Free Online Courses at Columbia

October 18, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Free Online Courses at Columbia

Does Columbia University Offer Online Courses?

Does Columbia University offer online courses? Columbia has been a pioneer in higher learning both domestically and internationally for more than 250 years. The school’s dedication to enlisting and attracting the brightest minds in the search for deeper human knowledge, ground-breaking scientific advancements, and societal service lies at the heart of its broad range of scholarly studies. By offering a variety of certificates, degree programs, and non-degree, free online courses at Columbia, the institution has increased the scope of its online learning options. The goal is to offer possibilities for higher education and professional growth.

In addition to being one of the most significant research institutions in the world, Columbia University offers undergraduate and graduate students a unique and prestigious learning environment in a variety of academic and professional subjects. The university tries to connect its research and instruction to the abundant resources of a major metropolis because it understands the significance of its location in New York City.

Young woman attending an online class while on a table.

Currently, students have the option of enrolling in a wide selection of online programs, including those in technical fields, social work, health technologies, environmental sustainability, and leadership.

By collaborating with Coursera to provide Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in the autumn of 2013, Columbia University sought to advance knowledge in society, improve campus instruction by more effectively utilizing technology and media, and promote the institution’s academic offerings and faculty.

Free online Courses at Columbia commenced with three MOOCs from The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science were made available on Coursera in the spring of 2013. After the initial courses were a success, the university continues to provide MOOCs taught by eminent academics from the schools of arts and sciences, medicine, and universities affiliated with Barnard and Teachers College.

Former provost John Coatsworth discussed plans to “offer courses in fields ranging from the humanities to the sciences” when Columbia University and edX teamed up in March 2014. The inaugural Civil War and Reconstruction course on edX was instructed by Eric Foner, a Pulitzer Prize–winner of DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, at Columbia University.

Offerings include MicroMasters, XSeries, Professional Certificates, and individual courses on various topics taught by renowned University academics under the name ColumbiaX on edX.

What Courses Can I Take Online For Free?

Free online courses at Columbia include social work, business management, applied science, computer science, data science, and workforce development programs. Depending on your career objectives, you can enroll in one or more online courses.

Holding a tablet while signing up on an online class.

The MOOC platforms that Columbia University partners with for its free and paid online certificate programs and micro masters degrees are Coursera, edX, and Kadenze. If you wonder “What courses can I take online for free?” let’s take a look at the list below.

Introduction to Corporate Finance

Duration: 4 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $225 for a verified certificate

This introductory course, which is required of all first-year MBA students at Columbia Business School, introduces students to the fundamental financial theories and principles that can be utilized to assess and value investment possibilities.

Additionally, a professional certificate program in Corporate Finance includes this course. It is advised that students have a working knowledge of Microsoft Excel and fundamental accounting principles.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)*

Duration: 12 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $249 for a verified certificate

Anyone interested in learning about the history, core concepts, and practical applications of artificial intelligence (AI) should take this course. Students gain knowledge about creating intelligent agents, machine learning techniques, and real-world AI challenges using Python. Students should be proficient in calculus, linear algebra, and probability in addition to Python programming.

A MicroMaster in Artificial Intelligence includes this course.

Machine Learning* 

Duration: 12 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $249 for a certified certificate

The fundamentals of machine learning and the algorithms that provide data analysis without human intervention are taught to students.

The two basic viewpoints of the course are supervised versus unsupervised learning and probabilistic versus non-probabilistic modeling. Students should be comfortable dealing with data and have a working knowledge of mathematics, linear algebra, statistical principles, and coding.

A MicroMaster in Artificial Intelligence includes this course.

The Civil War and Reconstruction – 1850-1861: A House Divided

Duration: 15 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $50 for a verified certificate

One interesting course among the free online courses at Columbia focuses on the rising tensions that ultimately resulted in the start of the Civil War by examining the effects that the institution of slavery had on the economics and political identities of the US as well as the South.

The Civil War and Reconstruction is a three-course XSeries, and this is the first module. (XSeries are programs created to provide in-depth knowledge on a trending subject.)

Marketing Analytics*

Duration: 12 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $249 for a verified certificate

Students gain knowledge of how to create quantitative models that estimate sales and support crucial marketing choices by utilizing business data, statistical analysis, and machine learning. Students should be conversant with R or another programming language, as well as probability, statistics, and mathematics from their undergraduate studies.

The MicroMaster in Business Analytics includes this course.

Indian & Tibetan River of Buddhism

Duration: 12 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $49.99 for a verified certificate

In this subject, students examine the history of Buddhism in India, South and Southeast Asia, Tibet, and Central Asia to understand its roots. Additionally, the fundamentals of Buddhism are taught to students.

Inclusive Teaching: Supporting All Students in the College Classroom

Duration: 6 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $49 for a verified certificate

This introductory course walks educators through the fundamentals of inclusive teaching and shows them how to apply them in the classroom, from instructors’ presumptions about students to planning for accessibility.

Find Your Calling: Career Transition Principles for Returning Veterans

Duration: 6 weeks

Cost: Audits are free

This course offers advice on how to apply abilities learned in the military to various career fields utilizing research and professional advice. It is designed for military veterans who are transitioning to the civilian workforce.

This concludes the three-course XSeries, Veteran Transition: Academic Excellence and Career Readiness. (XSeries are shows created to provide in-depth knowledge on a trending subject.)

Fighting for Equality: 1950–2018

Duration: 10 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $50 for a verified certificate

The struggle for women’s equality is examined by students from 1950 to 2018, starting with how the Cold War reinforced suburban family ideals and concluding with grassroots activity like the Me Too movement and the 2018 midterm elections.

Women Have Always Worked is a four-part XSeries, the last of which is presented here. (XSeries are shows created to provide in-depth knowledge on a trending subject.)

Data, Models and Decisions in Business Analytics*

Duration: 12 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $249 for a verified certificate

Through real-world business examples, students are taught the principles of using data-driven models and analysis to make useful business decisions, particularly in times of uncertainty. Probability, statistics, regression, stochastic modeling, and linear, nonlinear, and discrete optimization are some of the topics covered.

Students should be conversant with probability, statistics, and linear algebra from their undergraduate studies in addition to having a working knowledge of Python and the fundamentals of procedural programming.

A Business Analytics MicroMasters program includes this course.

Animation and CGI Motion*

Duration: 12 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $249 for a verified certificate

The Director of Columbia’s Computer Graphics Group walks you through seven themes—mass-spring systems, collision handling, rigid bodies, elastica, fluids, and a final project—to teach you the science underlying movie animation.

Students should be proficient in multivariable calculus (partial derivatives), linear algebra, and C or C++ programming.

A MicroMasters in Artificial Intelligence includes this course.

Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

Duration: 10 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $50 for a verified certificate

Students learn about how Indigenous Peoples have influenced major global discussions about human rights, development, and climate change as well as how their worldwide movement has altered international norms and institutions. The right to self-determination, cultural rights, and the right to land, territories, and resources are all given special consideration.

Professor of political science, Andrew J. Nathan, and director of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Program (ISHR), Elsa Stamatopoulou, who joined Columbia after working for the UN for more than 30 years, are the course’s lecturers.

* The materials for these free online courses at Columbia are still available even though it is currently archived (further dates TBA).

Are Online College Courses Worth It?

A Columbia online course offers the opportunity to learn about a broad range of topics. Programs in engineering, applied science, professional studies, social work, the arts and sciences, business, sustainable future, healthcare, and law are currently available through Columbia Online.

Are online college courses worth it? Well, there are a few key factors that influence why people choose free online courses at Columbia over conventional academic institutions.

View of student attending an online course.

First off, numerous colleges and universities are shifting programs online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though you are denied the opportunity to enjoy college life on campus, at least you are safe at home.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the factors that should be taken into account when selecting Columbia University online courses, there are other factors as well.

Pricing is one of the most obvious ones. The cost of attending Columbia is close to $60,000. Naturally, only a small portion of people can pay such a cost. On the other hand, you may attend many free online courses at Columbia University, especially if you don’t want a certificate of completion.

Flexibility is another aspect that should be considered. It is impossible to attend day school if you work a full-time job.

However, as you are surely aware, online learning environments give you flexibility, allowing you to learn whenever you choose and at your own speed. If you have a free day or have to drive an hour to work, you can use that time to advance yourself.

There are many reasons why it is advised to enroll in Columbia University online courses. Keep them in mind when choosing among the top-rated courses, even though learning online won’t be the same as in-person instruction.

You can choose from a variety of academic programs and courses at the institution depending on your job ambitions. Online courses in actuarial science, bioethics, enterprise risk management, human capital management, sustainable finance, and wealth management are available through Columbia’s School of Professional Studies on a part-time and full-time basis.

For anyone seeking a free online education in data science, computer science, marketing, or business analytics, online courses at Columbia are worthwhile. With the aid of numerous MOOC platforms, a wide range of free online courses at Columbia can help you develop marketable skills.

How Do I Choose A Course At Columbia?

On to the next query “How do I choose a course at Columbia?” when selecting among the free online courses at Columbia University, prospective students should take several things into account. Through its extensive education platform and MOOC platforms, the institution provides courses.

Three students using a laptop in a table.

Continue reading to find out the five most crucial variables to take into account while choosing your academic experience.

Course Syllabus

When choosing your courses, the course curriculum should be considered. You should research the course themes and difficulty level before choosing the one that most closely matches your academic and professional experience.


The cost of an online course is another important evaluation aspect. Many expensive executive courses are available through Columbia’s online platform, which may or may not fit your budget. So, be sure to pick programs that fit inside your budget and offer a fair return on your investment.

Mode of Instruction

Your success rate in the course may be impacted by the way the course is delivered. Therefore, you must select the delivery strategy that would enable you to learn in an online environment. A self-paced course might not be the ideal choice for you if you need help managing your time.

Course Duration

For working professionals and time-constrained individuals, online courses are a terrific method to further their education. So, before enrolling in free online courses at Columbia, it’s crucial to think about how long will each course be and how much time it will take.


Consider taking a paid online course to get a recognized certification if you want to improve your portfolio. Before making a choice, always consider your overall course goals.

Columbia University is widely regarded as among the most prominent educational institutions in the United States, the Ivy League, and the rest of the globe.

Because of how seriously it takes both research and new product development, it has earned a stellar reputation. The institution boasts of having more Nobel Prize winners than any other university in the United States (84 to be exact).

Female student waiting in a room.

It is currently the only university-related research park in New York City, and the school’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is making a substantial contribution to the study of how the climate is changing around the world.

These assets are likely contributing to Columbia’s recent increase in the number of application submissions. A little more than 30,000 students submitted applications to Columbia University in 2012; by 2021, that number will have more than doubled. Even though there are now more students who are accepted into the school, the acceptance rate has dropped from 7% to 4% during that decade.

If you want to study at Columbia, you will need to acquire the appropriate credentials. Like how you performed in almost all of your high school subjects, you should earn top grades on your standardized entrance exam, compose appealing essays, and participate in extracurricular activities that highlight your strengths and attributes.

When the admissions officers at Columbia College examine your application, they will be looking for evidence that you are exceptionally capable as well as someone who would be a good addition to the student body at their institution.

If gaining additional knowledge through free online courses at Columbia is your goal, AdmissionSight can help you choose the ones that best fit your needs and goals. Moreover, if attending this prestigious university is your dream, AdmissionSight can assist you through its difficult admissions process. We have more than ten years of expertise assisting students in navigating the challenging admissions process required to enter the most prestigious educational institutions in the world.

Browse through our programs and tutorials and check what may be beneficial for you. Feel free to set up an initial consultation with our experts to discuss your application strategies.

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