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With a computer and an internet connection, you can now access free classes online from some of the very best colleges and universities around the world, as well as free lectures. A growing number of schools are making video and audio materials available, either through their own websites, YouTube EDU, and/or iTunesU.

Course topics cover a variety of fields. For example, you can take a course on Ancient Greek History or The Fundamentals of Physics from faculty members of Yale University, or you could listen to an Oxford professor lecture on Shakespeare. Whether you are a prospective student looking to get a peek inside some of the world’s most prestigious colleges and universities, an international student seeking ESL classes, or just feeling curious, you will likely find something that interests you in our list of the top 10 colleges and universities offering free online classes and lectures.

1. University of Cambridge, ENGLAND

A growing collection of free lectures and courses from the storied British university are available on iTunes U. These free classes online cover 16 academic categories, including art, architecture, philosophy, and science. Cambridge also offers access through their app for the iPhone and the Apple Watch. Popular lecture and course selections include:

  • Cambridge Judge Business School collection
  • Darwin College Lecture Series
  • 3CL Travers Smith Seminar Series

2. Carnegie Mellon University, PITTSBURGH, PA

A number of free online lectures and courses are available on CMU’s YouTube channel. Lectures focus on arts, business, technology, and science concepts and innovations. Each of the university’s academic schools host their own respective channels, which can be accessed directly from the CMU YouTube homepage. Popular playlists and lectures include:

  • Summer pre-college programs
  • The Global Learning Council
  • Robotics and drones
  • Digital security

3. Columbia University, NEW YORK, NY

A selection of free online college classes and lectures from scholars and dignitaries around the world are featured on Columbia’s YouTube channel, which groups videos from within each of the school’s academic departments into a unique playlist. There is also a collection of on-campus lectures, featuring each session of the latest keynote speaker conference and more. Highlights from Columbia are available through the university’s multimedia page. Popular topics and series include:

  • Research
  • New York Stories
  • Climate research
  • Neuroscience

4. Cornell University, ITHACA, NY

Cornell’s free online lectures and course content are hosted through the university’s digital depository, eCommons@Cornell. The site features 731 videos and 426 audio files, as well as digital downloads of theses and dissertations, research data, images, and more. This virtual library includes more than 38,000 resources for both students and faculty. The most downloaded lecture topics include:

  • Developing effective standard operating procedures
  • Antigone
  • Water resources systems planning and management

5. Duke University, DURHAM, NC

Both iTunes and YouTube host a variety of free online classes, lectures, panels, conversations, and campus news features from Duke. Each of Duke’s individual academic schools, as well as its Graduate School and Divinity School, have their own channel and playlist. Popular downloads include:

  • Hayek Lecture Series
  • The Week at Duke (in 60 seconds) featurettes
  • Weekly worship service
  • Gene therapy research at Duke School of Medicine

6. Emory University, ATLANTA, GA

Students attending Emory, and even those who do not, may download free online courses, speeches, lectures, music, and news on Emory’s iTunes U page. The university features nearly 100 collections of video lectures, grouped by topic and academic field, such as religion, cultural studies, or scientific research. While the university’s YouTube channel features a less comprehensive collection of videos, it does offer keynote lectures and other select on-campus series and seminars. Highlights of Emory’s free online classes and lectures include:

  • Creative Writing Program readings
  • Mini Medical School- MD Lectures
  • Life of the Mind speaker series

7. Harvard University, CAMBRIDGE, MA

The lecture halls of Harvard are now open to the public through its open access lectures, courses, and performances available on both YouTube and iTunes U. Harvard offers 24 online courses through iTunesU, in subjects ranging from statistics and probability, to public economics, to the Hebrew scriptures. On YouTube, the school has posted more than 2,000 videos of lectures, seminars, and other on-campus events. Popular lecture topics include:

  • The state of the nation’s housing
  • Women and public policy programs
  • The “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?” series

8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, CAMBRIDGE, MA

Hundreds of free lectures, courses, notes, and exams across 11 academic departments available through MIT’s OpenCourseWare project. The open courseware portal provides student access to exclusive content such as “Behind the Scenes with MIT Faculty” vignettes, as well as a wide variety of free online courses. The most frequently viewed include:

  • Linear algebra
  • Intro to computer science and programming
  • Intro to algorithms
  • Principles of microeconomics

9. Northwestern University, EVANSTON, IL

Free online classes, lectures, concerts, news, and other university programs are available on NU’s YouTube channel, where the school has organized content by area of interest and academic departments. In addition to maintaining popular playlists for law, research, journalism, and the arts, NU frequently adds to a collection of general news videos taken around campus, which discuss relevant cultural issues each week. Unique featured content include:

  • Guest speakers at the Kellogg School of Management
  • A full series of Ted Talks given at NU in 2014

10. Open University

The United Kingdom’s “University of The Future” offers numerous free online courses and lectures on iTunes U. As its name suggests, Open University is among the most innovative and user-friendly providers of online college courseware today. Students can access courses and materials developed specifically for the online environment. Popular downloads and courses include:

  • The 60-Second Adventures in Thought series
  • The project management ebook
  • Beginner’s French


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