Where to Take Free Online Courses

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If you’re interested in learning a new skill, hoping to get a raise at work or considering a career change, taking a free online course could help you get closer to your goal. 

In this article, we’re going to take a look at 23 online resources where you can find educational videos and university-level courses available for free. 

23 Places to Take Free Online Courses

Courses offered online for free are often called Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and taking these classes is similar to (but not the same as) getting an online degree. The key difference is that you most likely won’t earn any type of academic credit for your coursework, though some classes may offer a certificate of completion. Still, the skills that you can learn in a free online class could easily help you get a raise at work, decide whether or not you’re ready for a career change or even take up a new hobby.

To find an online class that’s right for you, begin by browsing open courses available through the websites listed below, arranged by category. You’ll find thousands of topics on popular sites including Coursera, EdX and Udemy. If you already know what subject you’re interested in studying, start there.

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To take an online course while avoiding the fees charged for many courses, consider enrolling for a free class through one of the programs below.

University Courses

The following links include resources from accredited institutes and universities. Many of these courses last from two to twelve weeks, and some of them let you work at your own pace. They contain a variety of audio and video files as well as PDF texts, assignments and more.

Academic Earth 

academic earth

Academic Earth offers free online courses in 18 different subjects ranging from art history to finance and from 13 different universities including Columbia, Princeton and Yale. You’ll also find a variety of playlists and video electives that you can watch for free at any time.

You don’t need to create an account or enter any information to access the courses and resources on Academic Earth. Simply browse the available courses, lectures and videos or search for your subject of interest.

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Carnegie Mellon University

carnegie

The Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University provides free and low-cost courses online. Independent learner courses are either labeled “open & free,” or you’ll see a cost listed below the course title. You can enroll in open & free courses without creating an account.

You can search for courses by area of interest or browse through the featured courses. You’ll find subjects ranging from business to languages to computer science. You may see messages about a course key, but this information is only for enrolled students, and you won’t need a key to take free courses.

Coursera

coursera

Coursera collaborates with more than 190 universities including Duke, IBM, Stanford and other top schools. You’ll have to create a free account to get started, but it requires only your name, email address and password.

You can search for subjects that interest you or click “browse” to view all courses. Just some of the available topics are arts and humanities, computer science, information technology, personal development and language learning. Once you’ve found a course, click “enroll for free.”

edX

edx

EdX offers more than 2,500 online courses from 140 different institutions including Harvard University, UC-Berkeley and Boston University. You can choose from 31 different subjects including business & management, data analysis, humanities, engineering and design.

Many courses are free, and some offer a certificate of completion if you pay a fee. You can choose which route you’d like to take before enrolling. You’ll be asked to create a free account to get started.

FutureLearn

future learn

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Future Learn offers online courses in a variety of subjects including history, law, literature, politics, psychology, study skills and teaching. However, not all of the classes on Future Learn are free. Be sure that you’re looking at free courses before trying to enroll.

You can choose between classes that are starting now or in the future. Once you’ve chosen a course, you’ll need to register using your name, email address, age and a password. Courses range from two to ten weeks long and may contain video, audio, articles, discussions, activities and assignments. Additional features are available with an upgraded account.

Harvard University

harvard university

Harvard University offers more than 70 free courses online in 11 different subject areas. You can browse available courses by start date, duration and even difficulty. You can also search for courses based on interest.

Once you’ve found a course you like, double-check that it’s free. When you click on it, you’ll see additional information including the time commitment, pace, available credit and more. Once you click “take the course,” you may be redirected to another platform (such as edX) that will require you to create a free account before enrolling.

Kadenze

kadenze

Kadenze focuses on science, technology, engineering, art, design, music and math education. To get started, you can browse available courses, search for online resources, or check out curated programs that Kadenze’s website says “will help you become a specialist in a specific subject.” You’ll need to create a free account before enrolling.

Some of the classes offer credit or certifications for a fee, but you can typically enroll for free. When I visited the website, a few of the featured courses I found interesting were Introduction to Sound and Acoustic Sketching, Motion Design: Animated GIFs, and Music Theory for Beginners.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT

MIT’s Open Courseware program provides materials from thousands of courses covering the entire MIT curriculum, according to the website. You’ll find free video lectures, online textbooks and faculty teaching insights.

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You don’t need to sign up, enroll or work around start and end dates. Once you’ve found a course you’d like to take, simply read the syllabus, review the breakdown of daily assignments, and you’ll find the resources there for you to access at any time.

MyOwnBusiness.org

MOBI

My Own Business Institute (MOBI) focuses on providing courses to help you start and grow a businesses. You’ll find video, audio and text resources in each course. Before getting started, you’ll be asked to create a free account.

Once you’ve enrolled in your selected course, you’ll have access to each session to be completed at your own pace. Be sure to check out available partner courses on MOBI for a broader selection of topics.

Open Culture

Open Culture

Open Culture leads you to 1,300 free online courses and 1,000+ MOOCs with thousands of other free online education resources. You can search for topics or browse by subject, language, author, museum, time period, date and more.

Some of the courses will direct you to another online learning platform (such as Future Learn) that may require you to create a free account. Other resources are available for free directly on Open Culture’s website without having to sign in.

Stanford University

Stanford Online

Stanford Online provides free courses taught by Stanford University instructors and industry experts in fields such as health & medicine, education and engineering. You can browse all of the subjects or search available courses based on your interests.

Once you’ve found a course, you may be directed to another website (such as EdX) that will require you to create a free account to continue. The courses may contain articles, video lectures, assignments, quizzes and other elements to complete at your own pace. 

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The Open University

Open Learn

OpenLearn provides nearly 1,000 free courses in eight different subject areas: health/sports/psychology, education/development, theater/art, language, money/business, nature/environment, science/math/technology, and society/politics/law.

Once you’ve found a course you’d like to study, click “enter.” You can view the course material instantly and begin working through it at your own pace. To track your progress, create a free account and log in. 

Udemy

udemy

If you’ve looked into free online courses before, you’ve probably come across Udemy. It offers more than 700 free courses covering a wide variety of topics. You can browse by category or search for a course based on what you want to study.

Once you’ve found a course you want to take, click “enroll now.” You’ll need to create a free account to continue using your name, email address and a password. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be able to work through the free materials at your own pace and enroll in any free courses on the site. 

Yale University

Open Yale courses

Open Yale Courses is an online resource that provides free access to a variety of introductory-level classes taught by Yale professors. You’ll find each of the available lectures in video, audio and text transcript formats.

You can browse available courses and click on the title of each class for more details. Once you’ve decided on a course to take, click the “download all course pages” link to download a zip file containing all of the resources for that course. You can then work through the materials at your own pace.

Language Learning

If you’re interested in learning a new language, you may be surprised by how many free resources are available online. The websites below provide a variety of language-learning resources for beginner, intermediate and advanced speakers. While these courses may be less structured than those provided by universities, there’s no shortage of material. To get started, click on a link below and select the language you’d like to learn or practice.

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BBC.co.uk Online Language School

BBC

BBC provides courses for more than 30 languages including French, Spanish, German, Italian and Chinese. Under each language, you’ll find a variety of resources that help you learn and practice the language.

To get started, select the language you’re interested in studying and start with the resources that look most interesting to you. That may include a complete 12-week course, resources for teachers or even games such as crosswords with audio. All of the resources are free and available at any time.

DuoLingo

duolingo

Duolingo is designed to make language learning fun. It has a game-like feel that lets you earn points for correct answers and play “beat the clock” in timed practices. That makes it a great option for kids, but it works just as well for any language-learning beginner!

You’ll have to create a free account to get started. With Duolingo, you’ll find personalized exercises and get immediate feedback. This is a great option for learning on-the-go with an app available at the App Store and on Google Play.

USALearns.org

usa learns

USA Learns is a website dedicated to helping people learn the English language. Once you create a free account, you’ll have access to resources that cover English speaking and listening, vocabulary, pronunciation, writing, reading and grammar.

In addition to language, USA Learns also offers a free U.S. Citizenship course including tips for learning about U.S. history and government and answering interview questions. All of the resources provided on the website are available for you to work through at your own pace. 

Coding

Coding is both a hobby and a career that’s been growing rapidly over the past few years. If you’ve ever wondered how to make a GIF, how to build a website or how to develop an app, learning how to code may be a great way to invest your time! The following links provide resources on coding in a variety of languages and using a range of programs.

Code.org

code

Code.org provides free courses and activities to help users learn computer science. You can check out full course catalogs for grades K-5, grades 6-12 and beyond K-12. You’ll also find one-hour tutorials, called “Hour of Code,” that demonstrate basic coding skills and let you practice what you’ve learned.

To get started, create a free account. You’ll simply need to enter your name and email address and then create a password. Once you’ve signed in, you’ll be able to browse available free classes and access additional resources.

Codecademy

Codecademy

Codecademy offers a free basic plan that provides access to interactive lessons and daily practice in coding. When you create your account, just be sure to continue with the basic subscription instead of the “Try it free” option. You can get custom recommendations on where to start or browse available courses on your own.

Popular topics include learning how to code, web development and data science. You can also browse by language including Python 3, HTML and JavaScript. Check out the catalog for a full list of available courses.

The Code Player

the code player

The Code Player provides video style walkthroughs that demonstrate how to code in simple steps. You can learn HTML5, CSS3, Javascript and more with the resources on this site.

You’ll find videos that show you how to create simple animations, webpages, interactive elements and more. Once you’ve found a skill you’re interested in learning, click “play walkthrough” to get started.

Other Open Education Resources

The following resources are great for K-12 students — and adults alike — who are interested in learning more about a specific topic. Whether you’re the parent of a student, an aspiring entrepreneur or just a curious learner, the following websites are definitely worth bookmarking.

Khan Academy

khan academy

Khan Academy focuses on providing supplemental learning materials for students in grades K-12. But there’s a range of topics and resources that could be beneficial to anyone interested in learning more about a certain field.

You can create an account to get started or browse available courses using the tab in the upper-left corner. Once you’ve found a class you’d like to take, click on the course title for more information. Then, click each module to begin watching lectures, reading texts and practicing skills. 

SBA.gov

The U.S. Small Business Administration Learning Center provides 18 courses related to starting and running a business.

Courses include topics such as buying a business, financing options for small businesses, finding and attracting investors and how to write a business plan and. To get started, simply click “view course” and begin working through the material at your own pace.

Wikiversity

Class Central

Wikiversity is a project that’s dedicated to learning resources and research for all levels of education. Its offerings range from pre-school to professional training to informal learning. All of the resources are completely free, and you don’t need an account to access them.

Under the “Courses” tab, you’ll find more than 250 pages that contain courses of varying lengths on a variety of topics. The topics are arranged alphabetically and include subjects ranging from aerodynamics to growing fruit flies. Each course includes objectives, chapters, lectures, assignments, demonstrations and additional literature.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking for materials to help you home school, information to expand a particular skill set or just some new educational resources, the websites listed in this article can help connect you to the right materials.

Keep in mind that most of the free courses available through the resources listed above won’t earn you any transferable credit. Be sure to read all the details before you enroll in a class. And never enter any payment information unless you understand what you’re signing up for. 

For even more courses, resources, and the latest news in online learning, visit Class Central. This free online resource compiles thousands of classes from many of the websites listed above into one easily-searchable platform. You can also browse courses by subject, start date and user ranking.

Class Central

In addition to providing links to thousands of free online classes, Class Central also offers up-to-date news about online learning platforms, resources, ratings and more.

Have you ever taken a free course online? Let us know where you enrolled and tell us about your experience in the comments below!

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