APIs from OCW Search

OCW Search provides two APIs to help you tap into the data we collect for powering the OpenCourseWare search service:

This page gives you an overview of the common features and philosophy of these APIs. Full details are in the specific pages linked to above.

API Basics

The APIs are designed to be very simple to use. You construct a URL that you retrieve the contents of, and it returns a JSON output of the search results.

The API is versioned, meaning that each API endpoint specifies the version number. This maintains backwards compatability in that when the API gets updated in a way that would break the default behavior, it gets a new version number, and your application will not break.

The API outputs only JSON. Support for XML responses are not planned unless there is significant demand for it. See the Mailing List and Getting Help section below for contact details.

Currently the API does not support JSONP but this is a planned top priority. JSONP will allow you to use the API in web browsers as it is a secure mechanism to do cross-domain scripting.


Please implement results caching in your web application if possible. OCW Search index updates occur only once every 1-3 weeks and so the results for a query will not change in the meantime.

Rate Limiting

At the moment there isn't a hard rate limiter in place, but the API usage is monitored. Heavy users will be contacted (that is why we need the contact details in each API call), and abusers will be banned out-right.


As the API output is JSON, any JSON-aware debugging tool will work. Here is a selection:

Mailing List and Getting Help

For contacting us privately, please email apicontact (at) ocwsearch (dot) com.

We also maintain a mailing list for anyone using or interested in the API. You can subscribe using this form:

Google Groups
Subscribe to OCW Search API
Visit this group

The mailing list is for pretty much anything API related: