One of the best things about the internet age is the ability to share knowledge with anyone at anytime. We share photos, videos, tweets and status updates, and occasionally we even drop some real knowledge. With so many options available, what are the best sources for free classes online for adults?
Not everything you will find online is a credible source of information. Wikipedia is often a great resource, but with it’s user-contributed content, wikipedia is not always accurate. I had to do a double-take when I found this gem years ago when looking up information on the next lunar eclipse:
A lunar eclipse is when the moon turns black and explodes, releasing a poisonous gas, killing all of humanity. Of course this can occur only when the Sun, …
Obviously that is not the true definition of a lunar eclipse, but it is a great example of why you should consider the source whenever you find information online.
Fortunately, there are many trustworthy sources of information online, and many places where you can learn from some of the best institutions in the world for free! Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, include free online college classes that anyone can enroll in. MOOCs provide an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills, advance your career and deliver quality educational experiences at scale.
Some of these free college courses online can be taken on your own schedule, while other free courses are on a set schedule and require you to be available when the material is presented online. Take a look at some of the great options available and decide what you are going to learn about next!
Free Online College Classes that Offer Certificates or Credits
These resources allow you to learn for free, and some of them even go the extra mile by giving free certificates of completion or free college credits! Browse the list of free online learning resources below to see if there is one that is a good fit for you!
Aquent Gymnasium offers free, online courses for digital, creative, and communications professionals to empower them with in-demand skills to advance their careers. Aquent (one of the largest staffing agencies in the world) then helps you to get you jobs with your newly acquired skills and certificates. All classes are completely free.
This site offers hundreds of first year college courses. Learn to code, acquire skills to be a chef, or how to run marketing at a large company. Choose from free courses that not only teach you valuable skills, but could bring you much closer to getting your degree and the career you want.
You can obtain college credit by taking 15 completely tuition-free courses! That’s up to 44 college credit units without the interviews, applications, or tuition. The courses are online, available 24/7, and taken at your own pace. Only for students ages 18+.
Oxford Home Study Centre
OHSC is proud to offer access to 100% free courses online with certificates. Regardless of your age, location and educational background, the free home study courses are open to everyone. Free courses are available on a variety of subjects including:
- Free Construction Management Course
- Free Event Management Course
- Free Internet Marketing Course
- Free Project Management Course
Saylor is a non-profit organization that offers 70+ free self-paced online courses in 17 different areas. Earn credit from 30+ courses transferable to dozens of partner universities. Earn a free certificate of completion if you pass a course’s final exam with a grade of at least 70 percent.
Free Online College Classes that Can Be Audited
The resources for online classes include classes that can be audited for free. These prestigious colleges and universities allow you to have full free access to the coursework, but unfortunately, you will not get credit towards a degree or a certificate. If you would like to get a certificate or credit for the coursework, some of them offer options to sign up (for a fee) and have your assignments graded for credit.
While these sources are well-known and can be a great source for learning, unfortunately they don’t all make it super-easy to find their free classes. Try doing an online search for “free courses at ___” (where blank is the website you’re searching), to find a current list of free courses avaliable.
One of the most exciting sets of free online courses is from the prestigious Harvard University via their MOOCs. These Harvard University MOOCs can be audited for free or choose to receive a verified certificate for a small fee. There is a wide variety of current course choices include the following:
- Data Science: Visualization
- Fat Chance: Probability from the Ground Up
- Improving Your Business Through a Culture of Health
Note that many of these courses require advance signup and do have a set start date. See individual course listings for details.
MIT Open Courseware
Massachusetts Institute of Technology provides an OCW (Open Courseware) format / web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity.
Coursera works with many of the most presitigous universities to offer advanced classes and degrees online. While not all of the classes can be accessed for free, there are over 1,000 that you can “audit” at no charge. Auditing a class will get you get access to all of the course materials, but your assignments will not be handed in or graded, and you will get no certification at the end of the course to prove your new credentials. This is a great option for anyone who loves learning just for the sake of learning, but not ideal for someone who is looking to add certifiable skills to their CV / resume.
Free classes are available from some of the top universities including Stanford, Yale, Georgia Tech, Columbia, and Princeton! Additionally, they have partnered with some of the largest corporations (Google, IBM, PwC) who have launched courses on their platform.
Additionally, Coursera offers financial aid for learners who cannot afford the fee.
Take classes for free on a variety of subjects. You can choose to upgrade your account for a fee which will remove advertising or to pay to receive official certification after your learning has been completed.
With a focus on technical and coding skills, Codecademy helps millions of learners get the skills they need to succeed. On Codecademy, learners discover concepts by actually building things and getting constant feedback from peers. Learning and demonstrating skills become one and the same – and students are left with something tangible to show for their efforts.
Free trial of the PRO version lasts for 7 days. If you’d like to continue, you can pay for the Pro program, or switch to the free membership. Codecademy does not offer certificates, but believes the best way to demonstrate skill is to build a portfolio and show off examples of personal work.
With a focus on having learners earn “nanodegrees”, this online education portal is largely focused on technical and analytics courses. While there is a large selection of free courses, they are not easily searchable from within the Udacity website. External searches for “free udacity courses” will help you find a list of current courses that may be of interest including:
- Creating an Analytical Dataset: Prepare data for analysis and modeling (approx 2 weeks)
- Data Visualization in Tableau: See and understand your data (approx 3 weeks)
- VR Scenes and Objects: Create game objects in Unity (approx 2 weeks)
- Get Your Startup Started: Assess, Hire, and Fund Your Company (approx 3 weeks)
Free and paid classes available on demand / online from Udemy which boasts the world’s largest selection of courses. The majority of classes are not free, but the selection of free classes include:
- Java Tutorial for Complete Beginners Learn to program using the Java programming language – over 1.1 million people enrolled!
- Make Money from Home: How to Build an Online Business – rate 4.5 with over 4,500 reviews!
- Figure Drawing From Life Using The Reilly Technique: Learn to draw the figure from life in less than 45 minutes – over 70k students enrolled
Free Classes in Your City or Local Area
When you want a great reason to get out of the house, look no further than these free local classes for all kinds of different things.
Search by your local area and select “free” under the “Any Price” dropdown to find free classes and event on a wide variety of fun subjects. These courses are more likely to be non-acedemic in nature.
Finish Your Diploma
According to the US Dept of Education, there are over 34 million adults who do not have a high school diploma. The benefits of completeing high school as an adult are numerous and can help unlock new career opportunities and higher pay.
There are thousands of free centers all over the U.S. that are ready to help you pass the high school equivalency test and finish your diploma. Whether you need a test prep center that’s near your house, your job, or your child’s day care, the convenient search by zip code will help you find a place that is perfect for you.
This resource is also available in Spanish at CompletaTuDiploma.org.
Free Fitness & Outdoor-Based Classes
For free fitness and outdoor-based classes, see this post that features 15 places where you can take a free local class including yoga, climbing, archery, fishing, pilates, dance, & more!
Free Classes for Kids
For free in-person classes and skill builders for kids, see this post that features places for kids to learn new things during their Summer break like music, swimming, coding, & more.
Free eBooks & Other Online Learning Resources
Often a great book is the best way to find a new perspective and learn about a different point of view. Browse or search these resources for a free ebooks download of electronic versions of some of the best literary works ever produced!
Free for students and teachers, Khan Academy is a nonprofit that offers lessons from kindergarten through early college including math, grammar, science, history, AP exams, SATs and much more. This is an excellent resource for any students who need extra help or tutoring during their normal classwork.
Project Gutenberg is a library with 60,000+ free eBooks. Choose among free Kindle eBooks and ePubs, then either download free ebooks or read them online. Find the world’s great literature, with focus on older works (where the US copyright has expired). No fee or registration required! No special apps needed! Project Gutenberg eBooks require no special apps to read. Use regular web browsers or eBook readers that are included with computers and mobile devices to read these books. Use the search feature (available on every page) to find something specific or browse the 100 most popular books or 100 most popular authors.
Skillshare is a large online resource with thousands of free classes for career, passions, and lots of subjects in between. Classes are taught by the world’s best practitioners in design, business, music, photography, SEO, and more.
ThoughtCo is a premier reference site with a focus on expert-created education content. Find answers about science and math, humanities and religion, or architecture and the arts in a clear, easy-to-navigate format.
Help yourself stay motivated and energized with these great learning resources!
Which of these resources seems like the best solution to help you learn more and reach your goals?