With the current structure of university studies, most doctoral programs in Spain do not have specific and transversal courses because they have been transferred to some specific master’s degrees. Therefore, students should seek alternative sources of training to supplement the knowledge they are acquiring in their doctoral program. One of these alternative sources of training are the MOOC’s.

A massive open online course (MOOC; /muːk/) is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs). MOOCs are a recent development in distance education which began to emerge in 2012. Early MOOCs often emphasized open access features, such as connectivism and open licensing of content, structure and learning goals, to promote the reuse and remixing of resources. Some later MOOCs use closed licenses for their course materials while maintaining free access for students.

There are several platforms based on MOOC’s, for example Udacity, Open IEBS, EDX, Miríada X, and Wedubos; however, the most popular is Coursera, which offers hundreds of different courses.


From the perspective of a PhD student, many of the courses offered by the MOOC’s platforms are unattractive; however, there are several courses related to methodology with a great interest. For example:

  • Questionnaire Design for Social Surveys (University of Michigan)
  • Social Networks: Models and Analysis
  • Process Mining: Data Science in Action
  • Computing for Data Analysis
  • R programming

Many of these courses are taught in English with subtitles; however, you can also find some of them in Spanish, Italian, French, etc.