October 4, 2022

Education For Live

Masters Of Education

25 Free Online Classes for Seniors

14 min read

We are living in a digital age. Millions are working online from the comfort of their own homes. Meanwhile, students of all ages use the internet to continue their studies (or learn something completely new).

Learning a new skill or finding your next favorite thing has arguably never been easier. The wealth of free online classes for seniors makes it highly accessible for anyone. 

We’ve sourced 25 of the best free online courses for seniors. Whether you’re a seasoned pro at taking online classes or looking to try something for beginners, you can get started on your learning journey right away. 

Online Technology Classes

Online technology classes are a perfect choice for seniors looking to learn or enhance their tech skills at their own pace. Classes are available on numerous topics, such as digital security and office software. There are even curricula for coding. 

1. Digital Skills: Embracing Digital Technology

This course covers fundamental digital skills that you can use every day. Best of all, you can complete each lesson and activity at your own pace. With FutureLearn basic access, you can access this course for a limited time (four weeks) for free. 

  • Class provider: King’s College London (through Futurelearn.com).
  • Certificate: This course offers a Certificate of Achievement with the FutureLearn Unlimited membership (at $23.33/month).
  • Curriculum level: This course was developed for people unfamiliar with the digital world — specifically, to improve the lives of migrants, refugees, or others adapting to the digital age for the first time. 
  • Time to complete: The course is scheduled for four weeks, with three hours of weekly study time. However, you can take the entire course at your own pace.

2. iPhone and iPad Tips and Tricks

iPhone and iPad Tips and Tricks is an excellent course for seniors new to Apple devices or mobile devices in general. This course provides ample tips for using Apple’s mobile devices, from app management to managing your data usage.

  • Class provider: Garrick Chow, Senior Staff Instructor at LinkedIn Learning.
  • Certificate: This course offers a Certificate of Completion through LinkedIn Learning. LinkedIn Learning is free for the first month and $26.99/month after.
  • Curriculum level: Intermediate.
  • Time to complete: Each lesson is concise, so the entire course should take you 35 minutes to complete. You can also go back and rewatch each section multiple times. 

3. Microsoft Office Basics

In today’s digital age, skills with productivity software can help with a range of tasks. This includes budgeting, correspondence, and even business. The Microsoft Office Basics course introduces several tips and lessons for Microsoft’s software suite. 

The courses are self-paced and great for first-time users. Plus, the lessons are free with guided steps and videos.

  • Class provider: Goodwill Community Foundation’s GCF Learn Free Program.
  • Certificate: This course offers a Certificate of Completion.
  • Curriculum level: Though intended for beginners, those taking the course should know basic computer operations. 
  • Time to complete: There are four primary program curricula and four courses full of additional tips. With each module containing upwards of 30 lessons, this self-paced course may take weeks to complete.

4. Computer Programming for Everyone

With the Computer Programming for Everyone course, those with existing digital skills can boost their technical knowledge of computers and computer languages. Using FutureLearn’s basic access, you can take this course for free for two weeks. 

This course is excellent for anyone searching for advanced computer know-how or even a late-career change.

  • Class provider: The University of Leeds (through FutureLearn.com).
  • Certificate: This course provides a Certificate of Achievement with the FutureLearn Unlimited membership (at $23.33/month).
  • Curriculum level: This course requires previous knowledge of computers and how to use them. As such, this is an intermediate-level course. 
  • Time to complete: This course can be finished in two weeks, with just two hours of weekly study. It can also be completed at your preferred personal pace if you upgrade to FutureLearn’s unlimited package ($23.33/month). 

5. Security Tips

Digital security isn’t merely strong passwords and antivirus software. Anyone who uses a computer should know the security tips to keep them safe in this digital age. From understanding scams to protecting yourself from hackers, this course is valuable for all.

  • Class provider: Scott Simpson of LinkedIn Learning.
  • Certificate: This course offers a Certificate of Completion with a LinkedIn Learning account. LinkedIn Learning is free for the first month and $26.99/month after. 
  • Curriculum level: This course is designed for every level of technological skill.
  • Time to complete: This course is self-paced, and it should take three hours and 43 minutes to complete.

Online Finance & Investing Classes

Understanding your finances and investing options as a senior can help you maximize your existing retirement accounts and make your money work for you.

6. Investments at MIT

The Investments course is an in-depth class in quantitative investment knowledge offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It uses mathematics, optimized financial theories, and comprehensive market expertise to teach expert portfolio decisions and advanced investment finances. 

  • Class provider: MIT’s OpenCourseWare.
  • Certificate: There are no certificates provided.
  • Curriculum level: Advanced (Graduate Level).
  • Time to complete: This course comprises 23 lectures and five group assignments. Each lesson lasts 1.5 hours, and there are two lectures each week, including exams. 

7. Just Money: Banking as if Society Mattered

Just Money: Banking as if Society Mattered is for those interested in understanding how banking and finances affect society. This course places a strong emphasis on the impact of your finances on social and environmental concerns, especially how digital tools and methods can help banks improve society as a whole. 

  • Class provider: MIT’s OpenCourseWare and edX.
  • Certificate: On edX, the $49 verified track offers a certificate upon completion. Otherwise, there is no provided certificate. Without the certificate upgrade (optional), the course is entirely free. 
  • Curriculum level: This is an introductory course available for everyone. 
  • Time to complete: This is a self-paced course. At the standard speed of three to four hours of study per week, it will take 16 weeks to complete.

8. Finance Fundamentals: Managing the Household Budget Sheet

It is never too late to discover how to manage your finances better. Finance Fundamentals: Managing the Household Budget Sheet teaches lessons on borrowing, investments, and debts. It also focuses on strengthening and preparing for your ongoing financial future.

  • Class provider: The Open University Business school (through FutureLearn.com).
  • Certificate: This course is accredited by the Online Course Certification System.
  • Curriculum level: This course is available for anyone. It is a powerful tool for seniors looking to operate their household finances better.
  • Time to complete: This is a guided four-week course, with three hours of weekly study expected. 

9. Investments and Retirement

Investments and Retirement is a powerful and free lesson for seniors looking to explore the world of investments. This course delves into investments, mutual funds, life insurance, and other relevant financial topics. Seniors should take this course to help maximize their finances for upcoming retirement goals.

  • Class provider: Khan Academy.
  • Certificate: This course offers no certificate. 
  • Curriculum level: This course is designed for adults of any level, but those with prior financial experience may have an easier time. 
  • Time to complete: This course features 14 videos of various lengths. Watch at your leisure, and expect upwards of a few hours’ worth of insightful content. 

10. Principles of Wealth Management 

Seniors looking for further insight into personal finance should enroll in Principles of Wealth Management. This course focuses on advanced financial theories and mathematical formulas to delve into specialized investments, portfolio diversification, and more. This course is available for seven weeks using FutureLearn’s free basic access program. 

  • Class provider: Hanken School of Economics (through FutureLearn.com).
  • Certificate: This course offers a Certificate of Achievement with the FutureLearn Unlimited membership (at $23.33/month).
  • Curriculum level: This course focuses on advanced topics. As such, it is geared toward those with existing personal finance knowledge.
  • Time to complete: This course can be completed at your own pace. Following a study schedule of four hours per week, it should take seven weeks to complete. 

Online Language Learning Classes

Learning a new language as a senior is an enlightening undertaking. It is beneficial for multiple areas of the brain. Also, online language classes help seniors improve communication with people from all over the globe. 

11. Introduction to Norwegian

The University of Oslo’s Introduction to Norwegian is an excellent course for seniors looking to learn the Norwegian language, customs, and culture. 

This course addresses the main rules of Norwegian grammar and pronunciation. It does so by focusing on basic, everyday conversations. Plus, a Norwegian Chatbot allows you to communicate in your new language with a “native Norwegian AI.” FutureLearn’s basic access program lets you take this course for four weeks for free. 

  • Class provider: The University of Oslo (through FutureLearn.com).
  • Certificate: This course offers a Certificate of Achievement with the FutureLearn Unlimited membership (at $23.33/month). 
  • Curriculum level: No prior Norwegian experience is needed for this course. As such, it is available for everyone. 
  • Time to complete: This course is self-paced. It should take four weeks to complete, assuming five hours of weekly study. 

12. Spanish I

As the second-most spoken language globally, Spanish is a beautiful and beneficial language for everyone to learn. Offered by MIT, Spanish I is a series of 26 half-hour videos. Each video provides an authentically Spanish dive into the culture, emotions, and language.

  • Class provider: MIT OpenCourseWare.
  • Certificate: There is no certificate for this course. 
  • Curriculum level: This course is for anyone without previous knowledge of Spanish.
  • Time to complete: Originally developed to fit a 15-week schedule, this course is now self-led. Expect 13 hours of videos, plus additional time for activities and extra exercises. 

13. Contemporary Chinese

For seniors interested in learning the culture and language of China, Contemporary Chinese is an excellent place to start. Teaching traditional Chinese characters and Pīnyīn, this course introduces the basics of Chinese Mandarin. Also, students will learn about various aspects of Chinese culture. This ranges from traditional family trees to cultural customs. 

You can sample this class with a free seven-day trial of FutureLearn’s ExpertTrack program but will need to upgrade to finish. The ExpertTrack program is a great way to try out classes to make sure you enjoy them before purchasing full access to FutureLearn’s vast category of online classes. 

  • Class provider: Chinese Plus (through FutureLearn.com).
  • Certificate: This course offers a validated, official certificate of completion with a FutureLearn Expert Track membership ($39/month). 
  • Curriculum level: This course is developed for anyone interested in learning Chinese. No prior experience is needed. 
  • Time to complete: This is a self-guided course. It should take five weeks to complete at five hours of study per week. 

14. Speak Italian With Your Mouth Full

Fully embracing Italy’s culture (and the food), Speak Italian With Your Mouth Full teaches the language through cuisine. Broken down into 13 video lessons, the curriculum focuses on teaching how to speak Italian by teaching how to cook like an Italian.

  • Class provider: MIT OpenCourseWare.
  • Certificate: There is no certificate for this course. 
  • Curriculum level: This course is fun and accessible to people with no prior Italian skills.
  • Time to complete: This course is self-paced. In addition to the lessons, the various recipes take different times to complete. 

15. Irish 101: An Introduction to Irish Language and Culture

Irish 101: An Introduction to Irish Language and Culture will interest seniors curious about the history and culture of Ireland. By focusing on the Irish people and their heritage, students learn basic Irish language skills. This class is available for free with basic access to FutureLearn’s platform for four weeks. 

  • Class provider: Dublin City University (through FutureLearn.com).
  • Certificate: This course offers a Certificate of Achievement with the FutureLearn Unlimited membership (at $23.33/month).
  • Curriculum level: This course is developed for anyone interested in the Irish language, history, and culture. As such, no prior Irish experience is needed.
  • Time to complete: With four hours of study per week, this course should take four weeks. However, it is self-paced, so feel free to learn on your schedule.

Online Art & Music Classes

As a senior, you might finally find the time you’ve always wanted for artistic endeavors. With online classes, you can bring art and music education right into your living room. These courses are designed to bolster your love of art by helping you find a new hobby and brush up on dormant skills. 

16. Popular Culture and Narrative: Serial Storytelling

Seniors interested in the art of storytelling will find great value in MIT’s Popular Culture and Narrative: Serial Storytelling. This course focuses on how the passage of time, popular culture, and various media forms influence how stories are created and told.

  • Class provider: MIT OpenCourseWare.
  • Certificate: There is no certificate for this course. 
  • Curriculum level: This course is available for all. Prior experience with art and literature might help with clarity, but it is unnecessary. 
  • Time to complete: This course is broken into 25 self-paced sessions. It is recommended to complete two two-hour sessions each week. 

17. Introduction to Art History

Introduction to Art History provides a deep insight into the portrayal of history as told through art and how art has influenced and has itself changed through history. It’s an excellent opportunity for seniors who love classic, Euro-American art over the past seven centuries.

  • Class provider: MIT OpenCourseWare.
  • Certificate: There is no certificate for this course. 
  • Curriculum level: This course has been developed for everyone, and no prior knowledge of art history is needed. 
  • Time to complete: Originally developed as a 15-week course, the online version is self-paced. With that said, two weekly sessions of 1.5 hours each are the average pace. 

18. Art Since 1940

For those more interested in contemporary art and culture worldwide, MIT’s Art Since 1940 is a strong choice. Focusing on art after the WWII era, this course explores the relationship between art, politics, and culture over the past century. Additionally, the course will study how the art boom of the 40s has evolved into today’s art.

  • Class provider: MIT OpenCourseWare.
  • Certificate: There is no certificate for this course. 
  • Curriculum level: This course is available to all. While it deals with a more specific period of art history, no prior experience in art or history is needed.
  • Time to complete: This self-led course features 14 lectures covering various topics. A standard pace assumes two sessions a week, with each session taking 1.5 hours. 

19. The Anthropology of Sound

The Anthropology of Sound is designed for students interested in the auditory arts. The course focuses on the relationship between humans, culture, and the transmission of sound. First, students will explore sounds from music to environmental noises. Then, they will study how those sounds correspond to cultural and scientific advancements.

  • Class provider: MIT OpenCourseWare.
  • Certificate: There is no certificate for this course. 
  • Curriculum level: This course is available for all, and no prior skills are necessary.
  • Time to complete: This course features 14 three-hour weekly lectures.

20. Popular Musics of the World

Focusing on popular music outside of the U.S., Popular Musics of the World looks at what makes music popular. It also focuses on how music has changed worldwide due to Western recording technology and artistic influences.

  • Class provider: MIT OpenCourseWare.
  • Certificate: There is no certificate for this course. 
  • Curriculum level: No prior education or experience is required for this course.
  • Time to complete: This course features 26 weeks of lessons and assignments. Each week is divided into two 1.5-hour sessions.

Online College Classes

Online college classes are an excellent way for senior citizens to learn new skills and improve their existing proficiencies. In most states, enrollment for seniors is free or costs are greatly reduced if class openings are available.  

Many state universities and colleges offer free college courses. Some of the top institutions in the world offer online courses for free, including Yale and Harvard University. In addition, several non-college educational services, such as Udacity and Coursera, offer college-level courses on various subjects.

How to get free college credits as a senior citizen

21. Open Yale Courses

Open Yale Courses provide course material and recorded video lectures for free. These self-guided courses focus on liberal arts disciplines of all levels. These offerings range from humanities to biological sciences. There is no required registration, but no credit or certificate is offered either.

22. Harvard Open Courses

Harvard Open Courses provides over 400 courses on various topics and proficiency levels. You can audit over 120 courses for free, including the accompanying lesson plans and coursework. Paid classes are available in many disciplines, from personal health and medicine to data sciences.

23. Stanford Free Online Courses

Stanford’s Free Online Courses provide academic lessons taught by world-class Stanford faculty. Courses are varied and diverse. Seniors can find lectures on Cybersecurity, the Special Theory of Relativity, and plenty in between.

24. edX Open College Courses

edX is a free online course provider partnered with over 160 of the world’s top universities, including Berkely and MIT. Over 3,000 college-level courses are offered in over 30 subjects. 

All of edX’s offerings are free as audited courses. Each lesson also features a verified track for varying prices. Every verified track has assignments, quizzes, and exams graded by instructors and then awards a verified certificate at the end of the course. 

There are also various other degree and certification programs, although most are not free.

25. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) 

As part of edX’s library, Massive Open Online Courses provides edX’s extensive course library to hundreds of thousands of learners. MOOCs can offer college credits and other recognized accolades. As a part of edX, all course materials and instructor lessons are optimized for online learning.

How to Prepare for Online Learning

Online learning provides seniors with an excellent option for expanding their education. You can join all online courses wherever an internet connection is available, meaning you can attend a class in your living room, or even while traveling. 

Why take online classes as a senior?

What Materials Do You Need?

Online courses will require a computer and an internet connection. Be sure to bring along a notebook for notes, and find a quiet area that is conducive to learning. 

For specific courses, additional materials and supplies will be listed. This can range from textbooks to software, and students may have to purchase these items themselves. Be sure to check for materials requirements before signing up for any course.

Are Free Classes Really Free?

In most cases, “free” is another word for auditing the course. This typically won’t result in any certificates or credit. However, the lessons themselves are otherwise unimpacted.

Like MIT’s OpenCourseWare, other academic sources provide entire curricula and course materials for free. Again, these are essentially self-led, audited courses. However, the contents have been created by some of the leading minds in their respective fields.

Quality sources of education will highlight their pricing structures up-front and without hesitation. When signing up for a free course, always ensure that all resources are truly free. Never enter any payment information for a course that should be free.

How Do Online Class Schedules Work?

In most cases, free courses can fit any schedule because there’s no set course time. Many online education sites understand the busy schedules of adults. Their lessons are made to be self-led and completed on one’s own schedule.

With that said, double-check the specifics of each course before signing up. Some courses run concurrently with on-campus offerings. These courses might require on-time attendance and interaction with your classmates (so be sure you have a camera so your peers can see you!).

More interactive courses may also have set days and times of the week to better reach all students at once. While this is more likely for paid courses, some free courses track attendance, so be sure to free up your schedule for education.

Free Classes for Seniors Near Me

Free in-person classes can be found in many locations. Seniors can visit local public libraries, community colleges, and even museums for a variety of courses. 

To find specific classes (online or in-person), simply perform a Google search for Free classes for seniors near me. Ignore any results that say “ad” next to them. Your top results should be tailored to your local area. 

Online classes allow seniors and busy older adults to build skills in nearly any discipline. Additionally, most online courses are self-led. This allows students to set the pace of their education around their lives. If you’ve felt the need to improve your mental acuity, turn to online classes. In the digital age, lifelong learning is achievable by everyone.

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