42+ Awesome Free Online Psychology Courses & Certificates

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The availability of college courses online has grown at an amazing rate over the last five years. Many of the colleges and universities that over the traditional “brick-and-mortar” campus locations have found a large number of additional students that are interested in their programs and degrees, but do not have the ability to relocate to the town of their physical campus. Their reasons can be personal obligations, the need to maintain their current employment while obtaining a degree, or simply the inability to afford to relocate.

More recent that the availability of online courses from a college, there is now a wide range of courses from those very colleges and universities that are being provided for free online. MOOC, as they are called, or Massive Open Online Courses, are posted online and are open to people all over the country. A large interest has encouraged these Universities to provide internationally available coursework for people in other parts of the world. A past article in the Washington Post refers to Anant Agarwal, President of EdX, a growing provider of free online university courses, and his intention to grow the international education in his company. “It’s really important to get international partners,” Agarwal said. “It’s about languages; it’s about viewpoints; it’s about culture, absolutely. It’s really about diversity.”

USA Today journalist Mary Beth Marklein recently discussed this new educational phenomenon. She cited a Moody’s Investor Service report that calls MOOCs a “pivotal development” that has the potential to revolutionize higher eduction. The current concerns of generating income, maintaining quality, and enforcing course compliance all lie in the path to creating a more open educational system that eliminates some of the barriers to higher education around the globe.

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The following listings include 75 free college courses in the field of Psychology. Many colleges put their entire course offerings online, some of them put a few introductory courses online in order to provide basic coursework to prepare incoming students for the rigors of a college-level course curriculum. The sections below are divided up by institution or the source of the class. Click here for Psychology degree programs via distance learning.

Open Yale Courses – Yale University

  1. Introduction to Psychology (PSYC 110) – This study of the mind and its development seeks to explain many of the activities of the thought process. Explores perception, memory, persuasion, love, lust, and dreams. Looks into the mind development of children and the break down of the brain from illness and injury.
  2. The Psychology, Biology and Politics of Food (PSYC 123) – Investigates eating and its relationship with health and well-being. Eating disorders, global obesity epidemic, poverty and food, as well as sustainable agriculture and genetically modified foods are also part of the study of the course.

MIT Open Courseware – MIT

  1. Introduction to Psychology (9.00SC) – Looks into the brain and human nature, and how the brain supports the mind. After further study, students will be able to look at nature vs nurture debate with more clarity, as well as free will and consciousness.
  2. Introduction to Psychology (9.00) – This course differs in that it looks into the fact that the student can be the subject matter, and is used in lecture to help explain the theories and ideas of psychology. Looks at many of the same ideas to develop a beginning knowledge of the study of psychology.
  3. Social Psychology (9.70) – Looks into consensually-shared social situations. Taught by MIT professor Stephan Chorover, this complete course includes course materials and lecture notes that can be used to aid in comprehension.
  4. Neuroscience and Behavior (9.01) – This course goes into the neural function of the brain and many of its activities. Looking at this, a better understanding of sensory and motor systems, motivation and reward, and related learning and memory.
  5. Animal Behavior (9.20) – Looks at adaptive behaviors that are seen in the brain, and also in animals. Investigate foraging and feeding, defensive and aggressive behavior, and other ways that brains adapt to conditions in their environment for survival.
  6. Feeling and Imagination in Art, Science, and Technology (24.262) – This seminar looks into creativity and how it takes shape in art, science and technology. The idealization of creativity in these forms gives meaning to the human condition, and can be seen in many associated fields, such as literature and philosophy.
  7. The Nature of Creativity (24.263) – This course introduces problems about creativity and how it relates to certain human behaviors. Mostly this related to imagination and innovation in particular. The readings and guidance are able to be determined based on the interests of the student.
  8. The Society of Mind (6.868J) – This graduate level course explains how the mind works, and separates out the simpler processes that go on to make the mind function as it does. Larger questions investigated include how different theories apply to the varied processes that go on in the mind.
  9. Reflective Practice: An Approach for Expanding Your Learning Frontiers (11.965) –  The Reflective Practice is an approach developed by Donald Schon. This graduate course aims to explain how professionals use their knowledge in practical situations. This can help them to improve their capacities for learning and for application of their expertise.
  10. Autism Theory and Technology (MAS.771) – This graduate course looks into current theories of autism and how they relate to different positions on the autism spectrum. Students of the class are expected to have interactions with autistic individuals to fully develop the knowledge from the class.
  11. Brain Structure and its Origins – Taught by Gerald Schneider of MIT, This course studies the brain and its development. Looks at the central nervous system and all connections of neurons and the brain and spinal cord. There is an optional brain dissection included as part of this information.

iTunes, Podcast, and Webinar Courses

  1. Buddhist Psychology – This 24 lecture series taught by Eleanor Rosch of UC Berkeley includes a very thorough look at this field. The program does not include any study materials, but provides a deep look into this practice.
  2. Clinical Psychology – This course sequence of 24 lectures investigates clinical psychology and its role in social welfare systems. The professor Ann Kring of UC Berkeley leads the course into this topic.
  3. How to Think Like a Psychologist – This series is done by several professors at Stanford University. The thorough investigation looks into various parts of the professionals work, and aim to see our own behaviors and attitudes differently.
  4. Social Psychology: Self and Society –  This course collection was taught by Robb Willer, professor at UC Berkeley. The 35 lecture series looks at the role that individuals play in the more modern world of today.
  5. Human Emotion – This series taught by UC Berkeley professor Dacher Keltner looks thoroughly into this part of psychology in this 26 segment lecture series.
  6. Human Happiness – This series was also taught by Dacher Keltner of UC Berkeley. The goal is to look further into this brain function and to see how it can be studied and better understood by professionals.
  7. The New Psychology of Depression – This six-lecture series is taught by University of Oxford professors Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman. They study the area of depression by looking at the conditions of modern life and how that has created a life that has more stress, unhappiness and depression than ever.
  8. Environmental Psychology – This course taught by University of California, Irvine professor Daniel Stokols, PhD, studies the influence that everyday surroundings have on individuals. All areas of environmental influence are looked at and how it impacts different aspects of our lives.
  9. Health Psychology – Brian Yates, PhD, professor of psychology at American University, teaches this course to challenge the students to evaluate and change their habits to improve their own health. The study demonstrates how students can analyze their current health picture, and to set up a system to guide them towards wellness.
  10. Great Ideas in Psychology – Missouri State University professor Todd Daniel teaches this course aiming to bring psychology to life for his students, including demonstration of the importance of sleep to a brain’s efficient functioning.
  11. Poverty and Human Development – This seminar was held at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), which aims to reduce poverty, and to examine experiences and values in determining the way the brain develops in and out of poverty conditions. The three section course includes audio instruction.
  12. History of Experimental Psychology – The University of Oxford teaches this program through psychology as a  scientific discipline. There is a strong philosophical component to this course. It is a one hour lecture.
  13. Understanding Happiness – TED Conferences have included this component to their seminar series. Assessing our own happiness involves many deep questions and challenges to many widely-held ideas in our culture.This 33 segment course includes reading materials and video lectures.
  14. Psychology of Adolescence – Ewha Womans University offers this program by Professor Sung-Kyung Yoo, through her vantage point of the psychology of counseling. A lot of attention is paid to the cultural and social impacts of the development of adolescents in our modern age. The 29 item course includes video instruction as well as reading materials for application of covered information.
  15. Introduction to Psychology – This foundational course will teach the many ideas involved in the science of psychology. Research will be addressed and used to interpret the theories that have developed over time and their relevance to real psychological conditions. The 50 segments of this course include various media in order to better understand the field of psychology.
  16. Human Development Across the Lifespan – The Ohio State University offers this course as a general explanation of how psychology applies to the development of human beings all through their lifespan. The perspective is from a social worker point of view, and details some of the experiences that they have had to bring a unique view of people and their development. The course includes27 sections that are made up of audio, video, and course materials.
  17. Identity and the Psychology of Conflict – This hard-hitting course takes a vary honest look at the various elements that go into making up conflict and sources of conflict within the human race. The Open University provides this study that investigates religion, race, culture, and how they impact the way that peoples from around the world respond to certain circumstances. The 20 segments of this class are comprised mainly of video instruction with some audio and some class materials.
  18. Critical Social Psychology – The Open University has provided this free access to this course online to deal with the four main theoretical perspectives in social psychology. They are cognitive, psychoanalytical, discursive, and phenomenological. The 62 segment course includes video instruction and transcripts for each video course, making for 31 class lectures.
  19. Abnormal Psychology – Bristol Community College Professor Frederick J Rocco teaches this course on the way that normal human development can be hindered or completely eliminated through psychopathology and problems with the way that forms of treatment can be ineffective. The 15 chapters of this class deal with what constitutes abnormal behavior and different conditions of that diagnosis.
  20. Psychology of Perception – This course taught at the University of Wisconsin introduces the study of sensation and perception. This process involves the nervous system to gather information and to react according to their internal assessments. This 23 segment class includes video instruction.
  21. Reviving Christian Psychology – This course aims to retrieve a Christian viewpoint of psychology to be an alternative to the modern secular psychology of our modern times. Fuller University includes this study to look into the ways that our modern views of the science have abandoned a Christian orientation and how that impacts our society. This series of six lectures includes audio commentaries.
  22. Psychology of Time – Professor Dr. Stian Reimers of the City University of London teaches this course on the psychology of time. This 3 segment course includes mental time travel, temporal construal, and development of timing abilities, and consists of audio instruction. This information is all contained in this 46 total minute course.
  23. Theories of Personality – American University offers this 67 item course online and includes video instruction, reading materials, as well as classroom tools for understanding the material. The various theories of personality and their formation are investigated at length to discover significant relativities.
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Johns Hopkins OpenCourseware

Slides only examples of the courses are available for free on their opencourseware website, but the full version is availalble, also free of charge, by registering at the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Preparedness.

  1. Introduction to Mental Health and Disaster Preparedness – This online course includes instruction and discussion in disaster preparedness for mental health services, mental health surge capacity, and psychiatric first aid. The instructor for this course in Cindy Parker.
  2. Issues in Mental Health Research in Developing Countries – A better understanding of global mental health conditions can be ascertained through conducting research in the developing countries. Time is spent evaluating different strategies for incorporating cultural perspectives into the research models used to assess mental health of those people. This 14 session course involves readings and discussions in addition to lectures.
  3. Psychiatric Epidemiology – This course covers various types of epidemiology for major mental disorders that occur throughout the lifespan. Specific attention is given to contrasting the fields of epidemiology and psychiatric epidemiology. This course includes lectures as well as assignments and exams to fully assess the comprehension gained through the course.
  4. Social and Behavioral Aspects of Public Health – The primary purpose of this class is to build a foundation of knowledge to aid students in understanding how public health is impacted by various societal forces. The 16 sections include lecture, workshops, and sharing of narratives written to address relevant issues.
  5. Statistics for Psychosocial Research: Structural Models – Learning about the field of psychological research is the goal of this class. By studying the design and analysis of various types of measurement tools, the students will be more familiar with how to create and interpret the many ways of quantifying the many psychological factors. The 13 sessions include lectures as well as class materials.
  6. Statistics in Psychosocial Research: Measurement – This doctoral level course provides highly specified teachings in the way measurements are studied in psychosocial research. The lessons look into psychometrics, latent variable analysis, and item response theory. The course includes 14 sessions plus a review and a final exam.

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About the Author: Ann Steele

This website is co-authored by Ann Steele, a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego with extensive experience with children and adolescents. Ann Steele attended American School Of Psychology & Argosy University Online. She especially enjoys using music therapy for mental and emotional well-being.

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