In 1963 a year at Harvard cost $1520. Fifty years later, Harvard tuition costs about $37,000 — or nothing at all.
Anyone can take free online classes from Harvard and other stellar schools. You won’t earn college credits, but passing an Ivy League class or two could improve your job skills and would look great on a resume.
Here’s a sampling of free online classes and other educational resources from Harvard and the other Ivy League universities (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Princeton, Penn and Yale).
Want to earn credit for online classes? Use our search tool to find accredited online schools.
Harvard is America’s oldest institute of higher learning and is also America’s first corporation. The university was founded by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1636. It’s located in Cambridge, which is just north of Boston across the Charles River.
A highlight of Harvard’s free educational resources is the Harvard Extension School’s free online courses. No application is needed, but no credit is awarded. The wide range of options includes art, business, languages, social sciences and more. A second option is edXOnline, which is a joint venture between Harvard and MIT. Academic Earth – Harvard also offers plenty of free classes.
Free Harvard lectures and videos can also be found here:
- Harvard at Udemy
- Harvard on the Virtual Professors website
- Harvard’s YouTube Channel
- Harvard on iTunesU
Very nice! Keep reading for the free online classes and lectures offered at other Ivy League universities. They’re all here in alphabetical order from Brown to Yale.
Brown is a private university in Providence, Rhode Island. In keeping with Rhode Island’s principled past, Brown was the first US university to accept students regardless of their religious affiliations.
Brown is just starting to venture into free online programs. Check out their YouTube Channel. Intriguing topics range from bats’ tongues to ancient Greek archaeology to legacies of US slavery, Holocaust survivor’s memories, and HIV testing. You can also listen to Brown on iTunes U.
Columbia University in New York City is the fifth oldest university in the United States. This prestigious school administers the Pulitzer Prize and currently has eight Nobel laureates on its faculty.
Columbia’s Graduate Engineering Distance Learning program gives free previews of dozens of classes. Sample titles are “Physics of Solar Energy,” “Music Signal Processing” and “Logistics and Transportation Management.”
Cornell University in Ithaca, New York has been coeducational since its founding in 1865. It was one of the first universities devoted to contributing to knowledge in “all” fields from literature to the sciences. Their free offerings today include:
- Podcasts arranged into these categories: Cornellcast recent items, CornellCast live, More Cornell Audio and Video, Cornell Speakers, Architecture, Economics, Health and Nutrition, History, Literature, Law, Medicine and Psychology.
- Quantum physics lectures by Hans Bethe
Dartmouth, which has just over 6,000 students on campus, is the Ivy League’s smallest school. The campus in Hanover, New Hampshire has four colleges and about 20 graduate programs in the arts and sciences.
Dartmouth at Academic Earth features videos from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for the Social Sciences. Business etiquette, petitioning the government and US trade policies are among the topics explored.
Princeton University was the first Ivy League school to provide grants instead of loans to students with financial need. The campus is located in Princeton, New Jersey but you can access free courses and lectures with these links:
- Princeton at Coursera. Some sample course titles are “Networks: Friends, Money and Bytes” and “Statistics One.”
- Academic Earth – Princeton
- Online Lectures from the Princeton Alumni association.
- The Princeton WebMedia site contains archived lectures and streams live events.
- Princeton’s YouTube channel
- Princeton Podcasts on iTunes
The University of Pennsylvania was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740. Today Penn trains students in the arts and sciences, the applied sciences, nursing, engineering and business.
Penn at Coursera hosts free Penn online courses. Examples include “Modern and Contemporary American Poetry,” “Neuroethics” and “Corporate Finance.” You can also access lectures (but not full courses) via Penn’s YouTube Channel and Penn on iTunes U.
Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut is America’s third-oldest university. It was founded in 1701 by Harvard graduates who pooled their books to create Yale’s first library.
Anyone today can study at Open Yale, which provides free introductory-level courses in a wide range of disciplines: African American studies, astronomy, chemistry, music and much more. Some of these courses can also be found at Yale on iTunesU.