Free Online Theology and World Religions Courses
Although free online theology degree programs may be challenging to find, free theology classes are typically offered through a university's humanities, theology, or anthropology department. These courses don't result in college credit and students are not graded, but they do allow individuals to study theology online for free. Students can take these free courses for the sake of the knowledge itself, or use them as an opportunity to decide whether or not to pursue a fully accredited bachelor's degree in theology or a related field. These accredited programs often offer online courses.
University of California - Irvine
The University of California - Irvine offers free online courses in a variety of subjects through a program called UCI Open.
- Anthropology 135A: Religion & Social Order focuses on the role of religion in society. Through a series of PowerPoint presentations, students examine how religion has impacted society through art, politics, and popular culture. The program explores topics as diverse as the Salem witchcraft trials and UFO sightings, in addition to how the Protestant faith affected America's development as a country. No textbook is cited as a requirement, and links to related websites and articles are provided.
University of Notre Dame
The University of Notre Dame's free online theology courses look at the relationship between God and humankind from a Catholic viewpoint.
- Jesus in Scripture and Tradition explores the book of Genesis, the Gospels, and the works of early Christian writers to understand the relationship between the people of Israel, Jesus Christ, and the church.
- Introduction to the Quran: The Scripture of Islam investigates the central Islamic text, its relationship to the Bible, the historical context in which it was written, the various interpretations of the text, and its role in the practices and traditions of Muslims today.
Utah State University
Utah State University first started offering free online courses in 2013 and have students enroll in them from all over the world.
- Anthropology of Religionis a bachelor's level class designed for those interested in exploring the concept of religion as a cultural phenomenon. Students can access video lectures, lecture notes, quizzes, visual aids, and a list of additional resources. The syllabus names a general textbook, which students can purchase online. Course materials cover the rituals, language, symbols, and myths of religion, along with religion's place in society, its organizational structure, and adaptability in the face of change. Though credit isn't offered for completion of USU OpenCourseWare classes, students may be able to earn credit for knowledge acquired through a departmental examination, which could contribute to a religion degree online.
Both of these Open Yale courses include video lectures and handouts which can be downloaded separately or together as a zip file. The course pages provide links to download course pages and video lectures.
- Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature looks at the scriptures, both as a chronicle of ancient Israel and as a foundation for Western ideas.
- Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) gives students the chance to examine these books as literature and historical records.