THE BEST free online courses are a convenient and flexible way to learn new skills and subjects remotely. And with top sites like Coursera, EDX and Udemy offering some of the best courses for nothing, online learning doesn’t have to be pricey either.
What free courses can I do online?
There are many free courses that offer an array of different subjects, which vary in depth and length. While you may not have a degree at the end of it, it's certainly a step in the right direction if you're considering further study, if you want to expand your knowledge in a certain area or delve deeper into a hobby. You no longer have to sign up for a long-term course which costs money, and you can have some flexibility in studying at a pace which suits you.
What are the best free online courses?
The best free online courses are led by authoritative experts in the field and cover a good deal of ground in your chosen subject area. From the outset, a course should outline what level of work is required and how many hours it will take to complete and will be from a reputable educational provider. Many free courses have flexible deadlines to fit around your lifestyle and offer a shareable certificate at the end of the course. But with a huge variety of free courses available, it can be hard to pick which course provider to choose for your online learning. So we’ve studied what each offers in terms of options and areas of expertise to pick the best sites for free online courses around.
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Best variety of free online courses: Coursera
- Find free online courses on Coursera - here
Coursera is probably one of the best-known online learning sites.
It is partnered with universities around the world, including Imperial College London and Stanford.
It also partners with companies including Google and IBM to offer expertise in specific areas - for example, machine learning.
The provider made headlines at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, by making its entire catalogue of 3,800 online courses free to universities. While this sadly ended in December 2020, however, Coursera also offers over 1,000 normally free courses across a wide range of subjects.
Whether it’s Social Media Marketing, an Introduction to Psychology or Graphic Design, there’s plenty of choice.
The company’s online courses cover 11 subject areas across beginner, intermediate, mixed and advanced levels.
Best online courses in humanities: EdX
- Find free online courses on EdX - here
EdX is another well-known online learning site, and it too partners with universities from around the world - such as Harvard and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
It has an impressive 2,000 free courses available from 140 leading institutions. Natural sciences and the humanities make up the key courses offered and popular subject areas are languages and computer science.
EdX courses are generally free (to watch videos and take part in topic discussions), but professional courses come with a cost.
Courses often have a fee attached to any certificate achieved when you complete a course.
Best short online courses: Future Learn
- Find free online courses on Future Learn - here
Future Learn is part-owned by The Open University and offers a clear divide in its courses: there are short courses, ‘microcredentials’, 'Expert Tracks' and online degrees.
Its short courses are its free online courses, providing no-cost access with a cost only attached to printable digital certificates.
Costs for the certificates depend on the course but can be quite affordable compared to other online course providers – starting from around £30.
Popular Future Learn courses change frequently, but the 14 subject areas provide a wide range of options for quick or longer study.
Subject areas are diverse, including creative arts and media, healthcare and medicine, teaching, science and engineering, and maths.
Best variety of online courses: Udemy
- Find free online courses on Udemy - here
Udemy is an online learning platform with the feel of a marketplace.
There are a huge number of free online courses on offer, and 180,000 courses available in total on Udemy’s platform. Currently, over 580 courses are offered for free and a wide range of subjects are covered, from improving personal skills like confidence and productivity to broadening your knowledge in subjects like web development, marketing and animation.
Udemy encourages users to search for their course with a prominent search box, and the platform feels less formal than others.
Courses are run by experts rather than through direct association with universities, but the range of courses and clear course reviews from users are both positives for Udemy.
The platform even offers occasional sales, dropping the price of courses with huge discounts - so you might find a course usually over £100 drop to just over £10.
Best for professionals: LinkedIn Learning
- Find free online courses on LinkedIn Learning - here
Subscribed users of the "social network for professionals" have access to its own dedicated learning platform.
While the courses and the platform isn't strictly free, the company does offer a month's free trial for users to sample the content and see if they want to subscribe later.
LinkedIn Learning offers short courses to help professionals develop skills and abilities which support progression in roles and careers.
Trending and popular courses are highlighted, as well as more personalised individual top picks. LinkedIn Learning also provides clear professional goals, so you can follow ‘learning paths’: for example, ones that take you to a role as a manager, small business owner or digital marketer.
Companies can offer access to LinkedIn Learning, but individuals are able to take advantage, too.
You’ll need to have a LinkedIn subscription though, and the cheapest option is Premium Career at £24.98 a month. However,once you’ve subscribed, you can have your fill of online free courses from the service.
Best for youth and education courses: Open Learn
- Find free online courses on Open Learn - here
The Open University is one of the most well known online course providers. Open Learn is its platform dedicated exclusively to providing free online courses.
Open Learn has almost 1,000 free courses to choose from, and divides them by type, level and resource length. You can choose from ebooks, badged courses and 'lunchtime learning'. There are three levels: introductory, intermediate and advanced. Course lengths range from 1-3 hours to over 24 hours in total, but are limited in topic. Childhood, youth and early years courses are a focus, as are education, learning and working with young people.
Best creative courses: Skillshare
- Find free online courses on Skillshare - here
If you've ever listened to a podcast or watched a YouTube video that features sponsored content, you're probably familiar with US-based company Skillshare.
It has an array of video courses to choose from and they shine in the creative industries, covering creative writing, animation, illustration, film and photography to name just a few.
Unlike many other providers, Skillshare is focused on learning a specific task, many in under an hour. This makes it the perfect place to sharpen your Photoshop skills, learn some writing tricks of the trade, or generally improve your knowledge in a specific area. There are around 2,000 courses available for free, although many are locked behind a monthly subscription fee. Skillshare often run 14-day free trials to give you a taster of what's on offer, but usually you have to pay for Premium membership, the cheapest option is billed annually at $180, which works our at $15 per month (around £11).
Best global health courses: London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
- Find free online courses on London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine -here
World-leader in research and postgraduate education in public and global health, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine offers free online courses in a really broad range of subjects. People are able to tap into their Massive Open Online Courses, Open Study Courses and Open Educational Resources to educate themselves, with the first selection of courses being held by the Futurelearn platform, the second being self-study and the final being a collection of downloadable resources and learning activities. On the Futurelearn platform, you can attend courses for many health-focused issues, from Global Disability and Controlling Vector-Borne Diseases, to Diabetic Eye Disease and A History of Public Health in Post-War Britain. Each of the courses involve discussion forums to debate ideas with fellow learners, learning about their different experiences and perspectives, as well as also including articles, videos, discussion tasks and quizzes.
Best all-free courses: Alison
- Find free online courses on Alison -here
Boasting positive reviews across the board, the Alison free online courses incorporate myriad topics including mathematics, manufacturing, education and engineering, as well as lots of care-focused courses, such as caring for the elderly. It is apparently one of the world's largest platforms for both education and skills training, built with a goal to improve society with widespread skills training and free online learning. All Alison courses are free, but for some, you have to pay a nominal fee for a downloadable MOOC certificate at the end.
Best well-known online courses: Harvard University
- Find free online courses on Harvard University -here
Harvard's free online courses cover a variety of subjects and of course, you'll be able to say that you studied a course at one of the most prestigious universities in the world (although you might elicit some groans from friends). Covering humanities, social sciences, health and medicine, data science, computer science, programming, business and more, the courses range in length with some being just one week long and others being 15 weeks long. As an example, the Food Fermentation: The Science of Cooking with Microbes course requires around two to three hours of your week and to receive a verified certificate, it'll cost you $169 (around £124). You'll be taught by lecturers at Harvard University, which is a huge benefit too.
Best for polishing your job application: Reed Courses
- Find free online courses at Reed Courses - here
Reed claims to be the number one job site in the UK, but that isn't all it offers — through Reed Courses, you can choose from nearly 77,000 courses to make yourself more attractive to prospective employers. Although most of these are paid-for, there are usually a couple of hundred on the site that you can access free of charge. These usually revolve around the idea of finding employment; there are classes on how to jazz up your CV, how to perform better in job interviews, and how to get started in self-employment. Free courses often take the format of webinars, and many give either a certificate of completion or even a regulated qualification.
Best course with free month: Learndirect
- Find online courses at Learndirect - here
Learndirect doesn't do free courses, but often runs sales that mean that you don't pay any course fees for your first month. However, you will have to pay a deposit - usually around £9.99. Their current offer sees come courses discounted by 50% — meaning savings of hundreds or even thousands of pounds. Learndirect claims to have taught more than 4.5 million people new skills, and helped 75,000 businesses by equipping their employees with qualifications. There are a staggering number of accredited courses available at every levels, from GCSEs in English and Maths to qualifications in Dentistry and Foot Health. You can pay upfront, or monthly with 0% interest.
Best paid-for online courses: BBC Maestro
- Find online courses at BBC Maestro - here
BBC Maestro has a focus on creativity that's not usually seen in online courses, with the subscription-based platform aiming to inspire people to explore their creative side.
The service has two offerings: you can buy one course for £80, or add £20 and have access to the full range for a whole year for £100.
You can learn how to be a world-class storyteller with Alan Moore, delve into the mastery of music production with Mark Ronson, take your business to the next level with Peter Jones, or conquer breadmaking with Richard Bertinet, to name just a few included in the expansive course offering.
The courses cover a wide range of disciplines and areas of interest and are perfect for the curious soul who likes to explore different areas of expertise.
Free online courses with certificates
A number of the best free online courses offer certificates upon completion, but not all of the certificates are accredited, and not all of the certificates are free — some providers will ask you to pay a fee if you want one.
- ALISON. ...
- Udemy. ...
- Coursera. ...
- edX. ...
- Udacity. ...
- LinkedIn Learning. ...
- General Assembly. ...
- HubSpot Academy.
- LinkedIn Learning.
- Udemy Business.
- Pluralsight Skills.
- Infosec Skills.
- Corporate Finance Institute.
Free online courses give you a chance to learn from industry experts without spending a dime. The major MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) platform (Udemy, Udacity, Coursera, and edX) have changed their model where the course is free, but printable certification is chargeable.Where is the best place to get online courses? ›
- Khan Academy.
- LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda)
- The Great Courses.
More than 60% said that the experience helped them develop skills in a new job. Around 40% believed the course made them more qualified as job candidates. Whether you're interested in entrepreneurship or a more traditional employee role, a free online course can take your expertise to the next level.Do Coursera certificates matter? ›
Because Coursera certificates are provided by top-level universities and companies, they hold value. They are not just a certificate of completion like many other platforms offer. This means that the courses that you take through Coursera will be valuable to your future and your career.What certifications can I get for free? ›
- HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification Course. ...
- Web design by Udemy. ...
- Google Ads Certification. ...
- Google Fundamentals of Digital Marketing. ...
- Google Analytics Academy Courses. ...
- Free Code Camp certifications. ...
- AWS certification. ...
- IBM Data Science Professional Certificate.
Are Coursera Certificates worth it? On the whole, yes. If you're seeking promotion, looking for a career change, or the skills you are learning are highly sought after, then a Coursera Certificate does have value and is definitely worth the investment. Coursera partners and course providers are world class.Are Google certifications worth it? ›
Yes, the Google certification is well worth the time and effort. These certifications can add value to your resume. So, it is true to say that they can help you land an entry-level job in the IT industry with ease.Which course is best in 2022? ›
- Cloud Computing.
- Project Management.
- Business Intelligence.
- Software Development.
- Cyber Security.
- Digital Marketing.
- Master Of Science In Machine Learning And AI.
- PG Diploma In Data Science.
- PG Diploma In Machine Learning And AI.
- Post Graduate Diploma In Management (PGDM)
- PG Program In Management (PGPM)
- Executive Program In Blockchain Technology Management.
- Product Management Certification Program.
Unfortunately, you can't get a free certificate for completing Coursera courses now. Many MOOC providers have stopped offering free certificates for completing their online courses. You can, however, apply for financial aid for most courses if you can't afford to pay for a certificate.What are the top 10 online courses? ›
- Graphic Design.
- Cyber Security.
- Data Analytics.
- Digital Marketing.
- Social Media Marketing.
- Foreign Language.
- Web Development.
Coursera is better for those seeking academic style, accredited certification. Udemy will suit those less concerned about certification who want access to a massive range of professional, as well as fun, courses.Is skillshare really worth? ›
Skillshare—compared to other expensive online learning platforms—is absolutely worth it for beginners and experts looking for an at-your-own-pace learning experience. A Skillshare account gives you unlimited access to a wide variety of online classes.Do free courses look good on CV? ›
As a strong potential candidate, it's your job to help them reach the right conclusion. When you graduate, your CV will need to showcase that you have actively considered your future career. An excellent way to do that is to use your time now to undertake different free courses which will help you boost your CV.Is a Harvard online certificate worth it? ›
Yes, online courses at Harvard are worth it if you are looking to earn a reputable certificate from a world-famous Ivy League university. Harvard University offers tons of courses in the areas of data science, computer science, education, and business, and having an additional certification is helpful for your career.Do employers care about online certificates? ›
We're here to set the record straight: An online degree holds just as much weight as a traditional degree. In fact, data shows that most employers don't even differentiate between the two types of degrees.Can I put Coursera on my resume? ›
If the course is too basic.
The “IBM Data Science Professional Certificate” on Coursera would be valuable on a resume.
What are the most significant differences between Coursera and edX? Topics: Both platforms offer a diverse range of subjects. However, Coursera focuses more on professional training, for example computer science and business degrees. EdX offers numerous courses in the humanities and the natural sciences.
Yes, if you have the means. The certifications might not have the best recognition, but the skills you gain can be of enormous advantage to your career—even recruiters will agree with that much. If you're not sure how good Coursera courses are, here are some free Coursera courses you can try out.What is the easiest certification to get? ›
- First aid certifications. ...
- Project management certifications. ...
- Software certifications. ...
- Government certifications. ...
- Notary public certification. ...
- Forklift operator license. ...
- Computer programming certifications. ...
- Marketing certifications.
- Medical billing and coding specialist.
- Web designer.
- HVAC technician.
- Truck driver.
- Licensed real estate agent.
- IT support.
- Brick mason.
- Personal trainer.
Con: Degrees cost money
Entry-level courses that take 4-12 hours cost nothing, but degrees that take 2-4 years to complete start off at $9,000. While degrees at Coursera cost less than universities, calculating the total fees can be difficult since costs depend on your location.
They are mostly hours-long courses designed to teach a skill or a group of related skills aimed at immediately impacting your career. Winner: In terms of course structure, Coursera courses are better structured, followed by LinkedIn Learning and then Udemy. Coursera wins.Do colleges care about Coursera? ›
If there is some specialization you want to pursue and you're willing to pay for access to the courses, that's fine. However, these certificates and specializations are unlikely to make a difference in your college admissions process.Can I get a job with just a Google certificate? ›
Upon completion of the Google IT Support or IT Automation with Python Certificates, you will gain access to an exclusive job platform where you can easily apply to opportunities from employers with open IT jobs.Which Google certificate makes the most money? ›
Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect tops the list of highest-paying certifications. In the IT job market, one of the best ways for job seekers to stand out from the rest of the crowd is to have a certification under their belt. It's also a great way to earn a high-paying salary.Do employers care about Google certificates? ›
“Employers are super keen on these certificates because they know they're getting high-quality talent,” Gevelber says. “They also know they're getting more nontraditional talent, and that's really important to a lot of people who are hiring today.”Which course is in demand in 2022? ›
|S No||Most in-demand careers|
- Cyber Security. ...
- Artificial Intelligence. ...
- Web Developer. ...
- Architecture. ...
- Law. ...
- Digital Marketing. ...
- Data Science. ...
- Financial Management.
Some Popular Specializations.
|Digital Marketing Certification Courses||Cyber Security Certification Courses|
|Artificial Intelligence Certification Courses||Business Analytic Certification Courses|
|Data Science Certification Courses||Cloud Computing Certification Courses|
- Business Courses. What Are The Most Successful Online Courses in Business.
- Marketing Courses. ...
- Technology Courses. ...
- Programming Courses. ...
- Blockchain/Cryptocurrency Courses. ...
- Trading Courses. ...
- Video Creation Courses. ...
- Graphic Design Courses.
- Business Analytics.
- Full Stack Development.
- Data Science.
- Artificial Intelligence.
- Digital Marketing.
- Programming Languages.
- Blockchain Technology.
Coursera Courses can be accessed for free, Guided Projects start at $9.99 and Specializations and Professional Certificates from $39.99 a month. A Coursera Plus subscription is $399 per year* and Full degrees start at $9,000.Does Udemy give free certificates? ›
No. Currently only paid, approved courses offer a certificate of completion. Free courses and courses that only include practice tests do not offer a certificate of completion.How much is Udemy certificate? ›
The cost to attend Udemy ranges from Under $10 to $2,500 depending on the qualification, with a median cost of $100.
Free courses on Udemy offer students a simplified learning experience. This simplified experience limits the features that are available in a free course compared to a paid course.Is edX free of cost? ›
Users can audit almost any course on edX for free; however, to access exams or complete a verified certificate, they will need to pay a fee. For many courses, this fee is between $50 and $100. Other courses may cost more, depending on the subject.Is Khan Academy free? ›
Created by experts, Khan Academy's library of trusted, standards-aligned practice and lessons covers math K-12 through early college, grammar, science, history, AP®, SAT®, and more. It's all free for learners and teachers.
Certificates of completion help demonstrate your accomplishments, but please note, Udemy is not an accredited institution. As a result, the certificates cannot be used for formal accreditation.Can I use Udemy certificate in my resume? ›
Recruiters do not consider Udemy certifications a valid thing to include in the education section of your resume unless the certification is recognized both professionally and granted by an accredited institution. That doesn't mean Udemy coursework has no place on your resume.Can I get certificate from Coursera for free courses? ›
You can earn a Course Certificate for most Coursera Courses.Is skillshare for free? ›
Yes, Skillshare is free.
It is entirely possible, however, to sign up for a free month of Skillshare, have access to high-quality online courses, and cancel before the month is up to avoid being charged.
What are the most significant differences between Coursera and edX? Topics: Both platforms offer a diverse range of subjects. However, Coursera focuses more on professional training, for example computer science and business degrees. EdX offers numerous courses in the humanities and the natural sciences.Is Coursera actually free? ›
Coursera offers free online courses, many of them led by top colleges or companies like Google. Learners can access all course materials and there's a small fee for a certificate of completion. Coursera's online classes span a range of topics, from public health to resume writing.Are edX certificates worth anything? ›
edX certificates are absolutely worth it. Although most courses on edX can be taken for free, earning a certificate is a good way to show employers and educational institutions that you're serious about your career or your education.How can I learn anything for free? ›
- Udemy. ...
- edX. ...
- Instructable. ...
- TedEd. ...
- Khan Academy. ...
- SkillShare. ...
- OpenLearn. ...
Khan Academy is a reliable and highly useful source of academic learning. While it caters specifically to students in primary school through the college prep phase, anyone with a hunger to learn can benefit from Khan.Can you get a degree from Khan Academy? ›
Khan Academy is not an accredited school and work done on the site does not count towards a diploma or degree program. Khan Academy is best used as a supplement to your normal schooling, whether that is homeschooling or a traditional school.
Coursera is better for those seeking academic style, accredited certification. Udemy will suit those less concerned about certification who want access to a massive range of professional, as well as fun, courses.Do employers take Udemy seriously? ›
Udemy certificates are not always recognizable by employers. Udemy is not considered an accredited institution, which means courses will not count toward college credit or continuing education units (CEUs).Can you get a job with Udemy? ›
Yes, you can get a job with a Udemy certificate. This is especially true if you are a student who is willing to put in the effort. Udemy certificates can help you gain relevant skills and knowledge that will help you in your job search, but they are not sufficient to obtain high-paying jobs.