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A Taxonomy for Online Courses

The goal of this document is to provide an open source framework for online education taxonomies.

Who Are We?

At Class Central, we aggregate thousands of free online courses also know as Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs. MOOCs have brought affordable, university-level learning experiences to willing students across the world, free from the constraints of geography and socioeconomic status. For the first time in history, courses that were limited to a small number of students are now open to anyone in the world with an Internet connection.

With a simple interface and thousands of reviews we have helped more than 2.5 million people around the world decide which online course to next. We are building an ecosystem around these courses to help guide learners towards their education goals.

Why We Did This

We believe that learners are not always sure what they want. The most searched keyword on Class Central is python while the most popular course is Learning How To Learn. The courses that people want to take are not always the ones that they search for.

For learners to be a able to stumble upon courses that they didn't know exist, a well defined taxonomy is crucial. On top of this taxonomy, we limit our catalogue by only allowing courses that meet a quality bar. This enhances the discovery process. You can find the taxonomy live on our subjects page below:

Class Central Subjects Page


The majority of MOOC’s and OER’s center around the idea of high quality highly available education that is closely aligned with college level material. Therefore we designed the taxonomy that is as parallel to a college level curriculum as possible.

The taxonomy is a three level hirearchy in discreasing order: subjects, categories, keywords.

Though the current version reflects the current crop of online courses, it is built to be dynamic with the growing set of courses. We achieve this by setting a threshold by which a topic can be become a category or top level subject i.e if a topic has more than 20 courses its promoted to a category and if a category has 100 courses it is promoted to a Subject.

Finally, we aggregate a data-set of keywords to allow ease of decision making when assigning a course to a category or subject. Currently the process of categorzing a course is done manually. But in the future, this data-set will also allow us to automate this process.

This Open-source taxonomy philosophy will be available with a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.


Art & Design

Film & Theatre

acting, cinema, cinematography, cubism, dadaism, documentaries, film, film noir, filmmaking, futurism, hollywood, physical theatre, scripts, shakespeare, surrealism, television, theatre

Digital Media & Video Games

3D, abelton live, animation, animators, computational arts, digital, digital imaging, digital media, FinalCut, game design, graphic design, moviemaker, multimedia, music engineering, music production, music recording, phoneography, SLR camera, studio production, video games, visual arts, vocal recording


beatles, beethoven, blues, brahms, carnatic music, classical music, ensembles, guitar, improvization, jazz, mozart, music, music appreciation, music ensembles, music history, music theory, musical notation, musicianship, opera, percussion, rock, rolling stones, songwriting, string quartet, viola, violin, western music, world music

Visual Arts

alberti, bramanti, architecture, art, avant-garde, art history, baroque period, comic books, contemporary architecture, contemporary art, da vinci, drawing, fashion, frank lloyd wright, goya, graphic novels, modern period, modernism, museum, painting, photography, rembrandt, the renaissance, textiles, warhol

Design & Creativity

biomimicry, conceptual models, creativity, design, design principles, design thinking, feedback, fitt's law, geodesign, HCI, human-centered design, human computer interaction, ideation, innovation, interaction, interior design, needfinding, product design, prototyping, user experience, ux, visual analysis, visual design, visual representation

Business & Management

Business Development

additive manufacturing, biz dev, business analysis, business development, business models, business strategy, competitive strategy, e-commerce, global business, global trends, it management, lean, lean operations, lean six sigma, life cycles, logistics, process improvement, product development, sap, service logic, six sigma, substinance marketplaces, supply chain, supply chain management, sustainable product development


accounting, accounting, cycle, asset pricing, bonds, budgeting, business finance, computational investing, corporate finance, cost behaviour, credit risk, finance, financial accounting, financial engineering, financial literacy, financial markets, financial planning, global capital markets, investing, money, monetary system, personal finance, risk management, stock markets, stocks, wall street

Management & Leadership

adaptive leadership, corporate culture, culture, human resources management, leadership, management, operations management, project management, project planning, strategic management


entrepreneur, entreprenuership, futurism, growth hacking, innovation, scaling, social entrepreunership, startups, venture capital, ventures

Professional Development

business communication, business ethics, business writing, career counseling, coaching, communication, conflict resolution, decision making, employability, negotiations, networking, numeracy skills, onboarding, personal branding, presentations, problem solving, public speaking, skills, storytelling, strategic thinking, success, time management


branding, content strategy, digital analytics, digital brand engagement, digital marketing, growth hacker marketing, market analysis, marketing, online advertising, services marketing, social media marketing

Computer Science

Theoretical Computer Science

abstraction, algorithmic thinking, algorithms, automata, complexity, computability, computer paradigms, computing, concurrency, cryptocurrency, cryptography, data structures, discrete optimization, parallel programming, text retrieval, theoretical computer science

Data Science & Big Data

analytics, apache spark, apache storm, BI systems, big data, business intelligence, data analysis, data analytics, data cleaning, data collection, data mining, data science, data sets, data visualization, data warehousing, d3.js, hadoop, informatics, mapreduce, model building, qualitative methods, R, R programming, statistical inference, visualization, weka

Artificial Intelligence

AI, artificial intelligence, artificial vision, autonomous, classification systems, clustering, cognitive systems, computer aided translation, computer vision, discrete inference, machine learning, natural language processing, neural networks, NLP, pattern recognition, prediction systems, predictive analytics, recommender systems, regression modeling, reinforcement learning, robotic vision, robotics, supervised learning, translation systems, unsupervised learning


bioinformatics, biological data, biostatistics, dna methylation, dna sequencing, genetic algorithms, genomic data science, genomics, genotyping, sequencing

Education & Teaching


common core, early childhood education, first year teaching, k12, primary, primary education, secondary, secondary education, youth education,


digital literacy, gaming literacy, hacker spaces, maker spaces, STEAM, STEM, tinkering

Higher Education

academic success, adult, adult learners, college, college admissions, college applications, college prep, dissertations, higher education, research, research projects, student success, study skills, universities

Teacher Development

coaching, educator, foundations of teaching, instructional methods, student centered inquiry, student centered learning, teaching, training

Classroom Development

blended learning, collaborative tools, cooperative learning, course design, creative classrooms, differentiation, digital curation, digital learning tools, educational technology, flipped classrooms, flipped teaching, inquiry science learning, mobile learning, OER, open educational resources,curriculum design

Online Education

badges, digital badges, e-learning, gamification, mooc, moodle, oer, online education, online learning, online pedagogy, open educational resources, virtual classroom, virtual instruction,

Test Prep

AB, AP, BC, college readiness, exams, GMAT, prep, preparation, refresher, review, SAT, STAT


Electrical Engineering

arduino, asic, beaglebone, cellular Spectrums, data networks, development boards, digital signal processing, diodes, dsp, electrical engineering, embedded systems, fiber optics, haptic, haptic systems, information theory, integrated circuits, linear circuits, microcontrollers, mos transistors, nano-sensors, nonlinear optics, optical fiber networks, photonics, photovoltaic systems, pv, radio frequencies, raspberry pi, registers, sensors, signal processing, signals, transistors, solar cells, vhdl

Mechanical Engineering

aeronautical engineering, aerodynamics, cad, computer aided Design, dynamics, dynamics, engineering mechanics, equilibrium, fluid dynamics, fluid power, fluids, force, kinematics, kinetics, manufacturing, mechanics, mechatronics, nanomanufacturing, nonlinear dynamics, propulsion, robotics, solids, statistical thermodynamics, statics, structural mechanics, thermodynamics, vehicle dynamics, velocity

Materials Science & Engineering

blacksmithing, fatigue, fracture, magnetic materials, materials engineering, materials processing, materials science, metallurgy, physical metallurgy, polymer engineering, polymer physics, solar cells, structure properties, structures, symmetry, tensor properties

Civil Engineering

bim, cartography, civil engineering, durable development, energy in buildings, geographic information systems, geomatic engineering, geometric, geospatial, gis, material behaviour, public transportation systems, sanitation systems, structures, transit management, transportation flow systems, urban planning, wastewater treatment

Environmental Engineering

environmental engineering, environmental microbiology, groundwater hydrology, soil behaviour, sustainability, water resource systems

Health & Medicine

Disease & Disorders

addiction, adhd, aids, antibiotic resistance, aphasia, autism, bacteria, cancer, cardiac arrest, cardiovascular disease, caries, dementia, depression, diabetes, disabilities, disease, drug abuse, dysphagia, ebola, epidemics, heart disease, hiv, hypothermia, immune system, infections, infectious desieases, liver disease, neurology, outbreaks, pandemics, parasites, parkinson’s, virology, viruses

Nutrition & Wellness

ageing, child nutrition, diet, exercise, excercise physiology, food safety, health foods, holistic, malnutrition, micronutrients, nutrition, obesity, physical activity, pilates, stress management, traditional healing, training, wellness, yoga

Public & Global Health

aca, affordable care act, epidemiology, global health, health care reform, health systems, humanitarianism, mobile health, population health, primary health care, public health

Healthcare & Research

aed, behavioral medicine, biomedical imaging, clinical problem solving, clinical skills, clinical trials, contraception, controlled trials, cpr, dental practice, dentistry, drug discovery, drugs, first aid, first responders, health care, health literacy, hippocrates, immunology, life support, medication, mental health, nursing, patient engagement, patient safety, pediatric, pharmacology, practice, precision medicine, surgery, urology, vaccines



Grammar & Writing

business writing, community journalism, composition, digital journalism, documentation, english, english composition, essays, grammar, journalism, rhetorical composition, technical documentation, writing

Languages & Culture

china, chinese, culture, dutch, language, english, german, korea, latin american, mandarin, pop culture, spanish, western culture


ancient egypt, ancient greece, battle of waterloo, civil war, colonialism, emancipation proclamation, french revolution, gilded age, global history, great depression, history, holocaust, magna carta, middle ages, reconstruction, roaring twenties, western civiliation, u.s. history, vietnam war, world war one, world war two, world war I, world war II


altruism, anarchy, bioethics, calvin, confucian philosophy, consequentialism, deontology, epicirus, epicureanism, epistemology, ethics, existence, hedonism, human will, infinities, isocrates, kierkegaard, logic, mathematical philosophy, meaning, metaphysics, moral philosophy, moral psychology, moralities, morals, natural philosophy, neuroethics, occasionalism, ontology, paradoxes, philosophy, plato, pragmatist, reasoning, skepticism, socrates, stoicism, theorems, thinking, thought, truth values, value theory, values, virtue ethics, wisdom


bible, book of matthew, buddhism, christianity, islam, jesus, letters of paul, mohammed, religion, revalations, scripture, spirituality, theology


Foundations of Mathematics

language of mathematics, logic, mathematical symbolism, model theory, set theory


algebra, algebra+, algebraic systems, college algebra, combinatorics, discrete mathematics, field theory, graph theory, group theory, k theory, linear algebra, pre-algebra, number theory


convex optimization, geometry, manifolds, topology

Calculus & Analysis

analysis, analytic combinatorics, calculus, chaos theory, complex variables, derivatives, differential equations, dynamical systems, fourier analysis, functional analysis, integral equations, integrals, multivariable calculus, nonlinear dynamics, numerical analysis, pre-calculus, quantitative finance,

Statistics & Probability

Linear Regression, Probability, Regression, Statistics


Mobile Development

android, firefoxos, google play, ipad, iphone, mobile, mobile apps, mobile computing, mobile game development, mobile html5 applications, mobile services, mobile web development, smartphone, swift, ukit, windows 8 applications

Web Development

ajax, azure, bootstrap, cloud, cloud development, cloud engineering, css, foundation, front end web development, full stack, html, html5, html5 canvas, javascript, jquery, metadata, microsoft azure, node.js, responsive web design, saas, salesforce, sap fiori, sap hana, semantic web, software as a service, twitter bootstrap, typescript, web applications, web design, web development


databases, db, dba, in memory data management, in memory databases, mongodb, nosql, relational databases, sql, t-sql, transact-sql



acoustics, astrophysics, classical mechanics, einstein, electricity, field theory, friction, graphene, gravity, higgs boson, linear motion, light, magnetic resonance, magnetism, mechanics, molecular structures, motion, newtonian physics, nuclear physics, nuclear science, nuclear physics, optics, physics, plasma physics, quantum mechanics, quantum physics, relativity, solar energy, string theory, theoretical physics, thermodynamics, transport phenomena, unification, wave motion, waves


analytical chemistry, chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, solid state chemistry


astrobiology, astronomy, astrophysics, big bang theory, cosmology, dark energy, dark matter, exoplanets, extraterrestrial, galaxies, moons, multiverse, planetary boundries, solar system, universe


anatomy, animal behaviour, animal biology, bioelectricity, bioinformatics, biomolecular modeling, biotechnology, brian, cell culture, cell death, cells, DNA, epigenetic control, evolution, gene expression, genetics, genome science, genomes, human anatomy, human biology, microbiology, microbiome, molecular biology, neurons, neuroscience, paleobiology, physiology, synapses, systems biology, tissue engineering, tissues

Environmental Science

agriculture, climate, climate science, earth science, ecosystems, energy, environmental science, fracking, geology, geomechanics, global food crisis, global warming, forest monitoring, global warming, green, hydraulic fracturing, mining, natural disaesters, nature, oceanography, oceans, renewable energy, resilience, resources, shale gas, sustainability, sustainable development, sustainable food, symmetry, urban agriculture, volcanoes, water

Social Sciences


anthropology, archaeology, artifacts, culutural preservation, demography, folklore, genealogy, human origins, indigenous studies, linguistic anthropology, rituals


affective science, bullying, child development, cognitive science, emotional intelligence, happiness, human psychology, neuroscience, popularity, relationships, positive psychology, social psychology


behaviour, communication science, conflict theory, criminology, cultural studies, environment, family, feminism, gender studies, linguistics, metaliteracy, semantics, sexuality in society, social change, social classes, sociolinguistics, structural equation model, women's rights


behaviour economics, classical economics, derivatives, econometrics, economic policymaking, economics, federal reserve, financial markets, game theory, globalization, international trade, macroeconomics, microeconomics, stock markets, trade

Political Science

counterterrorism, decentralization, democracy, elections, european union, federalism, foreign policy, foreign relations, global community, global order, global politics, governance, government, international development, international politics, international relations, mao zedong, national security, political philosophy, propaganda, public policy, referendums, terrorism


business law, citizenship, civil liberties, civil rights, common low, constitution, contracts, copyrights, criminal law, human rights, immigration, international law, law, legal ethical governance, liability, patent law, privacy, property law, surveillance law, tax law, terrorism law


Provides an open source framework for online education taxonomies.



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