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Free online psychology courses appeal to psychology students seeking a deeper understanding of a specialty area or topic outside regular classroom learning. Prospective psychology majors who want to test the waters before committing to a degree program or learn psychology basics also enroll in these classes. While free online psychology courses usually do not confer credit, they provide access to knowledge and information.
Most courses use self-paced learning through video lectures, assignments, quizzes, and exams. Courses often include online discussions and reading materials. The list below offers free online psychology courses exploring many different topics.
Psychological First Aid (PFA)
Psychological First Aid (PFA) is an evidence-based intervention based on human adaptability. PFA is a crisis intervention model that supports post-traumatic recovery. Coursera and Johns Hopkins Open Education Lab offer this course.
This PFA class covers the principles of providing emergency psychological aid to people using the RAPID psychological model. RAPID is an acronym for reflective listening, assessment of needs, prioritization, intervention, and disposition. The RAPID model is adaptable to many settings, including public health, the work environment, community disasters (such as floods or other emergencies), and suicide or homicide threats.
The four-week, six-hour course includes orientation materials, a pre-survey, video lectures, and a PFA simulation. Topics include effective listening, psychological triage, and practicing self-care.
Online Psychology Bachelor's Programs
Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.
Social Psychology Network
This free Wesleyan University course, offered by Coursera, introduces concepts based on recent human behavior research. Course topics include how a person's likes and dislikes evolve, how psychological research may protect the environment, decision-making, and factors influencing the promotion of health and well-being.
Learners should expect to spend 26 hours listening to lectures, reading, and completing assignments at their own pace. Course content delivery combines videos, readings, and quizzes.
Social Psychology Network membership is free for students taking the certificate course.
How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime
Students searching for child psychology courses online can learn about the effects of childhood trauma on brain development and health through TED-Ed. The TED Talk discusses how childhood abuse and neglect can also result in a threefold increase in the risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease later in life. Online comprehension questions take place after the presentation. Related TED Talks cover how stress affects the brain and the psychology of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Introduction to Psychology
This free online psychology course for beginners covers all the basics in an independent-study format. Offered by MIT OpenCourseWare, learners proceed at their own pace through video lectures, lecture notes, and reading assignments. Students test their knowledge with multiple-choice/short answer questions, along with exams and solution keys. Topics include the bases of cognition, emotion, learning, memory, and perception.
The Science of Happniess
This free self-paced course, offered by edX, was developed by the University of California, Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center. The 11-week self-paced course requires approximately 4-5 hours per week to complete. The Science of Happiness theory follows evidence-based positive psychology.
The video lessons explore how recent research can be applied; defining happiness and why it matters; the best way to foster others' happiness; the importance of community, kindness, and social connections; and how mindfulness helps with happiness. Research fields that support the Science of Happiness model include psychology, neuroscience, and evolutionary biology.
Understanding Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
This free online psychology course, offered by Open Learn, examines attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) from the perspective of those diagnosed with the condition. Students learn about risk factors, brain changes, key terms, and characteristics of ADHD.
The course content includes understanding life with ADHD, the neurobiology of ADHD, and science-backed research on the effectiveness of current treatments and therapies. The neurobiology session focuses on changes in the brain, cognitive functions, and disrupted mental processes in a person with ADHD.
The 12-hour, self-paced course includes video lectures, quizzes, and activities. A free statement of participation is available upon completion of the course.
Managing Stress and Overcoming Anxiety
For those with limited time, the University of Oxford Podcasts offers a 40-minute video discussing why and how some people remain mentally healthy under times of stress, while others encounter anxiety. Viewers learn about employing seven stress- and anxiety-management tools, along with the science behind them. The video culminates with a question-and-answer panel session with faculty from Oxford's experimental psychology department. This video introduces a series of podcasts offered by the department.
Offered by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill through Coursera, this course covers positive psychology, such as gratitude, kindness, and meditation. The nine-hour curriculum features videos, readings, and quizzes that explore the positive emotions and outcomes of positivity, the delicate art of pursuing happiness, and concepts in positivity resonance. Each student can purchase a course certificate to post on social media or include on their resume.
Through a 10-minute YouTube video that features an instructor and animated graphics, Crash Course outlines defining psychological disorders, considering historical and current perspectives on mental illness, using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and recognizing the constant evolution of DSM to incorporate new thinking. Rather than an in-depth examination of psychological disorders, the short and accessible video introduces the subject and sparks interest in learning more.
Offered by Wesleyan University through Coursera, this course takes approximately six hours to complete. Four modules, in which students watch a series of short video lectures, cover an introduction to schizophrenia, symptom assessment and the history of treatment, neuroanatomy and neuroimaging using MRI brain scans, and the psychological science of the disorder. Students complete assignments online and can opt to purchase a certificate to share on social media, such as Linkedin, or list on their CV.
In this course, Khan Academy asks students to consider what causes people to act against their beliefs. Through videos, literary works, and informational texts, learners explore compliance with and resistance to oppressive environments and psychological experiments.
Students answer questions and expand their academic vocabularies while examining what motivates people to harm others, how the rise of authoritarian societies happen, and why people act against their conscience. The course follows a self-paced learning model.
The Arts and Science of Relationships: Understanding Human Needs
Coursera offers this University of Toronto course for students interested in the Strategies and Skills Learning and Development System (SSLD) conceptualization of relationships. Videos cover the foundations and relevance of SSLD, practice principles and methods through case studies, the SSLD framework, and core competencies.
Learning time averages about 22 hours of study on students' schedules. In addition to viewing videos, students complete assigned readings and quizzes. Learners can purchase an optional course certificate.
The Psychology, Biology, and Politics of Food
This semester-long Open Yale Courses class examines the study of eating and includes topics in sustainable agriculture, obesity, nutrition policy, malnutrition, and eating disorders. Students download recorded video lectures from on-campus classes and reading materials.
Graded assignments include concept sheets, an op-ed piece, and midterm and final exams, along with a final project or paper, which can take the form of a research proposal, volunteer experience in the community, or an independent project.
The Theories of Emotional Intelligence Explained
This four-week, 19-hour online University of Michigan course is offered by Coursera. Course topics include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social acceleration. Learners explore how to be more emotionally in tune to others and how that helps with social connections. Additional topics include expressing emotions instead of suppressing them, understanding other people, and impacting others.
Students view videos and animated clips to build skills in evidence-based psychology.
Understanding the Brain: The Neurobiology of Everyday Life
The University of Chicago makes this class available through Coursera with the option to purchase a certificate. The course takes approximately 28 hours to complete and features flexible deadlines. Course content delves into the nervous system's effect on behavior, brain functions, and neuroscience's role in explaining human challenges.
Students learn by watching videos, reading assigned materials, and taking quizzes, gaining knowledge in neurological disorders, neurobiology, and neurology.