Finding Free College Courses Online

Looking for free college courses online? Universities offering free online college classes range from basic liberal arts schools to Ivy League colleges, although these courses aren't perfect for everyone.

You can often find syllabi and course information online.
For starters, you can find online course information or even syllabi by doing a quick Web search for a specific university, class or professor. Many universities offer Web sites for certain classes or programs that include syllabi or even online assignments from the professors. While this information is intended for student use, some schools don't restrict it to students exclusively, so anyone determined enough to look for it can find it. You don't get the full classroom experience, but you can find out what students are learning and do your own independent study.

Many universities offer course materials online for free.
If you've never researched free online college classes, you might be surprised to find that many universities now offer college course materials online for free. While the specifics vary from school to school, and even from professor to professor, you can find a range of materials available for free online with a little research. MIT, Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, Tufts and other notable universities all offer free college courses online.

These schools make course materials for specific classes or entire series available for anyone to view and download. Depending on the class and professor, you may find a syllabus, reading list, podcasts, lectures, assignments or even quizzes online for free. With the availability of these free online college classes, anyone can get an MIT-level education without paying hefty fees or worrying about being accepted into a prestigious university, with a few caveats.

What you don't get with free online college classes.
The downside of learning in this way is that free online college classes don't include all the things you get from a real, brick-and-mortar university. Without being a registered student in a paid course, these online classes typically don't count for college credit. You don't get the back-and-forth with professors and students that provide for some of the best collaborative learning experiences. Finally, professors don't grade your assignments or give you any way to judge your performance. Free online materials are available for your educational use, but they don't give you the benefit of pursuing courses that offer credit toward a degree.

Some organizations offer certificate programs online.
While you might not be able to get credit for taking free college classes online, some organizations do offer free certificate programs online. If you want to learn a specific skill, such as Search Engine Optimization or Online Marketing, you may be able to find an organization that offers study materials and testing that grants you an actual certificate. It's not the same as earning a college degree, but many employers are willing to consider certificate programs when hiring candidates or evaluating freelance proposals.

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