Finding Courses on MIT OpenCourseWare

Under the “Course” menu there are three ways to browse courses: topic, department, or course number. You can switch between these three methods using the tabs in the Course Finder. You can also use the search and advanced search features. The search box is on the right of the main menu bar.

Browsing by Topic

In this screen you can select any of the topics listed to see courses relating to that category. You can narrow your search by selecting sub-topics and specialties. Under the topic selector are check boxes to filter by special features, like videos and samples of student work. Not all courses contain all special features.

Topics can cover multiple MIT departments. “Fine Arts,” for example, contains, among others, courses in Civil Engineering, History, Media Arts and Sciences, and Urban Studies.

Browsing by MIT Course Number

You can also browse by course number using the “Course Number” feature/tab. Our interface reflects MIT's unique course numbering system. To learn more about this system, please see our FAQ.

On the “Course Number” page, you first select a department number and then the course number. “Semester Offered” indicates which semester and year the course materials are from.

When multiple versions of a course exist, it is because they have unique and valuable components. As of 2012, 8.01 has two versions published: one from 1999 and one from 2003. The 1999 version was taught by Prof. Walter Lewin, and the 2003 version was taught by Prof. Stanley Kowalski. Both versions contain lecture notes, assignments and exams with solutions. Additionally, the 1999 version has lecture videos.

For an in-depth explanation on the nature of MIT course numbers, please see the MIT Admissions Blog of MIT alum Mollie B. (’06) on the MIT Admissions site. She offers a chart that also includes specialties within departments. The MIT Course Catalog offers a list of departments and their corresponding course identifier. The Course Catalog page includes descriptions of majors, specialties, and degree charts.

Browsing by Department

MIT has six schools and several other programs represented on OCW. There are courses from 35 departments. From this screen, you can select a department and be taken to their OCW home page. On the departmental pages, you can browse all of the courses from that department published on OCW. Some courses are offered jointly through two or more departments. In these cases, they appear on the pages of all cross-listed departments and are marked with a J in their course number. For example, Topics in the Avant-Garde in Literature and Cinema (21f.031J/4.608J) is offered though Foreign Languages and Literatures (course 21f) and Architecture (course 4) and is therefore listed on both department pages.

Using Search/Advanced Search

On the right side of the top nav is a search box and a link to advanced search. You can use these to search, rather than browse, for something specific. The search function looks through the entire site, not just course titles or descriptions. Results may appear for lecture notes, assignments, or PDFs. The advanced search feature allows you to limit where you are searching, i.e. looking for your search phrase only on course home pages.