The Best Free University and College Courses for Psychology

The Best Free University and College Courses for Psychology

The Best Free University and College Courses for Psychology

Why Take an Online Psychology Course?

The American Psychological Association defines psychology as the study of mind and behavior, and that means that psychology is all around us – in the way we think, the decisions we make and what shapes our personality.

Choosing to study psychology gives you a deeper understanding of the human condition as well as insights about the motivation, perception and behaviors of others – and of yourself.

There are many career options that develop directly from the study of psychology – from becoming one of many types of psychologist (like a clinical psychologist or a forensic psychologist) or other related fields.

People who study psychology find careers in further or higher education, as well as becoming different kinds of therapists.

Of course, there are less obvious career choices that could come out of good psychology knowledge:

Even if you decide to study psychology without a career change in mind, there are a number of industries that are interested in the skills that you can gain from your learning.

Financial organizations and research positions will be interested in analytical skills, while the police, prison and probation services appreciate the deeper knowledge, insight and understanding of human behavior and motivation.

Who Might Benefit From Taking a Free University Psychology Course?

Free online courses are known as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). These are courses full of excellent education that can be audited for free – full access to all the learning materials, but without a certification at the end of it.

In most cases, MOOCs can be upgraded for a small fee to add a recognized certificate for completion.

Even without certification, a MOOC can be beneficial for a number of situations and circumstances.

You can expect to learn skills like:

Each one of these skills has far-reaching benefits that go beyond just a certification.

Career Change

If you are looking for a new start in a new industry, taking a free online course can give you an idea of the principles and foundations of the discipline.

It can also give you a solid understanding of the available learning options that you might not have considered.

Making the decision to go for a career change and using a MOOC to kickstart that means that all you need to invest in the idea is time and see how that goes.

Promotion

Even in seemingly unrelated industries, the knowledge and skills gained from studying a free psychology course could help you gain a promotion.

Whether through better understanding of a customer and the buying journey through psychological insights or understanding how best to motivate staff you are managing, learning about psychology is a great addition to your knowledge base.

Career development is easier when you have a series of steps to take – and extra learning is an important part of this.

Developing Fundamental Knowledge

For students who are taking on a college or university course in psychology, a MOOC can help develop a baseline of knowledge.

This can make you feel more confident in your skills before you start.

You can choose an overview course for background knowledge or look into a specialism.

Learning New Skills

A MOOC in psychology might be an interesting way to develop new skills, even if you do not have any immediate requirement for the knowledge you acquire.

You might want to undertake this learning alongside your current obligations – and with the online and self-paced nature of free courses you can take yourself through the course on a schedule that suits you.

Interest in Finding Out More About Human Behavior

Psychology is an interesting and wide-ranging field of study that is all about making sense of the reasons people make decisions, how personality shapes behavior and how these things can be developed.

If you are interested in getting more of an understanding of how the human mind works, a free course can provide this.

What Should You Expect to Gain From Your Psychology Course?

Each course is different, using different learning methods.

Research might focus on case studies and content analysis, or it might be through experiments.

If you are undertaking a course that is introductory, you might expect to learn more about the history of psychology and how different psychological theories developed over time.

You are likely to be introduced to the scientific method. You might learn about different areas of the brain as a physical entity.

How to Improve Your Understanding of Psychology Alongside Your Course

There are many different ways to improve your psychology knowledge alongside your course, and a wealth of options available online that could help you learn more.

Journals and Websites

There are a number of official websites and journals that offer knowledge on current trends in psychology, as well as up-to-date research in scientific developments.

Websites like Psychology Today are available internationally, and the journal Annual Review of Psychology can give you information on trends that are developing.

Books

Although we live in a largely digital world, books are an excellent source of knowledge that shouldn’t be overlooked.

There are a number of academic books that are widely available and would give you more information and background than even the most comprehensive MOOCs online.

Some of the books you might find useful can be found with a simple internet search but this list from Oxford Scholastica has a good range of options.

Videos and Podcasts

There are many videos available online for free on video sharing sites like YouTube that could provide insight and knowledge.

It is not always easy to find legitimate sources of videos, so checking the credentials of the creators is important.

You can also find a number of TED Talks that contain different perspectives.

There are lots of resources available online to take advantage of and obtain further knowledge of psychology.

The Best Free University and College Courses for Psychology

Introductory Courses

1. Yale

Course title: Introduction to Psychology
Course provider: Coursera with Yale
Course length: 15 hours
Cost: Free (add certification from $49)
Instructor-led or self-paced: Self-paced
Enrolment requirements: None – suitable for beginners

This is a beginner-level look at the history and foundations of psychology.

  • Foundations – An introduction to the idea of neuroscience, Freudian and Skinner theories
  • Development and Language – How infants and children think, and how the relationship between language and thought develops
  • Cognition – An introduction to cognitive psychology, including perception, attention and memory
  • Self and Others – Social and non-social emotions, social psychology
  • Variation – Personality, intelligence, mental illness
  • The Good Life – How psychologists measure happiness

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The Best Free University and College Courses for Psychology
The Best Free University and College Courses for Psychology

2. University of Toronto

Course title: Introduction to Psychology
Course provider: Coursera with University of Toronto
Course length: 23 hours
Cost: Free (add certification from $49)
Instructor-led or self-paced: Self-paced
Enrolment requirements: None – suitable for beginners

This course aims to give a broad overview of psychology, including the scientific method of research and how the brain works.

  • History and the Scientific Method – The science of psychology
  • The Matter of the Mind – Brain organization and structure
  • Sensation, Perception, Attention and Awareness
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • The Social Mind
  • Mental Illness
  • Final Assignment

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3. University of York

Course title: Introduction to Cognitive Psychology: An Experimental Science
Course provider: FutureLearn with University of York
Course length: 4 hours per week, approximately 3 weeks
Cost: Free (add certification for £42)
Instructor-led or self-paced: Self-paced
Enrolment requirements: None – suitable for beginners

This course is based on experiments in cognitive psychology specifically, but at an introductory level.

It offers knowledge of how to conduct, analyze and understand cognitive psychology experiments.

  • How to run an experiment
  • How memory is studied
  • Key aspects – Psychology of thinking, reasoning and imagination

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4. University of Queensland

Course title: Introduction to Clinical Psychology
Course provider: edX with University of Queensland
Course length: 1 to 2 hours per week, approximately 7 weeks to complete
Cost: Free (add certification for £72)
Instructor-led or self-paced: Self-paced
Enrolment requirements: None – suitable for beginners. Is part of a (paid-for) series of courses.

Clinical psychology deals with the study of psychological disorders. In this course you will learn about common issues and the treatments used for them.

  • Common psychological disorders
  • How stress affects us
  • Personality and intelligence theories
  • Normal aging

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Specialisms

5. Johns Hopkins University

Course title: Psychological First Aid
Course provider: Coursera with Johns Hopkins University
Course length: 6 hours
Cost: Free (add certification from $49)
Instructor-led or self-paced: Self-paced
Enrolment requirements: None – suitable for beginners

This is a special course focusing on the RAPID model of dealing with psychological issues.

  • Reflective Listening
  • Assessment and Prioritization
  • Intervention and Disposition
  • Self-Care and Wrap-Up

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6. University of Cape Town

Course title: What is a Mind?
Course provider: FutureLearn with University of Cape Town
Course length: 3 hours per week, approximately 6 weeks to complete
Cost: Free (add certification for £37)
Instructor-led or self-paced: Self-paced
Enrolment requirements: None – suitable for beginners

This is a course based on neuropsychology specifically.

  • Understanding the Mind
  • Subjectivity
  • Consciousness
  • Intentionality and the Unconscious
  • Agency
  • Changing the Mind

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7. University of Reading

Course title: Understanding Anxiety, Depression and CBT
Course provider: FutureLearn with University of Reading
Course length: 3 hours a week, approximately 5 weeks to complete
Cost: Free (add certification for £52)
Instructor-led or self-paced: Self-paced
Enrolment requirements: None – suitable for beginners

This course focuses on the CBT approach in dealing with depression and anxiety, while making sense of the world around us.

  • Understanding Depression and Anxiety and the CBT Approach
  • Addressing Unhelpful Behaviors in Anxiety and Depression
  • Addressing Unhelpful Thinking in Anxiety and Depression

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8. University of Auckland

Course title: Logical and Critical Thinking
Course provider: FutureLearn with University of Auckland
Course length: 4 hours a week, approximately 8 weeks to complete
Cost: Free (add certification for £52)
Instructor-led or self-paced: Self-paced
Enrolment requirements: None – suitable for beginners

This is a course aimed to give learners an insight into better thinking and evaluation of arguments.

  • How to identify and avoid common thinking mistakes
  • Recognize, reconstruct and evaluate arguments
  • Learn about basic logical tools
  • The application of tools, through science, moral theories and law

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9. Copenhagen Business School

Course title: An Introduction to Consumer Neuroscience and Neuromarketing
Course provider: Coursera with Copenhagen Business School
Course length: 26 hours
Cost: Free (add certification from $49)
Instructor-led or self-paced: Self-paced
Enrolment requirements: None – suitable for beginners

This is a course aimed at learners in businesses who are looking for insight into the way consumers behave.

  • What is Neuromarketing
  • Attention and Consciousness
  • Sensory Neuromarketing
  • Emotions, Feelings, Wanting and Liking
  • Learning and Memory
  • Neuroethics and Consumer Aberrations

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10. Wesleyan University

Course title: Social Psychology Course provider Coursera with Wesleyan University Course length: 38 hours Cost: Free (add certification from $49) Instructor-led or self-paced: Self-paced Enrolment requirements: None – suitable for beginners

The psychology of social interactions is covered in this course, looking at social perceptions and misperceptions and the behavior of groups.

  • The psychology of self-presentation and persuasion
  • Obedience, conformity, deindividuation
  • Group behavior
  • Helping, hurting and peacemaking

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Final Thoughts

The opportunity to take a free online college or university course in psychology has benefits that go beyond planning a career change or going for a promotion. You can choose any number of courses that offer different features, focusing on various branches of psychology.

Free MOOCs are a way to learn some new skills, and psychology is an impactful and insightful area of study. Choosing the right one for you depends on what you want from your study – and with a free course, all you need to invest is your time.


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