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Best Online Courses And Programs On Climate Change

One of the most urgent challenges of our century, climate change is not just a topic tossed around the news, but a reality that impacts every part of our lives here on Earth, from security, public health, economy, energy, infrastructure, and more. 

Whether you are just interested in learning more about the causes or solutions of climate change or are seriously considering going into one of many professions regarding climate change science, there are many excellent online courses that you can take from the comfort of your home. 

Here is our handpicked list of free and affordable online courses on climate change that can get you started quickly. 

Introductory Courses on Climate Change in General 

1. Global Warming I: The Science and Modeling of Climate Change 

Offered by the University of Chicago, this online course teaches on the basic science of climate change and how humans have impacted the Earth’s climate. Though designed for beginners, this course offers a very thorough, comprehensive coverage of the topic, incorporating insights from a diverse range of related subjects, such as physics, chemistry, biology, earth and atmospheric sciences, mathematics, and even economics.  

  • College credits: NO — Course Certificate only
  • Price: FREE to audit, but there’s a fee to earn and buy a Course Certificate
  • Financial aid or scholarships: YES
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: Approximately 53 hours
  • Languages: English with subtitles in English 
  • Vendor: Coursera

Note: Prices for all courses listed in this article are true on the date of publishing, but are subject to change.

2. Our Earth’s Future 

Offered by the American Museum of Natural History, this course offers expertise and insights from climate scientists in various fields of climatology, oceanography, earth science, and anthropology. Before the end of the course, even the very beginners will be able to explain the phenomenon of climate change and especially the often controversial topic of human-induced climate change with vast amount of sound evidence. 

  • College credits: NO — Course Certificate only
  • Price: FREE to audit, but there’s a fee to earn and buy a Course Certificate 
  • Financial aid or scholarships: YES
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: Approximately 8 hours (suggested 1–3 hours per week) 
  • Languages: English with subtitles in English 
  • Vendor: Coursera

3. Extreme Weather 101

This introductory course is perfect for busy students who want to get a taste of the subject. Brief and straightforward, this course teaches on the basics of climate change and its relationship with recent events of extreme weather happening all around the world. You will also briefly learn about how extreme weather can impact both the health and finance of our society.   

  • College credits: NO — Certificate of Completion only 
  • Price: FREE
  • Financial aid or scholarships: NO
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: 52 minutes 
  • Languages: English with subtitles in English
  • Vendor: Udemy  

4. The Complete Starter Guide to Climate Change 

This course is designed for complete beginners. With simplified scientific knowledge and measurable data, this course teaches on the basic definition, known causes and observable effects of climate change. This course aims to equip its students with enough understanding to feel confident about discussing the topic with other people. 

  • College credits: NO — Certificate of Completion only 
  • Price: $10.99 on sale ($19.99 regular price)
  • Financial aid or scholarships: NO
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: 42 minutes
  • Languages: English with subtitles in English
  • Vendor: Udemy  

5. Global Environmental Problems: Surveying the Human Footprint 

This course requires less than two hours from its students to teach them on human-induced climate change and possible solutions. You will learn about the Earth’s subsystems, population growth, land-use change, industry and uneven development, and specific examples of human footprint. This is an introductory course and does not require any previous knowledge on the topic. 

  • College credits: NO — Certificate of Completion only 
  • Price: $10.99 on sale ($29.99 regular price)
  • Financial aid or scholarships: NO
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: 1 hour, 30 minutes 
  • Languages: English with subtitles in English
  • Vendor: Udemy  

6. Climate Change: The Science 

Offered by the University of Exeter in the UK, this course covers the past, present, and future of climate change and its effects on the Earth. You will look back across 4 billion years of Earth’s history to learn the difference between natural from human-induced climate change. Then, you will look at how climate change affects our lives today. Lastly, you will look to the future, based on scientific theories and evidence, to see how climate change will continue to affect our lives. 

  • College credits: NO — Certificate of Achievement only 
  • Price: FREE — $59 for unlimited access to this course and a Certificate of Achievement, or $269 per year for unlimited access to all FutureLearn courses for a year and a Certificate of Achievement
  • Financial aid or scholarships: NO
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: 4 weeks (3 hours weekly study suggested)
  • Languages: English 
  • Vendor: Future Learn 

7. Climate Change: Solutions 

As a follow-up on the course above and also offered by the same university, this course teaches on possible and currently used solutions to climate change, such as mitigation, adaptation and geo-engineering. Although not required, note that the course description indicates that it might be useful for students to have completed the course above before starting this one. 

  • College credits: NO — Certificate of Achievement only 
  • Price: FREE — $59 for unlimited access to this course and a Certificate of Achievement, or $269 per year for unlimited access to all FutureLearn courses for a year and a Certificate of Achievement
  • Financial aid or scholarships: NO
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: 4 weeks (3 hours weekly study suggested)
  • Languages: English 
  • Vendor: Future Learn 

8. Causes of Climate Change 

Offered by the University of Bergen in Norway, this course explains the underlying physical processes governing climate change in the past, present and future, such as the sun, volcanoes, energy transport in the atmosphere and ocean, and changes in greenhouse gases and aerosols. You will also be able to distinguish between natural and human-induced changes in climate. Although not requiring any prior knowledge, this course recommends having high school level mathematics and physics. 

  • College credits: NO — Certificate of Achievement only 
  • Price: FREE — $44 for unlimited access to this course and a Certificate of Achievement, or $269 per year for unlimited access to all FutureLearn courses for a year and a Certificate of Achievement
  • Financial aid or scholarships: NO
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: 3 weeks (4 hours weekly study suggested)
  • Languages: English 
  • Vendor: Future Learn 

9. Climate Change: The Science 

Offered by the University of British Columbia in Canada, this course teaches on the basics of climate science, such as the flow of energy and carbon in Earth’s climate system, how climate models work, climate history, and future forecasts. Before the end of the course, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge you need to communicate and prepare for climate change.  

  • College credits: NO — Verified Certificate only
  • Price: FREE, but in order to receive a certificate, you need to pay $49
  • Financial aid or scholarships: NO
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: 7 weeks (2–5 hours per week)
  • Languages: English 
  • Vendor: edX

10. Making Sense of Climate Science Denial 

Offered by the University of Queensland, Australia, this course helps you understand the basics of climate science to provide proof against those who deny human induced climate change. You will learn how to recognize not only the current impacts of climate change on our society, but also what kinds of social and psychological factors drive climate change denial and how to effectively debunk this misinformation.   

  • College credits: NO — Verified Certificate only
  • Price: FREE, but in order to receive a certificate, you need to pay $49
  • Financial aid or scholarships: NO
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: 7 weeks (2–4 hours per week)
  • Languages: English 
  • Vendor: edX

Introductory Courses on Climate Change and Policy 

11. Act on Climate: Steps to Individual, Community, and Political Action 

Offered by the University of Michigan, this course helps students understand, address, and respond to climate change as individuals, inside their communities and to their political leaders. You will learn about different measures and actions you can take as an individual in your own life and as a responsible resident in your town, city, state and country. 

  • College credits: NO — Course Certificate only
  • Price: FREE to audit, but there’s a fee to earn and buy a Course Certificate
  • Financial aid or scholarships: YES
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: Approximately 17 hours (suggested 7 weeks of study, 2–4 hours per week)
  • Languages: English with subtitles in English 
  • Vendor: Coursera

12. Greening the Economy: Lessons from Scandinavia 

Offered by Lund University, Sweden, this course teaches on advancing sustainability and combating climate change on four levels– individual, business, city, and nation. You will look specifically at the case of Scandinavia and its attempts to green the economy. You will learn about not only their theories, but also practices and initiatives for raising more awareness for climate change and the environment in businesses. 

  • College credits: NO — Course Certificate only
  • Price: FREE to audit, but there’s a fee to earn and buy a Course Certificate
  • Financial aid or scholarships: YES
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: Approximately 18 hours (suggested 5–8 hours per week)
  • Languages: English with subtitles in English 
  • Vendor: Coursera

Introductory Courses on Climate Change and Health 

13. Protecting Public Health in a Changing Climate: A Primer for City, Local, and Regional Action 

Offered by the Johns Hopkins University, this course teaches on how climate change affects global population health and causes severe injury, illness, and even death. You will explore how climate change can cause extreme weather conditions, such as more intense storms, heatwaves, wildfires and rising seas. Also, the course focuses on cities — increasingly key players in climate change policy. Through multiple means, such as interactive lectures, expert interviews and case studies, you will gain not only theoretical, but also practical knowledge of health effects of climate change and possible mitigation and adaptation policies. 

  • College credits: NO — Course Certificate only
  • Price: FREE to audit, but there’s a fee to earn and buy a Course Certificate 
  • Financial aid or scholarships: YES
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: Approximately 17 hours (suggested 3–4 hours per week)
  • Languages: English with subtitles in English 
  • Vendor: Coursera

14. The Impact of Climate Change on Public Health

Offered by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, this course explores and proves both direct and indirect impacts of climate change on public health. You will learn how to analyze the continuously emerging data that is publicly available and use the data to campaign for changes to behaviors or policies on all four levels, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.  

  • College credits: NO — Certificate of Achievement only 
  • Price: Free — $69 for unlimited access to this course and a Certificate of Achievement, or $269 per year for unlimited access to all FutureLearn courses for a year and a Certificate of Achievement
  • Financial aid or scholarships: NO
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: 4 weeks (4 hours weekly study suggested)
  • Languages: English 
  • Vendor: Future Learn 

15. The Health Effects of Climate Change 

Offered by Harvard University, this course explores how increases in greenhouse gases impact air quality, nutrition, human migration and the overall public health. You will also learn about different strategies to mitigate and address the health impacts of climate change. 

  • College credits: NO — Verified Certificate only
  • Price: FREE, but in order to receive a certificate, you need to pay $99
  • Financial aid or scholarships: NO
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: 7 weeks (3–5 hours per week)
  • Languages: English 
  • Vendor: edX

Intermediate Courses on Climate Change in General 

16. Tipping Points: Climate Change and Society 

One of the four courses on climate science offered by the University of Exeter, UK, this course explores the concept of a tipping point in regard to our climate system. You will learn about what will happen after our climate system tips over the point, such as the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, dieback of the Amazon, droughts across the Sahel and behavioural changes and regional warfare due to lack of natural resources. Note that this course requires prior knowledge of climate change science. 

  • College credits: NO — Certificate of Achievement only 
  • Price: FREE — $59 for unlimited access to this course and a Certificate of Achievement, or $269 per year for unlimited access to all FutureLearn courses for a year and a Certificate of Achievement
  • Financial aid or scholarships: NO 
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: 2 weeks (3 hours weekly study suggested)
  • Languages: English 
  • Vendor: Future Learn 

17. Global Warming Science 

Offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this course teaches on climate change science and the risks and uncertainties of future climate change. You will cover the Earth’s climate history, the greenhouse effect, natural and manmade effects on climate change and projected changes. Note that this course is designed for college sophomores and juniors with prior knowledge in college-level calculus and physics. 

  • College credits: NO — Verified Certificate only
  • Price: FREE, but in order to receive a certificate, you need to pay $49
  • Financial aid or scholarships: NO
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: 12 weeks (2–3 hours per week)
  • Languages: English 
  • Vendor: edX

18. Climate Change: The Science and Global Impact

Offered by the SDG Academy and taught by Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University, this course teaches on the basic scientific principles behind climate change. You will learn the basic principles of atmospheric science, how to collect climate data and track greenhouse gas emissions, and analyze different carbon emissions scenarios and the impacts of climate change on both natural and human systems. 

  • College credits: NO — Verified Certificate only
  • Price: FREE, but in order to receive a certificate, you need to pay $49
  • Financial aid or scholarships: NO
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: 8 weeks (2–4 hours per week)
  • Languages: English 
  • Vendor: edX

Intermediate Courses on Climate Change and Policy 

19. Climate Change Mitigation in Developing Countries 

Offered by the University of Cape Town, South Africa, this course focuses on policies and initiatives to help not only lift developing countries out of poverty, but also mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, which is often rated the highest in developing nations. Through case studies involving four Latin American countries, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and South Africa, you will cover topics such as facilitation process techniques, energy modeling, and policy making. 

  • College credits: NO — Course Certificate only
  • Price: FREE to audit, but there’s a fee to earn and buy a Course Certificate
  • Financial aid or scholarships: YES
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: Approximately 19 hours (suggested 6 weeks of study, 1–3 hours per week)
  • Languages: English with subtitles in English 
  • Vendor: Coursera

20. Transforming Energy Systems: Why Governance Matters 

One of the four courses on climate science offered by the University of Exeter, UK, this course focuses on how to best effectively govern and transform energy systems to combat climate change. Through examples of real policies initiated in different countries, you will explore how and why energy systems need to change, what this change means for security, people and costs, and what elements are needed for effective energy governance. Note that this course requires prior knowledge in energy systems and energy systems change. 

  • College credits: NO — Certificate of Achievement only 
  • Price: FREE — $59 for unlimited access to this course and a Certificate of Achievement, or $269 per year for unlimited access to all FutureLearn courses for a year and a Certificate of Achievement
  • Financial aid or scholarships: NO 
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: 4 weeks (4 hours weekly study suggested)
  • Languages: English 
  • Vendor: Future Learn 

21. International Climate Change Law and Policy 

Offered by the University of Newcastle, Australia, this course specifically teaches on the basics of International Climate Change Law and Policy. You will learn about the Environmental Economics theory, its application to climate change policy and different types of market-based policy approaches, such as environmental taxes and emissions trading. Note that this course requires prior knowledge on climate change science. 

  • College credits: NO — Verified Certificate only
  • Price: FREE, but in order to receive a certificate, you need to pay $49
  • Financial aid or scholarships: NO
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: 4 weeks (2–3 hours per week)
  • Languages: English 
  • Vendor: edX

Intermediate Courses on Measuring Climate Change 

22. Global Warming II: Create Your Own Models in Python 

Offered by the University of Chicago, this course teaches on how to use Python to create and analyze numerical modeling in the Earth system and climate science. Although this course assumes you are new to Python, this course is a follow-up on another course from the university — Global Warming I: The Science and Modeling of Climate Change (described above) — meaning you are expected to already know the scientific background for creating these models. 

  • College credits: NO — Course Certificate only
  • Price: FREE to audit, but there’s a fee to earn and buy a Course Certificate
  • Financial aid or scholarships: YES
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: Approximately 30 hours
  • Languages: English with subtitles in English 
  • Vendor: Coursera

23. Modeling Climate Change 

Also offered by the University of Chicago, this course combines insights from physics, chemistry, biology, earth and atmospheric sciences, and economics to work with real climate data and simulations of climate change. This course focuses on a quantitative approach to climate change science. Note that this course requires prior knowledge on the subject. 

  • College credits: NO — Verified Certificate only
  • Price: FREE, but in order to receive a certificate, you need to pay $50
  • Financial aid or scholarships: NO
  • Mobile learning: YES
  • Self-paced learning: YES
  • Flexible deadlines: YES
  • Time needed for completion: 8 weeks (3–5 hours per week)
  • Languages: English 
  • Vendor: edX