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Online Courses for Seniors to Take

6 min read

By Katherine George

Learning doesn’t have to stop after graduation or even retirement. Many seniors want to continue learning and expanding their skill set. To accomodate this interest, schools now offer online courses that cater to older adults and mature students. While some courses do come at a price, there are plenty of free ones.

All of these courses are available online on a wide variety of subjects from business to science, and even the arts. If you’re a senior citizen and looking to enroll in some online courses, take a look at this list of some of the best courses available…

In addition to online courses, here are some Tips on How Seniors Can Boost Brain Health.

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Financial Markets

Yale University offers an online course titled “Financial Markets” taught by Nobel Prize winner Robert Shiller. Since 2014, approximately 162,000 students have enrolled in this course to learn financially-savvy leadership skills. This course is popular among seniors who are interested in learning how to better manage and maximize their money after retirement.

During this seven-module course, you’ll learn about risk management, debt versus equity, and real estate. It’s 100-percent online with flexible deadlines. It’s listed as a beginner level course that requires only 35-hours to complete.

Cars: Past, Present, and Future

Stanford University offers an online lecture series titled Cars: Past, Present and Future. It’s a great option for someone who isn’t looking for a major commitment. It shouldn’t take long to complete and comes with no homework. An added bonus is that this course is free, easy to follow and available entirely through YouTube.

Don’t be fooled by the title or appearance of this course. It’s not just for people with an interest in cars, this series is actually quite fascinating and educational. You’ll learn about how cars defined our past, shape the present, and insight into what the future may hold. It’s definitely worth a watch!

Certificate Program in Business Administration

The University of California, Berkeley offers an online business program. This particular course provides enrollees with a solid understanding in the principles of business and management. Berkeley is a great resource for seniors who are interested in going back to school or just continue learning. This school even has a Berkeley Retirement Center that runs a Learning in Retirement program with free courses in fields ranging from natural sciences to humanities and arts.

Anyone can enroll in the Certificate Program in Business Administration as there are no prerequisites. According to Online School Center, this program is best for older students or retirees who are looking to manage or run a small or family business. To receive a certificate, you’ll have to complete six required courses and one elective course, totalling 225 hours of instruction.

Web Development: How to Build a Blog

This course is for people who already have some general knowledge about computer science at the intermediate level. Udacity offers a free online course titled “Web Development: How to Build a Blog” that teaches students how to build a website from the ground up. This would be great for someone who’s interested in connecting with their community or even just friends and family. Many people use blogs to share their travel adventures or as an educational domain.

The course is made up of six modules and is “on demand” which means you can enroll at anytime and complete the course on your own schedule. Even though the course does advise some prerequisites, Cheapism reassures that many users found the course to be super informative and well-executed.

Certificate in Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship

Portland State University recognizes that many people 65 and older have an interest in continuing their learning and education. This school has a Senior Adult Learning Center which offers a wide range of courses on subjects like History, Literature, Geography, Physical Education, and even Jazz.

One of their most popular programs is the online Certificate in Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship. The people who take this course are hungry for social change. They’ll be given the opportunity to learn and analyze social or environmental challenges, how to design a business, non-profit organization, or internal programs that offer real solutions. While this course does require some commitment, it can be completed in less than 12 months. An added bonus: it has a completely flexible framework. Lectures and course content will be posted online once a week and can be completed at your own leisure.

Sit Less, Get Active

A lot of people struggle with a sedentary lifestyle, especially seniors and retirees because they tend to spend more time at home. Too much sitting can be dangerous for a person’s health and wellbeing. These risks only increase with age. To combat this, enroll in the free online course “Sit Less, Get Active” hosted by The University of Edinburgh.

This course teaches about the risks of inactivity and how to incorporate more movement into your daily life. You’ll be given specific examples of how to increase activity in different settings (i.e. your neighborhood, at home or work) and even tailor them to your specific lifestyle. You’ll receive weekly health messages and monthly video-reminders over the course of 6 months after the initial 3-week course.

Introduction to Psychology

Another school that jumped on the online learning bandwagon is Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also known as MIT. If you’re curious about the human psyche, enroll in MIT’s “Introduction to Psychology” available entirely online. You’ll get an inside look into why humans think and act the way they do, how the mind works, and how the brain supports the mind. You’ll also get the chance to explore different theories of consciousness, and learn about topics like memory, cognition, personality, psychopathology, and social interaction.

To get a sneak peak at the course videos, go here. To download the course materials and enroll, head to the MIT website.

Modern & Contemporary American Poetry (“ModPo”)

Offered by University of Pennsylvania, this 5-star course is a fast-paced online introduction to modern and contemporary American poetry. While it may sound a little intimidating, enrollees don’t need any prior experience in order to take this course. You’ll learn how to read poems (even the ones that are considered “difficult”), and be given the chance to discuss them at length.

Unlike most of the other courses on this list, you can enroll in this course at any time. The course takes place every year for 10-weeks at a time and includes lively interactive sessions where all enrollees move together through a 10-week syllabus. During this time, you’ll be guided through poems, take part in video discussions, and community discussions. The course offers weekly, interactive live webcasts, as well as TAs who offer office hours throughout the week and can even offer to arrange in person meetups and on-site study groups for those who are interested. This is a beginner level course that takes approximately 60 hours to complete.

Science & Cooking

Most people would jump at the chance to say they have a Harvard education! If you’re interested in cooking or want to learn more about cooking, Harvard University offers a public lecture series on YouTube. The course was put together by Harvard professors and well-known chefs. Since this course is all video content, you can enjoy doing it at your own pace and from the comfort of your own home.

The series description reads: “Each lecture features a world-class chef who visited and presented their remarkable culinary designs. The lectures then use these culinary creations as inspiration to delve into understanding how and why cooking techniques and recipes work, focusing on the physical transformations of foods and material properties.” To access the series, click here.

Master in Social Work

Always dreamed of getting your master’s degree, but never had the time to do it while you were young? Nowadays with online learning, seniors can go back to school and earn a masters degree in all kinds of different subjects. George Mason University is one of many schools offering online master’s degrees. The course Master in Social Work is 100-percent online and completely flexible, making it ideal for seniors.

Graduates of this program will be equipped to work in many different fields from international government organizations to community development and health and mental practice. It’s such a versatile degree. This course requires 60 credit hours, but as we said previously, all of these are completely online and easily accessible.

Senior Managing Editor

Katherine is the Senior Managing Editor of ActiveBeat and Childhood. She is constantly striving to live a more active and healthy life, from eating healthy, exercising, and just spending more time outdoors. She enjoys cooking (with wine), walking her dog, reading, and recently joined a yoga studio!



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