250 Free Distance Education Resources
Whether you’re studying online or at a traditional college, there’s no question that school is expensive. But not everything has to cost an arm and a leg. There are plenty of free distance education resources out there for cash-strapped students—if you know where to look. Here are 250 free ways to enhance your education online.
Many of these schools and sites offer a large number of free courses and courseware. These links to individual classes represent only a small sampling of what they have to offer, and the sites are worth exploring further.
Agriculture and Agricultural Engineering:
- Agricultural Science and Policy I: Learn the finer points of conservation and how to engineer healthy agricultural environments at Tufts.
- Agricultural Science and Policy II: The second phase in Tufts’ agricultural science and policy course.
- Introduction to Bioengineering: A broad range of video lectures and interviews from MIT’s bioengineering faculty.
- Biological Engineering Design: Learn how to combine expertise in biology, engineering, and biochemistry to design new products from MIT faculty.
- Lecture Notes on the Soils of the World: Compiled by the United Nations.
- Identity and Difference: Learn the theoretical principles surrounding identity creation from MIT faculty.
- Anthropology of War and Peace: MIT course focusing mainly on the geopolitical and anthropological aspects of the War in Iraq.
- Rethinking the Family, Sex, and Gender: Cross-cultural research investigating the meaning of gender, sexuality, and family, from MIT.
- Anthropological Theory: Learn the key theories and debates that shape anthropological theory at MIT.
- Introduction to Latin American Studies: MIT’s intro to Latin American culture from ancient Mesoamerican civilization to modern Latin American literature.
- Law and Society: This MIT course addresses how law affects culture and social processes within a society.
- Myth, Ritual and Society: This MIT course takes a look at the creation and structure of symbols and rituals that shape our society.
- Contemporary Biosocial Problems in America: This course at Tufts examines the intersection between biology and social beliefs.
- Cultural Anthropology: A Utah State intro to the broad field of cultural anthropology, covering language, civilization, culture, and social practices.
- Anthropology of Religion: A theoretical examination of religion in a cultural context, from Utah State.
- Producing Films for Social Change: Research, shoot, and edit your own film targeting a local or national social issue.
- Understanding Theatre: Learn the basics of theatre arts and enhance your enjoyment of theatrical productions.
- History of Jazz: New Orleans: Learn the historical background of this renowned musical art form—as well as its political and social context.
- Introduction to Western Music: Enhance your appreciation of Western music from Baroque to Modernist styles.
- Early Music: Learn the history of over 2,000 years of Western music.
- Playwriting I: Learn how to write a play, from the structure of scenes to character and dialogue.
- Theatre and Cultural Diversity in the US: An exploration of cultural identity issues in the US as expressed in theatre.
- Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics: Explore the physics and mysteries behind black holes, dark energy, and extra-solar planets with Yale professors.
- The Aerospace Industry: A continuing MIT assessment of the current state of the industry and its recent history.
- Exploring Sea, Space, and Earth: Fundamentals of Engineering Design: Complete your own engineering project every week focused on exploration of space, the earth, and the oceans.
- Aerodynamics: Learn about the concepts of fluid mechanics, Unified Engineering, and the behavior of aircraft in subsonic and supersonic realms.
- Exploring Black Holes: Explore the mysteries and magic of black holes with MIT professors.
- Introduction to Astronomy: A broad introduction to current theories and existing knowledge of astronomy, with MIT professors.
- Relativistic Quantum Field Theory: An advanced look at the cutting edge of quantum theory.
- Biology 1A: A course introduction lecture in biology from Berkeley.
- Biology: A Carnegie Mellon University introduction to cellular and molecular biology, genetics, and biochemistry.
- Biology of Water and Health: Touches on engineering of healthy water and how the health of our waterways is affected by social, economic, and environmental factors.
- Basic Human Pathology: Examine general and systemic pathology with Tufts professors.
- Genetics: Learn how genes and chromosomes function; how biological variations arise; and the function of genetic disease.
- Regenerative Medicine: Learn about the emerging science of tissue regeneration for medical purposes.
- The Role of Mitochondria in Human Disease: Use primary research to learn about the current body of knowledge on mitochondrial DNA’s affect in human pathology.
- Systems and Synthetic Biology: How the Cell Solves Problems: Learn how molecules interact inside a cell to drive movement, metabolism, reproduction, and other life functions.
- Economics: Learn the basics of economics at Free-Ed.net.
- General Business Management: Get a broad sense of management theory, HR management, accounting, purchasing, logistics, and other business functions.
- Human Resources Management: Learn how to develop human capital and provide key services to employees within a company.
- Facebook and Twitter: Getting Started: Learn how to market a business on Facebook and Twitter at Hewlett Packard.
- How to Start and Grow an Online Business: Get a jump start on developing an e-commerce business with the SBA.
- Franchising Basics: Learn how to open and run your own franchise with the SBA.
- How to Prepare a Business Plan: The SBA teaches how to develop a strong business plan to guide your company from start-up to continued success.
- Managerial Psychology: An MIT introduction to behavioral science as applied to work and career.
- Managerial Psychology Laboratory: An in-depth exploration of managerial psychology from MIT.
- Operations Management: Learn how to design, plan, and manage key manufacturing and service functions.
- Managerial Communications for Undergraduates: An undergraduate-level MIT course in interpersonal skills necessary for management.
- People and Organizations: An in-depth look at the organizational challenges that face corporations at the Sloan School of Management.
- Introduction to Urban Design and Development: How cities, suburbs, and other settlements are developed and designed.
- The Ancient City: MIT explores the urban architecture of ancient Greek and Roman cities.
- City to City: Comparing, Researching, and Writing About Cities: New Orleans: Learn about the challenges of urban engineering in post-Katrina New Orleans, as taught at MIT.
- Engineering Statics: A sophomore-level Carnegie Mellon course teaching important statics principles in biological, structural, and mechanical systems.
- Civil & Environmental Engineering: An introductory class from Berkeley’s department of civil and environmental engineering.
- Systems, Management, and Control: Learn to create lumped parameter models, make quantitative estimates of model parameters, and more.
- Dynamics and Vibration: An MIT intro to dynamics and vibration of lumped-parameter models of mechanical systems.
- Fundamentals of Energy in Buildings: An MIT intro to energy and thermoscience, as these principles apply to green building and architecture.
- Introduction to Manufacturing Systems: Learn to analyze manufacturing systems and the basics of probability, inventory and queueing models, process analysis, and more from MIT professors.
Computers & Technology
- Computer Science 61A A video lecture on computer science from Berkeley.
- Computer Science 10: Learn about computer science with this in-depth video from the classrooms at Berkeley.
- Fundamentals of C++: A Free-Ed.net intro to C++ programming.
- HTML Basics: Get to know HTML with this Free-Ed.net intro.
- Media Programming: Learn to program around media images, audio, and interactive systems.
- Competition in Telecommunications: An MIT intro to the telecommunications market, including wireless communications, local and long-distance services and technology.
- Circuits and Electronics: An MIT intro to electrical engineering and computer science.
- Artificial Intelligence: Learn to develop intelligent systems and the learning methods of artificial intelligence, as taught at MIT.
- Mathematics and Computer Science: Learn from MIT professors about fundamental concepts of mathematics, discrete structures, discrete probability theory, and more.
- Information and Entropy: Learn the limits and physical nature of information processing, including digital signals, codes and compression, and applications.
- Computing and Data Analysis for Environmental Application: An MIT course covering data analysis and probability with a focus on IT.
- Economics: An experimental economics course from Carnegie Mellon University.
- Introduction to Economics: Learn the classic principles of macroeconomics from MIT professors.
- Macroeconomic Theory and Public Policy: Learn about the standards and deviations from the usual competitive models at MIT.
- Environmental Policy and Economics: MIT professors teach the costs and benefits of environmental regulation, and how economics affects environmental policy.
- Obesity in Economics: A Johns Hopkins perspective on evaluating obesity from an economic viewpoint.
- Game Theory: Learn the basics of game theory from Yale professors.
- Financial Markets: Yale class materials covering all aspects of the theory of finance.
- Financial Theory: Learn from Yale professors about the role of finance in the global marketplace.
- Microeconomic Theory III: Learn from MIT professors about the basics of Decision Theory, Game Theory, and Behavioral Economics.
- Shakespeare’s Comedies: An introduction to Shakespeare’s comedies, with an eye toward language, theme, and enhanced appreciation.
- Heroic Fantasy: Tolkien: Learn the elements of the fantasy genre from the father of modern fantasy himself.
- Gulliver’s Travels: A Washington University intro to the Johnathan Swift classic.
- Shakespeare: An overview of the Bard from MIT.
- Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies: A look at Black history and literature in the US, from MIT.
- Major Poets: A look at major poetic voices in Western tradition.
- Bestsellers: The Memoirs: A look at the memoir in modern literature.
- Hamlet: An in-depth look at one of Shakespeare’s most famous, complex plays, from Washington University.
- Milton: A study of Milton’s poetry from Yale.
- The American Novel Since 1945: Elements of American literature from the 40’s to the present, from the Yale English department.
- Introduction to Theory of Literature: A survey of the main currents of literary theory, from Yale.
- Modern Poetry: A Yale class on the themes, structure, and techniques of contemporary poetry.
- Reading Fiction: An MIT course aiming to enhance analytical techniques in reading fiction.
- Reading Poetry: Enhance your appreciation of poetry with this MIT course.
- Travel Writing: Learn the basic techniques of travel writing from MIT professors.
- Forms of Western Narrative: An MIT course regarding trends, currents, and underlying themes of Western literature.
- Environmental Economics: A Berkeley video lecture regarding the effect of the environment on economic processes.
- Nutritional Health, Food Production, and the Environment: A Johns Hopkins overview of public health issues surrounding food security and production in today’s high global population.
- Chemicals in the Environment: Toxicology and Public Health: The relationship between human toxicology and pollution, from MIT.
- Environmental Politics and Law: An examination of current law as it affects environmental policy, from Yale.
- Ecology I: Fundamentals of ecology on a global scale, from MIT.
- Ecology II: Engineering for Sustainability: A continuation of Ecology I at MIT, offering a more in-depth look at global ecology.
- Building a Functional Family: Fundamentals of family relationships, as taught at Brigham Young University.
- The Family and the Law in American History: A look at family issues in law throughout American history, as taught at Brigham Young.
- Brigham Young University: The Family in Europe: How families in Europe differ from those in the US—as taught at Brigham Young.
- Power of Positive Parenting: Learn how positive parenting can change relationships between parents and children.
- The Contemporary American Family: How the American family has changed throughout the years, and family trends in today’s culture—as taught at MIT.
- The Economic History of Work and Family: An MIT account of the history of the American family from an economic perspective.
- Studies in Women’s Life Narratives: Feminist Inquiry: Studies relating to women’s experiences in the US and in the family, from MIT.
- Infant and Early Childhood Cognition: MIT’s course on how the brain works in infant and early childhood developmental stages.
- Finding Your Ancestors: Genealogy class from Brigham Young University.
- Ethnography: Study ancestor research with MIT professors.
- Genealogy: Class on genealogy from the World Mentoring Academy.
- Your Great Ancestral Hunt: From Genealogy.com.
- Record Groups as Building Material: How to utilize resources to research your ancestry, from Genealogy.com.
Health and Medicine:
- Introduction to Immunology: Learn the basics of immunology at Free-Ed.net.
- Statistics for Laboratory Scientists: Learn the statistical skills necessary for the laboratory at Johns Hopkins University.
- Insomnia: Learn the causes and treatments for insomnia at HealthU.
- Heartburn: HealthU’s overview of the causes and treatments of common heartburn.
- Breast Cancer: Deepen your understanding of breast cancer, with HealthU.
- Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma: An overview of the basics of the disease and its treatments.
- Psoriasis: Understand psoriasis with materials from HealthU.
- Geriatric Dentistry: Understand the special challenges of dentistry for older adults, from Tufts.
- Cardiovascular Pathophysiology: Learn about cardiovascular pathophysiology from Tufts.
- Microbiology: Learn the basics of microbiology from the professors at Tufts.
- Nutrition and Medicine: Learn the eating habits that promote a healthy lifestyle, and how nutrition affects the body’s health.
- Human Growth and Development: Learn how the body and mind develops throughout the major stages of life, from Tufts.
- Energy, Diet, and Weight: Learn how your metabolism and diet affect weight gain and loss.
- Family Planning Policies and Programs: A class from Johns Hopkins University.
- Life Course Perspectives on Health: A class from Johns Hopkins University teaching students to see public health issues from a life course perspective.
- Case Studies in Health Care: An introduction to community-based health care, from Johns Hopkins.
- Issues in Mental Health Research in Developing Countries: How to conduct needs assessment, intervention monitoring and evaluation of mental health issues in developing countries.
- Adolescent Health and Development: The basics of adolescent development from the professors at Johns Hopkins.
- Health Information Systems: MIT collaborates with Partners in Health to give students an overview of health information systems in developing countries.
- Health Care Systems Innovation: MIT’s class helps students understand today’s health care delivery challenges.
- Introduction to Global Medicine: From MIT, geared toward medical student and PhD students.
- A Clinical Approach to the Human Brain: How the human brain works—in the context of medical health and illness.
- Genomics and Computational Biology: In-depth course from MIT.
- Designing and Sustaining Technology Innovation for Global Health Practice: Design of technologies that sustain global health, from MIT.
- Projects in Microscale Engineering for the Life Sciences: How to manipulate cell structures using prefabricated tools—from MIT.
- History of Utah: An in-depth look at the state’s history.
- World War II: From Washington University.
- The American Civil War: An overview of the civil war conflict from Washington University.
- The American Revolution: Washington University’s overview of the conflict that created the country.
- The American Revolution: Study the American Revolution with Yale professors.
- European Civilization, 1648-1945: An overview of European culture and civilization from Yale.
- Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600: A look at how epidemics have shaped Western history, from Yale.
- France Since 1871: An overview of the country, from Yale.
- Case Studies in Terrorism Response: An overview of terrorism response from Johns Hopkins University.
- Technology in a Dangerous World: Technology applied on today’s global conflict stage, from MIT.
- Ethics and the Law on the Electronic Frontier: Today’s special challenges in ethics and legal implications in the continually-evolving digital landscape.
- Globalization, Migration, and International Relations: MIT’s study of international relations.
- Nuclear Weapons in International Politics: How nuclear weapons affect the global political landscape, from MIT.
- French: Learn French at Carnegie Mellon University.
- Mandarin Chinese: A class from Chinese-Tools.com.
- Russian: Learn from RussianLessons.net.
- Serbian: From SerbianSchool.com.
- Basic Korean: An intro class from the Sogang Korean Program.
- Swedish: An intro to the language.
- All Languages: Free classes, chat, and live feedback on any language you can think of.
- Bulgarian Grammar Drills: Learn Bulgarian grammar.
- Learning Catalan: From ElizabethCastro.com.
- Chinese: Level 1 class from Rutgers.
- Chinese I: Intro class from MIT.
- Expository Writing for Bilingual Students: A class from MIT addressing the special challenges and potential of writing for bilingual students.
- French I: An intro to the language from MIT.
- German I: An intro to German from MIT.
- Japanese I: Intro-level class from MIT.
- Spanish I: An intro to Spanish from MIT.
- Statistics: Learn the basics of statistics from Carnegie Mellon.
- Logic and Proofs: Learn the basics of modern symbolic logic.
- Calculus II for Business: Real-world applications for calculus in the business realm, as taught at MIT.
- Data Mining: An intro to electronic data capture.
- Abstract Algebra Online: Learn the basics of abstract algebra.
- Single-Variable Calculus: Course from MIT.
- Differential Equations: An intro from MIT.
- Linear Algebra: As taught at MIT.
- Mathematics for Computer Science: Learn the elementary discrete mathematics applied to computer systems from MIT professors.
- Physics for Humanistt: A course bridging the gap between science and philosophy, from Tufts.
- Physics C10: A Berkeley webcast.
- Physics I: Classical Mechanics: An intro to how classical mechanics operate, from MIT.
- Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism: Freshman-level introductory physics class from MIT.
- Einstein, Oppenheimer, Feynman: Physics in the 20th Century: A look at some of the 20th century’s major breakthroughs in physics, from MIT.
- The Physics of Energy: Develop a scientific understanding of how various forms of energy production work, from MIT.
- Leadership of the Mormon Church: An overview of the Mormon Church from Brigham Young University.
- Introduction to the Old Testament: Study the Old Testament with Yale professors.
- Introduction to New Testament History and Literature: A course from Yale.
- Politics and Religion: MIT professors teach the intersection between politics and religion.
- Medicine, Religion, and Politics in the African Diaspora: A course from MIT.
Access to scholarly journals:
- Google Scholar: Search scholarly articles with Google.
- Resource Shelf: See the results of searches performed by professional researchers, scholars, professors, and reference librarians.
- Directory of Open Access Journals: Online access to scholarly and scientific journals—all free.
- Rutgers Library Online: Rutgers library archives on African American history, literature, and culture.
- CiteULike.com: Privately-run website where academic researchers can store online academic papers—a user-contributed web library.
- Questia: Online library. Searchable access to journals and books.
- JournalSeek: Online access to scholarly journals.
- Virginia Tech Electronic Journals: Free, open-access e-journals at the Digital Library at Virginia Tech.
Easy explanations, tutorials, and touch-ups:
- How Stuff Works: Easily understandable explanations of how just about everything works, from plasma converters to antibiotics.
- Wikipedia: Online encyclopedia; good for quick definitions of terms and concepts as well as subject overviews, but not considered a valid reference resource for papers.
- The Owl at Purdue: Online MLA style guide, plus advice on writing academic and scientific research papers.
- Education Online for Computer Software: Tutorials for Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other basic software useful in online learning.
- Cliff Notes: Free online access to Cliff Notes literature summaries and analysis.
- Physics Tutorials: Tutorials and explanations of basic physics concepts.
- Biology Tutorials: Tutorials on a wide variety of biology subjects.
- Learn2Type.com: Brush up on your typing skills—very useful preparation for online classes.
- Webfoot.com: Beginner’s guide to effective email.
- Glossary of Internet Terms: Definitions to both basic and advanced online terms and acronyms.
- U.S. News Archives on the Web: News coverage of current and past events in all 50 states.
- BBC Archives: News coverage on events all over the world. Good for a non-American perspective on events.
- The U.S. Library of Congress: Newspaper and current periodical reading room. Links to news sources and archives.
- Refdesk.com: American newspaper websites, listed by state.
- Yahoo! Answers: Ask questions for other users to answer.
- Answers.com: Free, searchable access to millions of published documents. You can also ask and answer questions online.
- Scientific American: Bring your science questions to professional scientists.
- AllExperts.com: Volunteer experts on a wide variety of subjects. The net’s oldest Q&A website.
- Able2Know.com: Q&A forums with subject experts.
- Experts Exchange: Mostly technology, computers, Internet, software and hardware experts.
- Math Central Quandaries and Queries: Bring difficult math questions here for explanations.
References for specific topics:
- Mayo Clinic: Database of diseases and conditions. Type in symptoms to match with diseases, or study individual conditions. Great resource for medical students.
- Cornell Legal Information Institute: Comprehensive online resource on U.S. law code, Supreme Court decisions, and more.
- National Human Genome Research Institute: A collection of resources on DNA science and genome research.
- ThomasNet: Online resources for industrial design and engineering students.
- Erratic Impact: Resources for philosophy students.
- All Business Schools: Resources for students in business and accounting.
- Public Library of Science: Open-access database of free scientific journals.
- Social Science Research Network: Vast online library of social science research and data.
- Astrophysics Data System Scanned Article Service: Scanned scholarly articles from Harvard’s astrophysics library.
- Free Medical Journals: Database of important medical journals that offer free online access.
- Artcyclopedia: Comprehensive online guide to all genres of visual art and artists.
- Gray’s Anatomy Online: Bartleby.com’s online edition of Gray’s Anatomy. It’s a searchable database, complete with hand-drawn illustrations.
- Meetup: Start or join a face-to-face group of online learners in your area.
- Yahoo! Groups: Find an online gathering of like-minded online students.
- Craigslist: Immense online classifieds. Advertise or find an advertisement for online students interested in starting a study group.
- StudentCenter: Make connections with other college students. Mainly aimed toward a younger crowd.
- Washington College of Law Podcast
- Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business Podcast
- Harvard Business School Podcast
- Stanford Continuing Studies: Geography of World Cultures
- Harvard: Berkman Center for Internet & Society
- Haverford Classics Podcast
- Berkeley on iTunes U
- Bill Moyers Journal
- Council on Foreign Relations
- Freakonomics Podcast
- Stanford: Physics
- Stanford Continuing Studies: Hannibal
- Stanford Continuing Studies: Ben Franklin and the World of the Enlightenment
- Stanford Continuing Studies: Straight Talk About Stem Cells
- Stanford Continuing Studies: The Future of the Internet
- Stanford Continuing Education: The Literature of Crisis
- Stanford Continuing Education: The Historical Jesus
More About Free Online Courses
- 250 Free Distance Education Resources
- Massive Online Open Courses: What They Are and How They Can Help Students
- How to Take an Online Course for Free
- 100 COMPLETELY FREE Distance Learning Resources for Homeschoolers
- Open Courseware: How You Can Take Classes at MIT, Stanford, or Harvard for Free
- 135 Completely Free Distance Education Courses