Best Free Online Education Resources

Free online courses are available to students through various resources. Some of the best free online classes are offered by the world’s leading universities, such as Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford, Berkeley, Harvard and more.

Students who have a particular field of study that is of interest can search through online resources to find the online courses that best suit their needs.

While free classes online do not provide a student with a full degree, they often provide certificates of completion, college credit or sometimes simply the knowledge necessary for a student to learn a new skill or trade. However, it is important for all students considering free classes to be aware of the different resources available in order to find the best. For this information and more, continue reading below.

What Are Free Online Courses?

Open educational resources are becoming more widespread, whether it be through colleges and universities or other non-affiliated educational platforms. Free online college courses can be found through different web resources as well. A few of the most common online courses that are free include:

  • Free basic classes.
  • Free classes that result in a certificate.
  • Free classes that convert to college credit.
  • Classes through for-credit programs.
  • Online classes through a college or university.

Related Article: Job Search Resources

With the various types of free online courses that are available, each has its own benefits. Some of the classes offered for free include certificates of completion, which can be most helpful when building a resume or applying for a master’s degree program. One of the most popular options for free online college courses are the ones that offer credits upon completion that can actually count toward a degree. While students cannot earn an enter master’s degree for free online, many of the resources result in a partial degree. For instance, using the online resource MicroMasters by edX, students can earn credit that amounts to one semester of a master’s degree program. While this may not seem like much to some, it is a great way to begin a master’s program without incurring any enormous tuition fees or debt in the beginning.

Where to Find Free Online Courses

With multiple choices for free online college courses, it may be difficult to know where to start. Students can always begin by deciding if they want free online courses with certificates documenting completion, courses that translate into credits or simply courses from leading universities. Some of the top platforms for free courses online include:

  • MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses)
  • Coursera
  • Udacity
  • edX’s MicroMasters
  • Udemy

Some of the same courses are offered through these different platforms, but ultimately it is up to the student to decide which best fits his or her needs. Many of these platforms were intended to create a place where a free online course could be reached by thousands of students with unlimited opportunity to participate.

Types of Free Online Courses Available

Free online education knows no limits and can include different topics and areas of study. Even if a student wants to brush up on his or her skillsets after graduating many years ago, free online college courses can help. With thousands of free courses online to consider, a few of the subjects include, but are not limited to:

  • Archaeology
  • Architecture
  • Art & Art History
  • Classic courses
  • Communication
  • Demography
  • Design
  • Economics
  • Film
  • Food
  • Geography
  • History
  • Journalism
  • Language
  • Law
  • Literature
  • Linguistics
  • Media Studies
  • Music & Performing Arts
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science

Each of the areas of study will have a different college or university offering the course. For example, Aesthetics & The Philosophy of Art is taught by James Grant of Oxford University, meanwhile, American Economic History is taught by Martha Only of UC Berkeley. Students can find a wide variety of free classes online offered by different colleges and enjoy them all within the umbrella of their chosen topic.

Advantages of Free Online Classes

With the high cost of an education being a concern for many students, free online courses are becoming a preferred option. There are many advantages to choosing a free online education, the most important being the cost. Free online classes offer students a way to begin their coursework without having to spend a dime. Through iTunes, YouTube or even university websites, there are over 45,000 hours of free audio and video lectures that are the same classes being offered to enroll students. Even if free online coursework only offers a partial degree or a semester of credits, that is one semester that a student does not need to pay or take out a student loan for. There are even options that include very low-cost courses at a fraction of the price of an actual degree. An example would be a web development course offered through Udemy, which is offered at $15. This course includes 481 lectures on web development. When considering the average cost of a computer science degree is over $30,000, the low-cost option seems like a perfect choice.

Another important advantage of free online education is the fact that it is available any time of day, any day of the week. There is flexibility in online education, especially when a student can download all the necessary components of the classes and listen or watch them on their own time. This is perfect for students who have a full-time career or wish to learn more without a career or traditional college education.

Full-time employees can certainly benefit from a free online education. Free online learning allows individuals to improve current skill sets which make them a better employee. Whether the courses can help develop skills within a new or existing position, or improving candidacy for another job or promotion, free classes offer a wealth of knowledge.

Disadvantages of Free Online College Courses

The advantages for an online education for free seem plentiful. However, students should be aware that there are disadvantages, too. One of the most obvious disadvantages is the fact that some of these courses do not translate into anything tangible. A student can participate in free online coursework for hours upon hours to gain the knowledge but will not have a degree afterwards to help land a job or career. A certificate of completion is only of a certain value, especially when it comes to high paying careers. Free classes offer little-to-no credential, so it is important for student to weigh his or her level of investment before beginning.

Related Article: What is career counseling?

It might also interest you: