learn for free
Anyone can learn for free with these Ivy League courses on Coursera and edX. Source: Ethan Miller/AFP

As an international student, there’s nothing more magical than the words “learn for free”. Better yet are free Ivy League courses that you can enrol from anywhere in the world.

It goes without saying that Ivy Leagues are highly selective and competitive to get into, but did you know that you can experience an Ivy League education for free by browsing through Coursera?

Learn for free with Coursera, edX

Studying at an Ivy League — which include Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Yale University — may seem like a far-fetched reality for many international students.

On top of its eye-watering tuition fees, strict admission requirements mean that only a small percentage of international applicants get accepted into one of the eight prestigious institutions each year.

For those hoping for a taste of an Ivy League education, online learning platforms such as Coursera and edX offer a wide range of partner universities, allowing students to learn for free.

While students may not obtain any college credits, these courses are enriching as they allow students to explore interesting topics outside their majors, without the added pressures of academic performance, deadlines and costly tuition fees. The only thing required of students is to dedicate some of their free time to complete these courses. 

Here are five courses on Coursera and edX worth exploring.

learn new skills

Use your free time more productively by learning new skills. Source: Cindy Ord/Getty Images/AFP

The Science of Well-Being by Yale University

Available via Coursera, this popular course — which has a 4.9 star rating — allows you to gain a more in-depth understanding of different behavioural patterns and habits that people exhibit.

You will learn that happiness is expressed in many different ways that are not necessarily observable on the surface level.  The course will engage you in a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits.

Improving Communication Skills by the University of Pennsylvania

For many students who aspire to study abroad, language and cultural barriers often become limiting factors for international students to reap the fruitful rewards of a truly international study experience. That’s where this course by award-winning best-selling author Maurice Schweitzer comes in handy! 

Improving Communication Skills is designed to help you improve your communication skills and pick up the ability to decipher social cues with more clarity and depth, such as detecting if someone is lying and how they react to it if they are, how to develop trust, improving negotiation skills and how to apologise.

Persuasion skills, negotiation skills as well as managing contrasting situations are just some of the many learning aspects you will explore in this course. You will be given the opportunity to ask thoughtful questions, engage in active listening as well as choosing the right medium to convey your messages, from face-to-face to email. 

By the end of the course, you’ll be able to understand what others want, respond strategically to their wants and needs, craft convincing and clear messages and develop critical communication skills to get ahead in life. 

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies by Princeton University

Digital currencies such as Bitcoin are disrupting traditional banking, but many are still unfamiliar with how digital currencies function. This course can help you to develop a better understanding of these disruptive technologies and understand Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies at a technical level. 

This course will break down how bitcoin works, what makes it different, how secure it is, how anonymous are Bitcoin users are, to name a few. 

The culmination of this course allows you to separate fact from fiction when reading claims about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. You’ll also develop the conceptual foundations needed to engineer secure software that interacts with the Bitcoin network.

Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content by the University of Pennsylvania

In today’s digital age, learning to make things go viral is a highly useful skill for anyone, regardless of the industry they work in. Anyone can learn for free about making viral content with this UPenn course.

If you’re aspiring to become an entrepreneur, you might want to learn about why some things become a hit while others become a flop. 

This course will help you to develop an understanding of the commonalities behind viral campaigns and content and apply these ideas to market your ideas, brand or products.

By the end of this course, you’ll have a better understanding of how to craft contagious content, build stickier messages, and get any product, idea, or behaviour to catch on.

Sharks! by Cornell University and The University of Queensland

Did you know that the scales on a shark’s skin have influenced the way humans design boats, planes and swimsuits?

Available via edX, this fun and engaging course allows you to explore sharks more thoroughly and extensively. Many people form their ideas of sharks as being dangerous creatures from movies such as “Jaws” or “The Meg”, but there’s so much more to these elasmobranchii species than meets the eye. 

With the aid of three professors, you will explore the biology of sharks, their place in the ecology, human-shark interactions and many more fascinating shark-related topics. The class takes about four weeks and is self-paced. 

In this activity‑rich course, you’ll track the movements of a wild shark, observe shark habitats and behaviour, and dig into the fossil record, to name a few. 

If you’re looking for more Ivy League courses to use your free time more effectively, click here.