Sites for Free College Courses – MakeUseOf

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Interested in accessing free college-level courses? Here are some of the best sites to take free online courses.

By Megan Ellis.  April 3, 2020.



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.


1. EdX

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.


2. MIT OpenCourseWare

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.


3. Carnegie Mellon OpenLearning

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.


4. Coursera

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.


5. Stanford Online

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.


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