The 10 Best Sites for Free College Courses Online
You don’t have to travel to a university or pay tuition to access many learning resources, with a variety of institutions offering free online college classes through open learning initiatives.
While most of these free courses don’t offer credit or certificates (unless you pay a certification fee), they are a great way for you to expand your knowledge and keep up-to-date with your industry. Then, there’s the benefit of being able to learn anywhere, anytime, and at your own pace.
Interested in accessing free college-level courses while at home? Here are some of the best sites to take free online college courses.
EdX is one of the largest massive open online course providers in the world, giving over 14 million users access to free courses from universities. Originally founded by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the site now includes courses from the likes of Boston University, Caltech, and dozens of other prestigious universities from around the world.
You can study courses in a wide range of fields on the website—including science, education, history, medicine, and more. There is also a wide range of free computer programming courses available.
While the courses are free, verified certificates and degrees are not. EdX offers certification and online master’s degrees on the website, but these require users to pay fees or tuition.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was a pioneer in offering online college courses. The university gives you the ability to download and follow their archived courses through its OpenCourseWare platform.
The benefit of using the platform is that you get access to a huge range of actual courses that the university has offered over the years. The downside is that you may still need to purchase textbooks to follow the curricula.
The website also doesn’t offer accreditation or certification, since these are archived courses. But they are a useful resource if you want to expand your knowledge on certain subjects.
Carnegie Mellon University provides free online courses for anyone wishing to access them. In fact, it even offers materials for instructors who wish to teach their students these courses.
For independent learners, there are short courses on topics such as computer science, biology, psychology, and more. The downside is that the number of open courses is much more limited than other open learning websites.
Carnegie Mellon’s open courses are similar to what a paying student would receive minus the course credit or access to an instructor.
Coursera is another online learning platform through which many universities and companies offer their open courses. Like other course providers on the list, you can access courses for free, but you won’t receive accreditation or a certificate without a fee.
Nevertheless, the site provides a great platform for online learning. Major universities such as Duke and Columbia offer courses on the platform. Meanwhile, you can also access online courses from Google and companies such as Intel or Amazon.
If you wish to access the certification and specialization features on the platform, there is a monthly subscription you can buy. However, all individual courses are available to view for free if you choose the audit option. This gives you access to all the material and lectures in the course, minus a certificate or accreditation.
Stanford Online is the website through which Stanford University offers all its online courses. While you would have to pay tuition to complete a certificate or degree through the platform, the university’s open learning courses are available to anyone for free. This includes courses offered by the different university schools, such as Stanford School of Medicine and Stanford Business School.
These open courses are particularly useful for those looking for Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits, which can be earned by completing certain courses on the website without needing to spend a cent.
FutureLearn is another platform that offers courses from universities and organizations around the world. Like the other open learning platforms, courses are available for free but certificates require a fee.
The website has an impressive range of courses across different fields, as well as various courses aimed at improving life skills. For example, FutureLearn has courses dedicated to improving your budgeting skills, online research skills, critical thinking, and job interview skills.
The platform is a great tool for those looking to expand both their academic knowledge and useful everyday skills.
The OpenLearn platform offers content from The Open University— a university that pledges to be open and offer free learning to as many people as possible. While the university has physical classrooms based in the UK, it has also opened its content to anyone online through its OpenLearn website.
The online college courses are laid out extremely well and cover many different topics. A great feature is that it offers courses for differing skill and knowledge levels, from beginners to experts.
Once you have completed a course, you can receive a statement of participation to show potential employers. While this does not count towards university credits, it provides evidence that you have successfully completed courses from The Open University.
If you’re interested in courses from Harvard University, the institution offers many through its online portal. While some of these courses are paid, there are dozens that are also available for free.
Some of the university’s free courses include religious studies, game development, app development, and data science. When you filter according to free courses, over 50 are available, so look at which ones might interest you.
The Open Education Database (OEDb.org) isn’t its own college, but rather a site that helps you explore free online classes from universities. It’s essentially a search engine for online courses. Kyoto University, Utah State University, and Tufts University are a few of the institutions included on the aggregator.
It can be tricky finding available courses using the “degree finder” on the site, so we suggest rather using the search field or scrolling down the page to search courses by category.
10. Class Central
Class Central is another free college course search engine that is user-friendly and easy to sort through. It aggregates courses from universities in different countries, but also other e-learning websites such as EdX and Coursera.
If you don’t want to be limited to searching for courses from one provider or platform, an aggregator like Class Central helps you find the courses that suit you best. The website even has a filter specifically for Ivy League institutions.
Online Learning Is Easier Than Ever
These online courses are a great way to expand your knowledge on certain topics for free. But you can also access online learning through other platforms. Increasingly, free apps are offering people ways to learn new skills with their smartphones.
From coding skills to foreign languages, apps can help you fit learning into your busy schedule. Check out how you can learn a new language with Rosetta Stone or look at these Android apps that will help you learn new skills anywhere, at any time.
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