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Top Best Online Courses from USA during Pandemic - Photo KnowInsiders

Whether you've dreamed of attending a Yale lecture or sampling a University of Michigan course before applying to grad school, online learning offers a convenient way to explore your interests or gain valuable new skills.

And on e-learning platforms like edX, Coursera, and FutureLearn, you can take thousands of online courses led by accredited universities, many of them completely free. Most also offer optional paid certificates of completion you can add to your resume or LinkedIn, or are part of longer programs that can potentially be more affordable alternatives to on-campus learning.

Check out top 15 most popular online courses you can take at leading US universities

1.Harvard University — CS50's Introduction to Computer Science

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Length: 12 weeks

Related courses or programs: Computer Science for Game Development (Professional Certificate);, Computer Science and Mobile Apps (Professional Certificate); Computer Science for Web Programming (Professional Certificate); Computer Science for Artificial Intelligence (Professional Certificate); CS50's AP® Computer Science Principles (XSeries)

With nearly 3 million enrollments, this intro computer science course covers the basics of problem solving and algorithmic thinking, including abstraction, algorithms, data structures, encapsulation, resource management, security, software engineering, and web development.

2.Yale University — The Science of Well-Being

Length: 10 weeks

Related courses or programs: Introduction to Psychology; Managing Emotions in Times of Uncertainty or Stress

Adapted from Yale's most popular on-campus course ever, The Science of Well-Being provides an overview of what truly makes us happy, along with quick check-ins and activities to help track your emotions as you complete the course.

The Yale happiness class, formally known as Psyc 157: Psychology and the Good Life, is one of the most popular classes to be offered in the university’s 320-year history. The class was only ever taught in-person once, during the spring 2018 semester, as a 1,200-person lecture course in the largest space on campus.

That March, a free 10-week version made available to the public via Coursera, titled The Science of Well-Being, also became instantly popular, attracting hundreds of thousands of online learners. But when lockdowns began last March, two full years later, the enrollment numbers skyrocketed. To date, over 3.3 million people have signed up, according to the website.

“We octupled the number of people taking the class,” said Laurie Santos, a professor of psychology at Yale and the head of the university’s Silliman College, of its pandemic-era popularity. “Everyone knows what they need to do to protect their physical health: wash your hands, and social distance, and wear a mask,” she added.

“People were struggling with what to do to protect their mental health.”

3.Massachusetts Institute of Technology — Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python

Length: 9 weeks

Related courses or programs: Computational Thinking Using Python (XSeries)

Over 1 million students have enrolled in MIT's entry-level computer science course, designed for people with no prior experience. Students learn the fundamentals of computer science and Python programming as well as some simple algorithms.

This course is the first of a two-course sequence: Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python, and Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science. Together, they are designed to help people with no prior exposure to computer science or programming learn to think computationally and write programs to tackle useful problems. Some of the people taking the two courses will use them as a stepping stone to more advanced computer science courses, but for many it will be their first and last computer science courses.

4.Stanford University — Machine Learning

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Length: 11 weeks

At over 4 million enrollments, this introductory machine learning course provides a broad overview of the field, covering machine learning basics, datamining, and statistical pattern recognition.

This course provides a broad introduction to machine learning, datamining, and statistical pattern recognition. Topics include: (i) Supervised learning (parametric/non-parametric algorithms, support vector machines, kernels, neural networks). (ii) Unsupervised learning (clustering, dimensionality reduction, recommender systems, deep learning). (iii) Best practices in machine learning (bias/variance theory; innovation process in machine learning and AI). The course will also draw from numerous case studies and applications, so that you'll also learn how to apply learning algorithms to building smart robots (perception, control), text understanding (web search, anti-spam), computer vision, medical informatics, audio, database mining, and other areas.

5.University of Oxford — From Poverty to Prosperity: Understanding Economic Development

Oxford, United Kingdom

Length: 6 weeks

This course examines how societies can financially prosper, looking into the political, social, and economical factors that affect how a country develops including national identity, scaling, and international trade.

6.Columbia University — Financial Engineering and Risk Management Part I

Length: 8 weeks

Related courses or programs: Financial Engineers and Risk Management Part II

For those interested in financial engineering, a field that combines economics, math, statistics, and computer science, this course will introduce students to financial modeling while also providing ample context (such as the 2008 financial crisis).

7.University of Cambridge — Teaching English Online

Length: 4 weeks

Related courses or programs: Exploring the World of English Language Teaching

Led by Cambridge English Assessment (a part of the University of Cambridge), this course is designed for experienced English teachers who want to start their practice online, covering everything from virtual classroom communication to professional development.

8.Johns Hopkins University — COVID-19 Contact Tracing

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Length: 1 week

Related courses or programs: Measuring and Maximizing Impact of COVID-19 Contact Tracing; Fighting COVID-19 with Epidemiology: A Johns Hopkins Teach-Out

As contact tracing jobs become more available around the world, this short course — which comes with a free certificate of completion — covers the fundamentals of contact tracing (as well as the ethics behind it).

Who should I contact about starting a contact tracing program in my area?

Please consult your public health department. Contact tracing should only be performed as part of a coordinated initiative led by the appropriate public health agencies.

Is it possible for me to get a remote job as a contact tracer in another city or state if there is no program in my area?

Different cities, counties, states, and countries have different requirements for hiring contact tracers. Please consult the appropriate public health departments to learn whether being a resident of the city or state is a requirement.

9.University College London — The Many Faces of Dementia

Length: 4 weeks

Related courses or programs: Dementia and the Arts: Sharing Practice, Developing Understanding and Enhancing Lives

Dementia impacts roughly 44 million people worldwide, and this course aims to demystify dementia care, examining four lesser-known forms of dementia and their symptoms, as well as the experience of getting a dementia diagnosis.

10.California Institute of Technology — The Evolving Universe

Length: 10 weeks

Related courses or programs: The Science of the Solar System

Caltech's introductory astronomy course goes over planetary systems, stars, galaxies, black holes, quasars, and larger structures to help broaden students' understanding of the physical universe as a whole.

11.University of Washington — Machine Learning Foundations: A Case Study Approach

Length: 6 weeks

Related courses or programs: Machine Learning (Specialization)

No matter what you aim to use machine learning for, this course helps students gain applicable knowledge by offering practical case studies and exercises to teach Python programming, data analysis, and more.

To audit this course for free, click "Enroll for free" and then hit "Audit this course."

12.Princeton University — Algorithms, Part 1

Length: 6 weeks

Related courses or programs: Algorithms, Part 2; Computer Science: Algorithms, Theory, and Machines

For anyone considering a programming career, this course covers all the basic knowledge about algorithms and data structures you'll need to know, including elementary data structures, sorting, and searching algorithms.

13.University of Chicago — Understanding the Brain: The Neurobiology of Everyday Life

Length: 10 weeks

Gain a thorough overview of how the human brain works in this introductory course, which covers how the nervous system creates behavior, how we use our brain, and how neuroscience can explain our problems.

14.University of Toronto — Introduction to Psychology

Length: 12 weeks

Related courses or programs: The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness; Mind Control: Managing Your Mental Health During COVID-19; The Arts and Science of Relationships: Understanding Human Needs

Beyond learning about the fundamentals of human psychology and development — like memory, learning, attention, perception, and consciousness — students also gain exposure to some of the most fascinating experiments in the field of psychology today.

15.Imperial College London — Mathematics for Machine Learning: Linear Algebra

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Length: 5 weeks

Related courses or programs: Mathematics for Machine Learning (Specialization)

To help plump up students' math skills in preparation for their machine learning studies, this course covers how linear algebra relates to vectors and matrices, and how they can be used to solve problems.

To audit this course for free, click "Enroll for free" and then hit "Audit this course."

Top Universities In The World Offering Free Online Courses

Harvard University

University of California, Irvine

Georgia Institute of Technology

École Polytechnique

Michigan State University

California Institute of the Arts

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

4 Best Sites for Free College Courses Online

1. EdX

edx free courses website

EdX is one of the largest massive open online course providers in the world, giving over 14 million users access to free courses from universities. Originally founded by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the site now includes courses from the likes of Boston University, Caltech, and dozens of other prestigious universities from around the world.

2. MIT OpenCourseWare

mit opencourseware website

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was a pioneer in offering online college courses. The university gives you the ability to download and follow their archived courses through its OpenCourseWare platform.

The benefit of using the platform is that you get access to a huge range of actual courses that the university has offered over the years. The downside is that you may still need to purchase textbooks to follow the curricula.

3. Carnegie Mellon OpenLearning

carnegie mellon open learning initiative courses

Carnegie Mellon University provides free online courses for anyone wishing to access them. In fact, it even offers materials for instructors who wish to teach their students these courses.

For independent learners, there are short courses on topics such as computer science, biology, psychology, and more. The downside is that the number of open courses is much more limited than other open learning websites.

4. Coursera

coursera free courses site

Coursera is another online learning platform through which many universities and companies offer their open courses. Like other course providers on the list, you can access courses for free, but you won't receive accreditation or a certificate without a fee.

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