Stay curious: Free online courses and MOOCs

Young woman studying

An ever-growing number of  the most elite universities in Brazil and the world are offering online courses or MOOCs— Massive Online Open Courses — this year.  These courses allow thousands of students across the globe to enroll in courses at Ivy league universities like Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford and a win-win opportunity to continue learning while traveling, to brush up on a subject matter before getting a post-graduate degree, or simply get out of the rut day to day routines can bring.Whether you are a high-level executive, student, or lifelong learner this is a great time to expand your mind without reaching into your wallet. 


1. Coursera


Already well known in the States, Coursera launched their platform in Brazil only about two years ago and it has caught on rapidly.  Coursera was founded by professors from Stanford University and includes courses from many top schools like Yale, Johns Hopkins, and Columbia.  One of the primary advantages to taking a class on Coursera’s platform is the opportunity to receive a verified certificate of completion for the course, the option to get assignments graded and have access to a community of students and professors.  The courses are usually 6 to 10 weeks long and are conjoined with weekly assignments or exercises.

2. Getúlio Vargas Foundation


The Getúlio Vargas Foundation is a leading think tank with brick and mortar locations based in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília. Founded in 1944, the institution has grown to be recognized worldwide for its courses in  Economics, Law, and Social Sciences, recently deemed by Foreign Policy magazine as a “Top 5 Policymaker think-tank”.  The foundation offers over 40 free courses through their FGV Online platform, mostly in Portuguese but some in English and offers a Certificate of Participation at the end of the course.

3. Havard University


Harvard Universtiy offers no cost courses via HarvardX  open learning on the edX platform, created in partnership with MIT.  You can also take it up a notch by registering with Harvard Extension School , where you can sign up for varying levels of  coursework and accreditation from completely free and no certificate upon completion to the CS50 certificate option, which provides opportunities for more engagement with professors and students for  $350, or full Harvard Credit in the course for  $2,050.

4.Wharton Business School


Wharton was the first business school affiliated with an university and is now the first business school to offer their complete core coursework online at no cost.  Consistently ranked as a top business school worldwide, Wharton’s MOOCs are often taught by the same top professors as it’s on-campus classes.  Don Huesman told Bloomberg Businessweek:“This is the first time that a business school has bundled a collection of MOOCs together in this fashion,” Huesman says of the foundation series. “We’re taking our core required classes in the MBA program, with the same instructors, to provide those same core concepts.

5.  Oxford University


Oxford University, one of the most  prestigious educational institutions in the UK and worldwide offers public lectures, interviews, and teaching material by leading academics on iTunes U.  While there is no certificate upon completions, students are privy to courses like The Elements of Drawing, General Philosophy, and Challenging the Canon by some of the greatest minds of this century.


alison is a website with a gamut of costless courses offered with a certificate of completion.  One could take study subjects like Project Management, Social Media Marketing, English, or Human resources.  The Alison platform, which essentially is democratizing education globally, has won awards World Innovation Summit for Education in Qatar.  As Mike Feerick, founder of Alison, told the BBC, “Education underpins all social progress. It’s the tool of the most ambitious revolutionary in these technological times, you can change the world if you can change education.”



UNESP is a well-respected state university with several campuses throughout the state of São Paulo in Brazil. The Unesp Aberta project is its free online learning environment making courses like Geography of Brazil, Teaching Art in Brazil, Chemistry of the Biosphere, and Poetry, Language, and Media available to the public in Portuguese.

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