Grad school is an even tougher hurdle to conquer than college; any grad student can attest to this. But with loads of free resources on the web these days, navigating higher ed has become more efficient and manageable. And as the world shifts from traditional learning setups to remote or distance learning, or blended learning in some cases, these online resources are now essential tools for grad students. These resources come in many forms like online databases, and search engines, niche sites, OCWs, OERs, MOOCs, online tools, and pages that write about grad school topics and everything in between that can help students thrive and survive grad school.
Check out this extensive list of free online resources for grad students. The resources are listed in random order and category. Browse away!
A self-guided tool initiated in 2001, the MIT OpenCourseWare (MIT OCW) was created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a free repository of all the school’s materials for both undergraduate and graduate students. No need to register to freely access, download, and even share the courses and these can be taken anytime. MIT OCW contains close to 2500 materials from its various graduate course offerings – from business topics to the liberal arts to STEM courses. Graduate-level courses in sustainable energies, medicine, and education are also available. Video lectures and podcasts are also available on the MIT OCW YouTube channel.
UC Berkeley Digital Learning Services (DLS)
The Digital Learning Services (DLS) of UC Berkeley is a portal for both UC grad students and faculty, who are gearing up for the transition to remote instruction and learning. Its Learning Management System, bCourses (also known as Canvas), is an online tool available to Berkeley students. By using their CalCentral or bCourses account credentials, they can access learning materials uploaded by their instructors. The portal also allows for interactive learning, collaboration, and discussions with the faculty and fellow grad students. Course grades are also uploaded here so students can track their progress.
OpenStax is an initiative of Rice University that creates and publishes textbooks online for free, while hard copies can be bought for a low price. Its textbook collection is regularly peer-reviewed by educator-authors for accuracy, relevance, and standardization of outline, ensuring that the materials can be easily incorporated to any level of tertiary and or graduate learning. OpenStax also supports mobility across devices and platforms as it is also available on Google Play, the App Store, and YouTube.
UMass Boston OCW
The Umass Boston OpenCourseWare is an open repository of educational materials in the form of lecture notes, audio lectures, and laboratory coursework (if any). No account registration is required, and the site can be freely accessed by anyone, anywhere. Though none of the courses featured offer credits or certificates, the course listing is well-varied, which includes STEM courses like biology and computer science, psychology, the creatives like performing arts, public policy and politics, natural sciences, history, and early and special education.
MITx on edX
Hosted on the MOOC platform edX, MITx is MIT’s most comprehensive MOOC offering. Its collection is similar to that of MITOCW’s, but it also has graded course works, live discussions with MIT faculty and peer discussion boards. Many courses are free while some, especially those that offer completion certificates and micro master’s degrees, include a modest fee. The micro master’s track can also be credited as a full semester, thus, allowing graduate students to continue with the corresponding full master’s program on-campus. The following are MITx’s micro master’s offerings: 1) Supply Chain Management, 2) Data, Economics, and Development, 3) Principles of Manufacturing, 4) Statistics and Data Science, and 5) Finance. Those who are on MITx are strongly suggested to explore and utilize the MIT OCW for a more complementary learning experience.
The Purdue Online Writing Lab or OWL is a free-for-use resource for aspiring – and even experienced – writers. The portal was created as a complement to Purdue University’s in-house and in-person writing tutorial service – The Writing Lab. Various writing instructional resources are available to those who are on a creative writing track. Specific resources on the citation for research work, with provisioned guides for the following writing styles: APA 6th and 7th edition, MLA, Chicago, IEEE, AMA and ASA, and job search writing should be highly useful to grad students. Video podcasts are also available, as well as materials in Spanish.
Created through the joint effort of Harvard University and MIT, edX is a vast MOOC storehouse of resources provided by over 140 partner universities from all over the world. For graduate students looking to augment their learning, edX has more than 2500 courses and programs on almost all types of subjects you can think of – from liberal arts to humanities to the sciences, to even law and medicine. Assignments and quizzes are also available to track one’s progress and learning. Many of the courses are free while some grant certificates and even micro master’s degrees.
EBSCO Open Dissertation Database
The EBSCO Open Dissertation Database is an excellent aid for graduate students looking for research trends in their respective fields and significant and verifiable references for their theses or dissertations. The database is home to almost 200,000 academic papers from universities across the country, and more than a million papers from around the world, with publishing dates spanning the early 1900s to present. Searches can be filtered by university and publishing date, and full texts of the theses and dissertations can be freely accessed.
MIT Open Learning Library
The MIT Open Learning Library is a select collection that combines the best of MIT OCW and MITx. An account is required to access a variety of free resources, which includes video and audio lectures, podcasts, lecture notes, problem sets, and answers. Materials marked as OCW content can be freely downloaded and shared. While no live feedback or discussion is provided, as well as certifications – similar to MIT OCW – auto-graded problem sets and other course work will help graduate students monitor their progress. Course offerings include aeronautics, STEM topics, particularly engineering, management, history, linguistics, media writing, and urban planning.
Google Scholar houses a massive collection of academic literature, both old and current. Grad students can use this to search for papers from hundreds of renowned journal publications from both ends of the scholastic spectrum. The portal also has information about the author(s), related literature, and citations. To enhance the search results with reliable, valid, and substantial sources, Google ranks the materials based on its content, the place, and date of its publication, the author, and the frequency by which other authors cited it.
Another popular MOOC site, Coursera has partnerships with more than 200 schools and companies worldwide. It houses a whole library of free courses which, aside from lectures, also includes assignments and discussion boards. For grad students who would want to earn specializations, professional, and Master Track certificates (a one-semester course that can be carried over to a full master’s program), they can obtain these for a modest fee.
Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC)
A project of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the Department of Education, ERIC, or the Education Resources Information Center is another great resource. Through its partnerships with various organizations and publications worldwide, ERIC can store more than 1.5 million journal and non-journal materials that can be accessed by anyone and anytime free of charge. Books, reports, policy documents, and other relevant scholastic work can also be found here.
Harvard Extension School
Harvard Extension School is home to Harvard’s open learning portal. It offers a good number of free courses which includes Abstract Algebra, Greek History, American Poetry, Introduction to Computer Science, World Literature, Culinary Science, Probability Models, US Education Policy, and more. The site also offers about 800 online courses where credits can be earned for modest fees. Application and registration are not required for both the free and paid courses.
A tool specially designed for Ph.D. students with their professional development in mind, Duke Options allows doctoral candidates to create a roadmap on how to better craft their grad school journey on their way to building a professional career. Students can choose their target competency and stage or current academic level and customize the planned activities from here. The portal has link suggestions matching the activities on the roadmap, which are also based on the student’s profile and career objectives. While anyone can access Duke Options, only those with NetID credentials can save their roadmaps and plans.
RefSeek is a search engine dedicated to academic materials, literature, and references, such as the website’s name. It has been around since 2008 and works pretty much like a Google search page. The difference is that the results are more streamlined to show only academic and educational materials, instead of manually weeding through the generic list that a standard search engine would have shown, thus saving one’s time. An option also exists for users to choose between all relevant results or to show only documents, which are usually in PDF format.
Carnegie Mellon University Open Learning Initiative (OLI)
Created in partnership with online curriculum site Lumen Learning, the Open Learning Initiative of the Carnegie Mellon University offers both free and paid courses in various learning paths, from STEM tracks, which also includes specialized courses like electric car technology and other sustainable energy courses, to linguistics, to public policy, and many more. There are separate offerings for independent learners or self-learners, and those with the OLI Course Key (usually acquired from CMU instructors).
Online resources for Ph.D. students are not just about open courseware, job portals like LinkedIn offer excellent career advice for grad students on how to market their academic achievements and competencies to land that life-changing career. It also houses – what else – job openings for all career levels, whether you have a bachelor’s or a doctorate, which is usually the next step after attending higher education.
Glassdoor is a comprehensive job market portal that not only posts job openings; it also offers insight on the top companies to work for as a master’s or doctorate holder. You might need to sign up for a free account or simply sign-in using your social media accounts to explore and read the resources available here thoroughly.
US Census Bureau
Grad school is all about factual research and where better to look than in the US Census Bureau website. Whether you’re looking for past or current figures or statistical trends in health, public policies, population, or the economy, the US census has all these. The bureau conducts more than 130 surveys yearly, all of which are uploaded on the website.
While Udemy is more known to offer paid but affordable online courses that can be taken anytime, anywhere, the site also offers a good number of free resources via video tutorials to complement or augment one’s grad school coursework. Aside from the usual subjects like programming, coding, and languages, Udemy also offers short and free courses. The list includes personal development and productivity, social influence, emotional intelligence, and other soft skills, which could all be useful to master’s or doctoral candidates gearing up for life (back) in the professional world.
LinkedIn Learning is not precisely a free online learning portal. Still, it does offer a free one-month trial that allows full access to its 15,000-and-counting course catalog and even earn certificates upon completion. The course offerings include learning paths in Project Management, as well as Design Thinking and Leadership. These courses are seldomly offered by other platforms but are among the top in-demand skills companies are looking for today.
Are you an MBA or grad student looking to enhance your resume with in-demand IT skills or gain some familiarity on topics like Data Science, Big Data, Machine Learning, AI, or Blockchain? Udacity offers free courses on these topics! The site also has free resources on business topics and its confluence with IT concepts, particularly with data science, such as business and marketing analytics, digital marketing, UX design, and many more.
Course Hero offers free courses in the form of lecture notes, study guides, and documents on different course topics like business and economics, STEM, social sciences, and humanities. Each sub-topic is presented boot camp-style with explanations, short videos, infographics, and links to related resources that can also be found within site. It also encourages users – educators and grad students – to contribute to the site through material sharing or tutoring for a modest stipend. Course Hero also offers scholarships to deserving students.
Academic Earth aims to put distance learning at the forefront of higher education through its well-curated collection of learning materials both created and from renowned universities such as CalTech, MIT, Yale, Stanford, and many more. The site also features investigative journalism-like short, original elective videos, which could be good references for grad students working on essays or research papers. The videos touch on topics like mathematics, IT, literature, health policy, history, economics, politics, and even modern psychology, with the list being updated regularly.
Khan Academy is one of the more popular online resources offering free learning materials for all levels of education. Materials include lecture videos, practice assignments, and even test prep materials for grad school exams like the LSAT, GMAT, MCAT, and others. Each account is provided with a personalized dashboard to personalize one’s learning track by choosing the topics or courses, taking these anywhere at their own time, and tracking their progress. Khan Academy also runs its own YouTube Channel for its video lectures and infographics.
If you’re thinking of going into grad school for your master’s but can’t decide which program is right for you, your degree and your career objectives, Study.com has an extensive glossary of all the master’s degree programs offered in the country. It itemizes the programs, the units, and courses required, as well as job market outlook and prospects. The website also offers a free one-month trial of its online courses and grad school test preps like the GMAT, GRE, etc.
ThoughtCo has been in the online education industry for more than two decades. The site’s content is more article and insight-based written by published authors, doctoral fellows, and members of academia. Go to this site if you’re looking for expert advice on applying to grad school, how to ace that interview, or other tips on how to survive and make the most of your higher ed experience.
Online Ph.D. Degrees
As the outbreak forces many students like doctoral candidates to switch to online learning, Online Ph.D. Degrees is an excellent resource for grad students looking to see which schools offer the best distance learning programs. It has ranked different Ph.D. programs based on online accessibility, cost-effectivity, completion timeframe, and others. It also offers valuable insight on the value – both professional and monetary (cost and ROI) – of earning a master’s and a doctorate, and other frequently asked questions about Ph.D. degrees.
Community-based, innovative, and fresh – this is what CreativeLive is to many of its site visitors, students, and live audiences. Yes, live. Many of the workshops are free and streamed live, with a weekly schedule posted on the site. Lecturers are real experts in their fields, whether in the various facets of the creative arts or business and entrepreneurship. Classes are curated non-traditionally, meaning, there’s no curriculum or learning path. It’s all self-guided – you learn what you want to learn and use it as an adjunct to your current grad coursework.
The Balance Careers
Before you earn your master’s or doctoral degree, it is good practice to see what opportunities lay abound and what the job market outlook is. The Balance Careers offers insights to these topics and other relevant topics to grad students who will soon join (or will return) to the workforce armed with a graduate degree. Its content is authored by career experts from various industries and fields who share advice on matters like getting into grad school and the program of your choice, or leveraging your new degree to field competitive job offers to lead to a growing career.
Open Yale Courses
Open Yale Courses (OYC) is Yale University’s free, online repository of select courses whose lectures were recorded directly from the classroom. Aside from video formats, the lectures are also available in audio and written (transcript) formats as well. Courses include introductory lectures to a wide array of subjects like American Studies, Biomedical Engineering, Economics, Linguistics, Philosophy, Political Science, and many more – a good refresher for newly enrolled grad students.
Wolfram Alpha is a free online resource for all your computational needs, whether it’s for differential calculus, computational sciences like algorithms, or demographic statistics. Grad students pursuing MBAs or master’s and doctorates in STEM courses will find this useful. It even has an expanded calculator with all the mathematical symbols and constants for the calculations.
Saylor Academy advocates open and accessible education to everyone. Its comprehensive list of free resources in the tertiary and grad school level encompasses various courses from STEM to the humanities, business administration and analytics, and professional development, which includes industry-specific skills and soft skills. Saylor’s direct partnership with almost 30 universities and its membership with the ACE and the NCCRS allows Saylor students or users to gain college credit, which they can use upon transferring and the eventual completion of their degrees at a lower cost.
Created by Barnes & Noble, SparkNotes makes learning and reading your good old textbook enjoyable. Think of it as an online reviewer. SparkNotes dissects various reading materials of any subject – with literature as its forte, mainly Shakespeare – and lays it out where all the essential details are cohesively presented and not just bombarded or outlined. It’s like having flashcards or study guides made out for you – it’s not too summarized but not too lengthy either. You can also cite them as sources since site content is authored by doctoral graduates, book editors, and academics.
Technology, Entertainment, and Design – this is what TED stands for, the non-profit idea-sharing platform which has become very popular for its TED Talks, but it is much more than that. Among its several other initiatives include TED Books, TED-ed, podcasts, TED Institute and Partnerships, and many more. The TED Institute, in particular, is an excellent resource for grad students as it features a collection of TED Talks in partnership with global companies. They tackle socioeconomic challenges, like pollution, and proffer solutions like sustainability programs. Such workshops, which bridge the gap between higher learning and the real world, could be useful for theses, dissertations, essays, and other grad school coursework.
If you’re looking for an online resource that will challenge common beliefs and perhaps even your hypothesis – kind of like an antithesis, just to make sure all your bases are covered – Big Think is an excellent resource for these purposes. It houses videos that are presented in an investigative format and authored by the most impactful industry disruptors and subject matter experts – from social issues and psychology to AI and the dark web, and everything in between.
Whether you’re pursuing visual arts or the art and science of business, SkillShare is perfect! Users gain knowledge and hands-on experience in a wide array of specialized skills like creative writing, using Shopify and Adobe to build a website without coding, building your brand, design thinking, Google Analytics, Microsoft BI, writing for children, publishing, and many more. An account is required to access the video collection, which is mostly free. SkillShare is also available on Google Play and the App Store.
Inside Higher Ed
As a grad student, it’s equally important to know about the latest news and issues affecting the education sector, particularly the tertiary and post-tertiary levels. Inside Higher Ed is an excellent site for all the hard-hitting news circling higher ed. It also features editorials, podcasts, blogs, data compilations, job postings, and special reports that pose thought-provoking questions and shed light on current educational paradigms.
Perhaps the most intuitive of all the literary search engines on the web now, Microsoft Academic (MA), brings the use of AI and machine learning at the forefront of online education. By using semantic inference, MA’s search results are more contextual and substantial, as the engine is not keyword-based. It attempts to understand the search inputs; thus, aside from generating the usual hit, MA will also generate searches that it deems relevant to the query. As of writing, it houses more than 240 million publications encompassing more than 700,000 topics. MA houses one of the largest – if not the largest – a collection of educational references pertinent to all levels of learning, especially grad school.
Not entirely a beacon of accuracy and reliance, but Wikipedia is a free resource that is a good starting point for any coursework, primarily written coursework. Since the site allows anyone literally to create and edit Wiki entries, users should take its content with a grain of salt. But the site is suitable for two things: one, as mentioned, it’s a good starting point or just to get a feel of the topic, and two, the citations used may contain some valuable links to other more credible and reliable resources.
Writing papers, theses, and dissertations can be a daunting task, especially at the grad school level where after all those years of studying, one’s academic skills are expected to be impeccable. Grammarly is a free multi-platform tool that can be added as a browser extension or as a keyboard add-on to mobile devices and even office apps. It checks for soundness of grammar, plagiarism, and even tone of speech (no need to recite those phrases out loud to check for tone). The site isn’t only useful for academics and students; it’s also an excellent tool for professionals as well.
Semantic Scholar is a free resource full of scientific papers and publications for grad students under STEM programs. It uses artificial intelligence to help students sort through the hundreds to thousands of scientific papers being published every day. It houses materials like abstracts, clinical research, GitHub projects, papers, essays, citations, and many more. Through AI, Semantic Scholar can show users the relevance, substance, and impact of each search result through related statistics and citations.
BASE or Bielefeld Academic Search Engine is an extensive academic repository that is based out of Bielefeld University in Germany. The majority of its collection comes from universities and publications in the US, though, with five times more available materials than Germany. About 60% of its content is available for full-text (open) access. Searches can also be done multilingually, which should be helpful to foreign grad students. Also, search results automatically include bibliographic information for citation and cross-referencing purposes.
For grad students pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees in STEM courses, Science.gov is a free and reliable source of scientific information from more than 2000 websites. It provides users with free full access to journal literature, peer-reviewed materials, federal funded-research, and clinical reports, federal agency policies, and other documentation, as well as government training materials and opportunities in the field. The site also accepts and reviews research papers for federal funding.
Academic Info has information on the essentials of applying to grad school like program requirements for each subject area or discipline, admission tests and how to prepare for these, how to finance it, and how to thrive and survive higher ed. It also provides a list of study guides and relevant links – like specialized training – on hundreds of topics that any grad student may be assigned to write or read about. So, whether you’re seriously pondering about grad school or just browsing, this site is worth visiting.
Virtual LRC (VLRC) has been around the web since before the new millennium. Its interface is nostalgic as it still has that old school-Google feel to it. It is a metasearch engine, meaning, it searches multiple websites or webpages directing to articles, e-papers, or any educational material relevant to the search query. It also encompasses every known subject from history to arts to STEM to law. It’s efficient and fast since it leverages Google’s custom search engine and has excellent reviews from other users.
Digital Library of the Commons Repository
The Digital Library of the Commons Repository (DLC) is precisely what the name says – a digital repository of shared materials or “commons,” materials, or resources where the licenses are shared or public domain. Housed online by the Indiana University website, the DLC includes open written documents on any topic, in any format – thesis, dissertations, journal publications, public policies, editorials, and the like. But best of all, DLC also has an image database. Type any keyword, and all related photos will be listed for your perusal.
The OAIster is a metadata search site that indexes digital academic literature from over millions of published records from open access indices all over the world. It uses the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH), which allows the site to index and derive search results from other open access repositories. OAIster houses multi-source educational information in various formats like electronic books, journal publications, manuscripts, academic papers, videos, audio files, images, etc.
Internet Public Library
The Internet Public Library (IPL) is as straightforward as an online resource can be. The resources are categorized per subject, and it spans every relevant field being taught in schools of all levels, especially in grad school. While it doesn’t have a search function, it has an index of essays and case studies in various subjects. It also houses extensive information on various programs that are offered online, as well as the multi-level degrees (associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate) available to each program.
Dogpile is a metasearch engine that combines the search results of the likes of Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others instead of searching through each site individually, thus saving one’s time. But more than listing all the search hits, Dogpile screens the search results to eliminate redundancies and only to publish distinct results that are relevant to the query. Images and videos can be searched as well.
Library of Congress
You can search for everything at the Library of Congress (LOC) website – the word “everything” can be seen on the homepage as a search filter. Whether you’re looking for books (since it’s a library), manuscript, public policies, videos, audio references, websites, software, and even 3D objects (DCM files for 3D printers), you can find it here.
For grad students taking history and or biography classes, the National Archives is the go-to site for these kinds of information. It houses millions of significant historical documents and records, which include the Constitution, census data, photos, and videos from World Wars I and II. These are perfect references if you’re making a documentary or a video essay featuring the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and many more.
Another metadata site, but the first one in the metagame, Metacrawler also does searches or “crawls” the web and various search engines to produce results that are both extensive while not being repetitive. You can search web pages or links, news or images, and Metacrawler will combine these results from other search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing, saving you time from hitting one search engine to another.
From Cornell University comes arVix, a free access site filled with almost 2 million literary resources about STEM and finance topics. Contributors include faculty advisers, authors, and third-party contributors/collaborators. Word of caution, though, materials uploaded on arXiv are not peer-reviewed by the site or Cornell University, so multiple cross-checks for integrity and accuracy must be done. However, it’s still an excellent place to start for references.
Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS)
When in need of references, the Smithsonian is always a go-to by many students, undergrads, and professionals alike. What’s great is the famous chain of museums and libraries has a rich online repository of written and photographic resources from all its museums and libraries. It’s not just about art, humanities, and history, though. The Smithsonian also has a vast collection of resources on science and technology.
Cornell University Library
A free resource exclusive for Cornell University students, the Cornell University Library is an extensive repository of multimedia resources – books, articles, videos, journal publications, and links to relevant websites. A CU login credential is required to access the materials. Most of the materials are free, except for some books that can be purchased at the CU library.
With over 60,000 eBooks freely available for reading or downloading, Project Gutenberg is a commonly frequented site by bookworms, especially those who are into the classics, i.e., ancient, first-edition classics. The site freely uploads e-copies of old books that were published during the early 20th century and older whose US copyrights are inactive or expired. This is also a good site for literature, humanities, or art grad students, who are in search of these kinds of pristine literary works, free from any revisions.
The Internet Archive houses one of the largest informational repositories on the web today, and it is still growing. Included in its multimedia collection are a 400-billion index of websites and 26 million written-format references! It also has an index of software programs for various platforms. Surely, grad students under any program could get a kick out of this portal; just the website or collection of links alone is a researcher’s heaven.
Whether you’re an undergrad or in grad school, or a professional looking to specialize or learn a programming language, Cosmo Learning is a great interactive site for these. It has materials categorized per subject with a particular category dedicated to professions, so if you want to have a crash course in say, architecture, or entrepreneurship, CL’s got you covered. As of writing, it has close to 35,000 video lectures, over 1300 courses, and thousands of videos, documentaries, and images in its collection.
The Futures Channel
Though it may seem like an education portal for kids, The Futures Channel has courses and other resources – both free and subscription-based – for all learning levels. Tagged as “the largest STEM video library of its kind,” this site promotes the real-world applications of STEM learnings, like the real-world applications of mathematical concepts such as algebra. The Futures Channel help bridge the gap between theory and application, which could be especially useful for grad students.
Edvisors (formerly Gradloans.com) is a site for everything related to student loans. It has resources on how to apply for student loans and scholarships, how to repay student loans, what the FAFSA is, etc. It also allows site users to compare different lenders and to compare private student loans versus federal student loans.
The Free Library
From the creators of The Free Dictionary comes The Free Library with over 26 million free books and other written references in business, communications, social science, law, science and health, humanities, general information, and pop culture. You can even create and customize your homepage via this site by selecting only the topics or links that you need or would like to read. You can also add RSS feeds, as well as the weather forecast on the homepage.
Catalog of US Government Publications (CGP)
If you need federal documents or publications for your grad school assignments, check out the Catalog of US Government Publications or the CGP. It provides descriptions and or full-text copies to documents from various federal agencies. Among its available resources include bibliographies, congressional documents, serials, historical documents, electronic titles, and books. Its metadata search engine, Metalib, generates search results by searching other federal databases.
Still, contemplating where to go for grad school? Do you have a shortlist of schools and are outweighing the pros and cons? Go to Niche to learn more about your options! Its rankings and reviews of schools based on several categories that are usually consideration factors should be an excellent resource for aspiring grad students that are still deciding on where to go and what to study.
Whereas Niche prepares you for grad school, College Confidential then prepares you for life after grad school – the life of a professional. Through blog entries, forums, and articles from career experts, members of the academe, mentors, advisers, and fellow students and also alumni, this site will guide you through the crossroads of post-school and pre-career. It also has resources on schools if you’re still in the decision phase.
If you want to explore global library collections in one click, head on to WorldCat. It is a metadata engine that searches libraries and directs users to the library source of the material. Its index is home to multimedia sources like videos, literature, audio references, and many more, which can be downloaded for free (if a full digitized version of the material is available).
Student Life Network
The Student Life Network (SLN) is the ultimate student hub. It truly doesn’t matter what level of schooling you’re in; you’ll surely find something worth reading here. It’s got tips on how to survive school or how to do well in school. There’s expert advice as well on how to repay your student loans smartly or how to let your school degrees and achievements work for you into landing your dream job. SLN also offers free online seminars and discount deals to student-relevant sites like Microsoft or Evernote. A free account is required, or you can sign up using your social media account.
Scholarpedia is a free resource that combines an encyclopedia approach to digital information while ensuring that the entries are current and accurate. All articles are peer-reviewed and vetted, even the revisions, before these are uploaded. The subject scope is limited to high-order scientific and mathematical topics like fluid dynamics, nuclear physics, applied mathematics, etc. Each entry has a Wikipedia-like feel, but with Scholarpedia’s close collaboration with subject matter experts, credence, and substance of information is guaranteed.
NASA STEM Engagement
Grad students under the STEM program who are interested in collaboration, space exploration, project design and proposal, innovation, and research with the world’s leading scientific experts should check out the NASA STEM Engagement page. Aside from the free downloadable resources like podcasts and books, information on fellowships and internships is also available.
Dartmouth Academic Skills Center (ASC)
We’ve written so much about online resources that offer courses, workshops, even information on how to cope with grad school and how to finance it. Still, Dartmouth ASC has resources on how to embark and adapt to remote learning in the first place. The ASC has extensive information on how to gear up for it and what are the effective strategies to maximize the benefits of remote or online learning. It has both video and written format resources on this topic. This is an excellent launchpad for students trying to adapt to the new normal in education.
Online Books Page
Hosted by the University of Pennsylvania digital library page, the Online Books Page is a free online library. It strictly observes the fundamentals of library science in indexing its vast collection of electronic books. Users can search by title, author, or topics, with a separate index for archived materials.
Zintellect, hosted by the Oak Ridge Institute, is an extensive “catalog of opportunities,” and yes, that’s what it says on its homepage. This is an excellent resource for grad students looking to make the most out of their school experience without breaking the bank. It lists about 800 opportunities for experiential learning, such as internships, research projects, or paid work. It also has resources on scholarships and fellowships.
Grad students in the life, natural, or biological sciences tracks should explore Vadlo. It is a metadata search engine that generates results from various life sciences websites. Included in its indices are research papers, journal articles, presentations, protocols, documented techniques and methods, a list of molecular reagents, gene databases, and other relevant references in the life sciences.
Questia is the sister website of the now-defunct HighBeam Research (the HighBeam URL is automatically redirected to Questia). Professional librarians curate its collection of books, journal publications, periodicals, and articles. It also has a Writing Center that helps students, especially grad students, in composing academic papers. The Writing Center has functionalities that can significantly aid students, like an idea generator, an outline builder, and tutorials on how to formulate substantial and relevant academic papers.
Simple, direct, intuitive, uncluttered, and free – these are the things that continually make RefDesk a go-to online resource by grad students. This online “fact-checker” divvies its database into three informational categories: quick references or snapshots, studied references, and in-depth materials. Its index of search results is sourced from external websites and databases, thus, simplifying the search for users.
BigFutures’ Student Loan Calculator
Student loans are every student’s worry. The Student Loan Calculator feature at the BigFutures page is an excellent tool for all grad students who would like to prepare for life after school. After all, post-school isn’t all about having a great career. For many, it’s also about paying off student loans. By inputting the borrowed amount and your expected salary after completing grad school, the calculator computes whether the loan is payable or not based on the expected salary. So, if it turns out that it’s not, at least you can plan your finances ahead of time.
Think of Scribd as an online publishing house. It houses every known literary format from books, to magazines, other publications like articles and documents, and even audiobooks! This is a monster collection that covers popular interests like personal wealth, career and development, politics, health, pop culture, and many more. Free access is available for a trial period of 30 days.
Encyclopedia.com is the web’s leading free encyclopedia resource. It houses about 300,000 encyclopedia entries, the references of which can be freely cited in your works. As for searches, it indexes resources published by the Oxford University Press and Columbia University Press so that you can be sure of the materials’ credence and veracity.
The Open Library
The Open Library is the Wikipedia of books. It is an open resource book index, like an open library where site users can add new or edit information about the books. The Internet Archive indexes the collection. E-books can be read online with a free OL account. It also shows the current number of editions each book has and other library sites where the books can be found.
Profellow is a free resource that houses a fellowship and funding database for grad students. It lists more than 500 fully-funded master’s and doctoral programs globally. It lists application open calls for fellowship, grant, and funding opportunities with eligibility requirements and application deadlines. The site was created and managed by Dr. Vicki Johnson, Ph.D., a multi-time fellow herself and a scholar. Johnson, a four-time fellow, holds an online mentorship class, Fully Funded, where she shares insights and tips on how to successfully apply to and be granted full funding for grad school.
Hosted online by renowned publisher Elsevier, Mendeley is the all-around free resource for grad students, especially those who are under research-intensive programs such as STEM. It has an online multi-platform library accessible via various devices. It also has a citation generator that creates bibliography entries in various styles. You can also compose, save, and access your research work via the site. It also allows for collaboration and networking with fellow grad students and other professionals. It also has information on grants, funding, and even job opportunities.
Jurn is a search engine dedicated to free academic literature, be it theses, dissertations, chapters, and other written references in various subjects – from the liberal arts to the sciences. It also has a link to its metasearch engine, GRAFT, or the Global Repository Access Full-Text, which pulls results from close to 5000 global repositories. For grad students under liberal arts programs like arts and humanities, Jurn also has an index of 3000 journals for your perusal.
References.net is a diverse multimedia index of sources, from written works, audio formats, trivia, almanacs, and institutional learning adjuncts like libraries and museums. You can browse its vast collection by topic or type of reference, alphabetically or by simply typing a keyword/s. Materials from this site can also be used for bibliography purposes.
Zotero is a free and open-source program, which is an excellent research and writing tool for grad students. It is a powerful and intuitive program that anticipates and understands users’ searches and pulls results, including DOI or ISBN citation data, from all relevant databases and websites. Making citations has been made easier as well with its integration with various word processing programs. Post-installation support is also available. Zotero can be downloaded for desktop use or as a browser extension.
Grubba allows you to create your database for free, whether to organize your references or to create and grow your index. It offers tutorials on how to create and maintain your database using the templates available on the site. You can also create all sorts of lists like to-do lists, inventories, address books, directories, multimedia collections, etc. The resulting content is searchable, shareable, accessible, and automatically backed up.
Pathways to Science
Pathways to Science is a free resource on fellowship and funding opportunities for grad students under STEM programs. Its database indexes available funding or internship opportunities across STEM programs and schools in the US. It also has webinars on the topic. It also has resources on how to embark on your grad school journey – from choosing a school and program to applying, writing that essay, and maximizing your strengths to build a robust candidate profile.
US News was created back in the 80s with the purpose of ranking schools, but today, it has expanded as a valuable resource for everything about education. Aside from the rankings, come to this site for in-depth reports and insights about grad school topics like application regulations for both local and international students, or how your application sends either the right or wrong signals about you, or what do grad schools currently look for in applicants these days.
Academic papers, especially those from liberal arts programs, have more gravitas when quotes from critical historical people are included as snippets or even as focal points. Quotes.net, a sister website of References.net, has all these quotes in spades. You can search for quotations by keywords or by subjects.
Grad school entails a lot of writing, and plagiarism is a pitfall that many students try to avoid and yet commit. BibMe is a free automatic citation aid that helps students in creating bibliography entries following either the APA 6th edition, MLA, or Chicago styles. Aside from the citation guide, it also has a plagiarism checker function. BibMe also checks for grammar, structure, and style of the work. Simply paste your paper or upload it to check for plagiarism and errors. You’ll need to sign in to see the results.
With remote online learning as the new norm in all levels of education, Zoom has become a household name. This free video conferencing app is now an essential tool for lectures, webinars, group discussions, and other educational collaborations. It even surpassed other video conferencing programs in terms of usage, performance, and popularity. Signing up is free, and the app can be used in various platforms and operating systems. A web client or browser-based version is also available.
Huffington Post College
When you think you need a break from all the researching and writing, but don’t want to lose your academic momentum, hover onto the HuffPost College site for all the latest news and issues adding color to higher education. It also has interesting and insightful blogs on topics like student debts, being a first-generation student or an immigrant student, students’ reactions to current social issues, students’ mental health or coping mechanisms, and many more.
Art Institute Chicago
With museums closed due to the outbreak, the Art Institute Chicago site provides an alternative resource for information on the visual arts or fine arts. This free resource is an excellent aid for grad students who need to write papers on Monet, Warhol or Dali and other artists from different periods and their works. You can view various artworks categorized by period or art movement. The blog entries posted, as well as the publications and interactive features, are also suitable materials or references for your papers
SEC EDGAR Search
Whether you’re taking corporate law, finance, or other related courses in grad school, you’ll probably need either current or historical data from publicly traded companies for a case study or research. The SEC’s EDGAR Search and Access site has information on all the publicly traded companies in its database. Search its database for all pertinent data like company profile, financial status, stocks and shares, earnings and dividends, and many more data that can beef up the statistics in your paper.
PubMed has been on the web for a long time, and it has been an excellent aid for grad students under biotech, life sciences, or medicine programs. As a federal agency resource, access to its 30 million scientific literature database is free, and its reliability and substance are unquestionable. It pulls its searches from its sister website Medline and related journals and books.
BPubs is a very straightforward niche site containing free resources on different business topics like economics, e-commerce, finance, management, and many more. Each topic is further subdivided into deep-dive topics. Its directory and database include publications, articles from federal websites like the Federal Reserve and financial publications like The Economist, public policies, essays and editorials, and many more.
A free idea and brainstorming tool, Wridea is a web tool that allows students to note their ideas down before they forget about it. Leveraging on this technique, students can gradually build their ideas up by organizing them and sharing them online with their co-collaborators.
College Info Geek
College Info Geek (CIG) understands the pressures, perks, and perils of the college and grad school experience. With multimedia content curated by subject matter experts, fellow students, and the site owner Thomas Frank, CIG offers in-depth information on a wide array of relevant topics. It’s your go-to page for college or grad school application, “adulting,” balancing social life and schoolwork, career opportunities, and specialized skills learning opportunities. It even suggests music playlists that boost your productivity!
Law School Admission Council (LSAC)
The Law School Admission Council website is an excellent resource for aspiring law students. It has all the information you’ll need as you prepare for the LSAT and law school. It has information on the different types of law programs, and you can even take a quiz to see which program best fits you. It also guides aspirants in their journey from admission test preps to acing the application process, getting onboard with law school, surviving the stresses and passing the bar and finally, embarking on a rewarding law career.
ResearchGate is a scientific community that fosters the continued development of science through the exchange of ideas and research works. Grad students can freely peruse through the 135 million indexed pages in ResearchGate’s database. Meanwhile, those taking the rigorous research path can submit their works for peer-review and even future citations. It’s a great site to collaborate, make connections, and have an impact on the scientific community.
Quora is not a reference or citation website, nor does it attempt to be. It is a platform to start a conversation and pick the brains of other interested users. If you’re stuck on a problem set, a hypothesis, a topic, or if you have writer’s block, just browse through Quora for something that interests you, or you can post your question and get the conversation ball rolling. This will help re-stimulate your brain and clear your mind of the cobwebs.