When I launched Class Central back in November 2011, there were around 18 or so free online courses and almost all of them were from Stanford.
There are close to 6,000 MOOCs from 600+ universities around the world
Now there are close to 6,000 MOOCs from 600+ universities around the world. This can be daunting to the millions of learners around the world who have never done an online course before.
That’s why we came up with a list of Top 50 MOOCs of All Time based on thousands of reviews written by Class Central users.
In providing a small but well-reviewed list of courses, our hope is that new learners will not be overwhelmed when entering the MOOC space. Reviews will help new learners figure out if a course is right for them, and they will have a great first experience.
So if you know someone who has never taken an online course, send them here. Use the social media buttons located on this page to share this page with your network, and to help your friends and contacts enrich their lives.
The Top 50 MOOCs will be updated regularly
The Top 50 MOOCs will be updated regularly as new courses are added and we receive new reviews. So bookmark this page for future reference.
Better yet, you can also Follow the Top 50 MOOCs on its special collection page (look for the “follow top 50” button just below the title). Followers will receive a notification whenever we update the Top 50 MOOCs list.
The Top 50 MOOCs collection page. Use the Follow button to be notified when the list gets updated.
Oh … and if you feel that a course you took deserved to be in this list but isn’t, please find the course on Class Central and write a review for the course.
Class Central’s Top 50 MOOCs of All Time
There are a lot of usual suspects in the Top 50. Think of courses like Learning How To Learn, Harvard’s CS50x, ModPo, and Class Central’s best online course of 2015 — A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment. Courses from the founders/CEOs of edX, Coursera, and Udacity are also present.
But there are also a few surprises in the Top 50, such as a couple of language learning courses — FutureLearn’s Introduction to Dutch from the University of Groningen and Tsinghua Chinese: Start Talking with 1.3 Billion People on edX, for example.
Here is a quick summary of the Top 50 list:
Coursera is the top provider with 26 courses in the Top 50, and edX is second with 10 courses;
Stanford tops the list of universities present in the Top 50 with five of their courses making it in, and MIT comes in second with three courses;
the list includes courses from 34 universities, of which 21 universities are in the US; and
UIUC’s Aric Rindfleisch has two courses in the top 50.
If you want to see all courses sorted by their rating, visit the Top 50 collection page. Alternatively, we have organized the courses into four major categories below.
Artificial Intelligence for Robotics Stanford University, via Udacity Learn how to program all the major systems of a robotic car from the leader of Google and Stanford’s autonomous driving teams. This class will teach you basic methods in Artificial Intelligence, including: probabilistic inference, planning and search, localization, tracking and control, all with a focus on robotics.
★★★★★ (17 ratings)
Introduction to Programming with MATLAB Vanderbilt University, via Coursera This course teaches computer programming to those with little to no previous experience. It uses the programming system and language called MATLAB to do so because it is easy to learn, versatile and very useful for engineers and other professionals.
★★★★★ (120 ratings)
Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) University of Michigan, via Coursera This course aims to teach everyone the basics of programming computers using Python. We cover the basics of how one constructs a program from a series of simple instructions in Python. The course has no pre-requisites and avoids all but the simplest mathematics.
★★★★★ (29 ratings)
Intro video for Andrew Ng’s Machine Learning class
Machine Learning Stanford University, via Coursera This course provides a broad introduction to machine learning, datamining, and statistical pattern recognition.
★★★★★ (196 ratings)
Functional Programming Principles in Scala École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, via Coursera In this course you will discover the elements of the functional programming style and learn how to apply them usefully in your daily programming tasks.
★★★★★ (38 ratings)
Algorithms: Design and Analysis, Part 1 Stanford University, via Coursera Algorithms are the heart of computer science, and the subject has countless practical applications as well as intellectual depth. This course is an introduction to algorithms for learners with at least a little programming experience.
★★★★★ (49 ratings)
Algorithms, Part I Princeton University, via Coursera This course covers the essential information that every serious programmer needs to know about algorithms and data structures, with emphasis on applications and scientific performance analysis of Java implementations.
★★★★☆ (37 ratings)
The Analytics Edge Massachusetts Institute of Technology, via edX Through inspiring examples and stories, discover the power of data and use analytics to provide an edge to your career and your life.
★★★★★ (55 ratings)
Artificial Intelligence University of California, Berkeley, via edX The course will introduce the basic ideas and techniques underlying the design of intelligent computer systems.
★★★★★ (26 ratings)
Data Mining with Weka University of Waikato, via Independent Everybody talks about Data Mining and Big Data nowadays. Weka is a powerful, yet easy to use tool for machine learning and data mining. This course introduces you to practical data mining.
★★★★★ (13 ratings)
CS50: Intro to Computer Science | HarvardX on edX | Course’s “About” Video
CS50x: Introduction to Computer Science Harvard University, via edX This is CS50x, Harvard University’s introduction to the intellectual enterprises of computer science and the art of programming for majors and non-majors alike, with or without prior programming experience.
★★★★★ (49 ratings)
Learning From Data (Introductory Machine Learning) California Institute of Technology, via edX This introductory computer science course in machine learning will cover basic theory, algorithms, and applications. Machine learning is a key technology in Big Data, and in many financial, medical, commercial, and scientific applications.
★★★★☆ (15 ratings)
Intro to Computer Science University of Virginia, via Udacity In this introduction to computer programming course, you’ll learn and practice key computer science concepts by building your own versions of popular web applications.
★★★★★ (59 ratings)
Cryptography I Stanford University, via Coursera In this course you will learn the inner workings of cryptographic systems and how to correctly use them in real-world applications.
★★★★★ (37 ratings)
Algorithms for DNA Sequencing Johns Hopkins University, via Coursera Learn computational methods — algorithms and data structures — for analyzing DNA sequencing data. All learn a little about DNA, genomics, and how DNA sequencing is used.
★★★★★ (16 ratings)
Introduction to Big Data with Apache Spark University of California, Berkeley, via edX This course will attempt to articulate the expected output of Data Scientists and then teach students how to use PySpark (part of Apache Spark) to deliver against these expectations.
★★★★☆ (39 ratings)
Finding Hidden Messages in DNA (Bioinformatics I) University of California, San Diego, via Coursera This course begins a series of classes illustrating the power of computing in modern biology. Be on the frontier of bioinformatics to look for hidden messages in DNA without ever needing to put on a lab coat.
★★★★★ (15 ratings)
Learn to Program: The Fundamentals University of Toronto, via Coursera Behind every mouse click and touch-screen tap, there is a computer program that makes things happen. This course introduces the fundamental building blocks of programming and teaches you how to write fun and useful programs using the Python language.
★★★★★ (81 ratings)
Coding in your Classroom, Now! University of Urbino, via EMMA Questo corso è ambizioso e semplicissimo. Ha l’obiettivo di aiutarti ad introdurre il pensiero computazionale in classe attraverso il coding, usando solo attività intuitive e divertenti da proporre direttamente agli alunni.
★★★★★ (11 ratings)
Sciences (13 courses)
Intro video to The Science of the Solar System
The Science of the Solar System California Institute of Technology, via Coursera Learn about the science behind the current exploration of the solar system. Use principles from physics, chemistry, biology, and geology to understand the latest from Mars, comprehend the outer solar system, ponder planets outside our solar system, and search for habitability in our neighborhood and beyond.
★★★★★ (34 ratings)
Introduction to Complexity Santa Fe Institute, via Complexity Explorer Learn about the tools used by scientists to understand complex systems. The topics you’ll learn about include dynamics, chaos, fractals, information theory, self-organization, agent-based modeling, and networks.
★★★★★ (22 ratings)
Medical Neuroscience Duke University, via Coursera This online course is designed to include all of the core concepts in neurophysiology and clinical neuroanatomy that would be presented in most first-year neuroscience courses in schools of medicine.
★★★★★ (14 ratings)
The 3D Printing Revolution University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, via Coursera This course will demonstrate how 3D printers work, show what people make with them, and examine the 3D printing ecosystem.
★★★★★ (13 ratings)
Understanding Dementia University of Tasmania This is a course about dementia looking at a broad range of topics including, basic brain anatomy, pathology, dementia research, risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, medical management, living with dementia, progression and staging, palliation, behaviours and therapeutic approaches.
★★★★★ (12 ratings)
Calculus One Ohio State University, via Coursera This course is a first and friendly introduction to calculus, suitable for someone who has never seen the subject before, or for someone who has seen some calculus but wants to review the concepts and practice applying those concepts to solve problems.
★★★★★ (33 ratings)
Fractals and Scaling Santa Fe Institute, via Complexity Explorer We will begin by viewing fractals as self-similar geometric objects such as trees, ferns, clouds, mountain ranges, and river basins. Fractals are scale-free, in the sense that there is not a typical length or time scale that captures their features.
★★★★★ (15 ratings)
Aprender Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, via Coursera ¿Quieres conocer tus recursos y niveles de desempeño relacionadas con tu proceso de aprender? ¿Te interesa desarrollar habilidades para aprender más y mejor?
★★★★★ (18 ratings)
Marketing in a Digital World University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, via Coursera This course examines how digital tools, such as the Internet, smartphones, and 3D printing, are revolutionizing the world of marketing by shifting the balance of power from firms to consumers.
★★★★★ (141 ratings)
Preparing to Manage Human Resources University of Minnesota, via Coursera This course provides a foundation for developing your own approach to skillfully managing employees by illustrating alternative human resource management (HRM) strategies, introducing the importance of the legal context, and thinking about what motivates employees.
★★★★★ (20 ratings)
Humanities (12 courses)
Modern & Contemporary American Poetry (“ModPo”) University of Pennsylvania, via Coursera ModPo is a fast-paced introduction to modern and contemporary U.S. poetry, with an emphasis on experimental verse, from Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman to the present. Participants (who need no prior experience with poetry) will learn how to read poems that are supposedly “difficult.”
★★★★★ (126 ratings)
Video from A Life Of Happiness and Fulfillment
A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment Indian School of Business, via Coursera This course, based on the award-winning class offered both at the Indian School of Business and at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin, developed by Prof. Raj Raghunathan (aka “Dr. Happy-smarts”) draws content from a variety of fields, including psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral decision theory to offer a tested and practical recipe for leading a life of happiness and fulfillment.
★★★★★ (221 ratings)
The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future Emory University, via Coursera Working through colorful biblical and ancient Near Eastern texts, and drawing on an array of comparative examples, the course illustrates the thoroughgoing manner with which biblical authors responded to defeat by advancing a demotic agenda that places the community at the center.
★★★★★ (29 ratings)
Moralities of Everyday Life Yale University, via Coursera How can we explain kindness and cruelty? Where does our sense of right and wrong come from? Why do people so often disagree about moral issues? This course explores the psychological foundations of our moral lives.
★★★★★ (19 ratings)
The Modern and the Postmodern with Michael S Roth
The Modern and the Postmodern (Part 1) Wesleyan University, via Coursera This course examines how the idea of “the modern” develops at the end of the 18th century in European philosophy and literature, and how being modern (or progressive, or hip) became one of the crucial criteria for understanding and evaluating cultural change.
★★★★★ (17 ratings)
Shakespeare and his World The University of Warwick, via FutureLearn The course will open with an introduction to Shakespeare and his living and working environment, moving onto broader cultural themes and issues examined in his plays and ending with an exploration of his legacy.
★★★★★ (12 ratings)
Introduction to Dutch University of Groningen, via FutureLearn Are you planning to visit, or work or study in the Netherlands soon? This free online course is perfect if you have little or no prior knowledge of Dutch, but would like to master the fundamentals in order to survive life in the Low Countries.
★★★★★ (19 ratings)
What Is a Mind? University of Cape Town, via FutureLearn This free online course will bring together learners and practitioners interested in how the mind works. It aims to build bridges between traditionally antagonistic approaches to understanding the mind.
★★★★★ (65 ratings)
Justice Harvard University, via edX Justice, one of the most famous courses taught at Harvard College, is an introduction to moral and political philosophy, offering an opportunity to discuss contemporary dilemmas and controversies.
★★★★★ (23 ratings)
Model Thinking University of Michigan, via Coursera We live in a complex world with diverse people, firms, and governments whose behaviors aggregate to produce novel, unexpected phenomena. We see political uprisings, market crashes, and a never ending array of social trends. How do we make sense of it? Models.
★★★★★ (46 ratings)
The methodology we used for this list is simple. Using thousands of reviews written by our users, Class Central was able to sort these courses by the Bayesian average of their ratings. Then we removed all the courses with less than ten reviews (the low threshold helps smaller providers to compete on quality) and courses for which we had doubts whether they would be offered again. If a course has multiple parts, we only included the first part in the Top 50.
Note: A few of the Coursera courses in the list have a paywall for graded assignments. You can read more about it here.
P.S. If you want to see how Class Central looked in November 2011, you can see it here on the Internet Archive.
Dhawal is the CEO of Class Central, the most popular search engine and review site for online courses and MOOCs. He has completed over a dozen MOOCs and has written over 200 articles about the MOOC space, including contributions to TechCrunch, EdSurge, Quartz, and VentureBeat.