The world of MOOCs (short for “massive open online courses”) is a booming one, featuring more than 10,000 online courses listed by 800 different universities. Many are free, and even more are self-paced—allowing you to take classes at your own convenience—meaning it’s never been easier to go back to school. And there are plenty of enticing offerings when it comes to the visual arts.
Interested in mastering a new, hands-on creative skill? You can learn to draw your own comics or capture artful digital photographs. Wish you could brush up on Art History 101? There are courses exploring the art and archaeology of ancient Egypt and the development of the artistic avant-garde. Below, we’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite art and design classes offered by colleges and universities across the globe.
Workload: 7 weeks; 4–6 hours per week
Although this course is open to beginners with no prior artmaking experience, it will also provide challenging alternatives for more advanced students—including the opportunity to design and execute their own public art interventions.
Time commitment: 8 weeks; 2–4 hours per week
Led by Harvard Egyptology professor Peter Der Manuelian, this course digs into ancient Egypt’s most famous archeological site: the Giza Plateau. Home to the Great Sphinx and a trio of monumental pyramids—including the Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest of the seven wonders of the ancient world—the site provides a jumping-off point to discuss the culture and history of Egypt’s Old Kingdom.
Lectures will explore the significance of hieroglyphic inscriptions inside the tombs, cultivate an appreciation of Egyptian art of the time period, and consider the ways in which new technologies like 3D modeling could shape the future of Egyptology.
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)
Workload: 4 sessions; 13 hours of work per session
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, University of Tokyo
Workload: 4 weeks per course; 3–6 hours per week
This three-part series examines the modern history of Japan, from the 1850s to the 1930s, as well as post-war Tokyo. Rather than exploring Japan’s history through the written word, however, these courses use images made by people who experienced the events firsthand. Commodore Matthew Perry’s 1853–54 expedition to Japan, for instance, resulted in competing visuals from the US and Japan that comment on Westernization. The archives of major Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido, on the other hand, explore concepts of modernity.
University of Glasgow
Workload: 3 weeks; 4 hours per week
The class also presents the pros and cons of returning cultural objects to their countries of origin—culminating in a debate that will tackle a major, real-life antiquities return case that’s still ongoing.
University of Central Florida
Workload: 4 hours per week
What is creativity? And can it be measured? Both questions are posed by this course, which focuses on the intersection between art and psychology. Although certain studies have posited that there is a connection between insanity and creativity, this class will expose the problems with such research. Students will also be introduced to the practice of art healing—the use of art and artmaking to promote emotional and physical wellbeing—and will be trained to perform certain techniques.
California College of the Arts
Workload: 5 classes; 10 hours of work per class
With the release of Black Panther in early 2018, the mainstream interest in comic book characters has reached a fever pitch. Led by Matt Silady, chair of California College of the Arts’s MFA in comics, this course will deepen students’ understanding of the comic book medium by exploring fundamentals such as the relationship between text and images, page layouts, and transitions between panels. Aspiring comic book artists are welcome—the syllabus was designed with both trained artists or and true beginners in mind.
Michigan State University
Workload: 7 months; 4 hours per week
California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)
Workload: 4 weeks; 2–3 hours per week
Workload: 9 weeks; 4 hours per week