8 World-Class College Courses Free on YouTube
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Part of the magic of the Internet is accessibility. A wealth of information is at your fingertips if you just know where to look and this includes college courses from some of the country's most esteemed universities. A number of major universities, including prestigious Ivy League institutions, now provide lecture videos for free over YouTube.
No, you won't get college credit for these videos, but if you want to expand your knowledge without the cost of tuition, sitting in on a course over the web may be just the thing. And if you don't see a course that interests you, we've linked all the courses offered by each institution in their names below.
Before you get started, however, be aware that these are real college classes, which means the videos are long and cover some high end content. And, while they're certainly interesting — and we've picked the most popular of the lot — they were designed to educate rather than entertain. If you're looking for something on the lighter end of the educational scale, you might enjoy our list of videos that will change the way you think or brain training apps that really work.
UC Berkely's explores the anatomy of biology
Instead of deep diving into a specific field of biology, integrative biology covers a broad range of disciplines to explore the world scientifically. Touching on genetics, paleontology, physiology, evolution, behavioral science and more, this field gives you an overview of the many fascinating kinds of life sciences that are needed to tell the big picture of how we and all other things live on the planet.
Sound like a big, but fascinating topic? Fortunately The University of California, Berkeley lecture series can get you started by covering general human anatomy, as taught by Professor Marian Diamond. The class spans 39 videos at about 45 minutes each and, as Professor Diamond explains, just scratches the surface of the human body.
Get your game on with Yale
Love to play games? From Candy Crush to Monopoly to Poker, there are underlying principles that make games fun and challenging. And how better to approach games than with a solid strategy. And that's what this next lecture series explores.
Game Theory as bought by Professor Ben Polak at Yale University is all about strategic thinking. Professor Polak presents it with enthusiasm and demonstrates through games as well as examples from economics, politics, and even movies. Learn the different kinds of strategies available and maybe a thing or two of how your favorite game has been designed with those strategies in mind.
This course takes place over 24 hour-long videos and Yale also provides additional course information—including lecture transcripts, blackboard notes, and summaries—online for free.
MIT teaches you the basics of computer programming
Ever wonder how computer programs do everything from let you browse the internet to play Words with Friends on your smartphone? You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand the fundamentals of computer programming.
If you're interested in the topic, where better to start than at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology? This basic computer programming class, taught by Professor John Guttag, is designed for everyone and will get you started thinking like a computer scientist. By the end you'll even be writing your programs!
More information on the course—including software, course materials, readings (the course has no textbook), and an online study group—are available at MIT. The course spans 38 videos that range from 45 minutes to an hour in length.
Einstein's General Theory of Relativity at Stanford University
If you're interested in physics as it progresses from Newton to Einstein, try this course covering Einstein's General Theory of Relativity taught by Professor Leonard Susskind at
Stanford University. It does assume some knowledge of math and physics, so you may be a bit lost if you don't know the basic info that Professor Susskind glosses over — but for lovers of mathematics, there's a lot of interesting info here.
The course is presented in 12 videos which range in length from one and a half hours to two and a half hours (though most run a bit under two hours)—so be prepared to commit some time to this one if you're interested.
Oxford University gets philosophical on you
If you're wanting something that's a bit less hard science, you may enjoy this basic introduction to philosophy, as taught to first year philosophy students by Professor Peter Millican at Oxford University. This series consists of 8 lectures broken up across 33 videos that range from 5 to 20 minutes in length, which makes this course easy to work through in small bites.
For more information, you can also download the slides that accompany the lectures—as well as the lectures themselves in podcast format—on Professor Millican's website.
Columbia University explores the history of the world
Fascinated by the stories of the transformation of Europe into a modern world power? Early modern Islamic self-governance? The recent dynasties of Asia? Then the History of the World Since 1500 CE as taught by Professor Richard Bulliet at Columbia University may be just the thing.
This course covers a lot of historical—and geographical—ground over the course of 21 lectures that run about an hour and fifteen minutes each. Though it may seem long, we don't think we could cover 500 years of human history any faster.
Biola University gets artsy
If art is more your thing, then Contemporary Art Trends, taught by Professor Jon Anderson at Biola University may catch your eye. The course covers modern, postmodern, and other contemporary art over 18 lectures that run just under an hour and a half each. If you've never studied art history before, it can provide you an interesting new way to look at the world around you.
Science, magic, and religion collide at UCLA
Over the course of 20 hour-long lectures, UCLA's Professor Courtenay Raia talks about the historical development of science and religion. Neither a religion class nor a science class, Professor Raia's lectures look at these two cultural behemoths and their development over the course of human history. This course has some fascinating ideas to consider: we just wish the audio and video quality were a bit better.
Hopefully we've given you some options for broadening your educational horizons. Happy learning!