In a world of digital information, knowledge is everywhere. From learning a new language to sharpening a technical skill or taking a comprehensive online course, you can reach all this educational content from the comfort of your mobile device.
Although information is abundant, daily commitments pose hurdles to your learning journey. Work, school, and family responsibilities often make it difficult to consistently schedule a time for learning. And if you work in front of a screen, reading a device or opening a book might be the last thing you (and your eyes) want.
Podcasts offer a compelling alternative. Much like books, they provide imaginative narratives and engaging interviews. But they also mix sound design and conversational storytelling for a more immersive experience.
With so much content out there, it’s hard to narrow down the best podcasts for learning — but it’s worth trying. This list of educational podcasts includes grammar and history lessons and hot-takes on current events to help you learn something new every day.
18 of the best educational podcasts
Whether you’re looking for a serial podcast about history or want to learn how to manage your money, these 18 podcasts will teach you a lesson or two.
1. Grammar Girl
While you may not consider grammar rules a good topic for podcasts, host Mignon Fogarty makes a (well-structured) argument for it. Self-improvement comes in many forms — even via learning prepositions and phrasal verbs.
Proper grammar isn’t just for copywriters and editors. Your written communication tells the reader what working with you is like. Professional emails, PowerPoint presentations, and targeted resumes with missing apostrophes and misplaced commas reflect poorly on your attention to detail.
“Grammar Girl” is one of the best educational podcasts out there, with Fogarty being an inductee into the Podcasting Hall of Fame and a five-time recipient of Best Education Podcast at the Podcast Awards. Her snappy 20-minute lessons teach the intricacies of English grammar, from choosing between inspirational and aspirational to creating rhythm in your writing.
WNYC Studios’ “Radiolab” has produced stories about science, philosophy, and politics for curious listeners since 2002. Original co-hosts Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad took home two Peabody Awards for the show’s “pithy prose and state-of-the-art sound to illuminate complicated scientific and philosophical subjects.”
Although hosts Lulu Miller and Latif Nasser took over the DJ booth, they produce the same deep-diving episodes, like exploring the hidden world of Helen Keller or a multi-episode series about the cultural history of cassette tapes. With over two decades of air time, you have hundreds of episodes to engage your brain during your morning commute.
3. Stuff You Should Know
If you’re looking for fun ways to start a conversation, the wide-reaching “Stuff You Should Know” has you covered. Hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant dive into the world’s most common things, providing you with the knowledge to add depth to your conversations with long-time coworkers or new networking colleagues.
This team releases several weekly episodes, with short breakdowns and hour-long explorations about various topics, like why you can’t fall asleep or how fear works in the brain. Their fun approach to learning about anything showcases another important lesson: regardless of your level of expertise, there’s always room to learn a little more.
4. Revisionist History
You’ve likely heard of Malcolm Gladwell, named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. He’s a New Yorker staff writer and author of five New York Times bestsellers, including Outliers, The Tipping Point, and Blink.
Across his work, Gladwell reconsiders overlooked and misunderstood stories from the past — an event, a person, or even an idea. His podcast, “Revisionist History” explores topics that can change your professional development journey. Whether it’s an episode about the science of perfecting a skill or shaking up the status quo with more creativity, he offers valuable insights to motivate you throughout your career.
5. The Great Creators
Guy Raz wants to take you into the minds of some of the world’s most creative people. And with guests like Bjork, Carrie Brownstein, and Tom Hanks, it’s safe to say he’s done just that.
“The Great Creators” invites singers, actors, and comedians to discuss their unique creative processes and career journeys. While Raz welcomes pop culture icons at the top of their game, his insightful conversations will inspire anyone wanting to enjoy more professional creativity.
6. TED Radio Hour
If you’re a fan of TED Talks, NPR has a great podcast for you. The “TED Radio Hour” invites previous TED talkers to continue exploring life’s biggest questions. And new weekly episodes plus TED Talks’ massive archives mean podcast listeners have an infinite source of learning.
In typical TED fashion, host Manoush Zomordi explores a wide range of topics, like how to preserve humanity amidst artificial intelligence, learning to embrace change, and the brain science behind creative thinking.
7. Hardcore History
Political commentator Dan Carlin understands that human beings can learn a lot from exploring the successes and failures of the past. With hundreds of millions of downloads, it’s safe to say his listeners agree.
“Hardcore History” takes an out-of-the-box approach to connecting history to today’s contemporary learner, diving deep into the Atlantic slave trade or the fall of Persian Empire social structures. Each episode will enlighten you about humankind’s shared past and teach you that you can always look at a situation — especially failures — from a different angle.
8. 99% Invisible
You interact with design every day without realizing it. From the shape of your coffee mug to the transit system that takes you to work or the comfort of your desk set-up, you’re surrounded by the choices of countless designers.
Host Roman Mars has explored these invisible details that guide your day-to-day life for more than a decade. Mars describes “99% Invisible” as a podcast about design, exploring architecture, graphic design, and engineering. But it’s really about looking deeper, a helpful frame of mind for creatives and non-creatives alike. Whether you’re a marketing professional or a psychology student, reading between the lines offers you a more well-informed view of the world.
9. Encyclopedia Womanica
Daily 10-minute episodes about innovative women throughout history — what’s not to love? “Encyclopedia Womanica” invites historians to host monthly themes, like tastemakers, rebels, and mothers.
Every day welcomes a new story about incredible women from around the globe that you “may or may not know — but definitely should.” And each tale serves as a reminder that living with intention, determination, and resilience will leave a legacy with your community and the world.
10. Afford Anything
After years of overworking as a newsroom journalist, Paula Pant resigned from her dream job to travel the world for two years on limited savings. When she returned home, she set her sights on building financial freedom and not burning out in the process.
“Afford Anything” invites researchers, economists, and authors to discuss finance. It’s a motivational podcast if you want to live with stronger financial wellness, with each episode revolving around dense financial topics like stocks and cryptocurrency. But it’s not just for entrepreneurs and economics buffs. Pant also offers deep insights about decision-making and critical thinking you can apply to all your choices to create a better work-life balance.
11. Intersectionality Matters!
Podcasts aren’t just for passive listening — they build the framework to have courageous conversations. “Intersectionality Matters!” is a podcast produced by the African-American Policy Forum and hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American civil rights advocate and leading scholar of Critical Race Theory.
Through a mix of narrative storytelling and interviews, Crenshaw explores the complexities of identity and social justice. Each episode offers an opportunity for self-reflection and challenges podcast listeners to confront biases. Although the conversations aren’t always comfortable, they’re necessary to build inclusion, diversity, and belonging.
12. We Can Do Hard Things
Glennon Doyle isn’t afraid to admit that “life is freaking hard.” At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, her book “Untamed” became a New York Times bestseller. If you’ve ever felt pressure to project an image of non-stop perfection, Glennon’s book will empower you to embrace vulnerability and the community of others.
“We Can Do Hard Things” is a mental health podcast that picks up where her book leaves off. She invites experts to dive into topics that affect everyone, like making friends, finding contentment, and taking charge of your health and well-being.
Whether it’s pectinidology (scallops), uropathology (ticks and Lyme disease), or chronobiology (circadian rhythms), you can develop expertise about anything.
Alie Ward is a Daytime Emmy Award-winning science correspondent, host of the CW’s “Did I Mention Invention?”, and host of the science podcast “Ologies.” In each episode, she asks “smart people stupid questions,” digging deep into their studies and the origins of their academic obsession. Many of her guests stumbled into their professions, proving that it’s always a good idea to ask questions and embrace a career change at any stage.
14. Just One Thing
Social media is full of wellness trends and fitness influencers — but it’s not always easy to sort out the good advice from the bad. The BBC’s “Just One Thing” breaks down simple health hacks with the help of research-backed scientific evidence.
Host Dr. Michael Mosely believes that small lifestyle changes can significantly impact your health. And he covers an impressive amount of advice. Whether it’s adding turmeric to your meals to boost memory or using morning light to get a better night’s sleep, Dr. Mosley has advice for any health goal.
15. The Daily
A 24-hour news cycle can make keeping up with current events overwhelming. And other responsibilities might mean you don’t have time to sort through the paper (or scroll news platforms).
While reels and tweets from credible sources can fill you in, The New York Times “The Daily” is one of the best informative podcasts to stay fresh on in-depth reporting. Every day, hosts Michael Barbaro and Sabrina Tavernise take you straight to the source, talking with New York Times journalists to break down the day’s most important events and debates.
16. The Tim Ferriss Show
Personal growth doesn’t exclusively come from within. The wisdom, experiences, and advice of others are fundamental to carving your professional path. That’s where entrepreneur, public speaker, and author of “The Four-Hour Work Week” Tim Ferriss steps in. Each week he interviews a high achiever, expert, or global icon to understand their strategies and routines for success.
Apple ranks “The Tim Ferriss Show” the #1 business podcast. And with more than 900 million downloads and guests like Tony Robbins, Malcolm Gladwell, and Margaret Atwood, Ferriss certainly has a lot to teach his listeners.
17. Philosophize This!
Philosophical topics are often dense and complex, making them overwhelming to approach as a beginner. But Stephen West gives you a good reason to set aside thirty minutes to think about the world in a different light with his bi-weekly podcast “Philosophize This!”, which unravels the ideas of some of the world’s greatest thinkers, like Susan Sontag and Friedrich Nietzsche.
According to his website, West wants to “brighten people’s lives” as he explores philosophical rabbit holes in a fun and accessible way. His straightforward and clear storytelling approach and historical context make it a wonderful learning podcast if you want to move through life more creatively and critically.
18. Freakonomics Radio
Authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner likely didn’t know their book “Freakonomics” would turn into a cultural phenomenon upon its 2005 publishing.
Using data analysis and narrative storytelling, the duo analyze subjects like education, real estate, and even cheating in sumo wrestling. After its runaway success, the team has released several other books and the podcast, “Freakonomics Radio.”
Dubner hosts this podcast, conducting in-depth interviews with economists, academics, and other experts to explore topics using data-driven insights. The show is fascinating to listen to and a great reminder that data can illuminate just about anything.
It’s time to put on your thinking cap
No matter how busy your schedule, educational podcasts are a great way to fit in daily learning.
This journey might be as simple as tuning in to an episode on your commute or taking a 15-minute break from work to focus your mind on something else. And you can also advance your podcast learning with life coaching, wellness routines, and positive free-time activities.