Top US universities offering free online lectures in 2021

Many of the most exclusive and renowned US universities are currently offering live lectures, events and short courses online for free during the pandemic.

Not only does this offer a rare opportunity to hear from globally renowned academics and thought-leaders, but taking part can also provide a beneficial addition to your resume or personal essays for transfer applications — helping you to demonstrate subject interest, critical thinking, and desire to learn.

Programs will most likely switch back to face-to-face later in 2021, so make the most of this unique opportunity while it lasts! Below are just a few examples of what's currently available.

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

MIT — ranked #4 overall in the US — has a global reputation for innovation and leading research in areas such as science, engineering and technology. The university has a diverse range of thought-provoking lectures and other online events that are currently available to the general public.

Expect to find events such as:

  • Biology Colloquium: weekly seminar featuring distinguished speakers from the world of Biological Science
  • Nano Explorations: student-led weekly lectures on nano science and nanotechnology
  • Energy Innovation webinar series: leading researchers from across MIT and industry executives discuss energy transition topics including low-carbon fuels, decarbonization of buildings, and more.

When searching through the event calendar, simply select the ‘Public’ filter in the Audience category to browse upcoming sessions. Most days, you’ll have 4 or 5 options to choose from!

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Brown University

Brown University, located in Providence, Rhode Island, is a prestigious Ivy League university that offers courses across a huge range of subjects including History, Architecture, Psychology, Computer Science, Education, Physical Sciences, Business and Engineering.

Like many other institutions, Brown is currently offering an online program of virtual events and lectures, of which many are open to the general public via Zoom. The lecture program reflects the diverse course offering at Brown and has options to suit all interests.

Example upcoming talks:

  • A Conversation with Martín Guzmán, Minster of the Economy of the Republic of Argentina
  • Center for Digital Health Seminar Series Presents “Clinical Data Science: The Here and Now to Infinity and Beyond”
  • Making Every Vote Count: The Future of Voting Rights and Election Administration Reform in American Democracy

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New York University (NYU)

Ranked #30 overall in the US for 2021, NYU — located in the heart of New York City — is one of the world’s most respected research universities. To limit the spread of Covid-19 in the US, the NYU program of public lectures and events are currently taking place online.

Lectures cover a wide range of current affairs topics and ‘big questions’ across areas such as race, politics, social justice, and feminism. Speakers include NYU professors, as well as student faculty, academics from other top universities, and external guests from the world of business, politics, and popular culture.

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University of Wisconsin-Madison

University of Wisconsin–Madison is a popular choice amongst Kings transfer students in the US with many of our alumni from across our UWO campuses transferring here after their first two years.

Although some classes are taking place face-to-face at Madison in 2021, the university is still running most extra-curricular events virtually to limit unnecessary social contact, offering a great opportunity for students to make the most of the public events on offer.

Lectures cover a range of topics, but popular subject areas include Sciences, Sustainability, Humanities and Social Justice.

Here are some upcoming talks:

  • How microbes shape our lives, transform the environment, and influence climate change
  • Covid-19: the science of vaccines
  • Holy ground: working with faith and indigenous leaders to build resilience

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Stanford University

Stanford University — ranked #6 overall in the US for 2021 — has an incredibly varied program of online events, talks, webinars and lectures currently being held online. There are options to choose from almost every day of the week (Monday – Friday) at a range of different times.

Speakers include Stanford University faculty, as well as additional guest speakers from other top US universities and elsewhere.

When searching through the calendar, simply look for the events that say “This event is open to: Everyone”, and then follow the instructions to register for your free place and receive the access link.

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University of California-Berkeley has a global reputation for excellence, with alumni including 28 Nobel prize winners, 8 Nobel laureates, 32 MacArthur Fellows and 4 Pulitzer Prizes.

The university offers a range of free online short courses that are devised by university faculty and are available to access online from wherever you are in the world. They are all completely free to join and most also offer you the chance to obtain a verified certification at the end of the programme for a small fee — a great addition to your resume or personal essay.

Example short courses include:

  • Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies
  • Marketing Analytics: Products, Distribution and Sales
  • Journalism for Social Change

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