TU Delft’s free online courses hugely popular

TU Delft’s free online courses hugely popular

Delft University of Technology is seeing a surge of worldwide interest in its free online course programme, with 60.000 students already enrolled for the upcoming autumn semester.

A year ago TU Delft launched MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, offering two courses: "Solar Energy" and "Introduction to Water Treatment". This coming semester the institution, whose online branch is known as DelftX, has expanded its selection to 11 courses.

Extremely popular

Since the launch of MOOCs some 150.000 people around the world have participated in the online courses. Annually, the number of students who successfully complete the online courses already exceeds the number of students "on campus". Is this a sign of the future?

MOOCs on offer

TU Delft has increased the number of free courses to 11, with many focusing on sustainable practices and engineering. Currently, the repeated "Solar Energy" already has more than 10.000 applicants, as does the new course "Introduction to Functional Programming".

The courses allow you to increase your knowledge in a specific field such as aeronautical engineering or drinking water treatment. Other courses on offer include "Technology for Biobased Products", "Delft Design Approach" and "Responsible Innovation".

EdX online learning platform

The MOOCs are offered on the edX online education platform, which is also used by MIT, Harvard and other universities. EdX has been running since 2012 and provides courses available to anyone with an internet connection.

Courses are 8-10 weeks in length and participants watch video material, read, complete assignments and join in forum discussions. People who complete the course receive a certificate of participation.

Why run MOOCs?

TU Delft’s online course programme is motivated by societal challenges as well as by the desire to increase fundamental understanding. The institution encourages students "to be independent thinkers so they will become engineers capable of solving complex problems".

A handful of high-achieving and highly-engaged students who completed the first round of MOOCs were invited to TU Delft to participate further, by attending a week-long lab course or flying in the engineering faculty’s flight simulator. Other students with standout results were offered the opportunity to study online versions of standard TU Delft courses to gain European study credits (ECTS).

Many enrolled students are based in countries where access to higher education is limited. A top Nepali student who completed "Solar Energy" and was invited to Delft for the Solar Energy lab said he took the course because "I want to electrify rural areas in Nepal using solar energy."

The first autumn semester course, "Introduction to Water and Climate" starts on August 26.

Beatrice Clarke


Beatrice Clarke

Beatrice is a native Melbournian who moved to the Netherlands in 2009. With a background in independent publishing and fashion, Beatrice honed her understanding of Dutch language and culture working...

Read more



Leave a comment