How to Get a University Level Education for Free

by Krantcents · 4 comments

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A lot of people are fortunate enough to be able to afford to go to University. Those who are, often end up saddled with student loans & debt that’s next to impossible to pay down and often daunting. Even though I make well above the average American wage I’m still deep in student loan debt.


I’ve often though about pursuing some of my other interests, but I simply cannot afford to pay for another degree. I’ve heard about top tier Universities offering free programs but figured that there was some type of catch, after a bit more research this is what I found out. All of the sites I’ve listed are free with no strings attached, you won’t end up with a degree at the end of it – but you will end up with the knowledge behind it!

MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW)

Direct link to site

MIT was one of the first to offer free higher level education through their open courseware program. It helped pushed a lot of the others listed on here to also offer a similar service. They cover the following topics:

  • Business
  • Energy
  • Engineering
  • Fine Arts
  • Health & Medicine
  • Humanities
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Science
  • Society
  • Teaching & education

Because they’ve been around since 2002, open courseware is one of the more robust solutions on the market. There is also a lot of discussion on lectures that can be found on various online forums. More courses can also be accessed through the open education consortium.

Open Yale Courses

Direct link to site

This is Yale’s offering, which was launched five years later than MIT’s. A lot less courses are offered, but there seems to be a broad range of introductory and advanced courses:

  • African American Studies
  • American Studies
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Chemistry
  • Classics
  • Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
  • Economics
  • English
  • Environmental studies
  • Geology & Geophysics
  • History

I found the course on Game Theory by Professor Ben Polak to be particularly interesting.

Carnegie Mellon University Open Learning Initiative

Direct link to site

Carnegie is currently offering 21 courses through their online portal. They offer the following courses:

  • American English Speech
  • Arabic For Global Exchange
  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Argument Diagramming
  • Biochemistry
  • Elementary French I
  • Elementary French II
  • Engineering Statics
  • Healthcare Information & Management Systems
  • Introduction To Biology
  • Introduction To Chemistry
  • Introduction To Psychology
  • Logic & Proofs
  • Media Programming
  • Modern Biology
  • Principles Of Computing
  • Probability & Statistics
  • Responsible Computing
  • Statistical Reasoning
  • Stem Foundations
  • Stem Readiness

As you’d expect, there is a strong emphasis on computer science courses. I’m currently making my way through their introduction to biology course

Want Something A Bit More Basic?

For those who didn’t get a well-rounded high school education even attempting some of these higher-level education courses can be daunting. Thankfully there are free sites that’ll help you get up to speed before attempting it.

Khan Academy

Direct link to site

Khan Academy was started by Salman Khan to help his cousins in mathematics, more relatives and friends started asking for similar help and he ended up posting highly detailed videos onto Khan Academy. This makes sense when you navigate to the website, the most in depth materials are on Mathematics and Science although a greater focus has been added to Arts & Humanities based subjects. Salman also did an inspirational Ted Talk on education that is well worth a watch.

Duo Lingo

Direct link to site

As the name suggests, Duo Lingo helps people learn a second language. If English is your first language they can help you learn: French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese. If English is your second language then you can learn English in your native tongue (currently Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Hungarian, Romanian, Japanese, Hindi & Indonesian). I’ve personally used this website to help improve my Spanish, learn basic Portuguese and a few words in French as well. I’ve found it’s best used as vocabulary builder rather than helping with sentence structure and verb conjunction, although many disagree with me! They also have a very interesting monetization strategy.

There are a lot more places offering free education online, why not share your favorite one in the comments section!

Photo by:  Flickr
William Charles is the main blogger at Doctor of Credit. He specializes in providing comprehensive information on credit scoring models such as the FICO score. You can follow him on twitter here. If you have any questions about the sites listed, please let him know in the comments and he’ll do his best to answer them.


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