Who Said Education Had to Be Expensive?

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So most people think it’d be pretty cool to have an MBA, PhD, or Jd behind their name, and I’d agree that after I earned an MPH, I was pretty stoked to show it off. But really, it’s just a status symbol, an air of achievement that says as much about how much we owe in student loans as it does about our depth of knowledge. So are all of these expensive letters that we tack on to our professional names really worth the big bucks? Will they really help you get a job in this ever competitive job market where it is as much about who you know as what you know?

Some argue that classroom learning is an integral part of real-world application. Others say that academic theory teaches you nothing about the real world. But with the advent of new opportunities and online learning, that debate is quickly fading. Many of the top universities in the US are offering free, online courses and webinars to the public. Now you can sit in on those Harvard Business School classes without the $50,000 price tag.

Here’s a list of 10 of the the most comprehensive offerings from elite schools in the US. Go ahead, brush up on those classes you slept through freshman year, glean some inspiration for your own lessons, and expose your students to some of the best formal education the US has to offer.

1. MIT

Get access to nearly every class taught at America’s best math institution, not to mention one of the nation’s top MBA programs. Tests, readings, and lecture notes are available for classes like Managerial Psychology and Law for Entrepreneurs.

2. Webcast.Berkeley

Berkely is America’s top-rated public school, with a long tradition of activism and kicking ass. Their webcast system is similarly rocking, providing video and podcast versions of many of their classes (such as Computer Science 102).

3. Open Yale Courses

Though Yale has some great content, only introductory material is offered here. That means you may spend less time delving into depthful matters of management, and more time brushing up on Dante or Pompeiian Villas.

4. Harvard University

More video — but less materials and selection — make Harvard’s open education offerings (such as Intensive Introduction to Computer Science)  better for browsing than targeted learning.

5. Tufts University

Some good content offered, such as Producing Films for Social Change or Intellectual Development. The only downside is that you’ll probably quickly run out of courses unless, oddly enough, you have a driving interest in veterinary sciences (and, I mean, who doesn’t?)

6. Knowledge@Wharton

Information from the proclaimed ‘best business school in America.’ There are articles, podcasts, and special reports available… plus their own Knowledge@Wharton iTunes section.

7. Stanford on iTunes

Podcasts and class information from one of the US’s best universities. Listen to lectures is classes like “Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders” and “Social Entrepreneurship” without leaving iTunes.

8. Carnegie Mellon

Classes in Visual Communication Design (sweet!) and Empirical Research Methods highlight these offerings. Best of all, the system is designed to guide learners through real courses, rather than just providing information.

9. Utah State

A less-prestigious university, but a more-robust list of online free education resources. Courses like Learn and Apply HTML and Blogs, Wiki, New Media for Learning are available.

10. UC Irvine

UC Irvine can get a little ‘crunchy,’ but there’s good content here, including courses on Fundamentals of Business Analysis and Introduction to Project Management.

**This top-10 list was compiled by Tammy Camp.

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