14 unique University of Michigan courses you can take for online for free, from Storytelling for Social Change to The Science of Success

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  • The University of Michigan ranks as one of the top colleges in the world.
  • Through e-learning platforms like edX, Coursera, and FutureLearn, you can take UMich classes online completely for free (or earn a paid certificate of completion).
  • Below are 14 standout classes, in subjects from coding and data analysis to ethics and public health.

With the advancement of online learning, many top universities like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Stanford, and MIT offer free online classes and remote certificate programs that can be more cost-effective than traditional degrees. 

Joining them is the University of Michigan (#17 of the world’s best colleges, according to US News) which offers free online courses through e-learning platforms like edX, Coursera, and FutureLearn. All of the classes offer optional (paid) certificates of completion to add to your resume or LinkedIn profile. 

Additionally, UMich has longer multi-course professional certificate programs such as an edX MicroMasters in Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement ($940.50) or a Coursera MasterTrack in Social Work ($2,000). For a comparison of edX’s MicroMasters and Coursera’s MasterTrack programs, you can read more here.

Below are a few of UMich’s free online offerings, in subjects ranging from programming and data science to history, ethics, and public health.

14 free online courses from the University of Michigan:

Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python)

Length: 7 weeks

Certificate cost: $49

Python is one of the most popular programming languages used today, and this beginner course is a great way to test out if you like Python — or coding at all — before committing to a longer program or bootcamp.

Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change

Length: 4 weeks

Certificate cost: $49

Part of Coursera’s Social Work MasterTrack program, this course zooms in on social workers and how they can create change for individuals, families, and communities. Topics covered include the history of social work and current challenges in the profession.

Introduction to Data Analytics for Managers

Length: 6 weeks

Certificate cost: $49

If you’re a manager or own your own business, understanding data analytics can make an enormous difference in your success. This course is designed for those who want to learn the basics but don’t have any background in data science or analysis.

Data Science Ethics

Length: 4 weeks

Certificate cost: $49

Whether you’re a data scientist or not, exploring the ethics behind data sharing, privacy, and algorithms is vital in a society that’s becoming increasingly more digital. This course covers who owns data, how to get informed consent, and how to use data in a fairer, more ethical way.

Resilient Teaching Through Times of Crisis and Change

Length: 4 weeks

Certificate cost: $49

For educators who’ve had to rethink their teaching strategy during the pandemic, this course can help build resiliency and connection through reprioritizing goals; utilizing new technology and tools, and drawing inspiration from examples of success.

Storytelling for Social Change

Length: 5 weeks 

Certificate cost: $49 

Strong public speaking skills and the ability to tell impactful stories can inspire momentous change through collective action. In this class, students learn how sharing compelling personal stories can help sway a skeptical audience if they can relate to the protagonist.

Finance for Everyone: Smart Tools for Decision-Making

Length: 6 weeks

Certificate cost: $49

Using real-world, relatable examples, this course is for anyone who wants to enrich their understanding of their finances and make more informed choices around money. Topics discussed include an overview of the financial world and decision-making frameworks.

The Science of Success

Length: 7 weeks

Certificate cost: $59

This course answers the questions “What predicts success in life? And how can you achieve the success you desire?” with research-backed solutions to help students form an action plan to gain more career success and happiness in life.

Community Awareness: Police Brutality in the US

Length: 5 weeks 

Certificate cost: No certificate available

Launched in July 2020, this course examines the history of police violence (including the recent deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor) and is led by experts from all over the US who specialize in subjects like activism, social work, law, government, and higher education.

Fake News, Facts, and Alternative Facts

Length: 1 week

Certificate cost: $25

As more and more inaccurate information is shared and amplified across social media through highly partisan news outlets, this course is perhaps more important than ever in understanding how false or misleading stories undermine our democracy.

Preventing Sleep Deprivation

Length: 2 weeks

Certificate cost: No certificate available

Sleep deprivation is a huge, hidden global health problem, exacerbated by screens. This teach-out covers the importance of sleep in curbing depression and heart failure, as well as how to actually ensure you get enough hours of sleep every night.

Impacting the Opioid Crisis: Prevention, Education, and Practice for Non-Prescribing Providers

Length: 6 weeks

Certificate cost: $49

Intended for those who work in non-prescribing health care or social work, this course walks students through the opioid epidemic along with research-backed solutions for prevention, treatment, education, and even policy.

Democratic to Authoritarian Rule

Length: 1 week

Certificate cost: $25

Bringing global experts and UMich staff together, this teach-out discusses challenges to democracy, the gradual steps towards authoritarianism, and how others can work together to create policy and change to better protect democracy.

*This course is archived but you can still access the learning materials for free

Inspiring and Motivating Individuals

Length: 4 weeks

Certificate cost: $74

Even if all your meetings are over Zoom right now, being able to share your vision for growth with your team is crucial for reaching your goals. This course teaches you how to effectively communicate with and motivate your team as a leader.

*This course is currently unavailable, but FutureLearn will email prospective students when available again.

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