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Top 12 Free Online Philosophy Courses

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Updated: March 28, 2024, Reading time: 19 minutes

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Do you love to question the world? Or spend hours using logic to reason your way through a problem? No doubt, a philosophy major is perfect for you.

However, contrary to what many people believe, majoring in philosophy is not just about staring blankly in space and pondering some of life’s most important questions.

You will discuss abstract and comprehensive questions and use ethics and logic to sort them. Reading, talking, and writing about your ideas takes so much of your time as a philosophy major. 

College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Top 12 Free Online Philosophy Courses

HOPE: Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism

Princeton University, via edX 

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The free HOPE philosophy course takes you on a journey into the realms of philosophy, literature, art, cinema, and music. The primary purpose of this course is to get you to think and reflect upon the world and in your life and challenge your thoughts on different topics ranging from love, hope, and identity to alienation, god, death, and so much more.

This free online course also takes advantage of novel technologies in ways that improve humanity and one’s capacity to shift from ‘power politics’ to ‘purpose politics,’ instilling courageous, creative, and civil choices– the very reason for existential politics. 

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Moralities of Everyday Life

Yale University, via Coursera

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This free course is packed with information and will challenge your personal beliefs, ethical values, and thoughts. It is filled with arguments that will put you to a halt and think about your moral insights. After completing this course, your perspective towards life and morality will dramatically change. 

A part of this course discusses some studies that show how your moral behavior is influenced by the situations in which you find yourself. These, later on, raise challenging problems about free will, determinism, and moral responsibility. 

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Ancient Philosophy: Plato and His Predecessors

The University of Pennsylvania, via Coursera 

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This free online course teaches you deeply about Ancient Philosophy and Plato’s work, their vision, and relation to the world during that time, and what we know today as the scientific inquiry to investigate the principles of the universe. It takes four weeks to complete and includes the following topics:

Week 1: The Milesians and Heraclitus

Week 2: Parmenides to Plato

Week 3: Plato on Virtue, Teaching, and Justice

Week 4: Plato on Reality and Goodness

Although the course is relatively short, the instructor, Dr. Susan Sauve Meyer, cites the best excerpts to help learners better understand Platon’s message.

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The Path to Happiness: What Chinese Philosophy Teaches Us About the Good Life

Harvard University, via edX

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This free online course will explore the past philosophical contexts and the current path to a good life today. We all know that the key to finding true happiness is self-discovery– to start looking within.

These assumptions are challenged by ancient Chinese philosophy, from Confucianism to Daoism, and how these philosophies developed and evolved more than two thousand years ago. 

The series features animations, lectures, reflection diaries, and discussions and closely focuses on readings from notable Chinese philosophy courses that is great because it doesn’t require prior knowledge about Chinese philosophy.

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Buddhism Through Its Scriptures

Harvard University, via edX

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In this four-week free online course, you get to learn more and experience the diverse and rich practices of Buddhists across places and times. Whether you are a newbie to Buddhism or you have been practicing for years, the course provides you the chance to know more about Buddhist teachings.

The course uses a combination of curated readings (both informational and scriptural) and exposure to the many forms of Buddhist practices like devotional acts, art, or literary works.

You will also be taught how to reflect upon, interpret, and apply Buddhist teaching to your life, so you get to deepen your understanding of Buddhism. 

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Finding Purpose & Meaning in Life: Living for What Matters Most

The University of Michigan, via Coursera 

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This course teaches you how philosophy, science, and practice play a crucial role in finding and living a purposeful life. Throughout the class, you will hear from different historical figures and people about their exciting journey to finding and living a more purposeful life.

You will learn a lot from this class, like:

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Philosophy of Science

The University of Pennsylvania, via Coursera 

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This interesting course discusses the new ways of looking at research and scientific studies to uncover new ideas and perspectives. If you have that attitude of criticizing scientific methods and want to gain clear insights into “what science is and how scientists do things,” then this course is perfect for you.

Some topics of this four-week course include how scientists can gain knowledge through experiments, observations, and simulations; the self-correcting nature of the scientific community; scientific objectivity (and failures); the influences (both positive and negative) that values have on science; the role of the public in guiding an enterprise; or the relationship between religion and science. 

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The University of California, Irvine via Coursera

Free Online Philosophy Courses of 2021

This course provides a good overview of some of the most notable figures in relativism literature. This is ideally for those who already have a solid background in philosophy but are still interested to learn more about the subject.

This is also for those looking for effective strategies for combatting extremism in their local communities. After understanding and completing the course, you can change how you think and look at life. 

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Moral Foundations of Politics

Yale University, via Coursera 

Free Online Philosophy Courses of 2021

This thought-provoking course will deepen your knowledge of politics. Ideal for politicians and political science students, this course covers a lot of fascinating thinkers whose ideas and thoughts can challenge your understanding of politics and the world. 

Moral Foundations of Politics starts with a survey of political theories of Enlightenment: Utilitarianism, Marxism, and social contract tradition. Then, you turn to the rejection of political thinking, this time exploring both contemporary and classical formulations.

The final part is where you will deal with the justifications for and nature of democratic politics and their relevance to both Enlightenment and Anti-Enlightenment political thinking. 

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 Feminism and Social Justice

The University of California Santa Cruz, via Coursera

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This well-structured curriculum for feminism will give you various exposure and insights into black struggles and feminism in American policy. The course is an adaptation of Bettina Aptheker’s long-running course at UC Santa Cruz. 

The course starts with a thorough description of what feminism is as a driver of social change, as a philosophical perspective, and as a movement. It comes with a variety of constituencies and goals, and up to this day, it is still continuously being adapted when responding to new conditions. 

You will also study and learn about the common causes, outcomes, and conditions. You will also hear stories about the controversial “Salt of the Earth” feature film in 1954, which documented the fate of the zinc miners in southwestern New Mexico when they went on strike because of discriminatory treatments and practices of the Empire Zinc Company.

It was noted that after the miners were banned from protesting by court order, the miners’ wives remained and maintained the picket line. 

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 The Science of Well-Being

Yale University, via Coursera 

Free Online Philosophy Courses

Everybody knows that living the good life typically means living in happiness and satisfaction. But this course will change your perspective.

While your well-being is the key to happiness, the course will teach you that social connections matter a lot. You need to connect with others, and even talking to strangers is a good way to make you happy. This course will give you a series of different challenges that will help increase your happiness and, hopefully, build better and more productive habits.

Professor Laurie Santos talks about the many misconceptions about happiness, the most annoying features running in the mind that eventually lead us to think the way we do, and the study that will help change that. 

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 Buddhism and Modern Psychology

Princeton University, via Coursera

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This is a well-structured course with an interesting overview of Buddhism and modern insights into psychology. Dalai Lama claimed that science and Buddhism are extremely compatible.

Thus, challenged many Western scholars to examine the Buddhist ideas and meditative practices about the human mind. Do these two make sense, as far as evolutionary psychology is concerned? 

This course studies how Buddhism fares under this inquiry. Do neuroscientists understand how meditation works? If so, will it validate meditation? Are there physical meditations that can undermine the spiritual relevance attributed to them? 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Philosophy?

The word “philosophy” means “love of wisdom.” This is a way of thinking about crucial subjects such as thought, ethics, time, existence, meaning, and value. This ‘way of thinking’ involves 4 Rs: reflection, responsiveness, reasoning, and re-evaluation.

In its most general definition, philosophy is the pursuit of knowledge, truth, and wisdom. Every time you think about deep and fundamental questions about the human knowledge limits, the nature of ourselves and of the universe, or our meaning and values of life, you think about philosophy. 

In the academic world, philosophy distinguishes a specific area of study from other areas, like humanities or sciences. Philosophers usually deal with questions that are broader than other questions.

For example, while historians study the people who have Philosophy, they are just; physicists wonder what causes an e, while philosophers check whether causation exists in the first place. 

Obviously, philosophy is not like any other field. Philosophy is unique in the nature and breadth of the subject and its methods. This field pursues inquiries into the dimensions of human life, along with the techniques that apply to problems, no matter the field of study and endeavor.

Although this description is short, vague, and would need to be significantly expanded to describe the subject thoroughly, let’s just focus on the key points. Philosophy is a systematic study of issues and ideas and examines the views and concepts drawn from art, science, politics, or religion.

While philosophical issues and ideas come in different forms, philosophical studies usually focus on the whole idea of an idea and its coherence, basis, and relevance to other ideas. 

Say, for instance, what is democracy? How can you justify that it’s a part of the system of government? Does it allow people to vote away their rights? How is democracy related to political liberty? Think about human knowledge. What is the extent and nature of it? Is it necessary to have evidence to find out? What type of knowledge is fundamental? 

The same questions concern philosophical morality, art, science, religion, and other crucial human activities. This is where philosophy studies and explores all of them. It looks and studies microscopically and from a more comprehensive view of the concerns of human existence.

What are the Subfields of Philosophy?

Philosophy has four broad subfields: 


Logic is the discipline that gives sound methods for distinguishing good reasoning from bad. Through logic, you can check how suitable your premises are in supporting your conclusions, see what you are bent to accept as you take a point of view and keep away from adopting beliefs that you think you lack convincing reasons for.

This philosophy subfield also helps you look for arguments that you see as nothing but loosely related statements, identify assumptions you didn’t know you were making, or product claims you should establish to prove your point. 


Also called moral philosophy, ethics is the branch of philosophy that defines one’s moral concepts (e.g., justice, obligation, and right action). It makes principles that guide your moral decisions– whether public or private life.

What are your moral obligations to other people? How can you rationally settle moral disagreements? What rights should society accord its people? What is considered a valid excuse if someone did something wrong?


This is where you look for standard criteria in determining what things are real. Are there physical, mental, or abstract things (like numbers)? Or is it merely energy, matters, and spiritual? Do people exist in complex physical systems? Or do they simply have properties that are not reducible to anything physical? 

In its simplest form, Metaphysics studies what entities exist, what our world is made of, and how events or objects can cause each other. 


Epistemology is the theory of knowledge or the mind’s relation to reality. Do people know things? If so, when and how do people know things? Just by these questions, we can quickly draw that the field of epistemology is as old as philosophy.

When answering these questions, you need to consider the relationship between truth, belief, knowledge, evidence, reliability, and reason. 

Other Subfields of Philosophy

Below are other subfields in philosophy. In philosophy, it’s in nature to develop newer subfields because of leading developments in the search for newer knowledge or when new intellectual problems occur in the area of human activity. 

What are the Different Careers in Philosophy?

Philosophy is a vast field. If you are presently a philosophy major, or you’re considering majoring in one, have you ever thought about what you can do with a philosophy degree? Below is a list of jobs you can secure if you major in philosophy. 

Lawyer. Did you know that you can quickly get to law school if you’re a philosophy major? As a philosophy graduate, your skills and abilities are valued explicitly in law school because you are expected to write and think quickly and clearly. As a graduate in philosophy, you are also exceptional in presenting and analyzing arguments– crucial and valuable skills in law school. As of the present, the average salary of a lawyer is roughly $135,740.

Non-Profit Professional. You can also find a lot of philosophy majors working for non-profit organizations. This is a great way to pursue your interest in ethics, political and social philosophy, and even hone your speaking and writing skills. As a non-profit worker, your annual salary is about $71,620.

Business Professional. When you hold a degree in philosophy, you are also accustomed to the business world. Philosophy degree graduates usually become venture capitalists, stockbrokers, managers, marketing specialists, editors, real estate brokers, or publishing industry executives. These professionals earn about $81,200 annually.

Professors. Philosophy majors make outstanding philosophy professors. As a professor in this field, your job would include giving presentations or lectures on specific topics to graduate and undergraduate school students. Sometimes, you write (or co-write) scholarly journals.

Public Policy Professional. When you work in public policy, you need to have impeccable communication skills with others. You should know how to create arguments and must have the skills to discover the arguments of others. These skills are something most philosophy majors possess.

As a public policy professional, you can work with the government to help study and resolve issues affecting the general population. This profession also needs you to be creative, and you should know how to distinguish between bad and reasonable arguments. 

Health Care Professional. You can find philosophy majors in healthcare environments like hospital administration, policies, budgeting, or communication.

Paralegal. As a paralegal professional, you closely work with lawyers and provide support services and research. It’s also your job to interview clients before referring them to lawyers. Your skills in composition and investigation are very valued in this field.

What Are the Uses of Philosophy?

Everything you learn in philosophy applies to any endeavor. How so? Because this field touches on many subjects, the majority of its methods can be applied in virtually any field. 

General Problem Solving. Philosophy helps students with definitions, arguments, concepts, and problems. This field significantly contributes to your capacity to organize issues and ideas, deal with questions, and extract relevant information from the masses. Philosophy also helps recognize the differences between peoples’ views and find common ground between differing positions.

Communication Skills. Studying philosophy also means developing your communicative and expressive powers. You will understand the tools of self-expression– for example, how you present your thoughts in a systematic and well-presented argument– that many fields seldom (or ever) use. Through this, you can easily express your views and improve your ability to elaborate on complex materials. 

Persuasive Powers. With a philosophy major, you will learn how to construct good arguments, solid examples, and precise formulation– effective ways to improve your convincing ability.

You will also learn how to create and defend your views or find valid arguments on why your views must be preferable alternatives when needed. These things are developed by writing and reading philosophy and philosophical dialogues, which takes a lot to achieve through philosophical education. 

Writing Skills. In most philosophy courses, writing is taught extensively. Most philosophical texts are also as exceptional as literary essays. Studying philosophy will teach you thorough interpretative writing because it has many challenging tests, argumentative writing, and comparative writing examinations. 

You can get so many learnings and wisdom in a philosophy degree. Especially if you’re naturally curious, you never settle for basic and easy answers, plus you perk up at the thought of dealing with unsolvable scenarios; a degree in philosophy is your answer.

But is the course right for you? Do you think you can survive? Here are some reasons why a bachelor’s in philosophy is a wise move. 

Philosophy Asks the Most Basic Questions. It asks all types of questions. And this is n more important than the answers themselves. When this happens, you realize that there is no single correct answer. Thus, by studying philosophy, you can learn what questions to ask and later challenge the opinions that you usually take for granted. 

You Learn a Bit of Everything. Philosophers love talking about everything and everything. When you study philosophy, you learn how to think correctly. You will ask and talk about crucial ideas about a subject related to human interest.

You can even learn topics from some of the most exciting but challenging disciplines like Mathematics, Law and Politics, Arts, Religion, Mathematics, Biology, Medicine, History, and so much more.

Some of the classes you will have when you study philosophy include:

You can study in any part of the world. Philosophy is a well-loved discipline with a history of exciting and long-standing traditions. Everybody thinks about humanity and the nature of life since people can think.

Plus, no place on earth does not need philosophers. Since this is a very established discipline, it’s so easy to find philosophical degrees anywhere in the world. 

Philosophy is Cool. You can talk about interesting topics and, at times, do thought experiments. Just choose any movie or show you have watched, and several philosophical ideas probably influence these movies, such as Being John Malkovich, The Matrix, The Truman Show, The Seventh Seal, and the like!

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