Best Free Online Courses for Seniors

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Updated: February 23, 2020


Are you retired? You may have been looking forward to retiring from your job for years. Maybe you dreamt of it for decades. Now that you are retired, is it everything you thought it would be?

Maybe you enjoyed the first year. Perhaps you went on a bucket-list trip, deep cleaned your home, organized your family photos, spent time volunteering in the community, and visited family members more often.

But as the year’s pass, do you find yourself getting bored? Do you find yourself staying in more because you don’t feel comfortable leaving your routine? Are you watching more TV? Are you spending more time worrying about things that you cannot control?

These are all signs that you need to shake things up in your life. Instead of “going gently into the good night,” you need to “rage.”

One of the best ways to fill your time is to grow your brain by taking classes that pique your interest. Here are some reasons why taking classes is a good idea for seniors.


1. It’s an affordable activity

You have a lot of time on your hands, but you may not have a lot of resources. Although you know that college is costly nowadays, some online classes are extremely affordable or even free.


2. It expands your horizons

No one wants to be the old, grumpy grandparent who complains about “kids these days,” and whose knowledge of popular culture is limited to actors who have been dead for a decade. Taking classes may allow you to stay current. It will also give you something to talk about when connecting with your college-aged grandchildren.


3. It’s good for you

You need to keep reading and using your brain. You need to have a daily schedule and a reason to get up in the morning. Taking classes can be good for your physical health and your mental health.

Keep reading and using your brain

Image Credit: sabinevanerp / Pixabay

Before we begin our list of highly-rated classes that are available, we want to teach you an acronym that will help you search for courses on your own.

As you search for online classes, you may run across the acronym MOOCs. This stands for Massive Open Online Courses. The numbers have increased tremendously in the past several years, and they represent one way that the internet has made our lives better.

Are you convinced? If you are ready to sign up for classes, here are some free online courses that you may consider:


Osteoarchaeology: The Truth in Our Bones

If you love to learn, we are about to change your life. There is a website called that catalogs free, high-quality online classes that are taught by experts in their fields. Most of the courses on this website are from prestigious universities such as Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and MIT.

This particular class, Osteoarchaeology is just one of the many courses available on this website. It is taught by an associate professor of archaeology from Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Although this website has good reviews, we are recommending it to get you to the Openculture website. There, you will find free classes in art, history, economics, cooking, and film (plus more!)

When you enroll, select the “Full Course/No Certificate” option. It may also be called the “audit” option from some of the websites. This allows you access to the content of the course for free.


The Magic of DNA

Do you miss the challenge of a college math or science classroom? Visit Besides learning about the Magic of DNA, you can choose from over 20,000 lectures from thinkers all over the world.

The bulk of the lectures are in the Computer Science subcategory. While this is not a website for beginners in any field, it is a worthwhile place to go for retired academics or scientists to stay current on the latest thoughts and trends in their areas of expertise.


Music Theory Fundamentals

Perhaps one of the reasons you want to take a class is, so you have a place to go several times a week. Besides learning something new, you may just want an excuse to get out of the house.

If you are lucky enough to live near a college, why not find out if you can audit courses there for free?

Do a bit of online research to find out about auditing a course from your local college. You may want to take Music Theory Fundamentals, like the gentleman in this story.

There are many benefits to taking a course at a university. Besides getting you out of the house and forcing you to get a bit of exercise each day, you will also be around younger people. Hanging out with people from other generations gives you a unique perspective.

Don’t worry. You won’t be required to turn in assignments or take exams unless you want the class to count toward a degree.


Introduction to Computer Science

Do you feel utterly ignorant about the device you are reading off of right now? Instead of blaming your age, you may feel better knowing that most people are unaware of how computers work.

Class Central is a website that offers a wide variety of classes. You can learn about the basics of computer science, or you can take a course in modern American poetry.


Beginning Tai Chi

Maybe the idea of listening to college lectures does not appeal to you. Perhaps you like the idea of learning more about the History of China or The Lifecycle of an Emporer Penguin, but as soon as you sit down to watch the lecture, you fall asleep.

Instead, maybe you would be interested in more “active” courses. Perhaps you would be interested in learning the beginning movements of tai chi.

There may be exercise classes available at your local civic or community center, or you could simply search YouTube for online courses for seniors.

In fact, you can find how-to videos on YouTube that can teach skills ranging from building a garden box to how to conduct a simple conversation in Spanish. Some of the “teachers” on YouTube may not be experts in the field, but perhaps that doesn’t matter.

Whether you learn another language or how to make a perfect pasta sauce, use your retirement years to learn something new.