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15 Free Graduate Level Courses Available Online From Elite Colleges and Universities in 2021

Traditionally, a bachelor’s degree was sufficient to stabilize your career. Today, many people are second-guessing this fact. A master’s degree helps you stand out in today’s competitive job market and contribute to your success!

According to United States Census Bureau, 13.1 percent of Americans acquired a master’s, professional, or doctorate degree. This data demonstrates an 8.6 percent increase from the year 2000. 

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From 2012 to 2022, jobs requiring a master’s degree are expected to grow 18 percent, and this projection comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

A master’s degree holder earns a median yearly income of $1,434 per week, according to relevant data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Comparatively, these employees made more than $200 more per week than those with bachelor’s degrees. Furthermore, master’s degree holders are less likely to go unemployed than those who only have a bachelor’s. Also, there are now many entry-level positions that require a master’s degree or higher. So, this is an additional weapon for you when you go into the battlefield of finding a sustainable job.

Graduate degrees may prepare students for a career change or to assume a new role. Those who are looking to advance their careers want to improve their skill sets. Master’s degrees are often required for admission to Ph.D. and doctoral programs, making them an ideal stepping stone to these high-level graduate programs. There are many reasons why top master’s degrees are in demand, but most people take these paths due to job security, employer preferences, and higher earnings. 

Benefits of a Graduate Degree in Today’s Job Market

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An undergraduate degree is an accomplishment that deserves to be celebrated. It’s often regarded as the transitional event that marks your path to adulthood and finally enters a life phase ready to pursue a career. What if nothing more than your undergraduate studies has prepared you for a career? Returning to school for a graduate degree will allow you to gain helpful experience and give you the competitive advantage to excel in your career goals!

Here are some ideas that will help you decide if a master’s degree is right for you.

Specialized Knowledge

A graduate degree in your field helps you gain specialized knowledge for professional advancement. Keeping up with the evolving work environment necessitates a more excellent education than just undergraduate studies. Studying in a specific field makes you a more attractive candidate for employers rather than your competitors.

Having a graduate degree can also improve your existing skills, help you gain new ones, or allow you to explore and shuffle into an entirely new field. There are several hundred graduate degrees in business, design, and many other areas.

Gain the First-Hand Experience

One given fact when taking up higher education is that you become even more immersed in your industry. Because you do not need to complete general education requirements, you can focus entirely on your field of study. It is possible to try several areas of your specialty in a short period, making it easier to choose the direction you wish to take.

As a master’s student, you are not necessarily removed from the workforce. Some employees can obtain reimbursement from their employers for their continuing education. You may also obtain a master’s degree through teaching or research assistantships at colleges and universities. While getting your education and putting theory into practice, you will have the chance to participate in apprenticeships, job training, and internships. 

Increased Earnings

You can significantly raise your income by earning a master’s degree. According to Collegeboard.org, graduates with a master’s degree earn on average $80,200 per year, compared to $65,400 with a bachelor’s degree. These figures would translate to a 23% increase in income if you completed a higher level of education.

Especially in specific fields, the gap between master’s degree holders and less educated employees is more significant. Graduates who majored in biology, life sciences, or health and medical preparatory programs earn 137 percent more than those who graduated from bachelor’s programs, according to Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

A bachelor’s degree earns an employee almost $3 million over their career, while an advanced degree can bring about $4 million. This is a striking difference that shows that a master’s degree can significantly increase your paycheck if you are already college-educated.

Lifelong Learning

Students often pursue bachelor’s degrees to meet the minimum requirements for their careers. However, if you seek a graduate degree, you can develop new professional skills, make valuable connections, expand your network, and foster your personal development. Once you’re an undergraduate and have figured out how you learn best and developed a love of science and technology, proceeding to even higher education is your chance to apply what you’ve learned to the scientific and technological innovations that affect us every day. By actively participating in lifelong learning, you will engage in your own personal and professional development and increase your employability. You can learn beyond just the curriculum and continue earning more skills that can benefit the entire community.

Broader Professional Network

Course mates come from many industries and backgrounds, whether you take an online course or a face-to-face one. In your graduate program, you’ll develop connections with many successful professionals on a global scale. Faculty members are industry leaders and provide real-world experience and valuable networks. All these relationships will enable you to develop strong connections with a variety of industry contributors worldwide.

Personal Fulfillment

Even though your identity goes beyond your education or career, you can certainly be proud of a master’s degree. There’s a sense of satisfaction in being able to pursue your academic dreams. In addition to gaining additional value and credibility through a graduate degree, you will also earn higher respect from other people, especially in the corporate world. 

A master’s degree will not only make you more confident about your academic abilities but will also help you complete what you’ve started and advance into leadership positions. 

Career Shift Success

It may be challenging to find a definitive statistic, but labor experts typically estimate that adults change jobs three to seven times in their lifetime. Given that, it is inevitable that a career change will happen at some point in the future. However, some careers can be challenging to break into with no background nor experience at all. In addition to granting you security in your field of expertise, a master’s degree can vouch for your professionalism and competence when it comes time to make a career change down the road. A master’s degree can offset the lack of experience if you decide to move to an unfamiliar area.

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Increasing Costs Of Tuition Fees

As per the ProPublica data, the average cost of public college in-state tuition has increased by 80 percent from 2000 to 2014. Since the 1970s, the price of a college education has risen faster than the rate of inflation. Over that same period, tuition and fees at colleges have increased 1,200%, yet the Consumer Price Index for all items has increased only by 236%.

Fast forward to today, the tuition hikes for full-time undergraduate students in the academic year 2019-2020 were consistent across all sectors. According to Manhattan Institute data on college tuition inflation, tuition and fees for public two-year colleges in districts, public four-year colleges within states, and nonprofit four-year colleges have grown by at least 20% in the past ten years.

In the last 20 years, costs have just gotten steeper. When adjusted for inflation, public 2-year institutions’ tuition and fees rose by 47%. Additionally, public four-year colleges grew by 102%, and private college institutions increased by 52%. Hence, from before until the present era, education is getting more expensive than ever.

Yet, it is essential to note that the average tuition fees for school years 2019-20 and 2021-21 have increased the least in 30 years. During this period, average published tuition and fee rates for public four-year schools increased by just 1.1%, while tuition and fees for private nonprofit schools rose by only 2.1%.

Why is there an Increase in Educational Costs?

Several factors may explain why U.S. colleges raise their prices so rapidly, even if it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. One can identify the reasons on the following:

  • Reduction in State Funding

State funding per student decreased from $8,800 in 2007-08 to $8,200 in 2018-19, while schools increased their tuition revenues.

  • Increase in Demand

In recent years, college education has become increasingly popular. Degree-granting institutions saw an increase in undergraduate enrollment of 26% between 2000-18.

  • Federal Aid Increase

One study found that tuition at college for every $1 in federal student loans rises by $0.60. Ten years after the 2008 recession, the debt of students doubled! Education has also become more expensive as institutional expenditures have increased in recent years. Budget and expenses on instruction, operations, technological support, student services, administrative support, and maintenance are all on the rise, and these are all necessary as they play an essential role in the student experience.

Thus, many reputable schools and universities offer FREE online courses while being aware and sensitive of these reasons, so you should take advantage of them. 

Why do Colleges Offer Free Courses to Students?

Remember that most universities do not offer free college or graduate-level programs. Many schools only allow you to enroll in a few classes before requiring you to sign up as a part- or full-time student. 

Universities that offer free tuition do so with a particular goal in mind: to showcase what they have to offer. Many online colleges are offering free or reduced-price classes to attract new students to online learning. Sometimes, they just want to reach out to students who would otherwise not afford a college education.

Because the stigma surrounding online education has recently begun to fade, many students doubt the effectiveness of online programs. A college that offers “trial classes” for its programs will likely gain your confidence in teaching and learning. This will result in students enrolling in the programs soon after.

Competency-based colleges may offer free classes to portray their authority in the education industry. Adults or professionals who need a high level of flexibility often choose these. These programs allow you to remove yourself from classes that you don’t need and accelerate learning the material that you do need, taking exams to demonstrate your knowledge rather than simply waiting for credits to add up.

Online graduate and master’s FREE courses are desirable. Starting with tuition, acquiring a college degree is typically the most expensive part. The good news about studying online is that other expenses—such as room and board and transportation—shouldn’t be an issue. Tuition, however, is expensively fixed and non-negotiable. University tuition can surpass $50,000 a year at some schools. Your educational expenses will depend on your major and the type of school that you attend. 

You may think you can afford tuition using student loans, but it’s essential to keep in mind that you may have to work full time while you are in school. Other forms of financial assistance may be more difficult for you to obtain, such as a graduate assistantship or work-study. Thus, taking advantage of free online classes from reputable and elite universities is essential. These classes offer the same quality and caliber of instruction as those programs that cost too much. And you get to keep your hard-earned money, which is the ultimate perk. 

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FREE Graduate Programs Offered By Top-Notch Schools and Ivy League Universities

CS50’s Introduction to Computer Science
Harvard University via EdX

This program runs for 12 weeks, which can be taken for 6 to 18 hours per week online. With a payment of $199, you can earn a verified certificate for this course. Learn about the intellectual endeavors of computer science and how to develop programs in this free course offered by Harvard University. It is suitable for majors and non-majors alike since it does not require prior programming experience. In CS50x, an introductory course taught by David Malan, students will learn algorithmic thinking and solving problems efficiently. 

Expect this course to dwell more on computer science and programming with a broad and robust understanding. You will also learn what algorithms to use when solving programming problems. Coding familiarity in different languages like Python, SQL, and Javascript will be tackled in this free online class. Take advantage of this course since its on-campus counterpart, CS50, is Harvard’s most comprehensive course.

Some of the subjects included are:

  • Algorithms
  • Data Structures
  • Software Engineering
  • Security
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Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies
Princeton University via Coursera

This program is offered by Princeton University, using the Coursera platform. This program runs 11 weeks long, with 23 hours’ worth of material. While enrolled in this free online class, you can find solutions from different questions like how bitcoin works, what makes them different, and their security. Several lectures will tackle bitcoin’s anonymity, regulations, and prices. 

After completing this class, you’ll know how to discern between fact and fiction about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. 

With the ever-growing usage of cryptocurrencies, this program is helpful for you to know what the future will be for bitcoins. This course will teach you the concepts necessary to engineer secure applications that interact with the Bitcoin network. Additionally, you can apply ideas gleaned from Bitcoin to your own business and projects.

Some topics that will be tackled include the following:

  • Alternative Mining Puzzles
  • Altcoins and the Cryptocurrency Ecosystem
  • Community, Politics, and Regulation
  • Bitcoin and Anonymity
  • Mechanics of Bitcoin
  • Bitcoin Mining
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The Brain and Space
Duke University via Coursera

This program runs for six weeks long, with 9 hours’ worth of material. You can take the lectures at your own pace. The course emphasizes how the brain generates people’s awareness of spatial location, which impacts our cognition. Finding things is effortless when you know where they are. Your brain, however, has to figure out even the tiniest details about the goings-on around you and how you can fit into it!

It takes careful sleuthing and coordination between various sensory and motor domains to know where your car keys are, plays sports, identifies your best friend from a group of people, and so on. The course investigates the brain’s detective work in creating our sense of space and argues that our spatial cognition permeates our cognitive abilities, affecting how we feel and remember.

The syllabus contains the following topics:

  • Brain Maps
  • Sound and Brain Representations
  • Memory and Cognition
  • Sound and Brain Representations
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Leveraging Urban Mobility Disruptions to Create Better Cities
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) via EdX

MIT uses EdX as its platform in showcasing this free online course for advanced learners. This course runs for about ten weeks, and you can take it for 2 to 6 hours every week. It’s an instructor-paced program, so you must follow through with their lead. These eight sessions will cover a wide range of topics related to new mobility systems and how these systems can be leveraged to mitigate inequalities, generate health outcomes, and enhance accessibility.

It leverages an established network of academic institutions and practitioners with relevant expertise and represents different empirical settings, thereby ensuring global impact. This course is designed to give you multiple perspectives on social issues and familiarity with the solutions and problems of international transportations.

Students interested in learning more about transportation and urban planning may take this course, and professionals and employees currently working in these fields. This course will teach you new concepts related to different mobilities. You can learn to evaluate mobility disruptions and learn about urban economics, transportation prices, and land use development. Finally, you can contribute to the industry by helping transform urban areas into sustainable cities through transportation strategies. 

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Nutrition Science
Stanford Center for Health Education via GetSmarter

A free course that takes eight weeks or two months, Nutrition Science classes take 8 to 10 hours a week. But this entails flexible learning through weekly modules, so you are free to take it at your own pace. Learn more about the correlation between food and nutrition and develop nutritional plans for individuals and environments. 

You will also understand the effects of sugar on the human body and knowledge of fats, carbohydrates, supplements, and protein in nutrition research. Upon completion, you earn a Stanford Center for Health Education certificate that demonstrates your skill and knowledge in the medical and wellness industries.

The curriculum includes the following topics:

  • Health, disease, and nutrition
  • Calorie balance in the context
  • The role of macronutrients: Proteins
  • Nutrition guidelines: Science versus politics
  • The part of macronutrients: Carbohydrates
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Communicating for Influence and Impact
University of Cambridge via GetSmarter

With eight weeks duration and allowing you to take 8-10 hours per week for the class, this program offers weekly modules and a flexible training style. This is good for those who want to develop their leadership skills while being promoted to managerial positions. This will help them learn to communicate or influence stakeholders. Are you interested in successful collaboration and communication between your team and organization? Are you interested in improving communication and influence to inspire others and drive innovation, sustainability, and positive change throughout your organization? If so, this free online course is perfect for you.

You will learn to develop stories, collaborations, and communication strategies that will enable you to persuade and influence at every level of your organization. Ensure you maximize your influence and make a difference in your network by developing a Personal Impact Plan, which you will also learn along with the program. You will have an Increased awareness of your leadership purpose and how to align it with your communication strategy. Enroll now with this free online program.

In this graduate-level course, students learn about:

  • Attributes of an effective communicator
  • Purpose-driven communication and influence
  • Collaborating to achieve impact
  • Maximizing your power and impact
  • The need for impactful communication
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Drug Discovery
University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) via Coursera

Using the Coursera platform, this program runs three weeks long, with 9 hours worth of material. A certificate is available with minimum payment required. This free class will share the expertise of the top experts in the field with this recorded course, recorded on the campus of UCSD. It focuses on the drug discovery process, from the discovery of the target to the filing of the IND. You will find out how pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies go about discovering new therapeutic drugs.

With this course, you can understand how the pharma and biotech markets are changing. You can learn the fundamentals of drug discovery, including target identification, compound screening, and candidate selection. You can recognize the importance of locking-and-key drug discovery, which consists of using a single compound to target a single disease.

The syllabus includes:

  • Compound Selection & Preclinical Studies
  • Drug Discovery: Proteomics, Genomics
  • Key Concepts in Drug Delivery
  • Pharmaceutical & Biotechnology Industry Landscape
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Personal Finance
Purdue University (via EdX)

Do you want to learn about investing? Is life insurance, health insurance, or property insurance relevant to you? Do you like to know about eligibility for credit? Find out how to maximize your retirement savings in this fun and engaging course about retirement planning. The course consists of four modules: investing, credit, insurance, and retirement. The modules are independent and may be studied independently, although studying them together offers an improved understanding of their interdependencies.

This Purdue University-EdX course analyzes relevant and exciting real-life examples throughout the course to help you understand the underlying concepts. The lecturer will cite academic research and findings that are relevant to your daily financial decisions. This course is not only beneficial for your career improvement but your real-life skills too!

Syllabus includes:

  • Buying and Selling Stocks
  • Know Your Risk Limit
  • Stock Analysis
  • Insurance Defensive Strategy
  •  Insurance Economics
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Computer Architecture
Princeton University via Coursera

Princeton University is offering this unique program about computer architecture that runs for 11 weeks long. It entails a total of 49 hours’ worth of material. Learn how complex modern microprocessors are designed in this course. Streamline your learning process and get started right away. Adjust deadlines to fit your schedule. You can take the lectures at your own pace, as long as you take about 50 hours to complete the course thoroughly. 

Syllabus includes:

  • Memory Protection
  • Multithreading
  • Advanced Caches 
  • Parallel Programming
  • Small Multiprocessors
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Leadership in an Exponentially Changing World
MIT Management Executive Education – MIT Sloan School of Management via GetSmarter

This program takes about six weeks, and you can take it for 6-8 hours per week. It comes with weekly modules, and you can earn a certificate after the program is completed. This free course will enable you to look at the 4-CAPS+ Leadership Framework from MIT to help leaders achieve business goals. You will also learn how to drive innovation in an organization using distributed leadership by harnessing the power of externally focused X-teams. Moreover, this course will teach you innovative capabilities for addressing organizational challenges within an evolving business environment.

The course curriculum includes:

  • Understanding Your Organizational Context
  • Invent Your Way to a New Future and Building Credibility
  • Your Leadership Signature
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Machine Learning
Columbia University via EdX

Enroll in this program which runs for 12 weeks long; you will need to set aside 8-10 hours a week to go through with the free lectures. Using the models and procedures, you will learn to identify trending news topics, build recommendation engines, and predict movie zombies’ paths.

The first part of this course consists of lectures on classification procedures using supervised learning techniques. This framework aims to predict a set of responses or outputs based on a set of inputs. The algorithms for optimizing these methods will also be discussed. Later in the course, some lectures will also cover unsupervised learning approaches. In these problems, the output is less predictable than predicting what the input will be.

Topics of this free course include: 

• Classification and regression
• Clustering methods
• Sequential models
• Matrix factorization

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Robotics: Perception
University of Pennsylvania via Coursera

Within four weeks, you can finish this free program that consumes 32 hours worth of material. This module aims to teach how pictures and videos taken by robot-mounted cameras are converted into representations like functions and features. Some lectures will discuss how grasping is made more accessible by computing the objects posed in 3D. Finding a location can be made more accessible by localization based on landmarks and visual odometry.

Courses include:

  • Pose Estimation
  • Projective Transformations
  • The geometry of Image Formation
  • Multi-View Geometry
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Deploying TinyML
Harvard University via EdX

If you want to get a certificate, you just need to pay $199. This free course runs for five weeks long. With as little as 2-4 hours a week, you can complete this valuable free online course. Deploying TinyML is a unique course that combines computer science with electrical engineering. You will develop your microcontroller application from scratch to recognize speech, detect sounds, and detect gestures.

In this course, students will work with a TinyML Program Kit. Using the kit, developers can build picture-recognition applications, processing sounds, and detecting movements. Within a few weeks, you will have what it takes to create an app for machine learning!

The syllabus includes the following:

  • Collecting a Custom TinyML Dataset
  • Profiling and Optimization of TinyML Applications
  • Deploying TinyML Applications on Embedded Devices
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Operations Analytics
University of Pennsylvania via Coursera

You will learn how to apply data science to make better decisions through this course. Its total length and duration are four weeks, with a total of 10 hours worth of material. A recent surge in data-collection technology has transformed firms’ decision-making ability. This course, taught by three Wharton experts, focuses on how the information can be used in various business settings to match supply and demand profitably. 

This course teaches how to model future demand uncertainties, predict the outcomes of competing policy options, and decide when faced with risks. Business professionals without analytics experience can enroll in this course.

This curriculum includes the following courses:

  • Predictive Analytics, Risk
  • Prescriptive Analytics, High Uncertainty
  • Prescriptive Analytics, Low Uncertainty
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Communicating Climate Change and Health
Yale University via Coursera

You can acquire additional skills with this program running for 18 hours worth of material in just four weeks. How can you use persuasive arguments to convince your community that climate change can negatively affect human health? Why is it important to take meaningful actions to address these impacts? The course prepares students to effectively communicate the health risks caused by climate change to the public and policymakers and motivates them to change their behavior. 

In addition to reviewing health risk communication best practices, this course explores the specific challenges of communicating climate change and successful approaches to addressing these challenges. You will develop and implement a communications campaign step-by-step throughout the course. 

The syllabus includes the following:

  • Understanding & Communicating with the Audience: Cognitive Approaches
  • introduction to Communicating Climate Change
  • Social Influence and Sticky Messages
  • Understanding & Communicating with the Audience: Affective Approaches
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