The 50 Most Popular MOOCs of All Time


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MOOCs – or Massive Open Online Courses – are picking up momentum in popularity – at least in terms of initial enrollment.

Unlike regular college/ university courses, MOOCs can attract many thousands of enrollees around the world. They can come in the form of active course sessions with participant interaction, or as archived content for self-paced study. MOOCs can be free, or there can be a charge – either on a subscription basis or a one-time charge. Free MOOCs sometimes have a paid “verified certificate” option.

There are now thousands of MOOCs available worldwide from several hundred colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning. For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of 50 of the most popular MOOCs, based on enrollment figures for all sessions of a course. The ranking is based on filtering enrollment data for 185 free MOOCs on various elearning platforms.

NOTES:

  • All-time MOOC enrollment numbers are obviously a moving target. Consider any figures here as merely a snapshot at time of writing, not as exact enrollment data.
  • Primarily English-language MOOCs – or those with English subtitles – have been considered.
  • The majority of top courses come from two platforms: Coursera and edX. The latter, in this case, amounts to MIT and Harvard courses, whereas top Coursera courses in this list come from several schools.
  • Of the 185 courses considered (unique, not including versions of the same course), 66 were on Coursera and 55 on edX.
  • There may be other MOOCs with higher enrollment figures than those presented here. Courses that require payment for full access were not considered.
  • Due to differing schedules for course offerings, enrollment data for some courses may be changed over time as reported (causing some MOOCs to change position in rankings). If you have information on updated enrollment data, feel free to report through OnlineCourseReport’s contact page.

Some of the courses listed here have had no recent active sessions, and some do not have archived content. If you cannot find what you are looking for on a learning provider’s platform, check out our list of 5400 free online courses.

 

 

 

50. Creative Programming for Digital Media & Mobile Apps / University of London/ Goldsmiths

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The MOOC Creative Programming for Digital Media & Mobile Apps, from Goldsmiths (constituent college of University of London) on Coursera, covers the application of technical skills to creative aspects, such as interactive music, video games, and mobile apps. As such, it’s recommended that students have some experience in creative work and some programming experience (although resources will be provided). Total enrollment since the course’s launch in Jun 2013 is about 78.6K. The course, which is currently unavailable and unarchived, is taught by Dr. Marco Gillies, Dr. Matthew Yee-King and Dr. Mick Grierson, all of the Computing Department at Goldsmiths / U of London. Gillies is a Senior Lecturer with an interest in computer graphics, animation and interaction, and who teaches programming in Processing and Computer Graphics. Yee-King is a Lecturer with an interest in digital signal processing as applied to computer music, and who teaches this topic. Grierson is a Senior Lecturer who also designs software for entertainment media use, and who teaches Audio and Visual processing.

Additional info:

 

 

 

 

49. A History of the World Since 1300 / Princeton University

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The MOOC A History of the World Since 1300, from Princeton University on Coursera, covers world history events over the past seven-plus centuries. Topics include Chinggis Khan (aka Genghis Khan) and relationships between societies since the Mongol conquests, and the globalization and fragmentation of the world since then. Total enrollment since the course’s launch in Sep 2012 is about 83K. The course, which is currently unavailable and unarchived, is taught by Jeremy Adelman. Adelman is or holds the titles of Walter Samuel Carpenter III Professor of Spanish Civilization and Culture and Henry Charles Lea Professor of History (specialization: Latin America). Adelman has written several books about history, including a textbook, and earned a number of awards.

Additional info:

 

 

48. Justice / Harvard University

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The MOOC Justice, from Harvard University on edX / HarvardX, covers theories of justice, affirmative action, income distribution, same-sex marriage, human rights, property rights and more, using readings from “Aristotle, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and John Rawls.” The course has two editions, ER22x, the original “Justice,” and ER22.1x, aka “Justice v2″. Content is archived, with videos available in English and German, and transcripts in German, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese. Total enrollment since the course’s launch in Mar 2013 is about 84.2K. The course is taught by Michael J. Sandel of Harvard, Sandel is a professor of political philosophy and is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government. Sandel has written multiple books and justice, ethics and related topics, and his writing is available in over 20 languages.

Additional info:

  • Platform: edX
  • Institution homepage: Harvard University
  • Total enrollment: 84252
  • Lecturers: Michael J. Sandel

 

 

 

47. Introduction to Mathematical Thinking / Stanford University

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The MOOC Introduction to Mathematical Thinking, from Stanford University on Coursera, aims to teach students how to think mathematically, to think “out of the box” and develop cognitive abilities — which deviates from typical math education that simply teaches “how to do math.” Subtitles for the video content is available in Portuguese. Total enrollment since the course’s launch in Mar 2013 is about 86.2K. The course, which had an open session at time of writing, is taught by Dr. Keith Devlin. Devlin is a co-founder of both the H-STAR Institute (also Executive Director) and Media X research network — both part of Stanford. He has held several “Fellow” titles and won a number of prizes/ awards, including the Pythagoras Prize, Peano Prize, and Carl Sagan Award. He is on NPR (National Public Radio) as “the Math Guy.” His writing output includes over 30 books and over 80 researched articles.

Additional info:

 

 

46. Introduction to Operations Management / University of Pennsylvania / Wharton

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The MOOC Introduction to Operations Management, from University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) Wharton School of Business (Wharton) on Coursera, is part of Coursera’s Wharton Business Foundation Specialization track. It focuses on analyzing and improving business processes (process analytics) in service or manufacturing, productivity and responsiveness increases, bottlenecks, flow rates, inventory levels and more. The course, which has multiple sessions scheduled for 2015, is taught by Christian Terwiesch. Terwiesch is a professor of The Wharton School’s Operations and Information Management department, the Andrew M. Heller Professor at Wharton, and a Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics. He co-authored an Operations Management textbook and has won teaching awards for his efforts in the Wharton MBA program.

Additional info:

 

45. Introduction to Philosophy: God, Knowledge, and Consciousness / MIT

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The MOOC Introduction to Philosophy: God, Knowledge, and Consciousness is currently in its second run on the edX platform, with a total enrollment of almost 90,000 students. The course provides a basic overview of some facets of philosophy, and is meant to introduce students to a range of debates that exemplify the types of things that philosophers talk about. Specifically, the course emphasizes the ability to analyze and construct philosophical arguments, theories of consciousness, arguments for or against the existence of God, theories of knowledge, free will and determinism, and theories of personal identity. The course is instructed by Caspar Hare, a longtime MIT professor of philosophy, and Ryan Doody, a PhD student in Philosophy & Linguistics at MIT.

Additional Information:

  • Platform: edX
  • Institution homepage MIT
  • Total Enrollment: 89183
  • Lecturers: Caspar Hare, Ryan Doody

 

44. Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science / Harvard University

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The MOOC SPU27x Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science, from Harvard University on edX / HarvardX, covers the intersection of physics and engineering principles with the chemistry of everyday cooking. Topics include emulsions, elasticity, diffusion through spherification and more. Total enrollment since the course’s launch in Oct 2013 is about 92K. The course, which has a session scheduled for Jun 2015, is taught by Michael Brenner, David Weitz, Pia Sörensen (PhD, chemical biology), and Daniel Rosenberg, all of Harvard. Brenner is a professor of Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics and developed this course with Weitz, Brenner and Chef Ferran Adrià. Weitz is a professor of Applied Physics. Sörensen is Preceptor of Science and Cooking. Rosenberg contributed to the science demos in this course.

Additional info:

  • Platform: edX
  • Institution homepage: Harvard University
  • Total enrollment: 92045
  • Lecturers: Michael Brenner, David Weitz, Pia Sörensen, Daniel Rosenberg

 

43. The Future of Storytelling / University of Applied Sciences Potsdam

 

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The MOOC The Future of Storytelling is presented by German MOOC platform iversity and the University of Applied Sciences of Potsdam (Fachhochschule Potsdam), and upon last count had a total enrollment of 92957 students. The course focuses on analyzing, creating, and contextualizing current media forms, and is presented by a series of media researchers, creators, and students. Subject matter in the course is multidisciplinary, including content from game designers, writers, transmedia producers, TV makers, executives and theorists from many different fields of study. In particular, the first storytelling MOOC centers around current fictional forms and storytelling mechanics. The course is taught by Christina Maria Schollerer, Prof. Winfried Gerling, Prof. Constanze Langer, and Julian van Dieken.

Additional info:

42. Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python / MIT

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The MOOC 6.00.1x Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on edX / MITx, covers the basic principles of computer programming, including computation, algorithms, testing and debugging, data structures, and algorithmic complexity — all using the Python programming language. This plus a companion course (6.00.2x Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science, taught by the same team) are meant for anyone without prior computer programming experience.

Total enrollment since course’s launch in Oct 2013 is about 98.7K. The course, which is currently archived, is taught by Eric Grimson, PhD (mathematics), John Guttag, PhD (mathematics) and Ana Bell, PhD, all of MIT. Grimson is professor of computer science and engineering, the Chancellor of MIT (as of 2011), and the Bernard M. Gordon Professor of Medical Engineering. His area of specialty is computer vision for medical image analysis. Guttag is the Dugald C. Jackson Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at MIT and heads up the Data Driven Medical Research group of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. His research includes medical-related predictions. Bell lectures in the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Department. Her research includes computational biology. Grimson and Guttag have both served as head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Additional info:

  • Platform: edX
  • Institution homepage: MIT
  • Total enrollment: 98688
  • Lecturers: Eric Grimson, John Guttag, Ana Bell

 

 

41. Data Analysis / Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School

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The MOOC Data Analysis, from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Bloomberg School of Public Health (BSPH), covers data analysis and applied statistical techniques, finding patterns in data, and communicating conclusions. The course is typically intended for first year graduate biostatistics students and uses the R statistical programming language. Total enrollment since the course’s launch in Jan 2013 is about 102K. The course, which is currently archived, is taught by Jeff Leek, PhD (biostatistics), and has won a teaching excellence award (student-voted) each year it was taught by him. Leek is an associate professor of Biostatistics at JHU. Leek’s research topics include genomic data analysis for personalized medicine. He has published work in several top journals and created the Data Analysis course

Additional info:

 

 

40. Modern & Contemporary American Poetry / University of Pennsylvania

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The MOOC Modern & Contemporary American poetry is provided by the University of Pennsylvania on Coursera. The course centers around teaching participants how to read poems that are often purported to be “difficult,” including the work of modern and contemporary U.S. poets working in “experimental mode.” Often, sessions aren’t lectures, but rather recordings of close collaborative readings of texts (seminar style) with professor Al Filreis. Professor Filreis is Kelly Professor, founder, and faculty director of the Kelly Writers House, a writing and academic center at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the director of the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing.
Additional Info:

 

39. Introduction to Financial Accounting / University of Pennsylvania / Wharton

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The MOOC Introduction to Financial Accounting, from University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) Wharton School of Business (Wharton) is part of Coursera’s Wharton Business Foundation Specialization track. It focuses on financial analysis, financial reporting process, and accounting standards — all of which will give participants the knowledge to read income statements, balance sheets and statements of cash flow. Total enrollment since the course’s launch is about 155.5K. The course, which has several sessions scheduled for 2015, is taught by Brian J. Bushee, PhD, of UPenn. Bushee is the Gilbert and Shelley Harrison Professor of Accounting at Wharton. He was previously affiliated with Harvard Business School and University of Chicago, and was a credit analyst. Bushee has taught various MBA-level courses and won two teaching awards.

Additional info:

 

 

38. Introduction to Computer Science and Programming / MIT

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The MOOC 6.00x Introduction to Computer Science and Programming, from MIT and edX / MITx, covers the fundamental concepts of programming using Python, including the elements of a computer program, simple algorithms, functions, recursion, objects, debugging, efficiency, memory and search, classes, and object-oriented programming. Total enrollment since the course’s launch in Sep 2012 is about 157.4K. The course, which is currently only partially archived, is taught by Larry Rudolph, PhD (computer science) of MIT. Rudolph has spent time as a faculty member at several universities. Currently, he is a researcher at MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. His research includes contributing to the Ultracomputer architecture (1978), parallel processing, switching networks and more. His mobile virtualization project for VMWare is used on Verizon’s Android phones.

Additional info:

  • Platform: edX
  • Institution homepage: MIT
  • Total enrollment: 157431
  • Lecturers: Larry Rudolph

 

 

37. Introduction to Artificial Intelligence / Stanford University

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The MOOC Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, from Stanford University on Udacity, is the course that is instrumental in the launch of Udacity itself. The course focuses on the basics of AI, including statistics/ uncertainty/ Bayes networks, machine learning, Markov chains (decision processes, reinforcement learning, hidden models and filters), image processing and computer vision, robotics and robot motion planning, NLP (Natural Language Processing) and information retrieval and more.

Total enrollment since the launch of the course in Oct 2011 is about 160K. The course, which is currently archived, is taught by Peter Norvig, PhD (computer science), and Sebastian Thrun, PhD (computer science), both of whom co-founded Udacity. Norvig is currently a Director of Research at Google, and previously an Assistant Professor at University of Southern California and Research Faculty member at UC Berkeley. He has written extensively (articles and books) about computer science topics including artificial intelligence and natural language processing. Thrun is a Research Professor of Computer Science at Stanford and a Google Fellow. His main areas of research are robotics and machine learning, including Google’s self-driving cars and before that Stanford’s Stanley autonomous car.

Additional info:

 

 

36. Financial Markets / Yale University

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The MOOC Financial Markets, from Yale University on Coursera, covers finance and risk management; efficient markets vs behavioral finance; debt vs equity; real estate, regulation and enterprise; forward futures and options markets; monetary policy; critical elements of the financial infrastructure and other topics. Content for the course is also available in Chinese. Total enrollment since the course’s launch is about 162K. The course, which is currently archived from a Fall 2014 session, is taught by Robert Shiller, PhD (economics) of Yale. Shiller is a professor of Finance at the Yale School of Management, and the Sterling Professor of Economics, Department of Economics and Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics at Yale. He won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, and has written extensively on economics, financial markets and related topics, including a number of books and a regular column for the NY Times.

Additional info:

 

35. Computational Investing, Part I / Georgia Institute of Technology

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The MOOC Computational Investing, Part I, from Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech or GT) on Coursera, covers the basics of the electronic markets aspect of stock markets, including stock price behavior, and looks at building algorithms and visualizations that aid in investing. Total enrollment since the course’s launch in Oct 2012 is about 78.8K. The course, which is currently unavailable and unarchived, is taught by Dr. Tucker Balch. Balch is an Associate Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at GT, and a cofounder of Lucena Research, a provider of hedge fund software. His research includes machine learning and automated perception, and he has written two books and over a hundred technical articles.

Additional info:

34. Startup Engineering / Stanford University

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The MOOC Startup Engineering, from Stanford University on Coursera, covers the engineering skills and toolset that a technology startup needs. Topics include development tools, frontend Web development (HTML, CSS, JS, wireframing), backend (databases, frameworks), APIs, devops (testing, deployment, continuous integration, monitoring, performance), dev scaling, business scaling and more. Total enrollment since the course’s launch is about 170.3K. The course, which is currently archived, is taught by Balaji S. Srinivasan, PhD (electrical engineering) and Vijay S. Pande. Srinivasan is a co-founder of Counsyl, a genomics startup, and previously taught statistics and computational biology in the Statistics department of Stanford. Pande is a professor in the departments of Chemistry, Computer Science and Structural Biology, as well as the founder and director of Folding@Home, which for many years was the world’s most powerful distributed supercomputer, using the computing power of volunteers’ computers during idle times.

Additional info:

  • Platform: Coursera
  • Institution homepage: Stanford University
  • Total enrollment: 170305
  • Lecturers: Balaji S. Srinivasan, Vijay S. Pande

 

33. Greek and Roman Mythology / University of Pennsylvania

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The MOOC Greek and Roman Mythology, from University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) on Coursera, covers, as the title suggests, the myths of ancient Rome and Greece, and the value of myth for us an individuals and societies. Total enrollment since the course’s launch in Sep 2012 is about 180K. The course, which has a future session at time of writing, is taught by Peter Struck, PhD, an Associate Professor of Classical Studies at UPenn. His research topics include myth, meaning, literary criticism and divination. He won a classical studies award for his first book, as well as two teaching awards. He has consulted for a number of media organizations, including NBC, Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report.

Additional info:

 

 

32. Learn to Program: The Fundamentals / University of Toronto

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The MOOC Learn to Program: The Fundamentals, from University of Toronto (U of T) on Coursera, covers the basics of computer programming, using Python as the language of choice. and is intended for people with no programming experience. Recommended background includes grade school math. Total enrollment since the course’s launch in Sep 2012 is about 198.6K. The course, which is archived from a 2013 session, is taught by Jennifer Campbell and Paul Gries, both Senior Lecturers in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. Both Campbell and Gries also teach Learn to Program – Crafting Quality Code, which is listed at #30 on this list, and which elaborates on their career achievements.

Additional info:

 

31. Web Development: How to Build a Blog

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The MOOC Web Development: How to Build a Blog (or CS 253) centers around the course-long project of creating a web page that anyone can add to and edit. Course lessons include (in chronological order) (1) how the web works, (2) forms and inputs, (3) databases, (4) user accounts and security, (5) APIs, (6) caching, (7) caching, and (8) a final project. The final project is the creation of a fully functional Wiki platform to which users can add new or edit existing pages. Total course enrollment is currently at over 217k. Instructors include Steve Huffman–co-founder of Reddit and Hipmunk– and Sean Bennett, a course architect and programmer at Udacity.

 

Additional info:

  • Platform: Udacity
  • Institution homepage: n/a
  • Total enrollment: 217322
  • Lecturers: Steve Huffman, Sean Bennett

30. A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior / Duke University

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The MOOC A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior, from Duke University on Coursera, covers rational and irrational behavior from the aspect of behavioral economics and standard economic theory. Total enrollment since the course’s launch is about 217.3K. The course, which currently has no profile page on Coursera nor any archives, is taught by Dan Ariely, PhD, of Duke. Ariely is a professor of Economics and is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics, and is also associated with the Fuqua School of Business and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. His research includes topics on psychology and behavioral economics, on which he has written three books. Ariely, who had much of his body burned as a teen, also teaches MBA-level courses.

Additional info:

 

29. Creativity, Innovation and Change / Penn State

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The MOOC Creativity, Innovation and Change, from Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) on Coursera, covers creativity techniques for building your business, including the creative diversity model, paradox of structure, creative process, intelligent fast failure, value creation strategies and more. Content is in English and has Chinese subtitles. Total enrollment since the course’s launch is about 220k. The course, which is currently available through Coursera’s on-demand format, and is taught by Kathryn W. Jablokow, PhD (electrical engineering), Darrell Velegol, PhD (chemical engineering), Jack V. Matson, PhD (environmental engineering) and Elizabeth Kisenwether – all of Penn State.

Jablokow is an associate professor in Mechanical Engineering and Design, and has won awards for her teaching. Velegol is a Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering, has won awards for teaching, has written over 70 papers on colloid science and related topics, and several books, including CENTER, which is suggested reading for this course. Matson is Professor Emeritus in Environmental Engineering, has developed courses in innovative design, has founded/ cofounded three startup companies, and written several books. Kisenwether is an Assistant Professor in Engineering Design and has interest in encouraging entrepreneurship on campus, especially as co-director of the Lion Launch Pad, a business accelerator for students.

Additional info:

  • Platform: Coursera
  • Institution homepage: Penn State
  • Total enrollment: 220000
  • Lecturers: Kathryn W. Jablokow, Darrell Velegol, Jack V. Matson

 

28. Circuits and Electronics / MIT

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The MOOC 6.002x Circuits and Electronics, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on MITx, covers introductory circuits, resistive elements, independent and dependent sources, switches, energy storage, amplifiers and more. Total enrollment since the course’s launch is about 229.8K. The course has one session scheduled in 2015, running from Jan 20 for 16 weeks. It is taught by Anant Agarwal, Gerald Sussman, et al, all of MIT. Agarwal is a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, President of edX, founder of a number of startups, and a co-author of this course’s textbook. Sussman is a professor of Electrical Engineering and author of a top textbook of computer science.

Additional info:

  • Platform: edX
  • Institution homepage: MIT
  • Total enrollment: 229813
  • Lecturers: Anant Agarwal

 

 

27. Gamification / University of Pennsylvania / Wharton

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The MOOC Gamification, from University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) Wharton School of Business (Wharton) on Coursera, covers gamification, which is the application of game theory and digital game design techniques to non-gaming disciplines. Gamification has been applied to learning, productivity, team-building, customer engagement, crowdsourcing and other areas. Total enrollment since the course’s launch in Aug 2012 is about 148K. The course, which is currently unavailable, is taught by Kevin Werbach of UPenn. Werbach is an Associate Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics and founder of technology consulting firm Supernova Group. He has advised/ consulted for agencies of the U.S. federal government. He developed this course on Gamification and co-wrote a book on game theory/ gamification for business.

Additional info:

26. Data Analysis and Statistical Inference / Duke University

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The MOOC Data Analysis and Statistical Inference, from Duke University on Coursera, covers statistics from the aspect of a “science of understanding and analyzing data,” and using real world data to make inferences and conclusions. Total enrollment since the course’s launch is over 190k. The course, which had an open session at time of writing, is taught by Dr. Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel, PhD (statistics), Assistant Professor of the Practice at Duke’s Department of Statistical Science. Çetinkaya-Rundel’s research includes the development of student-centered learning tools for introductory statistics, and spatial modeling as related to survey, public health and environmental data. She co-authored the free online textbook OpenIntro Statistics (PDF), which is used in the course, as well two other statistics textbooks (one for high school students), all of which are available for free download, along with data sets used.

Additional info:

  • Platform: Coursera
  • Institution homepage: Duke University
  • Total enrollment: 291703
  • Lecturers: Dr. Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel

25. Exploring English: Language and Culture / British Council

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The MOOC Exploring English: Language and Culture is offered on FutureLearn, the first UK MOOC platform, and has had over 300,000 students in its three runs. The course is for people who are learning English and would like to both learn more about British culture and improve their English skills. Particular topics covered include English as a global language, the environmental, entrepreneurship, and literature. The course is designed for students who speak English at an intermediate level (approximately B1 on the CEFR). Instruction is overseen by Simon Carrie.

Additional info:

24. Introduction to Computer Science / Harvard University

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The MOOC CS50x Introduction to Computer Science, from Harvard on edX / HarvardX, covers the basics of computer programming for both comp sci majors and non-majors. Topics include algorithms and problem solving, abstraction, data structures, encapsulation, resource management, security, software engineering, Web development and more. Languages, markup and databases covered include C, PHP, JavaScript, CSS, HTML, and SQL. Total enrollment since the course’s launch in Oct 2012 is about 348.5K. The course, which is currently archived, is taught by David J. Malan, PhD (computer science) et al. Malan is a professor of Computer Science and is the Gordon McKay Professor of the Practice of Computer Science at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard. Other members of the team are doctoral and undergrad students at Harvard.

Additional info:

  • Platform: edX
  • Institution homepage: Harvard University
  • Total enrollment: 348476
  • Lecturers/team: David J. Malan, Rob Bowden, Zamyla Chan, Allison Buchholtz-Au

23. Competitive Strategy / Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU)

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LMU’s Competitive Strategy course is designed to help students learn how businessness and organizations strategize in interdependent circumstances. A 6-week module, the topics break down as follows: Take Care of Your Competitors, Why Firms Work Together, Complementary Products and Strategic Partnerships, Entering a New Market, Why Worry About Research and Development, and Designing Products Wisely. Students complete a quiz following each lesson, and the class concludes with a final exam. All coursework is archived to allow students complete the class on a self-paced basis. The instructor is Tobias Kretschmer, Professor of Strategy, Technology and Organization at LMU, where his particular interests include economic and managerial aspects of high-technology industries.

Additional info:

22. Calculus One / Ohio State University

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Ohio State’s Calculus One class is an in-depth, self-paced introductory course designed to be completed in approximately 16 weeks. Students need not have taken any relevant calculus before, though anyone eager to refresh their knowledge is also encouraged to enroll. The class is structured around 25 hours of archived videos and quizes, taught by Professor Jim Fowler, who research includes work in geometry, topology, and geometric group theory. Among the fundamental concepts studied are functions and limits, derivatives, linear approximation, optimization, integration, and more. In addition to understanding calculus from the perspective of pure mathematics, this course also seeks to demonstrate the intersection of calculus and the biological, physical, and social sciences, as well as throughout our daily lives.

Additional info:

21. Game Theory / Stanford University, University of British Columbia

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The MOOC Game Theory, from Stanford University and the University of British Columbia on Coursera, covers game strategy, Nash equilibria, minimax strategies, correlated equilibria, Bayesian games, game trees, backward induction, behavioral strategies and much more. Total enrollment since the course’s launch is about 470K. The course is taught by Kevin Leyton-Brown, PhD, Yoav Shoham, PhD (computer science) and Matthew O. Jackson. Jackson is a professor of Economics and the William D. Eberle Professor of Economics at Stanford. His research includes game theory, microeconomic theory and social and economic networks, for which he has won a number of prizes/ awards. Shoham is a professor of Computer science at Stanford. His research includes game theory and electric commerce, and he has written five books and a number of articles. Leyton-Brown is an associate professor of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia but completed his PhD at Stanford. His research includes “the intersection of computer science and microeconomics.”

Additional info:

20. Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence / Case Western Reserve

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The MOOC Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence, from Case Western Reserve University (Case) on Coursera, covers topics in leadership using mindfulness, compassion and emotional intelligence. Total enrollment since the course’s launch is about 494k. The course, which has multiple sessions from 2014-2015 archived, is taught by Richard Boyatzis, PhD (social psychology). Boyatzis is a Professor in several departments (Organizational Behavior, Psychology, and Cognitive Science) and a Distinguished University Professor at Case. Boyatzis has written over 100 articles on leadership, emotional intelligence and related topics, and written several books on leadership and management, published in several languages.

Additional info:

  • Platform: Coursera
  • Institution homepage: Case Western Reserve
  • Total enrollment: 494,369
  • Lecturers: Distinguished Professor Richard Boyatzis

19. Introduction to Computer Science

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The MOOC Introduction to Computer Science (or CS 101) covers computer science foundations through several hands on projects and coursework that exposes students to the Python programming language. Central projects include building a search engine as well as a simple social network. Lessons center around (1) getting started, (2) repeating, (3) problem solving, (4) managing data, (5) responding to queries, (6) how programs run, (7) increasing the power of programs, and (8) the past, present, and future of computing. The course is taught by professor David Evans, a professor of computer science focusing on computer security at the University of Virginia.

Additional info:

  • Platform: Udacity
  • Institution homepage: n/a
  • Total enrollment: 515,476
  • Lecturers: David Evans

18. Algorithms: Design and Analysis, Part 1 / Stanford University

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Stanford’s Algorithms: Design and Analysis, Part 1 focuses on the following fundamental principles: divide-and-conquer methods, graph algorithms, practical data structures (heaps, hash tables, search trees), and randomized algorithms, among others. Students are suggested to have proficiency in at least one programming language (C, Java, or Python) and a familiarity with proofs by induction and by contradiction. The course delivers in a 6-week format and includes 10-15 minute lecture videos, integrated quiz questions, standalone homework assignments, and a final exam. The instructor is Tim Roughgarden, an award-winning Associate Professor of Computer Science and Management Science & Engineering. He has taught this particular course for 8 years.

Additional info:

17. Introduction to Philosophy / University of Edinburgh

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The MOOC Introduction to Philosophy, from University of Edinburgh on Coursera, covers key topics in contemporary philosophy, what its aims and methods are, epistemology, philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, moral philosophy, metaphysics and more. Total enrollment since the course’s launch in Jan 2013 is more than 500K. The course has archived text and video content, with seven sections — each taught by a different lecturer: Dr. Dave Ward, Professor Duncan Pritchard, Dr. Michela Massimi, Dr. Suilin Lavelle, Dr. Matthew Chrisman, Dr. Allan Hazlett and Dr. Alasdair Richmond — all University of Edinburgh faculty.

Additional info:

16. An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python / Rice University

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A two-part primer course, Rice University’s Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python is designed for students with little to no programming background. The instructors – Joe Warren, Scott Rixner, John Greiner, Stephen Wong – all teach in the Department of Computer Science, and have created a browser-based programming environment to simplify developing interactive applications in Python. To get a firm grip on Python basics (and have fun while doing so), students will primarily learn to build simple interactive games like Pong, Blackjack and Asteroids with Python mini-projects. This course delivers in a 5-week format, and covers basic concepts such as functions, conditionals, event-driven programming, and more.

Additional info:

  • Platform: Coursera
  • Institution homepage: Rice University
  • Total enrollment: 581,043
  • Lecturers: Joe Warren, Scott Rixner, John Greiner, Stephen Wong

15. Model Thinking / University of Michigan

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The University of Michigan’s Model Thinking course is designed to demonstrate how models can effectively organize large, complex sets of information into more digestable and actionable forms. Taught by Scott Page, a world-renowned expert in complex systems, this course covers several essential modeling concepts: segregation and peer effects, aggregration and decision models, categorical and linear models, tipping points, diversity and innovation, the prisoners’ dilemma, and more. Including a midterm and exam – assuming the student opts for the certificate track – the class typically lasts 12 weeks. That said, as it’s self-paced and archived, deadlines are merely suggested. The course is deliberately wide-scoped, and aims to show how models affect strategy and decision-making in economics, political science, business, sociology, and more.

Additional info:

14. Introduction to Public Speaking / University of Washington

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The University of Washington’s primer on public speaking serves as an excellent springboard for both underlying theory and actionable practice. In particular, the course concentrates on the differences in oral vs. written commmunication in order to help students speak in an effective, comprehensive manner. Further, the class also focuses on the fundamentals of developing a well-rounded thesis and argument that listener’s can grasp. To hone their skill-sets, students practice and critique their own speeches, in addition to analyzing the speeches of others. Delivered over 10 weeks, this class includes video, quizzes, and peer assessments. The course is taught by Dr. Matt McGarrity, a Principal Lecturer in the Communication Department at the University of Washington, who teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in public speaking, argumentation, classical rhetoric, rhetorical criticism, and communication pedagogy.

Additional info:

13. Social Psychology / Wesleyan University

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The MOOC Social Psychology, from Wesleyan University on Coursera, covers the why of human behavior. Topics include social psychology, decision making, persuasion, group behavior, personal attraction and more. Total enrollment since the course’s launch in Aug 2013 is over 640k. The course, which consists of 10-20 minute long lecture videos, is taught by Scott Plous, PhD (pyschology) of Wesleyan. Plous teaches courses in social psychology and has won several awards, including for teaching. In the past, to accomodate students’ schedules, the class has taken a one-week break to allow students to catch up with coursework and concepts.

Additional info:

12. Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) / University of Michigan

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The University of Michigan’s Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) is the first course of five in the program’s Python for Everybody Specialization. An introductory-level class, students need no prerequisites and only a basic understanding of fundamental mathematic concepts. The lecturer, Charles Severance, is a Clinical Associate Professor at the university’s School of Information, where he specializes in programming, database design, and Web development. In particular, Dr. Severance has excellent experience in the emerging ed tech sphere, helping to build programs such as Sakai, Moodle, Blackboard, ANGEL, and more. This course delivers over 7 weeks and includes 5 chapters that cover variables and expressions, conditional code, functions, and loops and iteration, among other topics.

Additional info:

11. Cryptography I / Stanford

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The MOOC Crypotgraphy I is offered on the Coursera platform, and has been run a total of 16 times, for around 600k total enrolled students. The course aims to provide students with a basic understanding of Cryptography, an indispensable tool in securing computer systems. In particular the course focuses on cryptographic primitives, cryptographic constructions, and real world applications of cryptography. The course begins by exploring a scenario in which two parties who share a secret key can communicate securely even when a powerful adversary is attempting to eavesdrop. The course includes written homework as well as programming labs. Professor Dan Boneh, head of the applied cryptography group at Stanford University teaches the MOOC.

Additional info:

  • Platform:Coursera
  • Institution homepage: Stanford
  • Total enrollment: 674,404
  • Lecturers: Dan Boneh

10. Programming Mobile Applications for Android Handheld Systems – Part 1 / University of Maryland

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The MOOC Programming Mobile Applications for Android Handheld Systems – Part 1, from University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) on Coursera, covers the basics of developing mobile apps for the smartphones and tablets on the Android platform, from development environment setup to creating apps. This course and Part 2 are part of the Coursera Mobile Cloud Computing with Android specialization track. Total enrollment since the course’s launch is about 600000K. The course, which has both archives and several sessions scheduled for 2015, is taught by Dr. Adam Porter of UMD. Porter is a professor of Computer Science at UMD and the UMD Institute for Advanced Studies. He has won awards for teaching and research, and has served on the editorial boards of several scientific journals.

Additional info:

9. Understanding IELTS: Techniques for English Language Tests / British Council

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The MOOC Understanding IELTS: Techniques for English Language Tests if offered by FutureLearn, the UK’s first MOOC platform. The course focuses on preparing students for IELTS (International English Language Testing System) tests, the most popular English language test for higher education and global migration. IELTS tests are used by over 9,000 organizations and recorded over 2.2 million individual administrations last year. The course centers around familiarizing students with all portions of the test, understanding the assessment process, and getting feedback from other students on written and spoken English skills. The course has received almost 700000 students in its two runs, and is taught by Chris Cavey.
Additional info:

 

8. Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: the First Step in Entrepreneurship / University of Maryland, College Park

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The MOOC Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: the First Step in Entrepreneurship is offered on the Coursera platform by the University of Maryland. The course is part of the entrepreneurship specialization that centers around the early stages of launching a new business. Content centers around tried and tested techniques for assessing and analyzing new venture opportunity. Central to the class is the process of establishing a business plan as well as the goal of demystifying the startup process, so that students can take data-driven steps to found their own business when opportunities present themselves in the real world. Since the creation of the course over 735,000 students have enrolled, with the course ranked as the #1 entrepreneurship courses, and #3 overall business course on the Coursera platform. Currently the course is taught by Dr. James V. Green, the director of Entrepreneurship Education at the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute.

Additional info:

7. Algorithms: Part 1 / Princeton University

img-princeton_uThe MOOC Algorithms: Part 1 is presented on the Coursera platform by Princeton University. The course focuses on algorithms and data structures that programmers need to know. In particular coursework centers around iteratable data types, sorting, and searching algorithms as they relate to applications and scientific performance analysis in Java. Specific topics include union-find algorithms; basic iterable data types (stack, queues, and bags); sorting algorithms (quicksort, mergesort, heapsort) and applications; priority queues; binary search trees; red-black trees; hash tables; and symbol-table applications. Currently the course has had over 750k students. The course is taught by Kevin Wayne and Robert Sedgewick, computer science professors at Princeton.

Additional info:

6. Think Again: How to Reason and Argue / Duke University

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The MOOC Think Again: How to Reason and Argue, from Duke University on Coursera, covers reasoning, analyzing arguments, evaluating deductive and inductive arguments, argument fallacies and more. Total enrollment since the course’s launch in Nov 2012 is about 775k. The course, which has an archive from Fall 2014, has one session scheduled in 2015, which started Jan 5th and ends May 4th. It is taught by Dr. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Dr. Ram Neta. Sinnott-Armstrong is a professor of Philosophy at Duke, and is the Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the Philosophy Department and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke. He has written several books, including on moral theory, philosophy of religion and theory of knowledge. Neta is a professor of Philosophy at University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. He has written many articles on epistemology and related topics, and is an editor of works on epistemology.

Additional info:

  • Platform: Coursera
  • Institution homepage: Duke University
  • Total enrollment: 775717
  • Lecturers: Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Ram Neta

5. The Data Scientist’s Toolbox /Johns Hopkins University

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The MOOC the Data Scientist’s Toolbox is presented on the Coursera platform by Johns Hopkins University. The course is part of Coursera’s popular data science specialization, and has had over 820k students since its creation. Topics covered include an introduction to common tools and ideas that data scientists use in their workflow. A conceptual knowledge of how data can be turned into actionable information is covered through the early stages of the class. This is followed by the course’s practical sections on markdown, git, GitHub, R, and RStudio. Goals for the end of the course include the ability to identify and classify data science problems, as well as the establishing of a Github account with basic Git knowledge. The course is taught by Roger D. Peng, Jeff Leek, and Brian Caffo.

Additional info:

4. Introduction to Finance / University of Michigan

img-u_michiganThe MOOC introduction to Finance is presented on the Coursera platform by the University of Michigan. Currently the MOOC has had over 840k enrollments. Due to overwhelming support the course was recently built into a four course specialization, with courses centered around valuation in finance. Topics covered in other specialization courses include the time value of money, risk and return, alternative methods, projects and companies, as well as a capstone project. While the course does present fundamental finance concepts, it is recommended that students have some knowledge of business or finance. The course is taught by Gautam Kaul and Qin Lei, both professors at the University of Michigan.

Additional info:

3. R Programming / Johns Hopkins University

johns_hopkinsThe MOOC R Programming is presented by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and functions as part of Coursera’s data science specialization. The courses begins by teaching students how to install and configure R (the de facto programming language for data science and statistics work). The course continues by helping to step students through reading data into R, accessing R packages, writing R functions, debugging, profiling R code, and organizing and commenting R code. A certification is available for the course, which takes four weeks of study to complete with a cohort. Since its creation, the course has garnered over 950,000 students. The course is taught by Roger D. Peng, Jeff Leek, and Brian Caffo.

Additional info:

2. Machine Learning / Stanford University

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The MOOC Machine Learning, from Stanford University on Coursera, covers machine learning, data mining, and statistical pattern recognition at broad level. More specifically, topics include supervised learning, unsupervised learning, best practices in machine learning, case studies and application of learning algorithms for building smart robots, text understanding, computer vision, medical informatics and more. Total enrollment since the course’s launch in Oct 2011 is over one million students, making the MOOC the most well enrolled in the history of online education (at time of writing)! The course, which is archived, and which led to the founding of Coursera, is taught by Andrew Ng, Ng is an associate professor of Computer Science at Stanford and Chief Scientist of Baidu. He co-founded Coursera with Daphne Koller, another Stanford computer science professor. Ng is Chairman of Coursera, while Koller is President

Additional info:

 

1. Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects / UC San Diego

UC_san_diegoThe MOOC Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects covers a number of learning techniques that are utilized in a wide array of fields. Subject matter includes learning about the two main (and very different) ways in which our brain learns, as well as how the brain tends to “chunk” information. The course is geared towards anyone who is actively seeking to learn new skills or information, and who is ready to assess and improve the way they learn. While educational theory is covered, the course also covers a wide number of practical learning tips. To date, the course has garnered more than one million enrolees, only the second MOOC to achieve this benchmark in history. The course is taught by Dr. Barbara Oakley, a professor of engineering at the University of Oakland, and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, a professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Additional info:

  • Platform: Coursera
  • Institution homepage: UC San Diego
  • Total enrollment: 1192697
  • Lecturers:Terrence Sejnowski, Barbara Oakley

Reason for updates:

When this ranking was originally written, no comprehensive data source for MOOC enrollment numbers was available. For this reason data was assembled piecemeal from available resources, many of which were published at different times and did not look at all MOOC platforms. As our ranking has received more attention we have obtained more exact enrollment data from MOOC platforms and professors, which we are incorporating into the ranking as we receive new numbers. Note that this may mean that individual MOOCs may change position in the rankings.

 

REFERENCES

Some information for this list is referenced from the following Web pages and sites.

  • http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/edtechresearcher/2014/01/the_first_year_of_edx_research_findings_to_inform_online_learning.html
  • http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/mooc-completion-and-retention-context-student-intent
  • http://harvardx.harvard.edu/multiple-course-report
  • http://thedata.harvard.edu/dvn/dv/mxhx/faces/study/StudyPage.xhtml?globalId=doi:10.7910/DVN/26147&studyListingIndex=1_3e705cc9acc624ec58fa1c90a2c3
  • https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/05/10/new-study-low-mooc-completion-rates
  • http://www.katyjordan.com/MOOCproject.html
  • http://odl.mit.edu/mitx-working-papers/
  • http://harvardx-mitx-year2.odl.mit.edu/appendix.html
  • http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2381263
  • http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2382242
  • https://weatherhead.case.edu/news/2013/05/08/a-class-of-75000-aspiring-leaders-flock-to-professor-boyatzis-mooc

 

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