11 of the best Yale classes you can take online for free — including the most popular course in the university's history

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  • Yale University offers a selection of its courses for free or for cheap online.
  • Coursera hosts several Yale courses that mimic in-classroom settings. They're typically free to audit, but come with a $49 fee for features like graded homework or a certificate of completion.
  • Below, you can find a selection of the most popular Yale courses on Coursera, with topics ranging from behavioral finance principles to the science of being happier right now.
  • If your educational plan for 2020 includes paying for multiple classes on Coursera, check out its new $399 annual membership, which could wind up being a better deal. 

Thanks to the internet and MOOC (massive open online courses) culture, it's not hard to find courses from prestigious universities such as Yale online for free or cheap. Counter to the Ivy League's legacy of exclusivity, MOOCs are designed to remove traditional education barriers: price and location. 

In fact, Yale offers access to a handful of recorded in-person courses such as African American History: From Emancipation to the Present via Open Yale Courses, a platform where anyone can access the lectures. However, lecture-listeners won't earn course credit, degrees, or a certificate of completion. 

If you're looking for a classroom-like educational experience with more structure, feedback, and peers, you'll want to turn to Coursera. The online learning platform features more than a dozen Yale courses that range in topic from economics to parenting to happiness.

Coursera classes typically include video lectures, resources, community discussions, and quizzes. They're free to enroll in, but you'll have to pay a low fee (starting at $49) for features like graded homework assignments or certificates of completion, which can be added to a LinkedIn page. While most courses are available in English, you'll also find a couple of popular Yale courses taught primarily in Arabic and Chinese.

If you plan on paying to enroll in multiple courses over the course of the year, you may want to look into Coursera Plus. The $399 annual subscription gives its members unlimited access to over 90% of the platform's online courses (over 3,000 classes). Depending on your needs, you may end up saving money. 

Read on for 11 of the most popular Yale University courses you can enroll in online for free:

Financial Markets

Free to audit, $49 for full access

This course, taught by Yale economics professor Robert Shiller, is an introduction to risk management and behavioral finance principles so students can better understand securities, insurance, and banking industries in the real world.

The class places an emphasis on "financially-savvy leadership skills" and is structured around the goal of using these industries effectively and in the service of a better society. 

This course should take approximately 27 hours to complete.

Note: This course is included in Coursera Plus. It's also eligible for financial aid.

The Science of Well-Being

Free to audit, $49 for full access

Based on the most popular course in Yale's history, this class combines positive psychology with the real-life applications of behavioral science to increase your own happiness using concrete, productive habits. 

Read our full review of The Science of Well-Being course here. For tips on how to improve your happiness in the era of social distancing, read our interview with the course professor, Lori Santos, here.

Note: This course is included in Coursera Plus. It's also eligible for financial aid.

Introduction to Negotiation

Free to audit, $49 for full access

Designed to help students build a framework for analyzing and structuring negotiations, this class includes real-world opportunities to negotiate with other students using case studies that are based on common situations experienced in both business and life.

Students can receive feedback on their performance, as well as compare their arguments to those of their peers. Course topics range from preparing for a negotiation to making ultimatums. The course will also offer insight into more complex situations, such as negotiating when you have no power, negotiating over email, and the role of gender differences in negotiation. 

This course takes approximately 28 hours to complete.

Note: This course is included in Coursera Plus. It's also eligible for financial aid.

 

Introduction to Psychology

Free to audit, $49 for full access

This intro class aims to give students a comprehensive overview of the scientific study of thought and behavior. Course topics include perception, communication, learning, memory, decision-making, persuasion, emotions, and social behavior.

Students will look at how these aspects are affected by variables like development and illness, and grapple with tough questions like "What makes us happy?"

This course should take approximately 15 hours to complete.

Note: This course is included in Coursera Plus. It's also eligible for financial aid.

Moral Foundations of Politics

Free to audit, $49 for full access

"When do governments deserve our allegiance, and when should they be denied it?"

Yale Professor of Political Science Ian Shapiro delves into how the modern West has responded to this question. Students will survey the major political theories of the Enlightenment, as well as the later rejection of Enlightenment political thinking. The class also covers how democratic politics relate to Enlightenment and Anti-Enlightenment political thinking.

Students will consider the practical implications of the diverse theories through debates on concrete problems such as economic inequality, affirmative action, the distribution of health care, and more.

This course should take approximately 44 hours to complete.

Note: This course is included in Coursera Plus. It's also eligible for financial aid.

 

The Global Financial Crisis

Free to audit, $49 for full access

Former US Secretary of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner and Professor Andrew Metrick survey the causes, events, policy responses, and aftermath of the recent global financial crisis — as well as applying lessons we've learned to any future crises.

Topics include housing and mortgages, safe assets and the global savings glut, anxiety, and more.

This course should take approximately 24 hours to complete.

Note: This course is included in Coursera Plus.

Everyday Parenting: The ABCs of Child Rearing

Free to audit, $49 for full access

In this course, Dr. Alan E. Kazdin, Professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry, offers step-by-step instructions for building ideal behaviors in children and adolescents. He also addresses common parenting misconceptions and ineffective strategies.

Among many other techniques, students will learn that simple modifications to tone of voice and phrasing can be highly effective.

This course should take approximately 13 hours to complete.

Note: This course is included in Coursera Plus. Subtitles are available in Chinese and Spanish.

A Law Student's Toolkit

Free to audit, $49 for full access

Good for both aspiring law students in search of an advantage and advanced law students looking for a refresher, this class goes over foundational topics like terminology, concepts, and tools that lawyers and legal academics use to make their arguments. 

This course should take approximately 21 hours to complete.

Note: This course is included in Coursera Plus. It's also eligible for financial aid.

Moralities of Everyday Life

Free to audit, $49 for full access

This course delves into the psychological foundations of our moral lives. Topics include compassion, the origins of morality, how different cultures influence moral thought and action, and more. The class will end trying to answer how we can be said to be moral agents when studies show how our moral behavior is powerfully influenced by the situations we find ourselves in. 

This course should take approximately 25 hours to complete.

Note: This course is included in Coursera Plus. It's also eligible for financial aid.

Essentials of Global Health

Free to audit, $49 for full access

The Essentials of Global Health is designed to be a comprehensive introduction to global health. The class has a particular emphasis on low- and middle-income countries, the health of the poor, health disparities, and how health matters in the context of global interdependence. 

Much of the course will focus on investigating five key questions. What do people get sick, disabled, and die from? Why do they suffer from these conditions? Which people are most affected? Why should we care about such concerns? What can be done to address key health issues, hopefully at least cost, as fast as possible, and in sustainable ways?  

This course should take approximately 56 hours to complete.

Note: Unlimited access to this course is available for free for a limited time to college students. It's also included in Coursera Plus, and it's eligible for financial aid.

Introduction to Climate Change and Health

Free seven-day trial, $49 for full access

This course was designed to get critical information on climate change into the hands of people who can take concrete steps to address its threat, including health and environmental professionals, changemakers, and the general public. 

Robert Dubrow, Yale professor of epidemiology, covers the science of climate change with an emphasis on health equity. Students will learn how climate change affects human health, its adverse health effects (including those related to extreme heat, waterborne infections, and insect-borne diseases among others), and how measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can both limit future climate change and provide immediate health "co-benefits".

This course should take approximately 16 hours to complete.

Note: This course is eligible for financial aid. 

FAQ:

Access to lectures and assignments depends on your type of enrollment. If you take a course in Audit Mode, you will be able to see most course material for free. To access graded assignments and to earn a certificate, you will need to purchase the Certificate Experience, either during or after your audit.

If you don't see the audit option:

  • The course may not offer an audit option. You can try a free trial instead, or apply for financial aid.
  • The course may offer a 'Full Course, No Certificate' option instead. This alternative lets you see all course materials, submit required assignments, and get a final grade. This also means that you will not be able to purchase a Certificate Experience.

Browse all courses from Yale University on Coursera here

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