25 Colleges and Universities Ranked by Their OpenCourseWare
Some of the world's most renowned colleges and universities offer free courses to self-learners through OpenCourseWare. These schools offer core academic content such as the syllabi, lecture notes, assignments and examinations. Learn more about these schools and the many subjects that are available for your self-paced learning.
What Should I Look for in an OpenCourseWare Program?
The schools listed below all offer OpenCourseWare to students. OCW is a form of learning that lets students take courses for free via the Internet. Students can choose from a wide variety of course options and are generally able to take these courses at their own pace. None of the courses offered through OCW award credit.
The top 23 schools on this list were selected because they received national rankings from organizations like U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review or global rankings from Times Higher Education. The order they appear was also based on the number of OCW courses each school offers. While not ranked by the above organizations, the final 2 schools were included because of other ranking organization data (such as program or country rankings).
What are the Top OpenCourseWare Colleges & Universities?
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT comes in at #7 on U.S. News & World Report's list of top national universities in 2015. MIT offers the most OpenCourseWare options, with over 2,200 free courses. Courses cover nearly every topic imaginable and are translated into several different languages. Some of the most visited courses as of April 2016 included linear algebra, intro to psychology, physics and principles of microeconomics.
University of California, Berkeley
UC Berkeley offers webcasts of hundreds of courses and lectures. Both current and archived courses can be experienced through on-demand replay. Course topics include everything from archaeology to bioengineering to psychology. The university was ranked 20th among national universities and topped the list of public schools nationwide, according to U.S. News & World Report in 2014.
The Open University
The UK's largest university based on enrollment, the Open University has an Open Learn website with a huge free course catalog of more than 800 courses. Some of the subjects covered include history, business, education, art, law, computer science, foreign languages, society, math and technology.
Tokyo Institute of Technology
Tokyo Institute of Technology, known as Tokyo Tech, has an OpenCourseWare program that features more than 200 courses. Course materials include lecture notes, a syllabus and an outline. Course options include engineering, math and computer science topics.
Middle East Technical University
Middle East Technical University offers over 100 free courses, with a high concentration of courses available in informatics and physics. Additional OpenCourseWare options at this university can be found in subjects like aerospace engineering, modern languages, math, game technologies and psychology.
Delft University of Technology
Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands provides about 130 free courses through its OpenCourseWare program. This engineering science school features courses covering energy, infrastructures, health and the environment. Delft was listed in 65th place among top universities worldwide by Times Higher Education in 2012-2013.
Stanford University offers more than 100 free courses in several different formats. Students can participate in In Session courses, which are live courses available via the Internet. In Session courses can be found in subjects like game theory, machine learning, quantum mechanics, writing and genetics, to name a few. Stanford was ranked 5th on U.S. News & World Report's list of the top national universities and was named among the top 5 best value schools in 2014.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health offers free online access to some of its most popular courses. About 100 courses are available, and all of them relate to public health. Some of the courses focus on general public health, chronic diseases, infectious diseases, nutrition, maternal health, genetics, global health and health policy. Johns Hopkins was ranked the 12th top national university by U.S. News in 2014.
University of California, Irvine
Ranked as the 49th best national university by U.S. News in 2014, the University of California in Irvine was also listed as the #14 top public school by that publication. Nearly 100 courses and lectures are available at this university in areas including engineering, humanities, physical sciences, business and health. A number of free courses are also available to help students prepare for the California Subject Examination for Teachers, as are courses in TEFL.
University of Michigan
This university is home to Open.Michigan, an initiative that offers more than 85 educational materials for free. Materials include courses, tutorials, datasets and more. These materials are available in subjects like business, education, medicine, public policy and music. The university was ranked 28th among top national universities by U.S. News in 2014.
Utah State University
Utah State University offers around 80 comprehensive online courses through its OpenCourseWare program. Free courses are available in such areas as agriculture, anthropology, engineering, education, history, languages, physics and theatre arts. U.S. News listed Utah State in the top 200 national universities in 2014.
University of Iowa
The University of Iowa is home to the Iowa Writer's Workshop, which is a well-known creative writing residency program for aspiring writers. Students can get a taste for creative writing through the Virtual Writing University. This initiative offers almost 70 free podcasts for students interested in reading and writing methods, poetry, short stories, grammar and emerging technologies in the field, to name a few. In 2014, the university was listed as the 73rd best national university and the 29th top public university by U.S. News.
Tufts University provides free online access to course materials from its many schools, including the School of Medicine, School of Dental Medicine, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, School of Arts and Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and the Fletcher School. Tufts is the 28th best national university and the 32nd best value school, according to U.S. News rankings in 2014.
University of Massachusetts, Boston
UMass Boston makes available all sorts of free courses and course materials through its OpenCourseWare program. Nearly 50 courses can be found in subjects like biology, history, math, nursing and health sciences, psychology, counseling and special education. UMass Boston's College of Management was named among the Best 295 Business Schools by The Princeton Review in 2014.
University of Notre Dame
The University of Notre Dame publishes about 45 free courses in a number of areas of study. Some of the course offerings include Africana and Middle East studies, history, philosophy, sociology, political science, theology and gender studies. Course materials include video lectures, assignments, quizzes and exams. The university was ranked the 18th best national university by U.S. News in 2014.
Yale University has free courses available through its Open Yale Courses website. Each course includes video lectures and other educational materials. About 40 courses are available and cover topics in English, astronomy, physics, religious studies, philosophy, psychology and political science. Yale was ranked the 3rd best national university in 2014 and the second best value school by U.S. News.
University of Hong Kong
The University of Hong Kong features a number of free learning materials for students, including 5 courses and about 25 lectures. These materials are all available through the Department of Architecture and include study in such areas as the built environment, green building practices, energy efficiency, building energy and environmental sciences. The university was ranked 44th in the world by Times Higher Education in 2015-2016.
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University has over 20 free online courses available through its Open Learning Initiative. These courses cover topics in engineering, chemistry, biology, physics, statistics, economics and French. Two courses in STEM readiness and foundations are available along with a media programming and healthcare management course. Carnegie Mellon was ranked 23rd among national universities by U.S. News in 2014.
Duke's Massive Open Online Courses initiative is a newer program released in 2012. It offers about 20 courses through its partnership with Coursera. Examples of available courses include irrational behavior, bioelectricity, astronomy, medical neuroscience and chemistry, to name a few. Duke is the 7th best national university, based on 2014 U.S. News rankings.
American University Washington College of Law
American University's law school features almost 20 podcasts covering legal topics. Students can listen to podcasts on student debt relief, government secrecy, human rights and more. Some podcasts cover guest lectures, while others focus on seminars and workshops from student conferences or summits. American University was listed as the 75th best national university by U.S. News, and its law school was ranked 75th in the nation in 2014.
University of Washington
This university's educational outreach department is home to Open UW, which offers just over 10 free courses online. Courses cover topics like mythology, public speaking and project management. Other courses are available in computer science topics. The University of Washington was the 52nd best national university in 2014, according to U.S. News.
New York University
NYU Open Education is a pilot program that currently offers about 10 free courses. Courses include calculus, behavioral science, sociology, American literature and public finance options. Students can also find a course on ancient Israel and a course covering genomes at NYU. NYU was the 32nd best national university in 2014, according to U.S. News.
Stephen A. Nelson, an associate professor in Tulane's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, offers six of his courses to interested students for free via the Internet. Courses are available in physical geology, petrology and mineralogy. Students have access to the syllabus and lecture notes. Tulane was ranked as the 52nd best national university by U.S. News in 2014.
Berklee College of Music
Berklee College of Music is home to Berklee Shares, a new program that offers about 12 free sample music lessons and music production videos based on the school's music courses and educational programs. The music lessons cover songwriting, guitar, jazz and orchestration as well as music business and music theory topics.
Universidad Nacional De Colombia
Universidad Nacional De Colombia offers more than 200 free courses to Spanish speaking students. Subjects that can be studied include administration, science, nursing, art, agronomy, engineering, architecture, medicine and dentistry. In 2011, this university was ranked the top university in Colombia based on a study initiated by the Colombia Ministry of Education and the Colombian Institute for the Promotion of Science and Technology.
More Schools with Top OpenCourseWare Programs
|School Name||Institution Type||Location|
|Clarkson University||4-year, Private||Potsdam, NY|
|University of North Carolina||4-year, Public||Chapel Hill, NC|
|Sauk Valley Community College||2-year, Public||Dixon IL|
|University of Missouri-St. Louis||4-year, Public||Saint Louis, MO|
|Purdue||4-year, Public||West Lafayette, IN|
|Harvard University||4-year, Private||Cambridge, MA|
|University of Maryland||4-year, Public||College Park, MD|
|Colby College||4-year, Private||Waterville, ME|
|University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign||4-year, Public||Champaign, IL|
|Kansas State University||4-year, Public||Manhattan, KS|