Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Free Online College Core Curriculum

Over the past year or so, I've been on the lookout for free online learning materials, and have been surprised at the abundance of materials which are out there. In fact, there are so many that I've started to think that one could get a whole college education with free online learning materials. There's even one university, the University of the People, which offers a college education for free, with the only costs being for testing and a few administrative fees. I've also discovered that the core curriculum for a bachelor's degree can be gotten online for free. I've put together this list of the core courses for most bachelor's degrees, along with the name of the exam which can be used to fulfill that requirement, and a link to an online textbook or course which can be used to prepare for the exam. (More information for getting a college degree through independent study can be found at and at

Written Communication

AP English Language and Composition or CLEP English Composition 6 credit hours (Online Textbooks)

Oral Communication

DSST Principles of Public Speaking 3 credit hours (Online Textbooks)

US History

DSST Civil War and Reconstruction 3 upper-level credit hours (Yale Open Courses)

CLEP US History to 1877 3 credit hours
CLEP US History since 1865 3 credit hours
Online textbook for US History from precolonization to the present

Non-US History

CLEP Western Civilization 1 and 2, 3 credit hours each.(Online Textbook)

Global Understanding

DSST World Religion 3 credit hours (Online Textbook)

DSST General Anthropology 3 credit hours (Online Textbook)

Literature and Fine Arts

DSST Art of the Western World 3 credit hours (Online Textbook)

CLEP English Literature 6 credit hours (Online Textbook)


DSST Ethics in America 3 credit hours (Online Textbook)

Social Sciences

CLEP Introductory Psychology 3 credit hours (Online Textbook)

CLEP Introductory Sociology 3 credit hours (Online Textbook)


CLEP College Algebra 3 credit hours

CLEP Calculus 3 credit hours

An assortment of online mathematics textbooks.

Natural Sciences

CLEP Biology 6 credit hours (Online biology book)

CLEP Chemistry 6 credit hours (Online chemistry book)

I put this list together using Charter Oak's core curriculum as a guide, but the core curriculum of most other colleges is similar. My goal is to get a college degree entirely through credit-by-exam, so that my only costs will be the testing fees and the administrative fees to get the credits banked and to get the degree. It's not only possible these days to get a college degree without going into debt, it's also possible to get a degree without going to college, except to go to the testing center.

Buy One StraighterLine Online College Course Get One Free.