35+ Free Online Courses to Help Sharpen Your Mind

sharpen-your-mindGetting a good education for little to no cost is easier than ever these days. There are now dozens of free online sources of education, and some of them are sponsored by big name schools, such as Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, and MIT.

If you want to sharpen your mind and expand your education free, check out these 35 free online classes:


  1. Introduction to Logic – Coursera – This free course is a solid introduction to basic principles of logic. It will teach you how to formalize data in the form of logical sentences, and will show you how to conduct systematic reasoning. It also will examine logic technology and how it is applied, in science, engineering, math, business and law.

  2. Think Again – How to Reason and Argue – Coursera – This class will teach you how to reason and to do it as well as possible. You will learn about some very simple but important rules that you need to follow as you think. You will learn how to analyze, identify and evaluate arguments that other people make and how to construct your own effective arguments.

  3. Model Thinking – Coursera – This class will sharpen your mind by teaching you how to think with models. Some of the models covered in this class include the model of tipping points, the wisdom of crowds, and models that show why some countries are rich and poor, as well as models that help to explain why companies and politicians make the decisions they do.

  4. Reasoning and Persuasion – Thinking Through Three Dialogues by Plato – Coursera – This class will teach you the ancient art of Plato’s of blowing up your beliefs as you go through life, and to make sure your beliefs are as logical as possible and built to last. This class shows you how when Plato was said to be wrong, Plato actually said it first.

  5. Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas – Coursera – This class is a fascinating series of lectures on the 32 piano sonatas, but from the point of view of one who performs them. Every lecture focuses on a single sonata and the one aspect of Beethoven’s art that is shown in it.

  6. Introduction to Philosophy – Coursera – This class sharpens your mind by introducing you to some of the major ideas in modern philosophy. Every week in this free class, you will study a different philosopher and will be talked through some of the important questions and issues in the field.

  7. A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior – Coursera – This class will introduce you to many cases where people make decisions that are not consistent with rational economic theories and rational bases of decisions. You will learn how to think creatively about behavioral economic principles for the development of unique products and public policies.

  8. Measuring Causal Effects in the Social Sciences – Coursera – Is it possible to know the differences in what men and women earn, and if it is caused by discrimination or by their differences in backgrounds? In this class, you will sharpen your mind as you look at causal effects and how to distinguish them from spurious relationships.


  1. Introduction to Philosophy – God, Knowledge and Consciousness – exX – The first purpose of this free class is to teach you about what philosophers think about, such as whether or not there is a God. What is knowledge, and how do we obtain it? What is our consciousness and what is its place in the world? Is there such a thing as free will? Then, the class will teach you how to think about the important questions in a philosophical manner.

  2. Ideas of the 20th Century – edX – The last century brought great changes to the world. Scientists, philosophers, poets and artists brought huge changes in science, art, war, politics, health and much more. This class will provide you with an excellent overview of how ideas changed in the 20th century.

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  1. Foundations of Cognition – MIT – There have been great advances in cognitive science that have resolved many of the big questions of Western philosophy, but what is the structure of the world and what is the best way to come to know it? Some of the topics of this class include space, time, reasoning, causality, and morality.

  2. Classics in Western Philosophy – MIT – This class is a good introduction to the philosophic traditions in the West. You will learn about Aristotle, Plato, Descartes, Hume and Kant. You will learn about what the nature of the mind is, the existence of God, and what the foundations of knowledge are.

  3. Language and Mind – MIT – This class deals with some of the most important questions about language. How is language represented in our minds? How is language processed in the adult mind? What is the relationship between thought and language? How is language learned by children?

  4. Moral Problems and the Good Life – MIT – This class deals with matters of social justice, what the issues are and what to do about them. You will learn about gay marriage, euthanasia, racism and free speech. You also will discuss hunger and global inequality. The goal of the class is to provide you with different points of view on the key topics and for you to be able to analyze the moral frameworks of the positions on each topic.

  5. Philosophy of Film – MIT – This class that will sharpen your mind is a seminar on the important philosophical aspects of the film arts, with a stress on how film is able to create meaning that the viewer can understand. It does this through many film techniques that help to give the film a formal structure.

  6. The Art and Science of Negotiation – MIT – This class will give you a good introduction to bargaining and negotiating – in business, public and legal surroundings. You will learn a great deal about strategy, ethics, communications and institutional influences as well.

  7. Psycholinguistics – MIT – This class deals with the main topics in the processing of language, such as how language is structured, storage and access of words in the mind, and how language is processed. The class also deals with computational modeling, and the relationship between thought and language.


  1. Algorithms – Udacity – This class will use the Kevin Bacon game as an introduction to the design and analysis of algorithms, which will help you to understand how people are connected. You will learn the most important concepts to come up with new algorithms for graphs and other key data structures.

  2. Introduction to Artificial Intelligence – Udacity – The purpose of this class is to teach you all about modern AI. You will discover the basic techniques in the trade. You will learn about the essential principles of AI, including machine learning, probabilistic reasoning and robotics.

  3. How to Build a Start Up – Udacity – You will learn some of the keys and basic tools to building a start up company and how to reduce risk of failure. You will learn the important parts of the customer development process and how to engage with the first customers for your new product.

Yale University

  1. Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature – Yale – You will learn about the central texts from Western philosophy, such as Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Kant and Mill. You also learn about the most recent findings in cognitive science and all of these related fields.

  2. Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner – Yale – This course discusses the most important works of these famous authors, and explores how they are connected on three key analytic scales – the macro history of the world and the US, the innovations of modernism and the small details of sensory input in life.

  3. Game Theory – Yale – This is an introduction to game theory and how to think strategically. You will discuss ideas including backward induction, Nash equilibrium, credibility and commitment. You also will learn about signaling and will see how it applies to games that you play in class.

Carnegie Mellon University

  1. Logic and Proofs – Carnegie Mellon – In this free course, you will learn how logic is deeply tied to both math and philosophy, and you will learn how to systematize your reasoning. You will learn how to recognize the correctness or incorrectness of the steps that you take to evaluate arguments critically.

  2. Statistical Reasoning – Carnegie Mellon – You will be introduced to the concepts and logic of statistical reasoning, and you will be given the ability to choose, generate and interpret both descriptive and inferential methods. You will gain a proper appreciation for the highly diverse aspects of statistics and how they are relevant to your life and what you are studying.

  3. Principles of Computing – Carnegie Mellon – This class will deal with the basic principles of computing, such as iteration, recursion, and also binary representation of data. Some of the topics that you will learn include iterative processes, recursive thinking, representation of data, and instructions in binary.

  4. Probability and Statistics – Carnegie Mellon – This free class will introduce you to all of the basic concepts and logic that is behind statistical reasoning. It will give you a solid ability to choose, generate and interpret inferential methods. You also will learn about the highly diverse applications of statistics and how they are relevant to our lives and what we study.

  5. Argument Diagramming – Carnegie Mellon – This free class will sharpen your mind to explore and understand arguments to explain what the different parts of an argument are and how to break down an argument into the key parts and to come up with diagrams to show how the parts relate. This is a great way to learn how to visualize on paper the arguments that people make.

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UCLA Extension

  1. Philosophy in Literature – UCLA – This free class will delve into what your purpose in life is, and where your values come from. This class will approach these questions through texts, including Greek and Zen. The readings are not always from formal philosophy, but many of the common concepts and arguments from formal philosophy are introduced to you.

  2. Topics in Value Theory – UCLA – This course will deal with some of the most difficult problems in philosophy, such as if our actions are ever free, and if we are morally responsible for our actions. This free course will explore the origins of the idea of free will, and then you will read the works of a number of philosophers to answer these difficult questions.

  3. Business Ethics – UCLA – This free class deals with the many elements that are needed to make proper business decisions. You will be introduced to issues, key definitions and the theories of business ethics. You will study the practical applications of business ethics, and you will end with a much better grasp of the challenges of ethical business principles.

  4. Agile Project Management – UCLA – You will learn the techniques and skills that you need to manage knowledge based projects and programs with the latest agile methods. You will become more competent in fast iterative delivery, collaboration, teamwork and how to improve productivity.

  5. Developing a New Business – UCLA – This class is designed to help people who are planning to start a new business. You will learn all of the reality of starting a new business and managing it.

  6. Happiness: Theory, Research and Application in Positive Psychology – UCLA – This free class will give you some ideas about what makes human beings thrive. You will examine and discuss theories and research that are related to positive psychology.

  7. Logistics, Operations, Methods and Systems – UCLA – This class will sharpen your business mind by giving you a strong overview of the most important elements of a successful logistics operation. You will deal with location analysis, transportation management, inventory management, international logistics, warehouse management and logistics technology.