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Advice / Career Paths / Training & Development

11 Top Liberal Arts College Classes That You Can Take for Free Online

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What, exactly, makes a liberal arts college special? What can you possibly do with a major in philosophy or psychology? Why not just go to a school that specializes in what you want to do?

These are the kinds of questions I had to answer as an English major at a small liberal arts college. Yes, it might’ve been more practical (and easier on my bank account) to just get a degree in journalism at some large state school—but as I usually tell people who question the value of this education in the modern working world, studying there turned me into a thinker, a communicator, a leader, and a woman of many interests and skills.

If you didn’t get that experience, fear not! There’s still time. Quite a few of the top liberal arts colleges in the U.S. offer free online courses that anyone can take.

Check out these 11 classes and see which ones could boost your knowledge (and eventually your resume). Take it from someone who knows—they won’t disappoint.

1. Property and Liability: An Introduction to Law and Economics

Wesleyan University

This self-paced course is your ultimate introduction into economics, American law, and how the two coincide in areas such as property, crime, and technology.

Length: 6 weeks
Cost: Free

2. Personal Finance, Part 1: Investing in Yourself

Wellesley College

Take control of your finances with this course—you’ll learn how to make informed decisions and investments, as well as how to organize your income in spreadsheets.

Length: 7 weeks, 4-5 hours a week
Cost: Free

3. Data Management and Visualization

Wesleyan University

You may not realize it, but data can be used for a lot of aspects of life and business that we never think about. This class will teach you how to look at data to your advantage and to answer some of your biggest concerns, as well as how to use programs such as SAS and Python.

Length: 4 weeks, 4-5 hours a week
Cost: Free without certification

4. Electronic Literature

Davidson College

With the neverending rise of technology, there has also been a rise of something called “electronic literature”—aesthetic works we create on our phones, tablets, and computers. This course will trace the history of this weird development, and how the digital world has begun to shape our means of cultural and creative expression.

Length: 6 weeks, 2-4 hours a week
Cost: Free

5. Programming in Scratch

Harvey Mudd College

Programming has never been so much fun with this interactive, game-oriented course. Learn how to use Scratch as a way to jump start your skills.

Length: 6 weeks, 6 hours a week
Cost: Free

6. CS For All: Introduction to Computer Science and Python Programming

Harvey Mudd College

And if you want to learn how to use Python, this is a great class to get started. Even without any programming experience, this will teach you how to put computer science into practice.

Length: 14 weeks, 5-7 hours a week
Cost: Free

7. Creative Writing: The Craft of Character

Wesleyan University

Whether you love to write on the side, want to improve your creativity, or hope to author a novel one day, this course is a great way to learn how to develop engaging characters and vivid stories—and the techniques that will get you there.

Length: 4 weeks, 2-4 hours a week
Cost: Free to audit

8. Social Psychology

Weslyan University

If you’re always baffled as to why people do things (Why does my co-worker talk over me in meetings? Why is that client so aggressive?), social psychology is just the kind of topic you need to study. This course will discuss things such as decision-making, persuasion, group behavior, and more in order to make you a more aware and emotionally intelligent individual.

Length: 7 weeks, 4-8 hours a week
Cost: Free

9. Global Inequality

Wellesley College

Sociology is the study of social structures and power dynamics—a fairly useful topic when you’re a manager, part of a diverse team, or working toward social justice. This course will cover all the basics, including a global understanding of class, gender, and race.

Length: 4 weeks, 2-3 hours a week
Cost: Free

10. Global Social Change

Wellesley College

And if you want to start making social change around you, this class will inspire you to become a part of the process—using real world examples to make it a tangible goal.

Length: 4 weeks, 2-3 hours a week
Cost: Free

11. Psychology of Political Activism: Women Changing the World

Smith College

Everyone has the ability to become an activist, no matter where or who they are. This class will explain the psychology of how nine woman became a part of big change—and how you can do it, too.

Length: 7 weeks, 3-5 hours a week
Cost: Free