top of page
  • Michelle Varela

Free classes for Seniors

Learning throughout your life can positively impact your health and even give you a more youthful mindset. A 2020 study published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B found that older adults learning a variety of skills during the same time period increased cognitive abilities to levels similar to adults 30 years younger.

It can be a lot of fun to take classes to learn new skills or sharpen existing ones. Classes enable seniors to connect with peers, discover new passions and feel a sense of accomplishment. A study published in Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences found that lifelong learning can lead to self-fulfillment and improves self esteem. The World Health Organization even includes learning and growing as part of a person’s ability to age healthily. There are tons of learning opportunities for seniors in enjoyable classes. Here is more about classes for senior citizens.

We’re living longer than ever before, and doing so in better health. So what can you do when you retire and want to keep your mind sharp or need to gain additional skills to stay competitive at work? For many, the answer is to go back to school.

5 Types of Classes Seniors Should Consider

Physical Fitness Classes

No matter your age, maintaining a level of physical fitness can help keep you mentally and physically healthy. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens should get at least two days of muscle-strengthening exercise a week, as well as at least two and a half hours of aerobic activity per week.

And the physical fitness class doesn’t have to be a high-impact class.

Seniors can take …

· Yoga — even chair yoga

· Water aerobics

· Dance; or

· Strength training

… classes to not only maintain their physical health but remain involved in their community and have a sense of belonging.

If you are interested in a specific type of activity in your area, reach out to senior communities or do a quick search online for senior-specific classes.

If you aren’t into large fitness classes, classes hosted by a senior-living facility in your area may be more their speed. Many senior living communities, like those at Senior Services of America, offer fitness classes to those living in their communities.

Lifelong Learning Classes

No matter how old — or young — we are, there’s always room to learn more.

Whether you want to explore new subjects or you’re wanting to dive into subjects you’ve always loved, your age shouldn’t be what’s stopping you.

Lifelong learning classes are generally offered to the 50+ community by local colleges or trade schools.

These classes can benefit seniors in a variety of ways, by:

· Strengthening memory and recall skills

· Bring a sense of community

· Enhancing self-esteem

· Improved brain health

Seniors may find interest in lifelong learning classes, like:

· A new language

· History

· Health and Wellness

· Finance

· Psychology

· Etc.

Art Classes

Whether you are experienced artists, or you’re just looking for a fun class for seniors — art classes are an amazing way to keep your creative juices flowing.

Drawing, sketching, sculpting, and painting, are just a few ways seniors can explore their artistic abilities. Participating in art classes may help seniors:

· Improve their motor skills —hand-eye coordination, hand strength, and sight stability are all things that activities like painting and drawing can assist with.

· Strengthen mental health — for some seniors, art classes may act as a form of therapy, which can give them a renewed sense of purpose and belonging. Seniors dealing with cognitive diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, may find that they can stay engaged in art classes and feel a sense of pleasure during the activity.

Cooking Classes

You already know that sometimes, the taste of home can make all the difference in your mood, behaviors, and feelings.

The same goes as we age. Doing the things we’ve always loved, like cooking, which brings all your senses back to life, may be just what we need to feel like “ourselves” mentally and physically.

Whether you are looking to learn specific techniques in the kitchen, or are looking for heart-healthy meals to cook for your spouse — or bake a cake with a group of like-minded seniors — cooking classes are never a bad idea when searching for fun classes for seniors.

Technology Classes

Technology is constantly advancing, and it can feel overwhelming and a little bit discouraging to use without help.

Luckily, there are a multitude of free computer and other tech classes for senior citizens. These classes teach the basics, from …

· Typing

· Social media

· Computer programs — Excel, Word, Pages, Skype, etc.

· And smartphone tips and tricks

… and provide seniors with a way to interact with other seniors, stay up-to-date on the latest technology, and maybe even teach their grandchildren a thing or two.

Where to Find Free Classes

Most local recreation centers, senior center, and libraries will offer classes for seniors. Another great resources is your local community college or University.

In the interest of continuing education, many colleges and universities offer reduced or free college for seniors (typically, adults 60 and up, although the rules vary). Every state has at least one institution offering free or reduced-cost classes for senior citizens, while 21 states have tuition waivers that eliminate the costs entirely for students 50 and older who meet certain requirements. Either way, it's surprisingly easy for seniors to find institutions across the nation where they can continue to learn and expand horizons into their golden years for free. These programs are excellent opportrunity to explore new interests and stay intellectually active. And you don’t have to worry about grades. Seniors can audit the classes and skip the homework and exams.

Universities with free college courses for Seniors

1. California State University System Education Code 89330 authorizes the popular CSU system to provide free tuition for seniors. Each campus must grant tuition waivers to California residents age 60 and older. Waived fees include those for tuition, applications, health services, and instructionally related activities. Seniors can enroll in regular-session, undergraduate-level courses in subjects such as art, the humanities, agriculture, and computer studies. 2. Clemson University — Clemson, SC Article 5, Title 59 under the South Carolina Code of Laws allows state-supported universities to offer free tuition for seniors. A large public university, Clemson provides free college classes for seniors. Learners can choose to audit a class or earn college credit. Students must be residents to receive the benefit, and admission is subject to program approval. 3. Colorado State University — Fort Collins, CO CSU's senior citizen class visitation policy allows resident instruction classes on a space-available basis to students age 55 and over. Lifelong learners can register for classes in subjects like theater, Italian, and women's studies without paying tuition. Additional course fees are assessed individually. 4. Georgia Institute of Technology — Atlanta, GA Provision in the Georgia Constitution includes rules regarding free college for seniors age 62 and over. State residents can take higher education courses at no tuition cost, except at dental, medical, veterinary, and law schools. Georgia Tech — one of the country's top tech institutes — offers a 62 or Older Program that provides a waiver for both in-state graduate-level tuition and applicable student fees. 5. The Ohio State University — Columbus, OH Section 3345.27 of the Ohio Revised Code maintains similar regulations as Georgia regarding tuition, residency, and space availability. Ohio State's Program 60 targets state residents who have lived in Ohio for at least a year. Anyone age 60 or older may apply for undergraduate, graduate-level, or free online college courses for senior citizens. 6. The Pennsylvania State University — University Park, PA Penn State's GO-60 program allows residents age 60 and older to take undergraduate courses (but not earn a degree). Participants must work less than 20 hours a week or be retired and meet the course prerequisites. For-credit classes are available on all Penn State campuses at no tuition cost on a space-available basis. 7. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Rutgers offers the Senior Citizen Audit Program with free college courses for seniors, depending on availability. State residents age 62 and over can audit classes at no tuition cost, though they must pay for textbooks. Rutgers' free college classes for seniors are available at the New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark campuses. 8. The State University of New York Assembly Bill A6380, which has not yet passed, would allow for free, for-credit courses for learners age 65 and older. Many SUNY campuses, including SUNY Purchase, already waive tuition for seniors. Additionally, various SUNY campuses offer noncredit courses, seminars, and workshops for retirees. 9. University of Connecticut — Storrs, CT Connecticut state law allows residents age 62 and older to qualify for a tuition waiver at any public higher education institution. UConn's senior citizen audit program offers seniors the option to audit undergraduate courses. However, there must be space available in fall or spring, and the instructor must give permission. 10. University of Delaware — Newark, DE Chapter 34, Subchapter X of Delaware law authorizes residents age 60 and older to attend college without paying tuition. Seniors are responsible for paying for books, supplies, and lab and shop fees. UD's Over-60 Tuition-Free Degree Program uses a space-available format and does not cover continuing education classes. 11. University of Florida — Gainesville, FL Florida statute Chapter 1009 authorizes state universities to waive tuition and related fees for residents age 60 and older. UF's 60-plus program provides free tuition and covers fees for seniors auditing a course. The waiver depends on space availability, and the university may limit courses. 12. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — Champaign, IL The Illinois Senior Citizen Courses Act permits public universities to enroll seniors in regularly scheduled credit courses without charging tuition. Residents age 65 and older are eligible at the U of I, so long as space is available. Note that fees and other charges are not included in the tuition waiver. 13. University of Kansas — Lawrence, KS Chapter 2, Section B.1 in the Kansas Board of Regents Policy Manual ensures free tuition for Kansas residents age 60 and older. Under this law, learners can audit eligible courses at a state university, including KU, at no cost. A senior citizen waiver is available for nondegree-seeking undergraduate and graduate students at KU's main campus in Lawrence and the Medical Center. Students must submit this form every semester they enroll. 14. University of Maryland — College Park, MD Section VIII230 of the University System of Maryland's policies and procedures ensures senior citizens' right to free college courses. Any retired individual age 60 or older whose chief income comes from retirement benefits may be eligible for a tuition waiver at a member institution, including UMD, which offers the Golden ID Program. 15. University of Massachusetts Amherst — Amherst, MA In Massachusetts, the Categorical Tuition Waiver provides financial support to people who can't afford higher education without assistance. UMass Amherst's Senior Citizen Tuition Credit Affidavit credits $857-$1,320 in tuition per semester, depending on whether you're enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program. The university also offers free online college courses for seniors. 16. University of Minnesota Twin Cities — Minneapolis, MN Sec. 135A.52 MN Statutes guarantee free tuition for seniors age 62 and older at any Minnesota state college or university. Seniors must pay an administration fee and for any materials, personal property, and service charges, unless they're auditing a course. UMN's Senior Citizen Education Program offers reduced costs to audit classes and earn college credit. 17. University of Oregon — Eugene, OR In Oregon, the senior citizen registration classification applies to residents age 65 and older and allows them to audit classes at no charge. The benefit uses a space-available basis, and individual departments must grant approval. Seniors can take classes focusing on subjects such as creative writing, metalsmithing and jewelry, language, digital art, and disability studies. 18. University of Texas at Austin — Austin, TX Chapter 54 of the Texas Education Code authorizes state colleges to offer free tuition for Texas residents age 65 and older. Like most tuition waivers, the award doesn't cover fees, books, or continuing education classes. UT Austin — one of the country's top public universities — provides free tuition for seniors up to six credits. 19. University of Virginia — Charlottesville, VA Virginia's Higher Education Act, Code 23.1-640, waives tuition for residents age 60 and older taking up to three full- or part-time courses for academic credit. An applicant's individual taxable income may not exceed $23,850 for the year preceding the award year. UVA's Senior Citizen Waiver Program provides for-credit courses with no tuition or fees, except for course materials. 20. University of Wisconsin-Madison — Madison, WI UW offers senior learning opportunities through its continuing studies programs for adults age 50 and older. In-person and online courses are available for professional development and personal enrichment. Those age 60 and older can audit courses for free (with instructor approval). The top public university's Continuing Studies program also offers various noncredit classes in subjects like history, languages, and writing.

Checkout this link from the AARP for free college classes in every state

Free Online Classes for Senior Citizens

Senior citizens can take classes right from home in free online courses. You can start by searching for the topic you’re interested in and “free online class” and see what comes up in a search engine.

There are also lots of topics to study through education sites like Coursera, Udemy and edX. Many courses will enable you to get a certificate upon completion or pay for certification if you want to go beyond auditing the class. Colleges ranging from Harvard University to Yale University offer classes on sites like these, with courses taught by the same professors you’ll find on campus.

There are also free computer classes for senior citizens. These classes teach computer basics, like typing, social media and computer programs like Microsoft Word. Check out resources from Techboomers and Teach an Old Dog New Tricks to search for useful free online computer classes for senior citizens.

Art Classes for Senior Citizens

Both computer use and artistic participation can reduce mild cognitive impairment (MCI) for older adults. A study published in Neurology found that the risk of MCI was reduced for adults ages 85 and older who engaged in artistic and craft activities in midlife and late life, as well as who reported computer use in late life. The study also found social activities, like taking a class with others, were associated with decreased risk of MCI.

Arts and crafts classes provide both artistic benefits and social benefits when you attend them in person. Check out venues like senior centers, libraries, art galleries and art studios in your area to find free or inexpensive classes.

If you want to brush up on your arts and crafts skills at home, Skillshare has dozens of free video art classes. You can also search YouTube for videos on the art skills you want to learn.

Cooking Classes for Senior Citizens

Cooking at home is associated with more balanced eating and better nutrition, compared to eating takeout or at restaurants.

There are also mental benefits to cooking, just like partaking in art activities. Cooking relieves stress and provides continuous learning opportunities as you master recipes, discover how to use ingredients and experiment with kitchen tools.

You can find cooking classes in your community, sometimes held at grocery stores, at kitchen supply stores like Sur la Table and at independent venues. Search “cooking class” and your city online to find options.

There are also cooking classes available online that you can take at home. For example, “Top Chef” winner Melissa King frequently hosts live digital classes, where you can ask her questions throughout class and chat with other participants.

Many food bloggers also post videos of their recipes. For example, Maangchi specializes in Korean cooking and presents a full video to follow along for most recipes.

APPS and Websites

There are tons of websites and organizations that make lifelong-learning possible for the elderly. The following sites are free for you to use any time to better your education!

Offering literally thousands of free lectures from top universities like Princeton, Harvard, and Oxford, Academic Earth has a robust open course program that allows you to learn from the comfort of home.

They offer courses in:

  • Technology

  • Health

  • Math

  • Language

  • Humanities

  • Marketing

  • Science

  • Business

  • Lifestyle

Where else can you learn 40 different languages from one site for free? They offer classes for beginners and beyond, so you can join with any skill level. They also have a section for kids, so you can learn alongside the grandkids! Their most popular courses are:

  • French

  • Spanish

  • Greek

  • Chinese

  • German

  • Italian

Presented by Carnegie Mellon University, these Independent Learner Courses are self-paced and self-guided. They don’t offer credit if you complete them, but they do offer an opportunity to learn new things and broaden your horizons. Some of the courses available right now are:

  • General Chemistry 1 and 2

  • Introduction to Programming in Java

  • Elementary Chinese 1

  • Environmental Technology

  • Visual Design

  • Modern Biology

Senior Citizen Centers

If you are looking for fun classes for seniors in your community, be sure to check with any senior citizen centers in the area. Most areas have senior centers that cater to retired individuals looking to gather with others.

Senior citizen centers provide elderly community members with a safe place to socialize, help maintain their physical and mental condition, and maintain a positive quality of life. These centers generally offer a host of fun classes for seniors, as well as other activities, and may even provide transportation to and from classes and activities.

4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page