Free Online Courses at MIT

October 19, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Free Online Courses at MIT

Does MIT Offer Online Courses?

Given its cost, location, and 3.96% admission rate, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology may be one of the most distinguished universities in the world, but it is also one of the least accessible. Since MIT claims that “the soul of MIT is research,” the university has made great efforts to remove obstacles for faculty and students.

Does MIT offer online courses? Free online courses at MIT are available at edX, a non-profit online courses provider that MIT and Harvard jointly created in 2012. It now provides more than 200 courses that can be audited without charge. Additionally, since 2001, MIT has made all of the instructional materials from its undergraduate and graduate courses available online for free, enabling anyone with internet access to take any of the nearly 2,000 MIT courses available through MIT OpenCourseWare.

View of MIT building at day time.

If you decide to take programs through edX, many of them will provide you with a more conventional classroom experience, including video lectures, participation in community forums, graded assignments, and a completion certificate (in paid versions) you can post on LinkedIn or include on your resumé.

What Courses Can I Take Online For Free?

If you’re interested to take free online courses at MIT but wonder “What courses can I take online for free?” you may check MIT OpenCourseWare and the massive 200+ courses offered through edX. Further information is provided on those sites on subjects ranging from computer science to social policy. Here are a few of the most well-liked online courses from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are listed below.

Machine Learning with Python: From Linear Models to Deep Learning

Duration: 15 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $300 for a validated certificate

An extensive introduction to the area of machine learning is provided in this course. Through practical Python projects, students will learn about everything from linear models to deep learning and reinforcement learning. Additionally, it serves as the last course for the MITx MicroMasters in Statistics and Data Science.

Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python

Duration: 9 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $75 for a validated certificate

You will learn about Python, basic algorithms, testing and debugging, and data structures in this introductory course, which focuses more on breadth than depth. Moreover, you will receive a casual introduction to algorithm complexity.

Global Africa: Creative Cultures

Duration: N/A

Cost: Free

Students can study Africa’s material and visual culture through dynamic lenses (anthropology, history, and social theory) through MIT OpenCourseWare, as well as consider how the literary, musical, and creative output of the continent intersects with international politics.

The course, taught by M. Amah Edoh, contextualizes African visual culture by fusing concepts from thinkers including renowned author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Stanford professor Paulla A. Ebron, and Princeton professor Chika Okeke-Agulu.

Art, Craft, Science

Duration: N/A

Cost: Free

Students can study crafts—or artworks made to be used as well as viewed—through historical, theoretical, and anthropological lenses through MIT OpenCourseWare.

The historical and modern production, consumption, commodification, and value of crafts are examined by professor Heather Paxson. At the end of the day, students should be able to use the same resources to develop and express their own opinions on crafts.

Shaping Work of the Future

Duration: 8 weeks

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

To create action plans for enhancing the workforce, research the connections between emerging technology, the workplace, and society.

The historical context of labor and employment policy in the US and around the world will help students approach class subjects, and they will discover how civic institutions can leverage the benefits of new inventions to promote equality of opportunity, social inclusion, and shared prosperity.

COVID-19 in Slums & Informal Settlements: Guidelines & Responses

Duration: 4 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $29 for a validated certificate

There are a lot of unique and opportune free online courses at MIT. One example is the course, COVID-19 in Slums & Informal Settlements: Guidelines & Responses. What is going on in self-built, impoverished urban communities during the COVID-19 epidemic when recommendations like social isolation, social distance, and frequent hand washing are impractical? And what regulations are genuinely helpful in slum areas? That question will be addressed in this course by professionals from a range of fields (academics, community leaders, public officials, etc.).

Tools for Academic Engagement in Public Policy 

Duration: 3 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $199 for a validated certificate

The necessity for scientists and engineers to work with politicians to provide answers that are based on science is evident given how complicated and technological public policies have become.

But very few academics acquire the instruction they need to make a real difference in public policy. To bridge the gap, an MIT political science professor and the executive director of the Scientific Citizenship Initiative at Harvard University are teaching this course.

The Iterative Innovation Process

Duration: 8 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $99 for a validated certificate

This course explains the iterative innovation process, which applies to both businesses and individuals. Students will gain knowledge of how markets, implementation, and technology are interconnected as well as how to recognize opportunities in each. Students will construct a model of the innovation process throughout the course using activities and real-world examples.

Evaluating Social Programs

Duration: 6 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $99 for a validated certificate

Students gain knowledge of quality assurance procedures and the importance of randomized evaluations. They will learn about typical evaluation design errors, crucial elements of a well-designed randomized evaluation, methods for analyzing and interpreting results, and more through lectures and case studies. Basic statistical knowledge is advantageous but not necessary.

Becoming a More Equitable Educator: Mindsets and Practices

Duration: 10 weeks

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

Children will study attitudes and behaviors that contribute to the development of a more equitable learning environment and, in particular, support the success of underserved students, in this education and teacher preparation course.

The participants will look at many aspects of educational inequity, envisage community transformation using case studies, and practice acting in challenging scenarios.  The course will initially concentrate on interpersonal interactions before extending to discuss how bias affects schools and communities.

Supply Chain Analytics

Cost: 15 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $199 for a validated certificate

More than philosophical foundations, this practical business and management course emphasizes the use of fundamental supply chain analytics approaches and modeling, including statistics, regression, optimization, and probability.

Students will be ready for the typical techniques and equipment they might use when studying or using supply networks.  The MITx Supply Chain Management MicroMasters Credential includes it as well.

Supply Chain Fundamentals

Duration: 13 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $299 for a validated certificate

Students can develop the fundamental skills needed for supply chain management and logistics in this course. With an emphasis on where and how specific tools can be utilized to improve the overall performance of a supply chain or decrease the total cost, students will learn how to build and implement analytical tools, methodologies, and procedures.

The MITx Supply Chain Management MicroMasters Credential includes it as well.

Policy for Science, Technology and Innovation

Duration: 8 weeks

Cost: Free to audit; $149 for a validated certificate

With a focus on public policy and the federal government’s role in research and development, students will analyze the science and technology innovation system. In addition to case studies, the course will cover the theories underlying economic growth, innovation systems, innovation organization, and more. Students will progress from simple understandings to more complex ones.

Are Online College Courses Worth It?

Even though only a small fraction of applicants are accepted to MIT, that does not mean you cannot acquire the same knowledge and study from the same authorities. You get the chance to interact with other students and learn important skills because there are so many free online courses at MIT available.

Are online college courses worth it? You might be wondering if online learning is the best option for you if you’re at a place in your life where you’re thinking about continuing your education.

Group of students talking in a table with a laptop.

Before beginning an online course, it’s crucial to be certain of your decision because it involves a large time, effort, and financial commitment. Even though some people find online learning to be highly effective, not everyone does.

Luke Hobson, Senior Instructional Designer and Program Manager at MIT xPRO, revealed the advantages and disadvantages of online education as well as what to look for in an online course. You might find the indication you’re looking for here regarding whether or not to sign up for that course you’ve been eyeing.

Benefits of Online Education

Let’s first examine some of the advantages of online learning to better understand its genuine value:


The flexibility of online learning is its biggest benefit. It’s the reason that countless numbers of adults have decided to earn certificates and degrees through further education.

Asynchronous learning environments give students the freedom to work at their own pace and choose the best time to access the material and turn in assignments. In comparison to the nights, certain people are more alert, concentrated, and creative in the mornings, and vice versa. The focus of the learning process should be on what works best for the students.


Networking and community are frequently mentioned in responses to Luke’s questions concerning students’ primary motivations for enrolling in a course.

Learners desire to connect with others who share their interests, challenges, and inquiries. They seek a place where they may feel at home.

Three students walking in the school campus.

Online learners who need support and inspiration during difficult times and times that are worth celebrating may benefit from spending time with people who share their experiences. It’s remarkable what can develop from a single post on a discussion board—some students have established study groups and reading clubs that have persisted long after the course has ended.

Up-to-Date Information

Speed is a significant advantage of online learning, but Luke claims that it frequently goes unnoticed. Luke mentioned, “When we say speed, we don’t mean being quick with learning. We mean actual speed to market. There are so many new ideas evolving within technical spaces that it’s impossible to keep courses the way they were originally designed for a long period of time.”

Luke emphasizes the importance of regularly checking and updating any program on Additive Manufacturing, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, or Nanotechnology. The information changes so quickly that it is challenging for more formal learning modes to keep up. However, it is anticipated that in the online environment, course materials would change as quickly as the outside world.

Cons of Online Education

After examining some of the main benefits of online learning, let’s look at some of the disadvantages:

Learning Environment

Although some students do well in asynchronous learning environments, others find it difficult. Some students like in-person instruction and a weekly commitment from their teacher. For them to feel supported and continue, they require these contacts.

Most online students identify as self-directed learners, which means that given the correct conditions, direction, resources, and tasks, they can learn on their own.

Before deciding what kind of setting will best support their development, learners should get to know themselves and understand their preferences.


One issue with online courses is their repeated structure: study the material, comment on two discussion threads, turn in an essay, and so on. Some students could become disinterested in the learning process over time.

It may take some searching to locate online courses that deviate from the norm and provide a variety of learning activities, evaluations, and information to make the learning experience engaging.

Luke shared that at MIT xPRO, they are careful in creating free online courses at MIT that interest students from start to finish.

Being Underestimated

Luke has observed that some students underrate the amount of effort needed in an online course. They can erroneously think that online learning is “easier” than in-person learning.

It might be tricky to change a learner’s mentality if they underestimate how much time they will need to spend online or how difficult the tasks might be. Setting aside the necessary amount of time each week to participate in the content, activities, and assignments is crucial.

Successful online learners hold themselves accountable using two best practices: setting personal deadlines and establishing study habits.

How Do I Choose A Course At MIT?

By now, you’ve probably realized that not all online courses are the same. On one end of the scale, there are online learning techniques that wow students with what a wonderful time they had. On the other hand, some online learning programs are so dismal that students regret signing up for them.

View of a teacher discussing during an online course.

You must choose the correct course among the free online courses at MIT if you want to benefit from online learning. Here is a list of the key indicators to answer the query “How do I choose a course at MIT?”:

Expertise and Reputation

Considering courses offered by recognized schools is an easy approach to reducing your options when there are so many online courses available today. Next, find out more information about the professors leading an intriguing course. Are they regarded as authorities in their area of study?

A Stimulating Curriculum

To keep learners motivated and involved, it is necessary to use a range of teaching techniques. A regular collection of readings, videos, and quizzes is used in a lot of online courses. Search for courses that offer practice exams, reflection questions, group projects, polls, discussions, simulations, and other interactive or practical exercises.

Flexibility in Deadlines and Content Delivery

Flexibility is a plus whether an online course is entirely asynchronous or not. For example, in order to allow students to plan their own calendars, all of the tasks might be due at the end of the course. Another option would be to offer suggested but flexible dates.

Young woman smiling in front of her class during an online class.

Peer Interaction and Feedback

Regular interaction with other students has a significant impact. Luke and the MIT xPRO team encourage students to interact with one another’s work by using peer-reviewed feedback while taking free online courses at MIT.

Evidence of Hard Work

Continuing Education Units (CEUs) or particular certifications are common forms of recognition for hard work in the online learning environment. Participants in MIT xPRO courses who complete one or more courses are eligible to acquire CEUs, which are widely accepted as proof of a participant’s genuine dedication to their professional development by many companies, licensing bodies, and professional associations.

Even if online learning isn’t for everyone, many people can benefit from it if they approach it properly. The free online courses at MIT exhibit the ingenuity, openness, rigor, and quality that distinguish MIT, and many of them make use of resources created for MIT residential courses in the Institute’s 33 academic fields and five schools.

It is a high bar for every student in the world to get into an institution as selective as MIT; there is no magic formula. Taking the online courses could only give you a glimpse of how rigorous attending MIT is. Now, if you are eager to get into MIT, AdmissionSight could assist you through the tough admissions process. Book an initial consultation with AdmissionSight experts to further discuss your application.


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