Ivy League MOOCs - Free Online Classes from the Ivies

Options from Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, and More

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Most of the eight ivy league universities are now offering some form of publicly available free online classes. MOOCs (massively open online classes) offer learners everywhere the opportunity to learn from ivy league instructors and interact with other students while completing their coursework. Some MOOCs even provide students the opportunity to earn a certificate that can be listed on a resume or used to demonstrate ongoing learning.

See how you can take advantage of no-cost, instructor-led courses from Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, UPenn, or Yale.

Keep in mind that free MOOCs are different from registering as a student at a university. If you would prefer to earn an official degree or graduate certificate from an ivy league online, check out the article on How to Earn an Online Degree from an Ivy League University.


Brown offers several no-cost MOOCs to the public through Coursera. Options include courses like “Coding the Matrix: Linear Algebra Through Computer Science Applications,” “Archeology’s Dirty Secrets” and “The Fiction of Relationship.”


Also through Coursea, Columbia offers a number of instructor-led MOOCs. These online courses include “Economics of Money and Banking,” “How Viruses Cause Disease,” “Big Data in Education,” “Introduction to Sustainable Development,” and more.


Cornell instructors offer MOOCs on a wide variety of subjects through CornellX — a part of edX. Courses include topics such as “The Ethics of Eating,” “Civic Ecology: Reclaiming Broken Places,” “American Capitalism: A History,” and “Relativity and Astrophysics.” Students can audit the courses for free or earn a verified certificate by paying a small fee.


Dartmouth is still working on building its presence on edX. It currently offers a single course: “Introduction to Environmental Science.”

The school also offers the Trustees of Dartmouth College seminar series, featuring livestream seminars for health care professionals every other Wednesday. Past seminars have included: “Behavioral Economics and Health,” “Letting Patients Help Heal Health Care: Extents and Limits of Patient Contributions,” and “Characteristics and Consequences of Hospital Closures.”


Amongst the ivies, Harvard has led the way toward greater open learning. HarvardX, a part of edX, offers over fifty instructor-led MOOCs on a wide variety of subjects. Notable courses include: “Saving Schools: History, Politics, and Policy in U.S. Education,” “Poetry in America: Whitman,” “Copyright,” “The Einstein Revolution,” and “Introduction to Bioconductor.” Students may choose to audit courses or complete all coursework for a verified edX certificate.

Harvard also provides a searchable database of their online courses, both current and archived.

Finally, through their Open Learning Initiative, Harvard offers dozens of video lectures in Quicktime, Flash, and mp3 formats. These recorded lectures were created from actual Harvard courses. Although the recordings are not complete courses with assignments, many lecture series provide a semester’s worth of instruction. Video series include “Intensive Introduction to Computer Science,” “Abstract Algebra,” “Shakespeare After All: The Later Plays,” and more. Students can view or listen to the courses through the Open Learning Initiative site or subscribe through iTunes.


Princeton provides a number of MOOCs through the Coursera platform. Options include “Analysis of Algorithms,” “Fog Networks and the Internet of Things,” “Imagining Other Earths,” and “Introduction to Sociology.”


The University of Pennsylvania offers a few MOOCs via Coursera. Notable options include: “Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society,” “Principles of Microeconomics,” “Designing Cities,” and “Gamification.”

UPenn also offers their own database of current and upcoming online courses, searchable by date.


Open Yale offers learners the opportunity to review video / audio lectures and assignments from previous Yale courses. As courses are not led by an instructor, students may access the material at any time. Currently available courses include subjects such as “Foundations of a Modern Social Theory,” “Roman Architecture,” “Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner,” and “Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics.” No discussion boards or opportunities for student interaction are provided.

Jamie Littlefield is a writer and instructional designer. She can be reached on Twitter or through her educational coaching website: jamielittlefield.com.

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Littlefield, Jamie. "Ivy League MOOCs - Free Online Classes from the Ivies." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/ivy-league-free-online-courses-1098096. Littlefield, Jamie. (2021, February 16). Ivy League MOOCs - Free Online Classes from the Ivies. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/ivy-league-free-online-courses-1098096 Littlefield, Jamie. "Ivy League MOOCs - Free Online Classes from the Ivies." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/ivy-league-free-online-courses-1098096 (accessed January 28, 2023).