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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, such as business, literature, history and social sciences. 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.
- 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.
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.
- One Health 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 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 from Pre-Gutenberg to Post-Google 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.
- 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.
- Blogs, Wikis, New Media for Learning 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 & 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.