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Advice / Career Paths / Training & Development

24 Free Online Ivy League Courses You Can Sign Up for Today (Regardless of Your GPA)

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Let’s be real—not everyone can afford to go to an Ivy League school, nor can most people get in to begin with (certainly not I).

But lo and behold, the beautiful invention of online education has transformed how we can learn—so much so that with just a click of a button, we can take any course from (almost) any college while sitting on our own couch!

If you’re itching to gain some extra knowledge, or considering going back to school and want to test the waters first, I’ve rounded up the best free online courses, all offered by six of the top institutions in the U.S. The hardest part now will be deciding where you should go. (Just kidding, you can go to all six!)

Data and Tech

1. Introduction to Computer Science

Harvard University

For all those who never got a chance to learn programming by an elite professor, now’s your chance to catch all the basics. This entry-level course will cover C, PHP, JavaScript, SQL, CSS, and HTML, and discuss the context of algorithms and coding in finance, gaming, forensics, and more.

2. Introduction to Spreadsheets and Models

University of Pennsylvania

Because none of us really know how to use Excel or Google Sheets, here’s the perfect class. With this strategy, you’ll learn how to properly organize your data and analyze it to predict solutions and success, whether you’re a small business or large corporation.

3. Statistical Thinking for Data Science and Analytics

Columbia University

Not sure what data science is but want to get into it? You should probably take this course to learn how to collect, analyze, and identify data.

Environmental Studies

4. Introduction to Environmental Studies

Dartmouth College

Before considering a career in sustainability, this basic class will help give you a sense of the problems around us, past and present, how our natural system works, and how we can begin to give back to our Earth.

5. New Directions EcoPlanning Lecture Series

Harvard University

You’ve probably never thought about the environment in terms of how you develop and produce things, right? Well, now’s your chance to learn—this class will cover all you need to know about incorporating biodiversity and sustainability into, well, urban environments.

6. Introduction to Sustainable Development

Columbia University

This course will talk about how to create a sustainable world while still being economically inclusive to all—in a local and global context.

Business and Finance

7. People Analytics

University of Pennsylvania

Want to know the secret to recruiting and hiring the best employees? This course teaches you how to use data to analyze important soft skills in candidates, making you a key player in talent acquisition—and helping your team flourish.

8. Networks, Crowds, and Markets

Cornell University

All of our worlds are connected—the tech world, our social circles, our economy. So this class will help you begin to see the ties between them and understand them to your advantage.

9. Introduction to Global Hospitality

Cornell University

If you’re interested in going into hotel management, this course will give you all the details, from what career opportunities there are to expert tips to business tactics.

10. CopyrightX

Harvard University

This cool (and very relevant) class talks about the current laws of copyright—how it encourages or limits creativity, debates behind the law, and whether it should be reformed.

11. Introduction to Corporate Finance

University of Pennsylvania

Before considering breaking into the finance world, take this class. Key big terms include: risk-return tradeoff, cost of capital, interest rates, retirement savings, mortgage financing, and more fun concepts!

12. Introduction to Negotiation

Yale University

I bet everyone could use a bit of a tutorial on how to negotiate with others. This class uses case studies to help you uncover people’s interests and persuade others with fair and valid arguments.

13. Introduction to Financial Accounting

University of Pennsylvannia

In this course, you’ll learn the basics of accounting and use the three most common financial statements: the income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows.


14. United States Health Policy

Harvard University

If you’re one of those people who nods your head absentmindedly when talking about government policy, you should probably check this one out. It‘ll teach you everything you need to know about the current health care policies at local, state, and federal levels.

15. Innovating in Healthcare

Harvard University

And, if you’re looking to get involved with healthcare, whether through consulting, managing, volunteering, or technology, this course is a great way to know the ins and outs of health innovation.


16. Social Entrepreneurship

University of Pennsylvania

Learn from truly experienced entrepreneurs how to create social change, allocate your resources, and test and scale your own enterprise.

17. Entrepreneurship and Healthcare in Emerging Economies

Harvard University

This class will mesh together two surprisingly valuable topics—public health policy and entrepreneurship—and how to use both to improve health systems around the globe.

Law and Ethics

18. Moralities of Everyday Life

Yale University

To understand others as well as ourselves, sometimes it’s best to look into how society, evolution, culture, and religion have influenced our kindness and cruelty. In this class, you’ll delve into the exciting questions of moral action and how it has changed over time—and maybe understand your cranky co-worker better.

19. Justice

Harvard University

This course is an introduction into political philosophy, giving you a broad context of criminal and social justice in our modern system. As advertised, you might just learn how to ask better questions.

20. A Law Student’s Tool Kit

Yale University

If you’re looking to eventually go to law school or want to explore the option, this lecture’s a great way to get started. It will cover all the basic terminology, concepts, and resources of lawyers—so you’ll already be ahead of the game when you’re ready to start.


21. Microeconomics: The Power of Markets

University of Pennsylvania

If you’re curious as to how prices fluctuate, or how our economy functions at a basic level, or how we even make buying decisions, this class is a good start into learning about microeconomics. After this, you’ll become a critical thinker and influencer in your own economy.

22. Game Theory

Yale University

This introduction to game theory will help you put into context finance, trading, politics, and how certain behaviors develop and interact.


23. Introduction to Marketing

University of Pennsylvania

It’s OK if you’re a beginner looking to switch into marketing—this course will talk about all the elements, such as customer loyalty, branding, and go-to-market strategies.

24. Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content

University of Pennsylvania

Ever wonder how something can trend so quickly? Well, this course will explain how viral marketing works and how you can better sell your brand, product, or ideas on social media and the web.