Learning interior design, Microsoft Excel or even how to find your ancestors on the web has now become easier with free noncredit courses offered by the School of Professional and Continuing Studies.

Registered undergraduate students are eligible to enroll in one free SPCS noncredit course each semester. Courses include anything and everything from cooking to Photoshop to level-three Spanish classes.

Celeste Pounds, a marketing professional enrolled in the Business Writers' Bootcamp course, said this class helped her sharpen her grammar skills and focused on preparing her to become a "business writer."

Since the start of the program in 2011, more than 95 students, from all five of University of Richmond's schools, have participated in 54 classes, said Christina Draper, director of non-credit programs.

"Each year the program continues to grow and we are pleased with its progress," Draper wrote in an email. "Our office always welcomes input for new classes and we strive to offer new and exciting topics each year," she said.

Each semester SPCS receives numerous emails from students who are interested in its noncredit class opportunities, Draper said. Students often want to take a class to augment their major course of study or to acquire skills in an area of personal interest, she said.

The course instructors are professionals either currently working in or retired from their respective fields.

Normal course fees range from $40-$300 per semester, but these fees are waived for current undergraduate students because once the minimum number of students who have paid tuition and fees have registered, there are no additional costs to the university, Draper said.

Offering free noncredit classes allows SPCS to meet its mission and complement The Richmond Promise, which encourages cross-school initiatives, Draper said.

Marilyn Mills Creech, instructor of Interior Decorating and Design, said students take her course because they want to know how to make their homes more beautiful. They also enroll to pursue careers in the field of decorating, she said.

"We seek to offer classes that have the greatest capacity for intergenerational learning," Draper said. "We try very hard not to duplicate programmatic efforts being offered by other offices on campus."

Contact reporter Olivia Simons at olivia.simons@richmond.edu