My parents are both recent retirees with a lot of new free time on their hands. One thing that they are always on the lookout for are easy ways to learn new things. Turns out there are quite a few options out there when it comes to free online classes for senior citizens and I thought I could share them with you all.
In this guide, we’ll be looking at places I found that provide free online classes for seniors. Some even offer free college courses!
Many of these sites come with lectures, free courses, and even suggested homework for you to complete.
Sites that Offer Free Online Courses for Seniors
There are tons of websites and organizations that make lifelong-learning possible for the elderly. The following sites are free for you to use any time to better your education!
Offering literally thousands of free lectures from top universities like Princeton, Harvard, and Oxford, Academic Earth has a robust open course program that allows you to learn from the comfort of home.
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Alison is a for-profit organization dedicated to providing education for no charge since 2007. They make their money through advertising and the sale of merchandise and diplomas to graduates.
You can take any of their courses for free, but the diploma will cost you.
They offer courses in:
3. BBC Language
Where else can you learn 40 different languages from one site for free? They offer classes for beginners and beyond, so you can join with any skill level. They also have a section for kids, so you can learn alongside the grandkids! Their most popular courses are:
Codeacademy is geared specifically toward people who want to learn computer programming. Over 45 million users have taken advantage of their free courses on everything from making websites to using the same programming language found in iPhone apps.
Coursera is primarily a paid online university offering two to four-year degrees in a variety of subjects. They do, however, have a selection of courses available at no extra cost, with flexible schedules and quizzes to test your learning. Some of the courses you can take are:
- The Science of Wellbeing
- Financial Markets
- Machine Learning
- Successful Negotiations: Essential Strategies and Skills
- Financial Engineering and Risk Management
- Introduction to Philosophy
From simple certifications to a Master’s degree, edX probably has something you’ll be interested in, all for free! edX is a global nonprofit started by Harvard and MIT, and has been used by over 20 million learners.
Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education, otherwise known as their Extension School, provides a few of their courses online for no extra cost. You can also navigate to Harvard’s Online Learning section which offers courses from all of the college’s departments.
8. iTunes U
This app is advertised primarily as an educational resource for students and teachers to plan lessons, but it also features books, lectures, and more on a variety of subjects. These lessons are provided by universities around the globe, as well as museums like the Smithsonian.
9. Khan Academy
Khan Academy aims itself at students from preschool to college, but there’s no age limit on learning! Started as a tutorial series focusing on mathematics, Khan has expanded to cover any subject you care to name.
Want to learn a new language? Memrise allows you to watch native speakers who know what they’re talking about, no pun intended. They also have a handy app so you can learn even when you’re out and about.
MIT’s name carries a lot of clout in the educational world, and now you can proudly say that you learned from them for free! And it’s not just technology classes, either. MIT’s OpenCourseWare offers courses in Business, Fine Arts, and the Humanities as well.
Presented by Carnegie Mellon University, these Independent Learner Courses are self-paced and self-guided. They don’t offer credit if you complete them, but they do offer an opportunity to learn new things and broaden your horizons. Some of the courses available right now are:
- General Chemistry 1 and 2
- Introduction to Programming in Java
- Elementary Chinese 1
- Environmental Technology
- Visual Design
- Modern Biology
Though you can’t earn credit through Yale’s Open Courses, no registration or admission to Yale is required to learn from lectures recorded in their classrooms. You can learn about anything from Physics to the Old Testament at your own pace using the provided course materials.
You can get free courses from Stanford’s School of Medicine, Engineering, or their School of Humanities and Sciences at no cost.
If you’ve been around the internet you’ve probably heard of TEDTalks, the nonprofit lecture series presenting ideas from prominent minds around the world.
Now they have a series presenting lessons on a variety of subjects in an easy-to-digest video format!
Videolectures is an award-winning site that collects scientific learning from across the world from sources like MIT and Stanford, presenting them in an accessible video format.
This app isn’t just meant for seniors — all ages can use it — but it is so good I have to list it. Duolingo is a language teaching app that personalizes your learning experience by adapting to what you know and what lessons to struggle with. You receive immediate grading when you complete their short lesson plans. Best of all, they even have ways for you to practice the language with other users.
Can’t find classes on topics you like to learn more about?
Check out these places to find more.
AARP is one of the most popular organizations geared toward senior citizens. And their great AARP membership offers so many benefits to seniors.
They also have a website where they publish truly helpful guides for the elderly and retirees. If you are interested in the concept of lifelong learning and looking for other resources that offer free internet-based courses, check out this handy guide by AARP. It lists a whole bunch of links to free online classes and courses for seniors, along with tips and tricks to make your learning experience fun and enjoyable.
YouTube isn’t just for funny cat videos. You can find videos on literally any topic. In fact,m there are a lot of great teachers that teach classes for free. You can learn anything from Yoga and Mediation to Cooking, Sewing, fixing things, and everything in between.
Some of the top learning channels on YouTube include:
To find more, simply visit YouTube and search for a topic you want to learn more about. Once you’ve found a video that you like, subscribe (it’s free) to the creators channel so you don’t miss on their new videos.
What You Need
To take online classes, you need a few basic things that most people already have.
Obviously, to access anything online you need a computer or any other device that lets you connect to the internet.
Having a good internet connection is important especially when it comes to taking audio and video-based classes. You don’t need a super fast internet connection but you also won’t be able to view video and audio based courses through extremely slow connections.
Notebook & Pen
You might need to tale notes throughout lessons, so having a notebook and a pen come in handy. Although there are apps and browser add-ons that let you do the same, but if you’re not very familiar with technology, it might just be easier to jot down notes on a piece of paper.
While not absolutely necessary, a pair of headphones does make it easier to take online classes especially if you are hearing or sight-impaired. Another benefit is that you can watch and listen to courses anywhere without disturbing other people around you.
You probably already have all these things so you don’t need to spend any money shopping for “back to school” supplies.
Free Classes for Seniors Near Me
Don’t fancy learning online? Would rather learn in person where you can interact with the teacher and classmates?
Check out these places to find free classes near you for seniors.
Most people think of local public libraries as places where you can borrow books, but they offer much more. Many public libraries offer evening and weekend classes for kids and seniors. Check with your local public library to see if they have classes on topics that you are interested in learning more about.
21. City & County Recreation Programs
Another great place to look for free classes for seniors near you is your city or county’s recreation department. Many of these local departments offer classes not only for kids but also for adults including people age 50 and older.
What is particularly great about attending classes thought by your local government’s recreation programs is that they may even offer classes specific to your region, like the history of your town.
To find out about current classes, just call or visit your local City Hall.
Using Free College Tuition for Seniors
More and more colleges these days are offering online classes to keep up with the demand for space in their classrooms and to meet the needs of students with busy schedules. This, coupled with the fact that all 50 states offer some kind of waiver for tuition for students who are seniors, means that seniors can attend classes at a state institution for no cost.
It’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t a federal program and that each state has implemented its own rules as to who qualifies as a ‘senior.’ For example, in Alaska you qualify if you’re old enough to receive full Social Security benefits.
For a list of free or cheap college courses for older adults in all 50 States, check out this AARP guide.
You don’t have to sign up at a local college or pay a ton of money to learn a new skill. The internet has tons to offer if you know where to look!
If you know of any other free online classes for seniors, please let us know by leaving a comment below.