The 8 Best Sites for Free College Courses Online
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College and university courses are costlier than ever, making it difficult for many to afford the tuition required. But the internet has changed the game, with many institutions sharing courses online for free through open learning initiatives.

While most of these free courses don’t offer credit or certificates, 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? Here are some of the best sites to take free college courses online.

1. EdX

edx free courses website
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 around the world. 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 The 11 Best Sites for Free Online Computer Programming Courses The 11 Best Sites for Free Online Computer Programming Courses Using these free online computer programming courses, you can become a great coder without a computer science degree. Read More 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.

 2. MIT OpenCourseware

mit opencourseware website

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was a pioneer in offering online college courses. The university offers you the ability to download and follow their archived courses through their OpenCourseware platform. For example, MIT OpenCourseware offers a free course on interior design The 9 Best Free Online Interior Design Courses You Can Take Right Now The 9 Best Free Online Interior Design Courses You Can Take Right Now These free online interior design courses will teach you everything you need to know to decorate with style. Read More .

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 The 11 Best Sites to Get College Textbooks Online The 11 Best Sites to Get College Textbooks Online Don't let college textbooks empty your pockets every semester. Use these websites to buy or rent cheap college books. Read More 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.

3. Carnegie Mellon OpenLearning

carnegie mellon open learning initiative website
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 many 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.

4. Coursera

coursera website screenshot

Coursera is another online learning platform through which many universities and companies offer their open courses. Like many of the 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 The Best Google Online Courses You Aren't Taking The Best Google Online Courses You Aren't Taking Google offers a vast array of free and paid online courses, and here are the best self-study courses you can take. Read More 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 that Coursera users can access. 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.

5. Stanford Online

stanford online course website

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.

6. FutureLearn

futurelearn online courses website

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.

7. OpenLearn

open university free course website

The OpenLearn platform offers content from The Open University. This university pledges to be open, offering the opportunity to learn for free 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 offer 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.

8. Harvard Online

harvard online courses website

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, at least 71 are available on Harvard Online, so look at which ones might interest you.

Online Learning Is Easier Than Ever

These online courses are a great way to expand your knowledge on certain topics for free. But online learning is not only limited to these 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 these Android apps that will help you learn new skills Quickly & Easily Learn New Skills With These 8 Android Apps Quickly & Easily Learn New Skills With These 8 Android Apps It's so easy to pick up a new skill (or language) by just using one of these apps. Read More anywhere, at any time.

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  1. Bill Holden
    February 10, 2019 at 8:46 am

    I’m leaving this comment for the article about how much google sucks, but when I clicked on the “37 comments” button after said article, I was shown comments regarding an article about online college courses from 2010, so I don’t know how this will work out or where it might end up- almost like google was in control of my comment!
    ——————————
    Thank you for writing about how bad google has become. I’ve been saying it for several years now, and I swear to god nobody believes me when I say using google to search the internet today is nearly useless.

    It amazes me when people that I’ve known for decades look me in the eye and tell me they find everything with google, and right away! This the way everyone thought about google’s search results until about 2005, I’m guessing. Since then, it’s only become worse. Unfortunately, it’s still “better” than any other search engine available, which is terrible for everyone.

    Google use data to amaze me with it’s instantaneous (well, close enough) list of relevant search results, every time- for practically everything I searched for. It was the greatest search engine around because it worked by simply typing in the words you wanted to search with, nothing more. Incredible, it was.

    Then came the need to add quotation marks, “minus” symbols, and other annoying crap that was wasnt previously necessary and made searching a chore.

    The relevancy of results began suffering at some point, but you could still find stuff you could use after a while of looking through pages of garbage search results. The days of google amazing people were long gone already, and it was only around 2008 that we started getting pretty damn rotate down with google. THIs happened so gradually that it was difficult to notice.

    Fast forwatd ro today, gale search results to are an utterly useless, steaming pile of hot garbage that I a man loathe to be forced to view every time I must search the internet now. Google’s idiotic censorship’s and constant “tweaking” of its algorithm and morals in order to pander to the highest bidder (at the expense of relevancy in search results) has made me absolutely hate looking for something on the internet.

    Google, the company that made searching the internet an experience that people didn’t actively hate, has completely destroyed everyone’s ability to search the internet and receive relevant results.

    Google has destroyed the internet. If you can’t search it anymore, it’s dead. Thanks, google.

    Unless you’re looking for an item currently sold on amazon, or anything you’d find on eBay, Wikipedia, “stack exchange” (whatever that means), ehow (the most worthless and infuriating thing in the world besides Pinterest), or that black hole known as Pinterest you’ll need all the luck in the world to find what you’re after. Anything even mildly specific these days is useless to search for, even when you know it currently exists on a website. Google doesn’t care care what you want, and it never will (neither will the people that run it).

    People chuckle and tell me google works just fine for them, but they really need to think when I ask them this question:

    Google used to amaze me with its search results, and modifiers were unnecessary for my query. So why, even after adding plenty of extra things to my query that should help find relevant results, do I have to spend half an hour looking through several pages of irrelevant results only to give up on what I was searching for?

    To be more concise:

    Google used to work amazingly well, so why hasn’t it for such a long time?

    I’d love to hear a plausible reason.

    “ The Internet is so much bigger now” is a very popular answer to my question, but that shouldn’t matter- especially to a powerhouse like google.

    Sorry, I’m not buying it. They did it once, but now they don’t.

    Their only concern is selling more ads and forcing us to see them, even if it screws up the very thing google is famous for..

    It’s because they just don’t care anymore, not if there’s more money to be had.

    That totally sucks, the Internet was kinda neat before google ruined it, years ago.

  2. Anonymous
    August 10, 2015 at 9:17 am

    I would not give more money to Jerry Falwell and his band of merry moralists if Liberty University was the last college of any kind in the Universe. I happen to know that he has enough money coming in from supporters to make that college either a heck of a lot cheaper for all students online and on campus or to make it completely free for everyone especially those that need it to be free. As far as not trusting a place that offers courses for free.....are you insane? In a world where only the truly rich get to have a decent life that came easily and the rest of us have to scrabble to make that decent life happen; I think anything that provides the rest of us with some of the ideas that are presented to the rich is totally worth the while and not worth throwing away. Get away from Liberty University before it sucks your mind of what is truly right and wrong in this world and give yourself the chance to decide for yourself what is right and wrong.
    Run, I say, as fast as your little fingers and/or feet can take you. Run, run,run!!!!--

  3. Online reviews
    November 5, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    i think its just perfect idea to learn online.

  4. Athrun Althrun xala
    October 27, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    The thought of free online college classes scare me. I'm actually attending a paid one because the whole free college just doesn't sit well with me. If your interested in a fully accredited online college check out http://www.luonline.com I assure you that you wont be disappointed.

  5. Athrun Althrun xala
    October 27, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    The thought of free online college classes scare me. I'm actually attending a paid one because the whole free college just doesn't sit well with me. If your interested in a fully accredited online college check out http://www.luonline.com I assure you that you wont be disappointed.

    • Anne
      March 9, 2015 at 4:04 am

      Why would the idea of a free class to learn something not 'sit well' with you??? What a silly comment! Be thankful free knowledge is available. I realize your comment is old but it was just annoying to read it!

      • Jen
        May 11, 2017 at 10:26 pm

        Yes, BOTH times!!!

    • Jen
      May 11, 2017 at 10:25 pm

      Obviously the education you are paying for isn't doing anything positive for your intelligence.

  6. Vince Bardent
    October 26, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Fantastic resource for those looking to further their education! I'm extremely impressed with the vast amount of schools offering free courses and study! I attended Liberty University then http://www.luonline.com to obtain my online Christian degrees

  7. Pankaj C.
    October 17, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Thank you very much!

  8. Jack Simpson
    October 12, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    I was unaware you could take free online college courses. I recently just graduated from Liberty University Online. It was a wonderful experience, but it was not free. I actually just made a donation at http://www.lugiving.com.

  9. Jack Simpson
    October 12, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I was unaware you could take free online college courses. I recently just graduated from Liberty University Online. It was a wonderful experience, but it was not free. I actually just made a donation at http://www.lugiving.com.

  10. Bhoysterpearl
    October 5, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Hi Jeff, as was previously suggested by Digital Art Empire, the Open University offers credited distance learning education, check it out at http://www.open.ac.uk/. Be under no illusion their standards are in no way diluted in comparison to a regular 'brick' university!

  11. Digital Art Empire
    October 5, 2010 at 10:27 am

    yes there is open university

  12. IronHedge
    October 5, 2010 at 1:30 am

    academic Earth would have to be the best resource

  13. Brandt Absolu
    October 4, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    You forgot Connexions (cnx.org), a different kind of open courseware site made up of small knowledge "chunks" developed by Rice University.

  14. Brandt Absolu
    October 4, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    You forgot Connexions (cnx.org), a different kind of open courseware site made up of small knowledge "chunks" developed by Rice University.

    • Dave Drager
      October 4, 2010 at 2:26 pm

      That seems like a great site for finding coursework - I hadn't heard of it before. Thank you!

      • Brandt Absolu
        October 4, 2010 at 3:10 pm

        Yeah, I love it. It's helping me survive engineering statistics right now.

    • Dave Drager
      October 7, 2010 at 12:02 am

      Thanks for the site!

  15. TAA
    October 4, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Great post! Although online education does not require class attendance, it still consists of dynamic interactions with lecturers and professors. Online education involves thorough planning before taking the big steps in finishing a degree. Thanks!

    • Dave Drager
      October 4, 2010 at 11:49 am

      Correct. To get the 'fullest' experience you need to plan out your coursework - these are often available on a university's website. You can emulate a whole 'degree' program from most of these courses with the correct amount of planning.

  16. ali
    October 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    vvv tanx u

  17. Limo in baltimore
    October 2, 2010 at 7:35 am

    WOw really like the khan academy.

  18. Yuvaraj S
    October 1, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    This is also useful...
    http://nptel.iitm.ac.in/

  19. Yuvaraj S
    October 1, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    This is also useful...
    http://nptel.iitm.ac.in/

  20. Dave Drager
    October 1, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    None that I know of. If there were such a loophole it would be exploited to obtain college degrees cheaply. The system is basically set up so that you need to take courses from an 'accredited' course where it can be documented that you did learn the knowledge. Although you can transfer credit in, each class is typically reviewed to make sure it means the university conferring the degree's standards. Otherwise the degree that the university hands out is 'watered down' by having unqualified graduates.

    But, that being said, the whole system is set up to reward people who are good at tests, quizzes and homework - not necessarily who is able to learn the information. I think the worldwide environment is ripe for some sort of 'free' accreditation and validation via online coursework.

  21. Abhijit
    October 1, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Academic earth's great!!!

  22. Jeff
    October 1, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Is there any (legitimate) online colleges that actually award credit for courses? Credits that would transfer to another college?

    • Dave Drager
      October 1, 2010 at 2:29 pm

      None that I know of. If there were such a loophole it would be exploited to obtain college degrees cheaply. The system is basically set up so that you need to take courses from an 'accredited' course where it can be documented that you did learn the knowledge. Although you can transfer credit in, each class is typically reviewed to make sure it means the university conferring the degree's standards. Otherwise the degree that the university hands out is 'watered down' by having unqualified graduates.

      But, that being said, the whole system is set up to reward people who are good at tests, quizzes and homework - not necessarily who is able to learn the information. I think the worldwide environment is ripe for some sort of 'free' accreditation and validation via online coursework.

      • Digital Art Empire
        October 5, 2010 at 8:27 am

        yes there is open university

    • Bhoysterpearl
      October 5, 2010 at 5:33 pm

      Hi Jeff, as was previously suggested by Digital Art Empire, the Open University offers credited distance learning education, check it out at http://www.open.ac.uk/. Be under no illusion their standards are in no way diluted in comparison to a regular 'brick' university!

  23. AnkammaRao
    October 1, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    check out http://freevideolectures.com as well

  24. Saikat Basu
    October 1, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Yale has its own free video lectures too at - http://oyc.yale.edu/

    Then there's Academic Earth which we have covered a few times before.

    Much needed post Dave :)

  25. Saikat Basu
    October 1, 2010 at 6:03 am

    Yale has its own free video lectures too at - http://oyc.yale.edu/Then there's Academic Earth which we have covered a few times before.
    Much needed post Dave :)

  26. Anand
    October 1, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Google awarded $2 million to Khan Academy and bill gates favorite teacher

    • Dave Drager
      October 1, 2010 at 10:16 am

      Read that news not a day or so after I wrote this list up - it was such great news knowing the history of the site and how they started!

  27. AnkammaRao
    October 1, 2010 at 7:25 am

    Also Check http://freevideolectures.com/ . It is the biggest collection Online video Courses. It has more 740+ Online Courses, 18000+ Videos from Top 20+ Universities on 35+ Categories. Most of then are down loadable in MP4, FLV, 3GP, MP3 and Torrents