This free, online social work course from the University of Michigan inspired me to apply to grad school. Here’s why I recommend it to anyone considering a degree in social work.

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Table of Contents: StaticSocial Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change (small)

With the ongoing pandemic, everyday news of racial injustice, and general challenges of the world, it’s unfortunately not uncommon to feel helpless right now. Although I’m privileged to have maintained my physical and mental health over the past year, it’s also taught me just how much I value supporting others in any way I can.

Lately, I had been curious about how I could fuse my background in journalism with my passion for mental health advocacy. So I took to Coursera and discovered the University of Michigan’s Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research MasterTrack (one of the school’s many online offerings).

I enrolled in the free, self-paced introductory course to help me decide if I wanted to commit to the full MasterTrack, which takes about 6-8 months to complete. Three weeks later, I flew through nearly the entire intro course in two sittings – and felt ready to apply to part-time graduate programs in social work.

Coursera Mastertrack

I’d been entertaining the idea of grad school – and MSW programs specifically – since I graduated from U-M in 2019, and this course was the push I needed to finally submit applications to MSW programs. It was a small preview into the history and importance of social work, an opportunity for self-reflection and understanding my role in promoting social justice, and a test in balancing a full-time job with part-time learning.

If you’re considering a career in social work, I highly recommend taking this course. While working through it, I entered a much sought-after flow state of engagement, empowerment, and confidence that confirmed my suspicion that social work would be the right path for me.

Course structure

Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change breaks its instruction down into four main sections, with expanded versions of the following Coursera descriptions included in the syllabus:

All four modules include videos from practicing social workers, alumni, and faculty from Michigan’s School of Social Work. This, for me, was the selling point of the course: hearing firsthand how each speaker has used their experience in social work to better understand others’ perspectives, empower those they work with, and advocate for the communities they care so deeply about. Seeing them talk about their professions with such passion was what compelled me to finally look into part-time degrees in social work.

However, it’s important to note that the vast majority of the course is presented through these video accounts. The videos are accessible and include captioning, but there are far more of them than there are discussion opportunities, quizzes, or interactive materials (although there are multiple occurrences of these other learning tools as well). Since everyone learns differently, it’s understandable that much of the course taking place via video could be a pro for some and a con for others.

Timing and cost

The course is estimated to take about 12 hours to complete, and when I enrolled, it was suggested that I dedicate one week to each module – or three hours each week – to learning. In actuality, I completed two and a half modules in four hours on a Saturday night. The remaining modules were completed in two smaller chunks on weeknights. I’d carve out about 8-12 hours for the course, but it will depend on your learning style whether you’d rather spread it out over the course of a few weeks or fly through it in larger blocks.

Coursera Social Work certificate

The course is free to audit, though you can also pay $49 for a certificate of completion to add to your LinkedIn or resume. I appreciated having the graded quizzes and certificate for accountability and career development, and the assessments were pretty straightforward – I enjoyed the quizzes and didn’t find them particularly challenging.

If you’re looking to pursue the Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research MasterTrack, then the certificate is worth it because its cost can be applied to the MasterTrack. If not, then the value of the certificate will depend on your career ambitions and learning style – it might just be worth it to audit the course for free.

Enrolling in the MasterTrack and applying to the MSW:

If you finish the course and would like to take the entire MasterTrack, you can enroll directly through Coursera with no required application. The MasterTrack is $2,000, and a detailed FAQ page explains the enrollment process.

If you’d like to apply to Michigan’s School of Social Work, you can submit an Eligibility Review Request to the university before enrolling in the MasterTrack. This form, which requires uploading your resume, is used to assess whether you’d be eligible to apply the MasterTrack to an online or in-person Master of Social Work degree at UMich. It is not automatically supplemental to an MSW application and MasterTrack students are not guaranteed acceptance.

The completion of the MasterTrack certificate reduces the master’s degree from 60 credits to 45, potentially saving a significant amount of time and tuition costs. However, it’s important to note that the MasterTrack certificate is only applicable to Michigan’s MSW programs – it can’t be applied to other schools or programs.

Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research MasterTrack™ Certificate from the University of Michigan (small)

The bottom line:

If you’re curious about others’ professional experiences in social work, passionate about social justice, and considering social work as a career, I’d highly recommend this free course as a starting point. The engaging videos, varying perspectives, and powerful takeaways have already left a lasting positive impact on my future.

Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change (button)

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Coursera and edX both offer certificate programs at a fraction of the cost of grad school – here are the main differences between them

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To mitigate common economic and geographic barriers to getting a master’s degree, established online platforms edX and Coursera have special programs like edX MicroMasters and Coursera MasterTracks, which offer graduate-level courses for a fraction of the average on-campus price tag.

Ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, they can cover up to 50% of a university master’s program’s curriculum. On top of that, you can usually apply your MicroMasters or MasterTrack credits towards select full master’s programs to reduce costs and finish your degree faster. Since both platforms count top universities among their partners, that could eventually mean lower overall tuition costs at schools like MIT, Duke, the University of Michigan, Indiana University, Georgia Tech, and more.

Below, we compared the basic details for each bite-sized graduate program below. Ultimately, the best platform will be the one that offers the program closest to your particular interests and goals. But, in terms of services, edX may edge out Coursera – its offerings are cheaper, significantly more varied, and more lenient overall.

You can find detailed FAQs on Coursera’s MasterTracks and edX’s MicroMasters here, and learn more about Coursera and edX here, including how they compare to each other as e-learning platforms.

You can browse all of edX’s MicroMasters programs here.

You can browse all of Coursera’s MasterTrack programs here.

What is an edX MicroMasters?

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An edX MicroMasters is an online graduate-level program with courses that cover 25% to 50% of a university’s master’s degree curriculum for a lower cost. 

MicroMasters are designed as a stepping stone toward credit in a full master’s degree, or to strengthen stand-alone skills to help advance your career, offering a certificate of completion to add to your LinkedIn profile or resume. On average, they take roughly six to 12 months to complete.

Plus, every MicroMasters program on edX must be eligible for credit in a full master’s degree program, so you can take the MicroMasters on its own, or potentially apply it to a full degree online afterward. 

While every master’s program offered online through edX includes a MicroMasters program, some of these MicroMasters programs can also be transferred to an on-campus master’s degree, such as the Project Management MicroMasters which is designed to count towards a master’s degree in Professional Studies at RIT. If you’re accepted into an eligible master’s program, your MicroMasters program counts towards the degree requirements.

What is a Coursera MasterTrack?

Coursera Mastertrack

A Coursera MasterTrack is a portion of an on-campus master’s program that’s been adapted online at a lower price than taking the classes in person. On average, MasterTracks range from four to eight months.

Each MasterTrack is a stackable, for-credit program with several courses. In some programs, students are allowed to earn credit toward the full master’s degree program from which the MasterTrack certificate program is based.

For instance, you may apply to the MScA degree from the University of Chicago after the online Machine Learning for Analytics MasterTrack Certificate program and, if admitted, your MasterTrack Certificate will equate to the first two classes in the program (approximately 18% of course requirements), allowing you a headstart on your degree. Sometimes, the MasterTrack may even be “cashed in” to lower the cost of the full, on-campus master’s program.

You can check out a full review of a Coursera MasterTrack program here.

How much do they cost on average?

edX MicroMasters range from $1,000 to $1,500, and you pay all at once. You can buy MicroMasters courses on an individual basis, but if you bundle all the courses in the program at once, you’ll typically save 10% overall. 

All individual courses in edX MicroMasters programs are free to try, so learners can test them out before deciding to pay to upgrade to the verified track. 

Coursera MasterTracks range between $2,000 to $5,000. Some MasterTracks offer installation payment programs — otherwise, students can choose to pay upfront and get a 5% discount. You can’t buy individual courses within a MasterTrack, and you typically can’t try out any of the courses for free before signing up. 

Do they offer financial aid?

Coursera doesn’t offer financial aid or free audit access on its MasterTrack courses.

edX offers financial aid and trial periods for its MicroMasters programs. You can find more information here, though you’ll typically enroll in the course as an audit learner and complete a financial aid application here

How does academic credit work?

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edX MicroMasters

The edX MicroMasters credits you earn may be accepted by eligible on-campus or online Master’s programs to cover a portion of your master’s degree.

If you’ve successfully earned a MicroMasters program certificate, you can apply to the on-campus or online master’s programs that may accept credits from your MicroMasters program. Every MicroMasters program must be eligible for credit in a master’s degree program. To find your program’s specific details, search for “Certificate & Credit Pathways” or scroll to find this section in the FAQs at the bottom of the page. Once you’re accepted into the master’s program, you can apply your certificate toward a segment of the full master’s degree to reduce the tuition cost and potentially finish your degree sooner. 

Coursera MasterTrack

Coursera MasterTrack credits are often offered for the institution’s full master’s program, but not always. Sometimes, they may reduce the cost of the full-time program.

Once you’ve completed a university’s MasterTrack program, you can sometimes apply to the institution’s full master’s program. If admitted, your certificate will sometimes transfer and equate to a certain number of classes or credits in the program. The exact details vary by school and degree. To find your program’s specific details, search for “Accelerate Your Path to a Degree” or “Earn degree credit” on the page. 

However, some MasterTrack programs don’t offer credit exchanges. For programs like the Blockchain Applications MasterTrack Certificate from Duke, completion doesn’t give you on-campus credit. It does make you eligible to fast-track your application process and get a scholarship that covers10% of the cost of Duke University’s Master of Engineering in FinTech if you apply and are accepted to the program. 

The bottom line: Which one is better?

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It thoroughly depends on which platform has the best program for your career or educational goals, but edX may have better overall perks. 

edX lets you audit courses for free, gives you lifetime access to its materials, and can provide financial aid for its MicroMasters, while Coursera doesn’t. edX MicroMasters are also cheaper on average than Coursera MasterTrack programs, and edX offers significantly more post-graduate program options.

That being said, it all depends on what you want to study — Coursera has no shortage of great MasterTracks, including offerings from Yale, Duke, and the University of Michigan.

Browse all edX MicroMasters here.

Browse all Coursera MasterTracks here.

A few of the most popular edX and Coursera programs: 

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Over half a million people signed up for this free Princeton course on the science behind Buddhist meditation practices. I took it and came away with a better understanding of myself.

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  • Robert Wright, a lecturer at Princeton, teaches Buddhism and Modern Psychology on Coursera.
  • The class explores how Buddhist practices like meditation can scientifically improve mental health and wellbeing.
  • I signed up and learned how mindfulness and meditating can make me a happier and healthier person.
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One of the biggest aspects of Buddhism is meditation, a mindfulness practice that promotes awareness in the present moment. The purpose of meditation is to control your state of mind so your thoughts become more focused and peaceful, and the benefits of incorporating meditation into your daily life range from stress and pain reduction to higher self-esteem.

Buddhism and Modern Psychology (medium)

But how does meditation actually work, and why is it so effective? That’s what Coursera’s Buddhism and Modern Psychology class, which has over 520,000 enrollments, aims to explore. Focusing on the science behind the mindfulness practices of Buddhism (rather than the overall religion), the course is taught by Robert Wright, a journalist and visiting lecturer in Princeton University’s religion department and their Center for Human Values. Wright also wrote “The New York Times” bestseller “Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment,” which combines evolutionary psychology and neuroscience to uphold Buddhist philosophy about the human mind.

The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment” by Robert Wright (medium)

As someone who has taken yoga and meditation courses (including one in India), this course really drew my attention with its focus on Buddhist principles through a philosophical and scientific lens. To see firsthand why so many people are so drawn to this course, I decided to sign up.

The course covers the following topics in six weekly installments:

  • The Buddhist Diagnosis
  • The Buddhist Prescription
  • Does Your Self Exist?
  • A New Model of the Mind
  • Mental Modules and Meditation
  • What is Enlightenment?

Included in the coursework are short lectures, readings, and pre-recorded office hour videos where Wright answers common questions about the course directly from students. It officially takes six weeks to complete the course, but just like most of Coursera’s courses, you can learn at your own pace and time.

What to expect from the class

The class makes more abstract concepts very digestible. It organizes material into weekly installments and further organizes sub-topics of those installments into short lecture videos that take about 10-30 minutes to watch. After each lecture video, there are a few short multiple-choice questions to instantly apply your knowledge. In the first week, you go from understanding the Buddhist perspective on existence and suffering to learning how enlightenment in Buddhism is supported by modern psychology.

The course only requires a commitment of a couple of hours per week for a total of six weeks, but you could also finish it in one week. There is absolutely no required reading or note-taking, but there are two essays: one during the middle of the course and one during the end of the course. The assignments have a specific rubric and are graded by other students taking the course, which makes the process very interactive. Not only will you get to review three other students’ essays, but also gain feedback on your own to see how you did.

Sign up for free here, or keep reading to learn about my experience.

My experience taking the class

Wright makes the course easy to follow, perfect for a beginner who is not familiar with the content. I was initially hesitant to take the course as it discusses a variety of philosophical abstract concepts, which I do not have prior knowledge of. However, Wright uses a lot of relatable examples that break down complex concepts with simpler terms and analogies. He also includes graphics or video clips of speaking to other experts in his lectures to emphasize or expand on a key idea.

The course centers on how natural selection has distorted our perception of reality, making us see things not the way they actually are. With that in mind, Wright emphasizes how a mindful attitude can be valuable because it can help you pick up subtle feelings that you may otherwise miss.

Can Our Feelings Be Trusted

One example he gives is that every time something bad comes to mind, you do not feel rage – your feelings can be subtler than that and it’s important to understand them before resorting to drastic measures. This idea really resonated with me and I learned how mindfulness meditation can be a helpful tool in being aware of what’s really going on in my mind, not what I think is going on. I now try to incorporate meditative practices in my daily routine, especially if I’m stressed (or just having a bad day).

Wright also provides insightful information about the benefits of meditation and other mindfulness practices to live happier and healthier lives. He doesn’t give many suggestions for actionable steps to apply to your life as much as provides a broader framework to help guide you towards healthier decisions. For example, he iterates how meditation can help drive self control by weakening desire, aligning with the scientific idea of operant conditioning to reinforce positive behavior.

Meditation cultivates a still mind, allowing us to enter a realm of consciousness and awareness. Wright highlights that when our mind is calm, we have the power to choose which thoughts are helpful, which ones are going to serve us, and which ones we can let go of. With this in mind, I strive to meditate when I feel upset or fixated on a certain outcome so I can detach myself and make decisions that aren’t based on impulsivity.

Here’s what I liked about the course:

  1. While watching the lecture videos, I felt like I was in a live classroom. Wright engages in a lot of storytelling, especially while explaining Buddhist thought that originated from the discourse that the Buddha gave to his disciples. Wright also uses a chalkboard to organize concepts and reference them during his lectures, which makes the content easy to follow.
    What Did The Buddha Mean_
  2. The course is not live, so you cannot directly chat with the lecturer. However, I really enjoy listening to Wright’s recorded office hours, where he provides additional insight and reviews material from each installment. He also shares analogies that students in the course made. One student described viewing thoughts as semi-independent actors in your brain, which you can listen to objectively and allow or dismiss, just as you may allow or dismiss the spoken thoughts coming from your neighbor.
  3. One aspect of the course that was really interactive was being able to communicate with other students through the discussion forum. It was really interesting to chat about course content and see different viewpoints on the material. Additionally, I was able to explore additional resources and articles suggested by others to expand my knowledge on the power of meditation.
  4. As with most Coursera classes, I enjoyed how I was able to take this course at my own pace and time. This course, in particular, did not have many assessments to showcase mastery of content, which made it stress-free and manageable. I did appreciate the creative aspect of the mid-term and final essays, where we could articulate information in whichever way we wanted, as long as we were hitting the points on the rubric for a passing grade.

The bottom line:

By the end of the class, you learn how meditative practices can transform how your mind operates and may be inspired to start a mindfulness meditation regimen of your own. Personally, I’ve ingrained more mindfulness practices in my life – such as meditating right before taking an exam or interview so I don’t let my nervousness affect my thoughts. I also meditate when I have any intense feelings I need to manage, such as disappointment or grief, to help me calm down or relax. Ultimately, this course not only teaches you how Buddhist thought and psychology are intertwined, but also how these time-tested principles can help us lead more fulfilling lives.

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22 free or affordable online finance courses from top schools like Yale and UPenn’s Wharton School

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  • Whether you want to pay off debt or get better at investing, these online finance courses can help.
  • The classes are offered by top universities such as MIT, UPenn’s Wharton, Yale, Columbia, and more.
  • Topics range from investment banking and quantitative modeling to personal finance.

Whether you’re looking to pivot to a career in finance, or just want to build a more sustainable savings account, it always helps to learn from the pros.

Thankfully, there are seemingly infinite finance courses you can take online – including ones that are completely free. Some are from top schools like MIT, UPenn’s Wharton, Yale, Columbia, and the University of Michigan; others are taught by experts and coaches who can speak to common financial concerns (such as credit card debt).

Many of these courses are free to audit (meaning you won’t get certification upon completion), with certificates ranging from $49 to $2,025, depending on the school or program.

22 free or affordable online finance classes:

Foundations of finance

MicroMasters Program in Finance

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Taught by: MIT

Cost: Free to audit individual courses; $2,025 for an edX MicroMasters certificate 

Length: 1 year and 3 months

One of edX’s MicroMasters selections, this MIT-led program features five finance courses, covering essential topics from the foundations of modern finance to financial derivatives in global markets. If you’re looking to move into a career in finance, this program can be a more affordable option to accrue college credits and eventually earn a full master’s degree. Alternatively, you can audit each individual course entirely for free — you just won’t receive accreditation. 

Finance for Everyone

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Taught by: The University of Michigan

Cost: Free; $49 for a certificate

Length: 6 weeks

The University of Michigan designed this course to do exactly what the name implies — provide a solid understanding of finance no matter what your professional or personal background is. Beyond covering what finance is, why it’s important, and how to make more financially sound decisions using tools like the Time Value of Money (TVM), it also aims to simply make you appreciate finance as a concept. By making the subject engaging and interesting, this course can help even reluctant students feel more empowered by their financial choices by the end.

Finance Basics Everyone Should Know

Free Columbia courses Corporate Finance

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Taught by: Michael McDonald, a researcher and professor of finance at Fairfield University

Cost: Free with the 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial; $19.99 or $29.99 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 1 hour and 17 minutes

If you consider yourself a complete novice when it comes to finance, this course covers the basics, from bank rates and credit scores to formulating a solid retirement plan. It aims to keep you generally informed of all the facets of finance, whether you’re looking to become more of an expert or just need guidance in understanding your HSA or 401K.

Introduction to Finance, Accounting, Modeling, and Valuation

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Taught by: Chris Haroun, CEO, author, and MBA professor

Cost: $18.99 (Normally $149.99)

Length: 4.5 hours

This course tackles the fundamentals of finance and accounting without requiring learners to possess any prior knowledge of either subject. In 61 total lectures (amassing over four hours of material), you learn how to use Excel to create a balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement, as well as build financial models with accurate target prices. 

Personal finance

Build Sustainable Wealth and Get Out of Debt

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Taught by: WealthFit, a financial education platform

Cost: Free with the 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial; $19.99 or $29.99 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 1 hour and 16 minutes

This relatively short class breaks down everything you need to know to get out of debt, from saving and building liquidity to the 10-20-70 rule. It’ll also provide you with real-life examples of people paying off their debts, so you can feel more encouraged that these decisions and planning will greatly benefit you in the long run.

The Fab 4 of Personal Finance

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Taught by: Son Han, CPA, CFA, and founder of BrainyMoney

Cost: Free with the 7-day Skillshare trial; $8.25 or $19 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 1 hour and 25 minutes

This beginner-level, highly digestible class is meant for people who want to get their money habits in order but feel intimidated by the idea of investing or automating their finances. In a series of super-short videos, CPA Son Han touches upon pretty much every question you might have about personal finance, from Roth IRAs to credit scores.

Manage Your Personal Investments

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Taught by: Jane Barratt, the chief advocacy officer at MX Technologies, Inc.

Cost: Free with the 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial; $19.99 or $29.99 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 1 hour and 24 minutes

Want to invest but have no clue where to start? This relatively short course gives you the lowdown on stocks, bonds, funds, compounding interest, risk management, and why you should invest in the first place. It also provides you with the tools you need to find out where to invest or how to work with a financial advisor.

Personal Finance for Artists and Freelancers

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Taught by: Galia Gichon, an independent personal financial expert 

Cost: $29

Length: 14 hours and 54 minutes

Being a freelancer can be financially challenging enough, but even more so if you don’t have a solid money plan. This class gives you a realistic toolkit for creating (and sticking to) a budget that you check in on every week, as well as how to save for retirement when you don’t have a company 401K to contribute to. 

Corporate finance

Corporate finance

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Taught by: Columbia University

Cost: Free to audit individual courses; $607.50 for an edX professional certificate 

Length: 3 months

Whether you audit these classes for free or take on the paid program, this course teaches you the core basics of corporate finance. After starting off with the theory and financial concepts needed to make investment evaluations, you learn how to value stocks and bonds, compute and project free cash flows, and measure risk. It’s priceless knowledge whether you own a small business yourself or want to eventually work as a financial analyst.

Finance for Non-Finance Professionals

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Businessman sitting at desk using laptop.

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Taught by: Rice University

Cost: Free; $49 for a certificate

Length: 5 weeks

Rice University offers this short online course, which requires no previous knowledge of finance to understand. You learn about financial valuation, compounding returns, and the basic tools of capital budgeting, so you can better understand the stock market and all the other factors that involve making important financial decisions in a corporate environment.

Finance Essentials for Small Businesses

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Taught by: Kay Stice and Jim Stice, professors of Accounting at Brigham Young University

Cost: Free with the 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial; $19.99 or $29.99 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 51 minutes

If you’re thinking about starting a small business, it’s imperative that you know the top reasons yours might fail before you even begin. This course covers just that, plus everything you need to know to create a solid plan around cash inflows and outflows, troubleshoot if profit is lower than expected, and institute faster growth in the first few months of your business. 

Investment Banking

Essential Career Skills for Investment Banking and Finance

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Taught by: The New York Institute of Finance

Cost: Free; $49 for a certificate

Length: 2 weeks

The New York Institute of Finance offers this approachable introductory course to investment banking. Taught by instructors with decades of Wall Street experience, it covers financial sectors and sub-sectors, industry jargon, and how hiring decisions are actually made. 

Investment and Portfolio Management Specialization

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Taught by: Rice University

Cost: Free with 7-day Coursera trial; $49 per month to keep learning after trial ends

Length: 2 weeks

This four-course program from Rice University covers the essentials of investment portfolio management and personal investing — from understanding global markets to figuring out how much risk to take on. You learn to use quantitative skills and analytical tools to create a portfolio that effectively manages risk and brings in money, while also becoming more comfortable around the idea of irrational behavior in financial markets.

Investment Evaluation

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Taught by: Yash Patel, Instructor at LinkedIn Learning

Cost: Free with the 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial; $19.99 or $29.99 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 2 hours and 4 minutes

This intermediate course is perfect for people who already know a little about investing but want to learn more about the different methods of evaluations. You’ll go over discounted cash flow (DCF), net present value (NPV), and internal rate of return (IRR), along with a list of pros and cons for each so you can make the wisest investing decisions.


Trading Fundamentals of Technical Analysis


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Taught by: The New York Institute of Finance

Cost: Free; $199 for a certificate

Length: 6 weeks

This course asserts that “In order to apply technical analysis with confidence, it is important to understand the theory of technical analysis.” In the class, you learn about price chart patterns and other theories to predict the direction of prices. You can take this class alone or as part of a paid, two-course certificate program

Financial Markets

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Taught by: Yale University

Cost: Free; $49 for a certificate

Length: 7 weeks

This theory-based Yale course provides you with some basic knowledge of financial markets, behavioral finance, stocks, bonds, mortgage lending, recessions, and regulations. Citing historical and real-world examples, this class aims at encouraging more ethical and effective use of these industries. 

Algorithmic Trading and Stocks Essential Training

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Taught by: Michael McDonald, a researcher and professor of finance at Fairfield University

Cost: Free with the 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial; $19.99 or $29.99 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 1 hour and 29 minutes

Intended for more intermediate learners, this class explains how data analysis intersects with trading — and how so many current stock market trades are conducted via algorithms. Beyond learning how these algorithms work and gaining an overview of securities markets, you’ll be able to develop a simple trading algorithm yourself.

Quantitative Modeling

Business and Financial Modeling Specialization

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Business and Financial Modeling Specialization (button)

Taught by: UPenn’s Wharton School

Cost: Free with 7-day Coursera trial; $79 per month to keep learning after trial ends

Length: N/A; five courses total

Wharton’s program gives you a breakdown of the fundamentals of quantitative modeling before moving into spreadsheets and more complex data analysis and modeling. By the end, you recommend a business strategy based on a data model you made in the class, and present it as a course of action to your peers.

Financial Modeling and Forecasting

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Taught by: Kay Stice and Jim Stice, professors of Accounting at Brigham Young University

Cost: Free with the 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial; $19.99 or $29.99 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 1 hour and 53 minutes

This popular LinkedIn Learning course provides a historical overview of famous business cases that went wrong — like Home Depot’s 1985 cash flow crisis — so you can make the right financial decisions for yourself. Using the “assets = liability + equity” equation, you’ll be able to look at past data to make effective predictions and models for the future.

Python for Finance: Investment Fundamentals and Data Analytics

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Taught by: 365 Careers

Cost: $18.99 (Normally $139.99)

Length: 8.5 hours

This extensive class goes through the fundamentals of finance (from the risk of stocks to Monte Carlo simulations) as well as teaches you how to code in Python, thus doubling as both a programming and finance course. Whether you’re a programming beginner with an interest in finance or an aspiring data scientist, this course covers a lot of important ground. 


Microsoft Excel for Your Business

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Taught by: David Casuto, owner and lead instructor for San Francisco Computer Training and Senior Surf Computer Education

Cost: $29

Length: 14 hours and 5 minutes

Intended for freelancers and small business owners, this Excel class teaches you how to navigate Excel before diving into simple formulas and advanced formatting techniques. Knowing your way around Excel can help you track your invoices in a clear-cut, foolproof way (though this course is also useful for accounting pros who just want to know about the latest features of the software).

Excel: Tracking Data Easily and Efficiently

Hand typing on laptop on table outside

Excel: Tracking Data Easily and Efficiently (button)

Taught by: Oz du Soleil, an Excel MVP, author, and trainer

Cost: Free with the 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial; $19.99 or $29.99 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 1 hour and 29 minutes

Excel is an invaluable tool for financial modeling, and this course covers the three financial statements used in financial modeling, the key parts of a buyout model, and how to utilize Excel for more complicated modeling. This course is helpful whether you’re working in corporate finance, investment banking, or portfolio management. 

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19 Stanford courses you can take for free online, including a flexible class on designing your dream career

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Standford University 4x3
  • Like Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, Stanford offers online courses you can take for free.
  • Classes are available in topics from algorithms and game theory to designing your dream career.
  • All of the online classes are available on e-learning platforms edX and Coursera.

Along with prestigious schools like Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, UPenn, Cornell, and more, Stanford University offers a robust selection of online courses, many of which you can audit entirely for free. For some, you can also pay to get a certificate of completion to add to your resume or LinkedIn profile.

The free courses are available on e-learning platforms like edX and Coursera, and span across a wide variety of subjects, from game theory and algorithm design to training for healthcare workers. There are also classes designed to broaden your thinking in your current profession, including a class on using love as a force for social justice and a course on designing your ideal career. You can browse all of Stanford’s online courses on edX here and on Coursera here.

The 19 best online Stanford classes you can take for free:

Designing Your Career

Online classes Stanford Designing Your Career

Length: 5 weeks

Put together by the Stanford Life Design Lab, this self-paced, non-linear course is perfect for those who are completely stuck as far as what they want to do in their careers. Learners go over how to break into a completely new field, network efficiently, and keep up professional contacts that can genuinely pay off later. 

Enroll on edX here

America’s Poverty and Inequality Course

girl learning language

Length: 9 weeks

This is a crash course on the income inequality and poverty issues that face America today, exploring how they correlate with race and gender. One key feature of this course is that, while it brings in top scholars to discuss the issue, it breaks down the lectures into short, comprehensive videos. Each video is paired with readings and offers the most up-to-date findings and statistics.

Enroll on edX here

Giving 2.0

Stanford online courses person on laptop in bed drinking coffee

Length: 4 weeks

For anyone and everyone interested in philanthropy, this course helps learners assess and beef up their non-profit strategy, use technology to their benefit, and volunteer more effectively. It also provides opportunities to meet up and discuss ideas with small virtual groups. 

Enroll on Coursera here

International Women’s Health and Human Rights

Woman working at computer
Young woman reading from the computer and taking notes at her notebook.

Length: 10 weeks

No matter your line of work, this course can help deepen your understanding of the obstacles women face all over the world — including poverty, food insecurity, gender discrimination, unequal access to education, and violence, among others. Students cover topics such as HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, sex trafficking, war, refugee crises, and education while participating in engaging discussions about these issues.

Enroll on edX here

Love as a Force for Social Justice

Stanford online classes person on laptop with headphones at kitchen table

Length: 6 weeks

This class is designed to emphasize the importance of love not just in our personal lives, but as a force for good. In six weeks of classes, love is explored through multiple lenses, including biology, religion, and ethical beliefs. The course also discusses the importance of non-violent communication and ways to strengthen a community, so you can leave with a greater idea of how to utilize love in fighting for different social justice causes.

Enroll on Coursera here

Disaster Medicine Training

Slow Factory Foundation

Length: 8 weeks

This course was developed through SEMPER, the Stanford Emergency Medicine Program for Emergency Response, and provides a foundation of knowledge for all healthcare professionals involved in disaster medicine. It provides guidance for teams to be self-sufficient for the first 72 hours of a disaster, follow a consistent training curriculum, and pursue new research to strengthen their expertise in this area.

Enroll on edX here

American Prophet: The Inner Life and Global Vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Person typing on computer on desk

Length: 11 weeks

While there have been countless books and movies made about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement, few explore the deeper feelings of Dr. King himself. Using primary sources — including his unpublished manuscripts and sermons — and on-location videos of places King often visited, the course will provide students with a richer understanding of both MLK and his ideas. 

Enroll on edX here

Quantum Mechanics for Scientists and Engineers

Stanford online classes person typing on laptop

Length: 9 weeks

This course is for students with a prerequisite college-level understanding of physical science or engineering. It covers the core concepts and measurements of quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle, the hydrogen atom, and how to apply these ideas to solve problems in fields such as nanotechnology and photonics.

Enroll on edX here

*This course is currently archived, but some course materials are still available.

Language, Proof, and Logic

Stanford online courses woman sitting on floor with laptop on coffee table

Length: 15 weeks

Critical thinking skills are incredibly important, especially when combatting misinformation. This class breaks down the core of all reasoning — that one statement has to be the logical consequence of another. Beyond simply helping you debunk false claims or win arguments, these lessons can also help you navigate your life more efficiently by making more sound decisions.

Enroll on edX here

How to Taper Patients Off of Chronic Opioid Therapy

computer work woman freelance wfh

Length: One week

This course covers potentially life-altering ground in a very short amount of time. Healthcare providers learn how to assess the risks and benefits of putting a patient on opioid therapy as well as methods for safely tapering them on or off the medication. They’re also provided with a guide on when to refer patients to addiction treatment. 

Enroll on edX here

Game Theory

Stanford online courses person on laptop in office chair

Length: 18 hours

Game theory is the “mathematical modeling of strategic interaction among rational (and irrational) agents,” and beyond applying to literal games, it’s used in fields such as economics and politics to make crucial (yet risky) decisions. This course covers the basics of game theory and strategies, applying them to real-life situations such as auctions or computer science problems.

Enroll on Coursera here

Algorithms: Design and Analysis, Part 1

Stanford online courses woman typing on laptop on table in front of window

Length: 6 weeks

Learners with even a little bit of programming or computer science experience can benefit from this crash-course in algorithms. Students learn about “Big-oh” notation, sorting and searching, divide and conquer, randomized algorithms, data structures, and graph primitives. They can also test their knowledge as they go along with programming assessments and quizzes.

Enroll on edX here

How to Learn Math: For Students

Stanford online courses using graphing calculator

Length: 6 weeks

If you’re someone who’s always struggled with math, this course is for you. It covers easy strategies for learning math more effectively and helps learners challenge their own negative misconceptions about math and their math-learning abilities, so they can exit the course more empowered to use math in their daily lives and professions.

Enroll on edX here

Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity

Stanford online courses person smiling in front of laptop

Length: 81 hours

This course helps learners understand the famous theory of relativity by focusing on Albert Einstein himself. Students explore how he came up with his ideas as well as the core elements of the theory, including answering some of the most commonly asked questions about it. 

Enroll on Coursera here

Thinking Critically: Interpreting Randomized Clinical Trials (CME)

Person on laptop at table petting dog

Length: 1 week

This quick class goes over the possibilities of biases in clinical trials, and how to reduce them with techniques like randomization. Students watch videos and read samples of clinical research papers to learn how to more critically evaluate them.

Enroll on edX here

Defining the String Quartet: Haydn

Stanford online courses woman in hijab with laptop on bed

Length: 10 weeks

Composer Joseph Haydn is considered the father of the string quartet, and this course aims to explore both the history and technique behind some of the earliest string quartets. Students also complete an in-depth study of the form, language, and gesture behind Haydn’s String Quartet in F minor, opus 20, no. 5 from 1772, and are supplied with musical notations so they can follow along.

Enroll on edX here

Introduction to Probability Management

Stanford online courses person in wheelchair at table with laptop

Length: 10 weeks

All you need prior to starting this course is some general knowledge of Excel. You go over concepts like the Flaw of Averages and the Arithmetic of Uncertainty and learn how to create interactive simulation models in Excel.

Enroll on edX here

Machine Learning

woman working on computer

Length: 11 weeks

Perfect for beginners, this popular course covers the basics of machine learning, datamining, and statistical pattern recognition, providing examples on how they’re applied to creating smart robots, text understanding, computer vision, and more.

Enroll on Coursera here

Introduction to Food and Health

girl online learning

Length: 5 weeks

For anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of nutrition, this documentary-style course covers the basics of healthy eating as well as common food trends. It also features an optional cooking workshop at the end. You can read a full review of the course here.

Enroll on Coursera here

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14 Cornell classes you can take online for free, from how to structure a business agreement to the ethics of food

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Cornell classes 4x3

Cornell is one of the most prestigious schools in the world. To set foot on campus as a student, you need to be in the 11% of applicants who had the test scores, extracurriculars, and je-ne-sais-quoi-factor to be accepted.

But, thanks to partnerships with e-learning companies like edX, you can also take a handful of Cornell courses for free – without relocating, adhering to strict class times, or spending a dime. You can also do the same with other Ivy League institutions and top schools including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, UPenn, MIT, Johns Hopkins, the University of Michigan, Duke, Stanford, NYU, and more.

Below, you can find 14 of the best free Cornell courses available online. Some have the option to pay a small fee for certificates of completion that you can show potential employers or add to your LinkedIn or resume.

14 free Cornell courses you can take through edX:

A Hands-on Introduction to Engineering Simulations

Cornell online courses person on laptop on table

A Hands-on Introduction to Engineering Simulations (button)

Length: 6 weeks

This hands-on intermediate engineering course teaches you how to analyze common problems involving different physics — structural mechanics, fluid dynamics, and heat transfer — using ANSYS simulation software.

Teaching and Learning in the Diverse Classroom

Cornell classes

Teaching & Learning in the Diverse Classroom (button)

Length: 5 weeks

Learn how to create inclusive, student-centered learning environments with tools such as inclusive course design and student-centered pedagogical practices. Students listen and reflect on lived experiences — including their own — as well as explore key research on learning and diversity and its importance in education. 


cornell classes

Sharks! (button)

Length: 4 weeks

Learn about what makes sharks fascinating through activities — tracking the movements of a wild shark, observing shark habitats and behavior, diving into the fossil record — as well as their functional anatomy, biology, ecological role, impact on human behavior, and conservation efforts among other things.

Relativity and Astrophysics

Cornell classes

Relativity and Astrophysics (button)

Length: 4 weeks

This course combines relativity and astronomy to give students insight and quantitative skills to better understand the universe — from analyzing paradoxes in special relativity to pinpointing daily instances in which relativity is important.

This class is archived, which means you’ll have access to course materials but you won’t be able to upgrade for graded homework or earn a certificate of completion. 

Structuring Business Agreements for Success

edX free Cornell courses man holding laptop outside

Structuring Business Agreements for Success (button)

Length: 5 weeks

Learn the laws, principles, and guidelines needed to structure business agreements and assess the merits and challenges of different choices.  

This class is archived. 

The Ethics of Eating

Cornell classes

The Ethics of Eating (button)

Length: 4 weeks

This course leads students into an exploration of the ethical issues at play every time we consume or purchase food. Using insights from a diverse group of philosophers, food scientists, activists, industry specialists, and farmers, you’ll consider the morality of food: how it’s produced, distributed, marketed, and consumed.

This class is archived.

An Introduction to Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching

edX free Cornell courses women with laptop on balcony

An Introduction to Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching (button)

Length: 8 weeks

Future STEM faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows learn about effective teaching strategies and supporting science, specifically for STEM classrooms, in this course. Students consider expertise from experienced STEM faculty, educational researchers, and university staff as they tackle course design, teaching strategies, and key learning principles. 

This class is archived. 

Advancing Learning Through Evidence-Based STEM Teaching

edX free Cornell courses man on couch with laptop

Advancing Learning Through Evidence-Based STEM Teaching (button)

Length: 8 weeks

This course prepares current and future STEM teachers in effective teaching strategies and accompanying research to create active, impactful classrooms — including the import of diversity and how to incorporate it into a classroom. This course builds upon the introductory course above.

This class is archived.

American Capitalism: A History

Cornell classes

American Capitalism: A History (button)

Length: 4 weeks

Take a close look at how economic development fueled the US’ rise to power In the end, you should be able to recognize and criticize public policies that interact with American capitalism and have a solid understanding of it as an ever-changing system, even if basic features remain unchanged. 

This class is archived.

Networks, Crowds, and Markets

edX free Cornell courses man with laptop and headphones

Networks, Crowds and Markets (button)

Length: 10 weeks

To understand the interconnectedness of modern life, students get into game theory, the structure of the Internet, social contagion, the spread of social power, and information cascades.

This class is archived. 

The Science and Politics of the GMO

Cornell classes

The Science and Politics of the GMO (button)

Length: 5 weeks

Learn the basics of genetic engineering and biotechnology in this introductory Food and Nutrition course. Students delve into the political debate surrounding GMOs, evaluate how social science concepts affect biotech development and usage, and learn to form good research questions and assess research reports, among other things.

This class is archived. 

The Computing Technology Inside Your Smartphone

Cornell classes

The Computing Technology Inside Your Smartphone (button)

Length: 10 weeks

Explore the powerful computer processor that enables smartphones to be so indispensable. Students start with the fundamentals of computing technology and then move into advanced performance techniques and details of processors. 

This class is archived.

Reclaiming Broken Places: Introduction to Civic Ecology

edX free Cornell courses woman with laptop by window

Reclaiming Broken Places: Introduction to Civic Ecology (button)

Length: 6 weeks

In this course, you use many lenses — psychological, sociological, political, educational, and ecological — to examine how people care for nature and their communities. Among other things, students learn how civic ecology can enable communities with limited resources to cope with disaster and struggle. 

This class is archived. 

Wiretaps to Big Data: Privacy and Surveillance in the Age of Interconnection

edX free Cornell courses woman sitting on couch with laptop

Wiretaps to Big Data: Privacy and Surveillance in the Age of Interconnection (button)

Length: 6 weeks

How does cellular technology enable massive surveillance? Do users have rights against surveillance? This social sciences course grapples with these big questions surrounding privacy issues in modern life and introduces students to related issues in WiFi and Internet surveillance. 

This class is archived. 

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Udacity’s online Nanodegrees are currently 75% off – here’s why they can be a great option if you’re pursuing tech careers like data science or programming

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Udacity E Learning 4x3

  • Udacity offers free online courses and Nanodegrees to build in-demand, technology-based skills.
  • Courses are available in subjects like AI, programming, cybersecurity, data science, and business.
  • Below, find answers to FAQ and information on the top 10 most popular Udacity Nanodegrees.

Table of Contents: Static

What is Udacity?

Udacity is an online learning platform that trains students for in-demand, technology-based careers. It offers both short online courses and Nanodegree programs in artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, business, cloud computing, cybersecurity, data science, and programming.

What are Udacity Nanodegrees?

Udacity Nanodegrees are online certificate programs that can typically last anywhere from 3-6 months, similar to edX MicroMasters or Coursera MasterTracks. They’re flexible and meant to work with your schedule, so you can learn at your own pace. All the programs also come with real-world projects for hands-on learning and technical mentors in case you get stuck.

One unique benefit to Udacity Nanodegrees is the career development resources students receive at the end, including help with optimizing resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and Github portfolios after completing the program.


How much does Udacity cost?

Udacity’s Nanodegree programs normally cost anywhere from $1,017 to $2,084, depending on the program and length of training. There are flexible payment options available, such as paying per month instead of all at once.

There’s currently a 75% sitewide Udacity sale until April 13 with the code “INSIDER75,” which applies to month-to-month payment plans as well. With the sale applied, courses start at $254.25.

Additionally, Udacity offers several scholarships for its online programs. You can browse all available scholarships here.

Are there any free Udacity courses?

Yes. There are a number of free courses on Udacity such as Intro to Data Science and Google’s Front End Frameworks. You can browse all the free courses here.


(Note: Free courses do not come with projects, mentor assistance, or career development resources).

What are some of the Udacity Nanodegrees available?

These are the 10 most popular beginner and intermediate programs on Udacity now:

Digital Marketing Nanodegree

Udacity overview Digital Marketing Nanodegree

Length: 3 months

Cost: $254.25 (normally $1,017) or $100 per month (normally $399 per month)

Learn everything from creating your own marketing content, using social media platforms to promote it, run fruitful Facebook ad campaigns, and use Google Analytics to measure and track your success.

Digital Marketing Nanodegree (button)
Product Manager Nanodegree

Udacity overview Product Management Nanodegree

Length: 4 months

Cost: $339 (normally $1,356) or $100 per month (normally $399 per month)

To help you design successful products, this program walks you through incorporating market analysis into product strategy and KPIs, designing a product within various realistic constraints, building a timeline, and creating tests to enhance the product over time.

Product Manager Nanodegree (button)
Business Analytics Nanodegree

Udacity review Business Analytics Nanodegree

Length: 3 months

Cost: $254.25 (normally $1,017) or $1o0 per month (normally $399 per month)

Learn crucial data skills that can be applied to a range of careers and industries, such as building data models with Excel, queries with the programming language SQL, and data visualizations with Tableau.

Business Analytics Nanodegree (button)
Programming for Data Science with Python Nanodegree

Udacity overview Programming for Data Science with Python

Length: 3 months

Cost: $254.25 (normally $1,017) or $100 per month (normally $399 per month)

Learn the core programming basics for a data science career, including how to code in Python and SQL to solve difficult business problems and create data structures and libraries.

Programming for Data Science with Python Nanodegree (button)
Data Engineer Nanodegree

Udacity overview Data Engineering

Length: 5 months

Cost: $423.75 (normally $1,695) or $100 per month (normally $399 per month)

In this program, you’ll learn how to design and build data models, data warehouses, data lakes, and data pipelines, as well as understand huge and complex datasets. The program ends with the completion of your own capstone data engineering portfolio project.

Data Engineering Nanodegree (button)
Data Analyst Nanodegree

Udacity overview Data Analysis Nanodegree

Length: 4 months

Cost: $339 (normally $1,356) or $100 per month (normally $399 per month)

For students with some background in Python and SQL, this program dives deeper into decoding challenging datasets, manipulating data for analysis, and creating data visualizations to tell a comprehensive story using data.

Data Analyst Nanodegree (button)
Intro to Programming Nanodegree

Udacity Overview Intro to Programming Nanodegree

Length: 4 months

Cost: $339 (normally $1,356) or $100 per month (normally $399 per month)

Perfect for students with no coding experience, this program covers the fundamentals of HTML, CSS, and Python. By the end, you’ll be introduced to several possible career paths for further learning.

Intro to Programming Nanodegree (button)
Android Kotlin Developer Nanodegree

Udacity overview Android Kotlin Developer Nanodegree

Length: 4 months

Cost: $339 (normally $1,356) or $100 per month (normally $399 per month)

For those with object-oriented programming experience, this Google-partnered program teaches you how to become an Android app developer using Android Studio, Android Jetpack, and Kotlin.

Android Kotlin Developer Nanodegree (button)
Full Stack Web Developer Nanodegree

Udacity overview Full Stack Web Developer Nanodegree

Length: 4 months

Cost: $339 (normally $1,356) or $100 per month (normally $399 per month)

If you have prior experience with Python, HTML, CSS, and Git, this program teaches you how to build database-backed APIs and web applications so that you can build databases for software apps, manage access control for an application backend, and deploy a Flask-based web application to the cloud using Docker and Kubernetes.

Full Stack Web Developer Nanodegree (button)
Front End Web Developer Nanodegree

Udacity Front End Web Developer Nanodegree

Length: 4 months

Cost: $339 (normally $1,356) or $1o0 per month (normally $399 per month)

Requiring a bit of prior programming knowledge, this program teaches students how to design and develop a wide range of responsive and interactive websites and applications using CSS, JavaScript, HTML, CSS Grid, and Flexbox.

Front End Web Developer Nanodegree (button)

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12 online courses that teach design thinking – a soft skill that can help you find creative solutions and stand out in your career

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E learning Designing Your Life 4x3
  • Design thinking is a creative, human-focused process to problem-solving.
  • It’s about tapping into people’s true needs to create feasible innovations, products, and solutions.
  • Below are 12 design thinking online classes offered by schools like MIT and Stanford.

Design thinking is a concept that’s been gaining popularity over recent years. Broadly, it’s a way of taking a human-focused approach to design and problem-solving. Rather than collecting lots of conflicting data or making predictions without evidence, it encourages people to understand the true motivations of their audience, be it customers, students, or staff members. Design thinking principles can also be useful in your own life, such as figuring out which career you want or how to structure your life.

Below are 12 online design thinking classes, from schools like MIT and Stanford and companies like Microsoft and IDEO. Some are free to audit with an optional, paid certificate; others charge a fee but provide a certificate upon completion. Certificate costs range from $16.99-$599, depending on the class and platform.

Here are 12 online design thinking classes:

Design Thinking Fundamentals

Businessman reviewing project plans on office wall while working on digital tablet

Design Thinking Fundamentals (small)

School: Rochester Institute of Technology

Length: 6 weeks

Cost: Free; $299 for a certificate.  

Part of a longer edX MicroMasters program on Design Thinking, this class covers the basics of design thinking, teaching you how to use design to solve problems. It also debunks the misconception that you have to be artistic to implement design thinking and shows you how to think of it as more of a strategy. 

Stay Competitive Using Design Thinking

Design thinking

Try Stay Competitive Using Design Thinking on LinkedIn Learning here

Instructor: LinkedIn Learning and frog, a global design and strategy firm

Length: 11 hours and 38 minutes

Cost: Free with 1-month trial; $19.99 or $29.99 per month (depending on subscription) after trial ends

Comprised of short videos, this LinkedIn Learning Path is meant for graphic designers and covers the basics of design thinking as well as provides actionable steps to implementing its principles and mastering the process. You’ll get a certificate at the end of the course to add to your LinkedIn profile as well.

Designing Your Career

Man working from home

Designing Your Career (small)

School: Stanford University

Length: 5 weeks

Cost: Free; $50 for a certificate 

By one of the authors of the bestselling “Designing Your Life,” this course applies design thinking to find the right career path for you. It’s self-paced and offers different exercises to help you sort out what you actually like to do and create tangible goals around that information. 

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life

Designing Your Life Course Screenshot

Buy Designing Your Life from CreativeLive here

Instructors: Stanford lecturers Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Length: 4 hours and 39 minutes

Cost: $29

“Designing Your Life” authors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans teach a broader course that expands on the lessons from their bestselling book — and gives students a more hands-on way to put the ideas into practice through assignments and examples. You can read a full review of the course here.

Design Thinking of Innovation

Young woman writing on sticky notes

Design Thinking for Innovation (small)

School: University of Virginia

Length: 4 weeks

Cost: Free with 7-day trial; $49 per month to keep learning after trial ends

In this course, you learn how to use creativity to solve difficult business and organizational problems and come up with bold, new ideas. You follow a model that asks four key questions to prompt design thinking and learn from real-life organizations as examples. You can also take other courses in the Leading the Modern Day Business Specialization

Learning How to Learn

Man working on home computer

Learning How to Learn (small)

School: McMaster University and UC San Diego

Length: 4 weeks 

Cost: Free; $49 for certificate

One of the most popular Coursera courses, this class teaches you techniques to break up tough subjects and concepts. By emphasizing ways to make learning design easier and more effective, this class demonstrates the importance of a human-focused approach to learning. 

Gamification: Motivation Psychology & The Art of Engagement

Man at home attending to a video conference call

Gamification: Motivation Psychology & The Art of Engagement (small)

Instructor: Rob Sutcliffe, UI designer

Length: 3 hours and 7 minutes 

Cost: $14.99 (Normally $94.99)

In 46 lectures, you cover a crucial component of design thinking: human behavior. Using psychology, you learn what motivates people to act, using this knowledge to build community and motivate staff, students, or customers. You will get a certificate upon completion of the course.

Human-Centered Design: An Introduction

Use your smart watch to swipe your card to enter the subway station

Human-Centered Design: An Introduction (small)

School: UC San Diego

Length: 4 weeks

Cost: Free with 7-day trial; $49 per month to keep learning after trial ends

This class teaches you how to create technologies that people actually like to use, and helps you conduct fieldwork to get a better sense of what people want by asking the right questions in interviews. You can also take other courses in the Interaction Design Specialization

Design Thinking for Leading and Learning

Teenage girl studying with video online lesson at hom

Design Thinking for Leading and Learning (small)

School: MIT and Microsoft

Length: 6 weeks

Cost: Free; $49 for a certificate

Geared towards classroom learning, this course shows you how to apply design thinking to a variety of K-12 school settings. The end goal is to find innovative, pragmatic solutions to educational challenges, with the hope of improving schools and school systems. 

Design Thinking for the Greater Good

Woman in a video conference with her coworkers while working from home

Design Thinking for the Greater Good: Innovation in the Social Sector (small)

School: University of Virginia 

Length: 4 weeks

Cost: Free; $59 for a certificate 

This course focuses specifically on applying design thinking to nonprofit and volunteer work, using examples from governmental, educational, and healthcare institutions to show you how to create new solutions that can help more people. 

From Ideas to Action

Chinese businessman making display in office

From Ideas to Action (small)

Instructor: IDEO U

Length: 5 weeks 

Cost: $599

IDEO is a leading design thinking firm and IDEO U offers certificate courses on the subject. This one in particular teaches you the steps from designing a plan to implementing and testing it, as well as how to learn from failure. You will get a certificate upon completing the course. This course is part of two longer certificate programs, Foundations of Design Thinking and Advanced Design Thinking.

Design Thinking in 3 Steps

young businessman sitting outdoors in the city working on laptop

Design Thinking in 3 Steps (small)

Instructor: Alan Cooper, founder of Designit Strategic Design

Length: 1 hour and 42 minutes

Cost: $189.99

This fairly-quick class focuses on the three pillars of design thinking: understanding your target audience, envisioning an innovative solution, and testing out an idea. Through 55 short lectures, you learn to thoroughly plan out your research methods and storyboard your design ideas. You’ll also get a certificate upon completion of the course.

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I signed up for a free trial of One Day University to stream lectures from Yale and Columbia professors – here’s why it’s replacing Netflix reruns for me right now

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One Day University 4x3

Table of Contents: Static

What it is: Live and pre-recorded lectures from top universities on interesting topics.

What it costs: Free with a 2-week trial; $8.95 per month after the trial ends

Membership (small)

If you’ve ever lamented missing out on “fun classes” in college and wanted to revisit the experience – minus the sleep deprivation or shoestring budget – we recommend One Day University.

Like traditional academia’s spin on TED Talks or a much more varied version of the recently launched New Yorker Live event series, One Day U brings together world-renowned professors from some of the world’s top schools – like Harvard, Yale, and Columbia – who speak on diverse, interesting topics, from Four Films that Changed America to The Mind of Abraham Lincoln. A more intellectually nutritious alternative to ambient television, One Day University is a great way to learn something new without committing to a long course – each lecture is only about an hour long.

Screen Shot 2021 03 30 at 12.34.29 PM
You won’t find the same production value as MasterClass; these are cheaper, shorter, and as mercilessly lit as most college classrooms. That’s fine.

The site has a two-week free trial, after which access is $9 per month (it’s slightly cheaper if you buy an annual membership). With a subscription, you can watch live lectures or access the hundreds of past talks in the video library. There are also multi-lecture “premium courses” as well as access to special events with professors, small group discussions, and discounts to future live events.

The top 5 One Day University lectures:

The Science of Happiness (medium)Four Films that Changed America (medium)The Mind of Abraham Lincoln (medium)The Five Most Powerful People in the World (medium)The Life, Music and Genius of Frank Sinatra (medium)

A review of One Day U:

On top of only being about an hour-long on average, One Day U lectures are fast-moving and concise. The topics are diverse, and, in my experience, the professors are endearingly impassioned – like my favorite teachers typically are. That, plus their expertise, makes for an engaging one-sided conversation. I watched a handful of lectures – the art of aging, the science of happiness, how to watch movies like a film professor, and a 400-year history of religion in America – and loved every one. I also found the topics naturally bled into conversations with my friends and family, which gave us new things to talk about. And if you’re an auditory learner, as I am, you may find the lectures easier to retain than if you’d read the same information, especially now when so many of us are experiencing various stages of burnout.

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You can watch highlights from One Day U’s most popular courses – which range in topic from civics and history to the psychology of happiness and sleep.

You won’t find the same production value as MasterClass (my other favorite video-based edu-tainment option); these are cheaper, shorter, and as mercilessly lit as most college classrooms. But ultimately, it doesn’t really matter for 60 minutes. And, while MasterClass has the allure of celebrities, One Day U does have some academic rockstars – you just may not have heard of them before. This, too, is beside the point; You’ll learn something new from an impassioned expert who either spearheaded the theory or is at the frontier of the research.

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Cons to consider:

This is not the best option for in-depth courses. We’d recommend Coursera, edX, Udemy, or FutureLearn for that. One Day U can entertain and teach you in a conversational way, but it doesn’t bestow any college credits or certifications.

The bottom line:

If you’re sick of watching reruns and don’t have the bandwidth for a book, One Day University is fun and, given its brevity, surprisingly enriching to pop on while you eat dinner or fold the laundry. It’s also great if conversations have gotten stale in the group chat or in the virtual speed dating scene because nothing new is happening. It’s also ideal for anyone who’s homebound or social distancing and in need of anything fresh or stimulating – I’ve personally emailed my grandparents a link so they could watch, too.

Like listening to an audiobook, One Day U is a good, low-lift, low-commitment option for learning – or just being entertained. After the two-week free trial, it’ll cost you the same as one large coffee per month and deliver hours of enjoyment in return – including new topics to connect with people in your life.

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The professor behind Yale’s popular online course, The Science of Well-Being, shares tips on how to feel happier right now

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Why the Science of Well Being is resonating right now 4x3

  • Yale professor Laurie Santos led the school’s most popular class ever, on the topic of happiness.
  • The Science of Well-Being, Coursera’s online version of the course, has had millions of enrollments.
  • Below, Santos shares her insights and tips for improving mental health and becoming happier.

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As 2.9 billion people started to shelter in place at the start of the pandemic, Yale professor Laurie Santos’ online course, The Science of Well-Being, experienced an explosion in signups with over 3.3 million total enrollments.

Offered on Coursera, the class is based on Santos’ 2018 Yale course Psychology and the Good Life, which became the school’s most popular course of all time. It tackles the psychology of personal happiness, debunking common myths and providing actionable, behavioral science-backed steps to feeling more fulfillment. (You can read a review of The Science of Well-Being on Coursera here.)

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While the online course was especially popular during the pandemic, the mental health lessons and takeaways are applicable to all situations. To get a professional’s take on happiness and better understand why this course keeps resonating so deeply with so many students, I caught up with Professor Laurie Santos.

Professor Laurie Santos’ advice on how to feel happier:

Ask yourself how a particular activity really feels as you’re doing it.

I asked Santos one of those no-stupid-questions questions: How do I really tell if an activity is making me happier?

“One of the interesting things about our emotions is [that] we usually know how they feel, but they’re often buried because we don’t take time to be mindful or be present with how things are feeling,” she said. “Everyone struggles with this because mindfulness takes a little bit of work.”

After some time on Twitter, Santos will say to herself: “Okay, that was 20 minutes. How did that 20 minutes feel?”

If you’re not sure about a TV binge or staying up late, Santos suggests asking yourself: “How did this make me feel? Am I more energized? Do I feel like I’ve wasted some time productively or do I feel gross or apathetic?”

Think about mental health as a diet – some activities are harmless junk food, but sometimes your mind needs a salad.

Santos also talked about mental health using the analogy of a well-balanced diet, with a cheesy Bravo series as the hot fudge sundae treat.

“It might be that we need [it sometimes], but that may not be the only nutrition we need to take in,” she said. “Sometimes the things that feel really easy – the quick social media check – may not be the most nutritious. Sometimes we need to put work into things that will ultimately make us feel better in the end [like a call with friends].”

Some days you’re going to need your junk reality television du jour. But you should also plan to balance it with quality conversations with friends, exercise, or even a walk outside.

Recognize that your brain’s paths of least resistance don’t necessarily lead to happiness.

We often look to things that are easy – resting, watching TV, scrolling through social media – when really, the things that fulfill us and improve our happiness take a little bit of work.

According to Santos, what we crave often diverges from what we actually like. For example, you may gravitate to tapping through people’s Instagram stories, but, after an hour, be left wondering why you wasted that hour. Similarly, you may not initially crave exercise, but can find yourself immediately happy you did it after a quick run or yoga class.

The Science of Well-Being (small)

Write down ideas for how you’d ideally spend random small pockets of free time in a day.

Our lives are full of what Harvard Business School professor Ashley Williams refers to as “time confetti” – little specks of five or 10 minutes broken up throughout the day.

What do we do with our pockets of 10 minutes in between meetings, classes, and errands? Instead of calling a friend, many of us scroll through Facebook or Instagram.

“If I spent that 10 minutes doing a quick gratitude meditation, or if I spent it running up and down my stairs or even just taking a pause to look outside my window, that would actually probably be better than Facebook, but it takes a little work,” Santos explained. “One strategy for [using time confetti] is to scribble down the things that you really want to do so that if you get a break, you can say, ‘Oh, let me do this instead.'”

Try challenging activities that require your presence – such as learning a new language or meditation.

Even though the startup costs for activities like learning a new language can be higher than lounging on the couch, they’re worth it, even if our brains think otherwise.

“Challenging activities give us what positive psychologists call flow,” Santos explained. “[Flow] is the state where we’re feeling really present and involved and it’s kind of hard, but doable. It’s not so easy that it’s boring. And research suggests that flow states feel really good. They make time pass in an enjoyable but quick way; you’re really present, and there’s lots of research suggesting that anytime we do things where we’re more present, we enjoy that activity more.”

She went on to say, “Leisure feels better when we’re a little challenged – when we’re doing something that’s a little hard. I think seeing people who are learning how to bake something new or trying to learn a new language or something that’s a little bit more active – even playing games over Zoom with friends – I think those things can sometimes feel better than the really inactive stuff, even though the startup cost is higher.”

The bottom line

To improve your mental well-being and overall happiness, you may want to prioritize social connection and challenging activities (exercising, learning a new language, cooking, and meditating are some good starter options). Lastly, try to find a way to adapt the activities that made you happy before the pandemic to the way you live right now.

For more on how to increase your own well-being, you can take Santos’ course online for free or listen to her podcast, “The Happiness Lab.

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Read the original article on Business Insider