How To Take Free Online Courses And Certifications From Top Universities

online free courses

Do you know that you can have access to high-quality education from some of the top colleges and universities? Colleges like MIT, Harvard, Berkley, Boston University, Rice University, Stanford, Princeton, and the list goes on and on. The best part is you don’t have to go through the rigorous and sometimes difficult admission process.

Education has the power to change and unlock your potential. A few classes can change your life. That’s why I can’t recommend free online courses enough. They are the perfect way to learn about a specific subject or gain a new skill. Whether it’s for your career or to gain a personal certificate it will always look great on your resume.

I write about, How To Get An Entry-Level Job With No Experience, and taking a few free online courses may be the edge you need to get noticed.

How Do Free Online Courses Work

Some colleges and universities offer free online courses to not only their students but to anyone else interested in learning specialized skills. Free online courses are not taken to fulfill college credits. These online courses are taught by the college faculty but are not official academic courses. Some online courses may provide you with a certificate of completion while other courses are only learning opportunities.

Some free online courses are self-paced. This allows the student to take as much time as they need to learn the material. However, these courses are designed to be completed in a certain number of weeks. Other free online courses start at a specific time and must be completed by a specific time. The class overviews will provide you with the information you need to know such as the start date and end date, the total hours of materials, and the designed completion timeline.


One of the best free online course providers is edX. This platform offers university-level courses in a variety of subjects, including computer science (CS), data science, engineering, business, and more. Not all of edX’s online courses are free, but there are many free options available. Some of edX’s schools include MIT, Harvard University, UC Berkeley, Boston University, and more. Most edX courses have the option to take the course for free.

On edX, this is called the audit track which allows you temporary access to materials and any non-graded assignments or discussions. Access will typically expire at the end of the free course. The paid versions allow full access after the course is complete, allows access to assignments that will be graded by the instructors, and a certificate of completion.

edX online classes for students gomepage


Another great online course provider is Coursera. Coursera collaborates with universities and companies to offer professional certificates, degrees, and specializations and courses. On Coursera, you can browse topics and skills in areas such as computer science (CS), data science, information technology (IT), language learning, physical science and engineering, and more.

Not everything on Coursera is free, but there are some great free options available. When going to browse, you can filter courses by ‘free’. Coursera collaborates with schools including Stanford University, University of Michigan, Duke University, University of Pennsylvania, and more. Additionally, Coursera collaborates with companies such as Google, IBM, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and more.

coursera online learning courses homepage

Khan Academy

There are also free courses and educational resources at Khan Academy. Khan Academy is for a broad range of academic levels. I recommend it for homeschooling families, high school students, and anyone who is trying to build a strong math foundation. It is also a great resource for high school and college preparation. They offer courses and resources for Pre-K-8th Grade, High School, and College-Level students.

For College-Level students, Khan Academy has courses in areas of mathematics, science, arts and humanities, economics, and more. Khan Academy offers courses and materials that are student-paced and can be started at any time.

Free Courses And Certificates Are Priceless For Many Reasons

The free courses and certificates that can be taken on these platforms are valuable for many reasons. These courses, regardless of whether you receive a certificate or not, can be put on your resume to demonstrate your specialized knowledge. The topics learned through these courses may be applicable to your degree or your career.

You can effectively expand your skillset making you a well-rounded student and employee. Free courses are also great for testing out different subjects if you are considering what to study during college or considering a career change. Start out with a free course before you pay for more advanced courses in the same subject.

I recommend that you create a free account with edX, Coursera, and Khan Academy. Begin by browsing through their different options and topics and identify a few courses that interest you. Check back to edX and Coursera frequently as new dates for courses are added and their catalog of courses continues to grow.