free university history courses online

Learning history can be an enriching experience for many reasons. It allows learners to better understand the world around them and the people who have shaped it. When we explore the past, we gain insight into the cultural values, beliefs, and motivations that have formed societies over time. 

Beyond that, history has a profound impact on decision making in modern society. By understanding the repercussions of past decisions, we can use the lessons learned to make more informed decisions in the present. And, by examining historical trends and patterns, we can better anticipate and prepare for the future. History helps explain how and why certain policies, laws, and regulations were created and the  consequences of those choices, providing guidance for how to approach similar issues in the present. 

Learning history can also improve and refine critical thinking skills. Reviewing historical sources such as documents, photographs, artifacts, and oral histories allows us to form independent opinions and theories across disciplines.

Here are 8 online World History courses offered free by top universities: the University of Notre Dame, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Open University.

University of Notre Dame

Virtual University has obtained permission to post an Islamic Societies course from the University of Notre Dame. Learn about the history and religious practices of societies in the Middle East and North Africa.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

MIT has a wealth of courses available in nearly every subject, world history included. In the Modern Latin America course, learn about the politics, relations and revolutions of Central and South America. The Introduction to Environmental History is a starting point for learning about humanity’s effect on the planet from Columbus to the present day.

The Open University

The Open University has a brief and unusual history course, focusing on the history of textiles in Ghana.

Textiles in Ghana

Free Online World History Courses at a Glance

Course & SchoolProgram LevelFormatAssignmentsQuizzes & ExamsDownloadable
Islamic Societies: Religion, History and Culture course from University of Notre DameUndergraduateYesNo
Modern Latin America, 1808-Present: Revolution, Dictatorship, Democracy course from MITUndergraduateExternal Reading ResourcesYesYesYes
Introduction to Environmental History course from MITUndergraduateText LessonsYesNoYes
From the Silk Road to the Great Game: China, Russia, and Central Eurasia course from MITUndergraduateText LessonsNoYesYes
Nature, Environment, and Empire course from MITGraduateExternal Reading ResourcesYesNoYes
The World Since 1492 course from MITUndergraduateExternal Reading MaterialsYesNoYes
Jewish History from Biblical to Modern Times course from MITUndergraduateExternal Reading ResourcesYesYesYes
Textiles in Ghana course from Open UniversityBeginnerText LessonsYesNoYes

Accessing Harvard’s Free History Courses

The availability of free history courses from Harvard is made possible through the Harvard Online Learning platform. This platform offers a wide range of courses, including those in the field of history, and is open to anyone interested in expanding their knowledge.

Course Selection and Diversity

Harvard’s free history courses cover an extensive range of historical topics, from ancient civilizations to modern world history. Learners can choose from courses such as “China’s First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors,” “Contract Law: From Trust to Promise to Contract,” and “The Health Effects of Climate Change,” among many others. This diverse selection ensures that learners can find courses that align with their specific interests and goals.

Learning at Your Own Pace

One of the advantages of these free courses is the flexibility they offer. Learners can complete the coursework at their own pace, making it accessible to people with various commitments and schedules. There are no rigid deadlines or prerequisites, allowing learners to customize their learning experience.

Certification Options

While these courses are free to access, learners have the option to earn certificates for a fee. These certificates can be a valuable addition to a resume or academic portfolio and may be useful in various career and educational paths.

George Washington University Free Online Courses

Another institution contributing to the accessibility of education is George Washington University. The university has joined the ranks of institutions offering free online courses, making high-quality education accessible to a global audience.

A Wealth of Learning Opportunities

The free online courses at George Washington University cover a wide array of subjects, with a special emphasis on history and related disciplines. Students can explore courses in American history, world history, and even specialized courses focusing on particular periods or regions.

Faculty Expertise

One of the standout features of George Washington University’s free courses is the involvement of esteemed faculty members. These professors and experts bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the virtual classroom, ensuring that students receive a top-notch education.

Engaging and Interactive

The online courses at George Washington University are designed to be interactive and engaging. Students can interact with professors and fellow learners, participate in discussions, and access a variety of multimedia resources to enhance their learning experience.

EdX Free Courses at Harvard

EdX, a renowned online learning platform, has partnered with Harvard University to offer a selection of free courses. These courses are a fantastic opportunity for those interested in studying history or related fields through a reputable platform.

Course Structure and Quality

EdX courses maintain high academic standards, and the Harvard affiliation ensures the courses meet rigorous criteria. Learners can trust that the course content and instructors are of the highest quality.

Accessibility and Flexibility

EdX’s platform is known for its user-friendly interface and accessibility. Learners can access course materials and engage with instructors and peers from anywhere in the world, at any time that suits their schedule.

Credentials and Certificates

While many of these courses are free, learners have the option to earn verified certificates by paying a fee. These certificates can serve as valuable credentials for career advancement or further education.

Pursuing a Free History Degree

For those with a profound passion for history and a desire to pursue a more comprehensive education, some institutions offer the opportunity to earn a free history degree. While the process is not entirely without cost, scholarships, grants, and financial aid can make this dream a reality for dedicated students.

Institutions Offering Free History Degrees

Several institutions offer free history degree programs. The University of the People, for example, offers a tuition-free Bachelor of Arts in History program. Additionally, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) provides OpenCourseWare resources for history courses, which can be used as a foundation for a self-designed history degree.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Students interested in earning a free history degree should explore scholarships and financial aid options, such as those offered by the aforementioned institutions. These opportunities can significantly reduce or eliminate the cost of tuition.

Online Learning and Self-Directed Study

Earning a free history degree often requires a combination of online learning and self-directed study. Students must be motivated, organized, and disciplined to succeed in such a program. However, the flexibility and affordability make it an attractive option for many.

Free Online History Courses with Certificates

In the ever-evolving landscape of online education, a wide array of history courses are available for free, with the option to earn certificates to validate one’s learning. These certificates can be a testament to a student’s dedication and knowledge in the field.

Popular Platforms Offering Free History Courses with Certificates

Apart from Harvard and George Washington University, there are several platforms providing free online history courses with certificates. Coursera, Udemy, and FutureLearn are some of the most popular options. These platforms partner with universities and institutions to offer a diverse range of courses, from ancient history to contemporary events.

The Value of Certificates

Earning certificates for completing free online history courses can provide multiple benefits. They can enhance one’s resume, help in career advancement, and demonstrate a commitment to continuous learning. Many employers and educational institutions recognize these certificates as a testament to a student’s knowledge and skills.

In conclusion, the availability of free history courses from prestigious institutions like Harvard and George Washington University, along with the partnership between Harvard and EdX, demonstrates a commitment to expanding access to quality education. Moreover, the opportunity to earn free history degrees, coupled with the option to obtain certificates for completing free online history courses, offers learners a wide array of options to pursue their passion for history and enhance their knowledge and skills in the field. The democratization of education has truly opened doors to lifelong learning and personal development on a global scale.

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