“Take Ivy League classes while snuggled cozily in bed … for free? Sign me up,” writes Annalisa Kraft-Linder. “Thanks to the growing popularity of Massive Open Online Courses, many elite institutions worldwide are offering some of their popular classes gratis. There is a hitch, however, to getting the knowledge without paying the college: Few of these MOOCs actual qualify you for college credit.

“I actually did sign up for a MOOC through Coursera.org, which offers 600 courses in several languages from universities worldwide. Aggregator sites like class-central.com list courses from Udacity, EdX (the Harvard-MIT partnership), NovoED, Coursera and more. Thanks to the European Credit Transfer System, some European colleges offer credit for MOOCs through iversity.org. Most U.S. institutions offer some kind of verified certificate.

“For the last two months, I’ve been studying at Yale online with noted economist Robert Schiller. There were online office hours, graded quizzes, peer-reviewed papers, a final exam and notable guest speakers like billionaire investor Carl Icahn. If I wanted it, a verified certificate of study was $50. Online forums took the place of study groups.”

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