learning resources to complete these assignments on their own terms.

Harvard University

  • World War II History looks at the events leading to the war, the actual conflict and the war's repercussions, including the Cold War. The course covers the Holocaust, the war's effect on society and the war as it was seen on the home front.

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