21 Best Online Courses from Top Universities

At Courseroot we see thousands of courses coming by from a variety of different course providers and creators. Some are created by individuals that aim to share their knowledge and expertise (we see this on platforms like Udemy and Skillshare), some are created by the platforms themselves or with companies (a good example here would be Udacity), and many are created in collaboration with or by top universities (think of Coursera and edX). All universities together have created more than 5000 courses that are available on the internet for eager students. What we wanted to do is set up a list of the top 7 universities with the best courses that they currently provide. For each course, we briefly highlight their most important characteristics like the¬†level of difficulty, price, and quality of the certificate (if they have one). On top of that, we provide a short description of what the course actually contains in terms of content and a link to where you can find more about information. We hope this post can help you in whatever way possible. If it did, or if you know somebody that would appreciate this post, we encourage you to share it with them. Okay, let’s get started!

 

Shortlist:

  1. Stanford University
  2. University of Michigan
  3. University of California, Irvine
  4. John Hopkins University
  5. San Jose State University
  6. University of Washington
  7. Duke University

 

1. Stanford University

Probably one of the most famous universities in the world with the most prominent teachers and alumni, Stanford University also stacks up incredibly well with their online courses. The university is ranked in the top 10 of the best universities in the world and does not disappoint when it comes to online education. And what were we to expect, given that the founder of Coursera, Andrew Ng, was one of the first to provide online education with his courses that he taught at Stanford. Especially ranking very well with their tech courses, Stanford keeps its stereotype image up as being the go-to place if you want to study anything related to Computer Science. Evidently, they provide many other great courses in a variety of different subjects, but it is clear that Computer Science and other edge-of-tech subjects are really their focus. If you want to learn more about Stanford University, check out their about page here.

 

  • Machine Learning¬†on Coursera
    All Levels  |  With Certificate (Paid) |  4.9 stars (70,776 reviews)
    In this course, you will get a broad understanding of what exactly is machine learning. You will learn about data mining and statistical pattern recognition as well. The goal of Machine Learning is to have computers act and learn without being explicitly programmed to do so. It is the core of new industries like self-driving vehicles, image recognition and creation, practical speech recognition, and many more. It is a field of study that will only become more prominent over time. The most effective machine learning approaches will be laid out in this course and you will yourself gain practical experience in implementing them.
    Pre-requisites: None. This course is for anybody that wants to get into the field of Machine Learning.
    Instructor(s): Andrew Ng, Co-founder of Coursera and Adjunct Professor at Stanford

 

  • Stanford Introduction to Food and Health on Coursera
    Beginner  |  With Certificate (Paid)  |  4.6 stars (6,069 reviews)
    This Stanford course is unlike the other courses. The class focusses on sharing a new and better understanding of the foods we eat and the environment in which we consume it. The goal here is to help you understand what makes some food a healthy choice for yourself and some a poor choice. Also, the instructors provide information to help grasp the importance of simple. home-cooking, and how it can play an integral part of a healthy life.
    Pre-requisites: None. Anybody that is interested in what role food plays in our health, and in how they can improve their diet and cooking, should consider this course.
    Instructor(s): Maya Adam, MD, Lecturer at Stanford

 

  • Cryptography I on Coursera
    All Levels  |  With Certificate (Paid)  |  4.8 stars (1,807 reviews)
    If it weren’t for cryptography, it would be impossible to protect information in our computers systems they way we do today. This class will help you understand how cryptographic systems operate and how they are implemented in practice. The course is becoming ever more relevant with the fast rise and growth of blockchain technologies and cryptographic currencies. The class allows students to get some experience examining existing deployed protocols as well as go through some optional programming projects. The course also has a follow-up course (cleverly called Cryptography II) that will cover more advanced crypto tasks.
    Pre-requisites: There are no pre-requisites. Although the course might become more difficult at points, the support from the instructors will help you get through it.
    Instructor(s): Dan Boneh, Computer Science Professor

 

2. University of Michigan

The University of Michigan is the state’s oldest university but it is also one of the most advanced. 97 of their graduations programs are ranked in the Top 10 (U.S. News and World Report) and the university is ranked #3 in the list of best universities for the money (Time’s Money). On top of this, it is ranked #1 in public research universities (more rankings of University of Michigan). But back to their online courses. They most certainly know what they are doing. 20 of the 1000 best online courses are from UM and this is in a list that is stacked with great courses from top 8 biggest platforms on the web, also including courses created by individuals, top companies like Facebook and Google, and platforms. A pretty amazing feat. As with most of the top online courses in the top 1000, they tend to score high in anything related to computer science or software development (this because these courses are just in general more popular to take online). However, they also got some excellent classes in data science and business as we will cover below. One of the most popular universities on Coursera, the University of Michigan should absolutely be on your list if you’re looking for some excellent online study material.

 

  • Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) on Coursera
    All Levels  |  With Certificate (Paid)  |   4.8 stars (35,956 reviews)
    With this class, you most likely have the best starting point if you want to get going with Python. It is the most popular Python course that is currently available on the internet and the reviews are excellent. Close to 40,000 students have taken the time to leave their thoughts on the course and they average a 4.8/5 star rating. Incredible. The student will learn the basics of python using simple starting points; the course has no pre-requisites and should really function as an introduction (or refreshment) of the basics. After this course, students can move on to more advanced python projects and classes. If you ever consider getting into Python, this is the course for you.
    Pre-requisites: None at all.
    Instructor(s): Charles Severance, Associate Professor

 

  • Python Data Structures on Coursera
    All Levels  |  With Certificate (Paid) |  4.8 stars (19,832 reviews)
    Another great introductory course to Python by the University of Michigan from the same instructor (this is actually a follow-up to the aforementioned course). This one is focused on Data Structures. The class skips the fundamentals of the Python programming and dives into how Python can be used to build different sorts of data structures. When talking about data structures you have to think about things like databases, lists, and so forth.
    Pre-requisites: Some Python basics are deemed important here.
    Instructor(s): Charles Severance, Associate Professor

 

  • Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills on Coursera
    All Levels  |  With Certificate (Paid) |  4.7 stars (4,588 reviews)
    For the third course, we picked a different subject that was ranked incredibly high (the top three were all programming related). This course is one of the top courses if you are looking to improve your negotiation skills. The course consists of three different parts: 1) an introduction to negotiations with some short videos that will teach you the basics, 2) practical implementation of negotiation with another peer, and 3) an exam that will verify your newly acquired skills (the exam is a mastery exam, meaning it can be taken until you master the content).
    Pre-requisites: This class on negotiation does not have any pre-requisites.
    Instructor(s): George Siedel, Williamson Family Professor of Business Administration and Thurnau Professor of Business Law

 

3. University of California, Irvine

Relatively young, the University of California, Irvine was founded in 1965 but is now one of the fastest growing campuses in California. They are currently hosting more than 33,000 students and a total staff of roughly 11,000. It ranks incredibly high in regards to the number of applications for undergraduate studies and has three Nobel Prize-winning Alumni (Inside Higher Ed). Pretty sweet. Looking at their online courses, they’ve provided over 100 courses in a variety of different subjects ranging from, again, software development and computer science, to finance and art. However, especially in business and leadership, they provide some great courses, more so than others.

 

  • Grammar and Punctuation on Coursera
    All Levels  |  With Certificate (Paid)  |   4.6 stars (5,720 reviews)
    A completely different class than we have covered so far. This course is meant for those that want to brush up on and improve their grammar and punctuation. It starts with a refresher on some tools that can be used to write better, which prepares you for later classes. According to the description on Coursera, it takes roughly 10 hours to go through it. The student will have a combination of video lectures and practical implementations.
    Pre-requisites: None at all.
    Instructor(s): University of California, Irvine

 

  • Initiating and Planning Projects on Coursera
    All Levels  |  With Certificate (Paid) |  4.6 stars (5,050 reviews)
    This class will teach students what exactly it means to be a project manager and have a project team. How do you manage a project? What do you need to accomplish? Why is this important? After this course, you are expected to know all the bits and pieces that makeup managing a project successfully.
    Pre-requisites: Also for this course, there are no pre-requisites.
    Instructor(s): Margaret Meloni, MBA, PMP, Instructor, University of California, Irvine Extension

 

  • Work Smarter, Not Harder: Time Management for Personal & Professional Productivity on Coursera
    All Levels  |  With Certificate (Paid) |  4.2 stars (4,180 reviews)
    Time and stress management is becoming more and more important these days, as everybody is working harder and longer. This course aims to help you gain new insights into personal and professional awareness. It will provide you with new tools and methods that can be used in goal setting, prioritizing, scheduling, and other time management practices. The goal, in the end, is to increase your productivity while taking away strain and stress. It is a course that, no matter what you do for a living, can help you manage your time and productivity better.
    Pre-requisites: None.
    Instructor(s): Margaret Meloni, MBA, PMP, Instructor, University of California, Irvine Extension

 

4. John Hopkins University

The John Hopkins University is avid about advocating its incredible focus on research. It is the first research university set up in America roughly 140 years ago. Still, their focus is on allowing their students and staff to explore the newest industries and technologies and have put more money in research than any other university in the US for the last 38 years (Johns Hopkins University). They have 9 different schools, covering excellent studies in nearly any subject. This is also that comes forward when looking at the online courses they offer; Data Science, Clinical Science, Psychology, Business; they cover a great deal. They have over 15 courses in the top 1000 in Courseroot! Very impressive. Alright, let’s get on with it.

 

  • The Data Scientist‚Äôs Toolbox on Coursera
    All Levels  |  With Certificate (Paid)  |   4.5 stars (13,834 reviews)
    This class is exactly what the title suggests: an introduction to the main tools and concepts that a Data Scientist will use. What problems does a data scientist tackle? What tools do they use to do so? What type of data is most commonly subject to analysis? The course has an introduction segment that will explain the main ideas behind converting data into knowledge, and a practical segment to the tools that will be used like git, GitHub, R, and so forth. If you are considering diving into data science, this is an incredibly easy way to get going. With over 13,000 reviews and a 4.5-star rating, the course has helped many aspiring data scientists take the first step.
    Pre-requisites: There are no pre-requisites for this course. It is really about the basics.
    Instructor(s): Jeff Leek, PhD, Associate Professor, Biostatistics; Roger D. Peng, PhD, Associate Professor, Biostatistics; and Brian Caffo, PhD, Professor, Biostatistics

 

  • R Programming on Coursera
    Intermediate  |  With Certificate (Paid) |  4.6 stars (10,673 reviews)
    R is one of the most famous programming languages in the world, mainly used for data analysis. This class will teach you programming in R and how it can be used when analyzing data. On top of this, you will create your own programming environment and learn to understand basic R programming concept as they are implemented in statistical language. This course is actually a follow-up course to “The Data Scientist’s Toolbox” that we covered above. Both of them make up the start of the Data Science Specialization, an absolute recommendation if you want to get real serious.
    Pre-requisites: It is highly recommended to have at least some programming experience (any language).
    Instructor(s): Jeff Leek, PhD, Associate Professor, Biostatistics; Roger D. Peng, PhD, Associate Professor, Biostatistics; and Brian Caffo, PhD, Professor, Biostatistics

 

  • HTML, CSS, and Javascript for Web Developers on Coursera
    All Levels  |  With Certificate (Paid) |  4.9 stars (3,811 reviews)
    Everything you interact with on the internet as a user is made through front-end development. It consists of some basic programming languages: HTML creates the content that functions as the skeleton of the website, CSS designs where things are placed and what they look like, and Javascript can determine how users interact with the content that they see. This course teaches the basics that you will have to know if you want to start designing web pages by diving into the fundamentals of each language just mentioned. The goal is the walk you through it step by step, with you being able to generate at least basic, solid web pages after finishing the course.
    Pre-requisites: No pre-requisites. This course is made for anybody interested in starting with web development.
    Instructor(s): Yaakov Chaikin, Adjunct Professor, Graduate Computer Science

 

5. San Jose State University

San Jose State University is located in Silicon Valley, California, and students that attend the school find themselves right in the middle of the scenic California Bay Area. San Jose State University does not necessarily rank incredibly well in the list of Top Universities nor do they provide many online courses. However, the courses that they do provide have been received very well online, ranking 4 courses in the top 500 of all courses. Also, they are one of the few universities that provide online courses through Udacity, and not edX or Coursera. This led us to still put them quite high in our ranking here.

 

  • Statistics¬†on Udacity
    Beginner  |  No certificate available  |  Free
    If you are looking to learn anything in regards to statistics, this is a fantastic course (although it might be best to take two sub-courses first: Intro to Descriptive Statistics and Info to Inferential Statistics). In the current day and age, data is everywhere, and it functions as the most important factor in decision making and problem-solving in business. With the internet and the ever-growing part it plays in our daily lives (think of smartphones adoption, IoT, self-driving cars), more and more data is collected and it becomes more and more important to be able to leverage this data. This course walks you through the basics of statistics with 6 different modules covering statistical research methods, visualizing data, variability, probability, and much more.
    Pre-requisites: A tiny bit of understanding of statistics and basic math would be a great help but it is not a necessity.
    Instructor(s): Sean Laraway, Ronald Rogers, and Katie Kormanik

 

  • Intro to Psychology on Udacity
    Beginner  |  No certificate available  |  Free
    As the title suggests, this class will take you through the basic concepts and principles of current-day psychology. The goal is to make students able to critically evaluate psychological research and get a better grasp of how us humans operate and behave. The class consists of 9 lessons covering not only the aforementioned psychology basics but also research methods, psychological development, sensation and perception, consciousness, memory and more.
    Pre-requisites: None at all.
    Instructor(s): Susan Snycerski, Greg Feist, Lauren Castellano

 

  • College Algebra on Udacity
    Beginner  |  No certificate available  |  Free
    Math is literally everywhere in our world. That might be hard for some to hear. However, if you are interested in brushing up on your basic math, this course is an amazing place to start. The class allows students to get a better understanding of algebraic principles and apply those to their own real-life situations. Just a few of the things that will be covered in this lecture: functions, graphing, complex numbers, exponential and logarithmic equations, and many more. All of them will be applied in real-world scenarios as well so they are more accessible.
    Pre-requisites: None.
    Instructor(s): Julie Sliva Spitzer, Miriam Swords Kalk, and Sarah Norell

 

6. University of Washington

The University of Washington was founded in 1861 in Seatle. It is now encompassing over 500 buildings and hosting more than 54,000 students. The Times Higher Education World Universty Rankings has it ranked as top performer in regards to scientific performance and research output and its ranked #13 on the Academic Rankings of World Universities (ARWU – University of Washington). The University of Washington has a diverse set of online courses that they provide via Coursera but their best courses mostly cover Data Science or Machine Learning related topics. They are one of the most prominent universities on Coursera with 4 courses in our top 1000 list of all courses on the web.

 

  • Machine Learning Foundations: A Case Study Approach¬†on Coursera
    All Levels  |  With Certificate (Paid)  |   4.6 stars (6,924 reviews)
    This course uses practical case studies to teach you all about the basics of machine learning and how it can be applied in real-world scenario’s. You will not immediately dive into the fundamental workings of machine learning as it will be initially treated like a black box. Only in the following courses, the students gain insight into what exactly constitutes the programs that had been previously used. The goal is to not only broaden your basic understanding but also allow you yourself to build an end-to-end application that applies machine learning. The course is the starting class for the specialization in Machine Learning on Coursera, which includes a total of 4 in-depth lectures that can be taken to specialize in the field.
    Pre-requisites: None. This course really functions as a stepping stone into the world of machine learning.
    Instructor(s): Carlos Guestrin, Amazon Professor of Machine Learning; and Emily Fox, Amazon Professor of Machine Learning

 

  • Machine Learning: Regression on Coursera
    All Levels  |  With Certificate (Paid) |  4.8 stars (3,449 reviews)
    The second course in the Machine Learning Specialization is “Machine Learning: Regression”. It builds on top of the 1/4 course by diving into linear regression models for the task of prediction and feature selection. Among other things, it covers bias, variance, model parameters, cross-validation, LASSO, and more.
    Pre-requisites: The course can be taken separately but it is highly recommended to start with “Machine Learning Foundations: A Case Study Approach”.
    Instructor(s): Carlos Guestrin, Amazon Professor of Machine Learning; and Emily Fox, Amazon Professor of Machine Learning

 

  • Business English: Networking on Coursera
    Intermediate  |  With Certificate (Paid) |  4.7 stars (624 reviews)
    A different type of course than that we have covered so far, this class from the University of Washington aims to help you get better at networking. More specifically, it will teach you vocabulary and customs that are related to networking and socializing. Building up a quality network is one of the most important things in business given that it allows you faster access to resources (be it people, capital, and so forth) that can help your company further. The simple goal here is to make you more comfortable communicating with colleagues and business contacts, via whatever medium considered fit.
    Pre-requisites: Sort off. There is a proficiency test that you will have to take before you get in but it has not been specified on what matter exactly it will evaluate you.
    Instructor(s): Daphne Mackey, Extension Lecturer, International & English Language Programs; and Richard Moore, Extension Lecturer, International & English Language Programs

 

7. Duke University

Duke University is a private university located in Durham, England that was founded in 1838. They have over 6,000 of undergraduates that join each year and 10 different major subjects that their schools cover. Ranking #9 in the 2018 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities, Duke also does a great job in the e-learning field. In our top 1000, they rank 9 courses, which is very impressive. All their online courses, just like most covered above, are available on Coursera. Their online courses mostly cover business, data science, or development related courses. However, they also have great courses in other subjects such as environmental science, medicine, and History.

 

  • Business Metrics for Data-Driven Companies on Coursera
    All Levels  |  With Certificate (Paid)  |   4.5 stars (4,065 reviews)
    This course introduces the importance of data analytics in making a firm more competitive. The student will get a better understanding of the role that business analysts, data analysts, and data scientists play in companies and what it takes to be excellent at said job positions. It is a great way to get an idea of what to expect in the world of business analytics and data science. After finishing the course, the student will be able to evaluate companies on how effectively they are leveraging their available data and make recommendations as to what they can do better.
    Pre-requisites: This course is an introductory course and has no pre-requisites.
    Instructor(s): Daniel Egger, Executive in Residence and Director, Center for Quantitative Modeling; and Jana Schaich Borg, Assistant Research Professor

 

  • Programming Foundations with JavaScript, HTML, and CSS on Coursera
    Beginner  |  With Certificate (Paid) |  4.5 stars (3,671 reviews)
    Another great introductory course in web development, this time provided by Duke University. In this course, you will learn all about the major front-end web development programming languages HTML, CSS, and Javascript. These three make up pretty much anything you see and interact with when on the internet as a user. By the end of this course, the student will be able to create a solid web-page themselves.
    Pre-requisites: Students with no prior experience can definitely take this course, as it really functions as an introduction.
    Instructor(s): Susan H. Rodger, Professor of the Practice; Robert Duvall, Lecturer; Owen Astrachan, Professor of the Practice; and Andrew D. Hilton, Assistant Professor of the Practice

 

  • Introduction to Probability and Data on Coursera
    Beginner  |  With Certificate (Paid) |  4.7 stars (2,059 reviews)
    A great beginner course in statistics that introduces you to core concepts like sampling, basic probability theory, Bayesian statistics, and more. Different types of statistical analysis techniques will be covered and programs commonly used in data science will be introduced (R and RStudio). At the end of the class, these programs will be used when working on a final project. Having worked through this course, the student has a solid basis to move forward to more advanced projects.
    Pre-requisites: Introduction with no pre-requisites.
    Instructor(s): Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel, Associate Professor of the Practice