Free Religious Studies Courses
Religious studies is the investigation and study of religious ideas and practices. Taking a religious studies course can broaden your understanding of various religions, theories and arguments and improve your reading, writing and critical thinking abilities.
The Open University
The Open University has a general religious studies course to introduce students to modern religious practice.
Utah State University (USU)
USU's general course, Anthropology of Religion, examines the relationship between religion, culture and society.
About.com offers email courses about a variety of theological topics, designed for people who wish to identify as Christian, atheist, agnostic, or something else entirely. Their Guide to Atheism includes two courses worth noting: Theology and God 101, and Logic, Skepticism and Critical Thinking 101. But Christians may prefer to check out The Gospel According to Mark, a Bible Study course.
- Theology and God 101
- Logic, Skepticism and Critical Thinking 101
- Bible Study: The Gospel According to Mark
- Christian Basics
Gresham College posts some of its more interesting lectures online for public access. One example is Demonisation and Witch Hunts in Religion and Politics, which includes a power point presentation. Another is Hawaiian Religion and Dance, a very unique topic within religious studies.
World Bible School
The World Bible School provides a variety of courses and short lessons for people interested in Bible study.
Yale provides videorecordings of previously taught lectures on a variety of topics, religion included. One example is the Introduction to the Old Testament course, which is perfect for people interested in studying the Hebrew Bible.
Brigham Young University (BYU)
BYU has several self-paced courses online for free. Religious topics include courses on sections of the New Testament, as well as studies of the Book of Mormon.
Discover the Bible
Discover the Bible was created to provide a Christian Home Bible Course for people who wish to have a better understanding of the bible. The course is split into seven lessons.
University of Notre Dame (ND)
Although ND no longer runs its own open courseware program, courses from the prestigious university can still be found online elsewhere. The Virtual University requested permission to provide ND courses such as Latino Theology and Christian Tradition. Several other lecture courses, such as Jews and Christians Throughout History, can be downloaded through iTunes.
Catholic Home Study Service (CHSS)
CHSS offers nine courses for Catholics and non-Catholics who want to gain a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith. Course topics include The Search for Happiness and Christ's Mother and Ours.
While not technically a course, the Judaism 101 website is the perfect introduction for people who want to learn more about what it means to be Jewish. Each page of the encyclopedia site is labeled to help readers choose to learn information based on their familiarity level. 'Gentile' pages are for non-Jews, 'Basic' pages contain information that all Jewish people should know, and 'Intermediate' and 'Advanced' pages offer scholars a closer look at the Jewish faith.
SGI-USA Riverside Region & Riverside Buddhist Center
On this center's website, a fantastic 'About Buddhism' section can serve as a crash course in the Buddhist faith. This is perfect for understanding some important history and concepts, whether you are interested in Buddhism yourself, or just want to further appreciate the variety of faiths from around the world.
By joining as a novitiate on their website, you can have free access to their beginner's course on what it means to be a Wiccan. Certificates of completion are available, but the school does not offer Wiccan degrees or initiations. Materials are solely for self-fulfillment.
Studying Islam contains a number of courses focusing on the Quran, Sunnah, and Haddith. Although all courses are free, you will have to create a login for their website in order to access them. If you don't want to join, the site also has links to youtube lectures on Islamic topics of interest.
Free Online Religious Studies Courses at a Glance
|Course & School||Program Level||Format||Assignments||Quizzes & Exams||Downloadable|
|Religion Today: Themes and Issues course from Open University||Advanced||Text Lessons/Video||Yes||No||Yes|
|Anthropology of Religion course from USU||Undergraduate||Videos||No||Yes||No|
|Theology and God 101 course from About.com||Beginner||Text Lessons|
|Logic 101 course from About.com||Beginner||Text Lessons|
|Bible Study: Gospel According to Mark course from About.com||Intermediate||Text Lessons|
|Christianity Basics course from About.com||Beginner||Text Lessons|
|Demonisation and Witch Hunts in Religion and Politics course from Gresham||Undergraduate||Audio Lecture||No||No||Yes|
|Hawaiian Religion and Dance course from Gresham||Undergraduate||Audio Lecture||No||No||Yes|
|Bible Study courses from World Bible School||Varied||Text Lessons|
|Introduction to the Old Testament course from Yale||Undergraduate||Videos||Yes||No||No|
|The New Testament course from BYU||Undergraduate||External Reading Resources||Yes||Yes|
|The Book of Mormon course from BYU||Undergraduate||Text Lessons||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Christian Home Bible Course from Discover The Bible||Beginner||Text Lessons||No||No||No|
|Latino Theology and Christian Tradition course from ND||Undergraduate||Text Lessons/External Reading Resources||Yes||No||No|
|Jews and Christians Throughout History course from ND||Undergraduate||Audio Lectures||No||No||Yes|
|Home Study courses from CHSS||Varied||Yes||Yes|
|Judaism 101||Varied||Text Lessons||No||No||No|
|Buddhism 101 course from Riverside||Beginner||Text Lessons/Videos||No||No||No|
|Wicca Revealed course from Magicka School||Beginner||Textbook||Yes|
|Islamic courses from Studying Islam||Varied|