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Education can help you build new skills and earn valuable new credentials. Formal education is often very expensive, but affordable and even free alternatives are available online. Here’s a sampling of the best education sites for free online courses.

You can take many college courses for free online. Major universities such as Harvard and MIT allow you to “audit” their classes, meaning take them for free. You can also take free online courses from sites that offer free courses in addition to their paid ones.

Why Take Online Courses?

Online courses can open up a world of knowledge. You can learn about personal finance, investing, how to get out of debt add even subjects like history, computer coding, and starting a business. You won’t get college credit for the courses, but in many cases, you can pay for a certificate to show you completed the class with an 80% or better score. 

Even without a certificate, you can add the courses to your resume to show you updated your skills. But most importantly, you can learn new subjects and improve yourself. That can improve your position in the job market, but it can also help you gain important life skills.

For example, you can learn how to budget, negotiate, and deal with debt collectors. These important skills can help you improve your life, increase your prosperity, and add to your well-being.

Let’s look at some of the free education opportunities you can use.

Sites That Offer Free Online Courses

Here are the best sites that offer high-quality courses for free.

1. Khan Academy

Khan Academy logo

Khan Academy is a non-profit site that offers an in-depth education on hundreds of topics. It includes written and video lessons as well as practice exercises. Sal Khan started the academy to help learners and teachers with online tools and assignments. 

How to Access

Sign up for a free account. You can then browse courses and save the ones you want. You will see many courses for school-age students, but you can also find classes for adult learners.

What Courses Do They Offer?

You’ll find a wide range of subjects, including the arts, science, language–and of course, money. Here is a sampling of courses dealing with personal finance:

  • Saving and Budgeting
  • Interest and Debt
  • Investments and Retirement
  • Interest and Debt
  • Taxes

There are many more courses to choose from. This is a partial list. 

What Skills Can You Learn?

Khan Academy courses can teach you how to set up a monthly budget, how to plan your retirement account investments, how to decide how much life insurance your need, and choosing whether to buy or lease a car.

Do They Offer a Certificate?

You fill out a simple form indicating you have at least 80% mastery of the content. This is listed as an educator’s certificate, but anyone can request it. 

You are the only one who verifies your mastery of the material. There is no test to receive a certificate. A Khan certificate will not have as much value as one earned and paid for through a university. However, a certificate indicates you have made an effort to upgrade your skills. 

You earn badges for how many courses you complete. This shows your overall learning progress. 

2. Coursera

Coursera logo

Coursera is a for-profit educational company, but it offers hundreds of free online courses. The “free” option can be a good way to get to know what they offer.

This is easily the most popular learning company online. Many of the free courses have more than 100,000 enrollees, and some have more than a million. “Free” does not necessarily mean easy or shallow. Some free courses take weeks to complete. Many are from prominent schools such as Harvard and Yale.

How to Access

The signup page is not visible when you arrive at the site. You have to select a free course and enter your information in the window that opens. From there, you will see the options to take the course for free or purchase it. 

👉 Tip: You can save money by taking the free version of a course to see if you like it. If you decide you enjoy the lessons and want an official certificate, you can purchase the course later. The content is the same either way.

What Courses Do They Offer?

You will find an impressive variety of courses on topics from psychology to science, data management, and history. 

There are also in-depth courses on financial topics. Here are some samples.

  • Risk Management in Personal Finance
  • Financial Markets
  • Financial Planning
  • Financial Accounting Fundamentals
  • Fundamentals of Machine Learning in Finance

These courses can help you toward a financial career or improve your own knowledge of finance and investing.

What Skills Can You Learn?

Within the courses, you can learn skills such as managing your credit score, creating a budget, setting financial goals, managing investments, and understanding taxes.

Do They Offer Certificates?

Some of the free courses offer certificates, but you usually have to take the paid version of a class to get an official certificate. A free certificate is an indication that you completed a course, an official certificate lets you earn a grade. 

3. edX

edX logo

edX is another site that often charges for courses but offers free online classes as well. Harvard and MIT created it. These are university courses with detailed, challenging subject matter. Though you must pay $50 to $300 for a verified certificate (with graded assignments), you can audit a class for free. The course content is the same whether you take the paid version or the free version. 

How to Access.

Choose the free audit track to take free courses.

What Courses Do They Offer?

Courses cover everything from architecture to literature to medicine, plus numerous financial topics. 

Here are a few of the money-related courses:

  • Financial Technology (fintech)
  • Finance Essentials
  • Blockchain
  • Finance
  • Financial Accounting

What Skills Can You Learn?

Skills you can acquire include calculating the time value of investments, allocating investment types for retirement, creating a budget for buying a house, and mastering cash flow, among many others.

Do They Offer Certificates?

You must pay to get a certificate, but you can take the course for free if you don’t need a certificate.

4. freeCodeCamp

FreeCodeCamp logo

You can study computers, internet technology, and data analysis at freeCodeCamp. This site offers a guide for what order to take courses in to make sure you have a strong foundation. Lessons primarily cover coding and computer science.

How To Access.

Sign up for courses at freeCodeCamp.

What Courses Do They Offer?

The classes here do not specifically address finance, but you can hone your tech knowledge. Courses include:

  • Web Design
  • Information Security
  • How to Code
  • Machine Learning (Artificial Intelligence)

These are highly marketable skills that can improve your value in the job market!

What Skills Can You Learn?

You can learn how to use a variety of coding languages, how to analyze data, how neural networks operate, and how to manage information security. In short, this is the place for acquiring advanced computer skills. 

Do They Offer a Certificate?

Many of the courses offer verified certificates for free.

Free College Courses

You can take free classes directly from universities. Major institutions such as Harvard, Yale, and MIT allow you to audit courses. You won’t get a grade, a certificate, or a degree, but you will have the learning opportunity. There are nearly 1,000 universities and colleges that offer free classes.

Let’s look at three of the best. 

1. Harvard

Hardvard logo

Harvard offers hundreds of free online courses. You take them for free but do not earn college credit. 

How to Access.

Go to the free classes portal

What Courses Do They Offer?

You can take courses on hundreds of topics the university covers. Some of the money-related ones are:

  • Principles of Finance
  • Money and Power: Cultural Approaches to Economic Life
  • Salary negotiation techniques
  • Remote Work Revolution for Everyone
  • FinTech (financial technology)

Note: Free courses are not available at all times. Check the site to see which are currently offered. 

What Skills Can You Learn?

You can learn to track your finances, use apps for investing and budgeting, understand economics, and use effective business principles.

Do They Offer a Certificate?

Free courses at Harvard do not offer certificates.

2. Massachusetts Institue of Technology (MIT)

MIT logo

MIT offers a variety of “open source” (free) courses to the public. 

How to Access.

You do not have to register with MIT. You can simply enroll in any free class

What Free Courses Do They Offer?

This is a technology school, so you can expect a lot of offerings in that area. However, there are many money-related courses. Here are some examples:

  • Real Estate Finance and Investment
  • Finance Theory
  • FinTech: Shaping the Financial World
  • Investments
  • Consumer Finance Markets

Note: Some of the courses offer video lectures and free digital textbooks. 

Do they offer a certificate?

You cannot earn a certificate for MIT’s free courses. 

3. Hillsdale College

Hillsdale college logo

Hillsdale has a limited number of classes you can take for free.

How to Access.

 Search free classes on the site.

What Courses Do They Offer?

You can study a wide range of topics. Some examples:

  • The Principles of Free-Market Economics 
  • Congress: How it Worked and Why it Doesn’t
  • Mathematics and Logic
  • Great Books 101: Ancient to Medieval. 

What Skills Can You Learn?

The courses here are heavy on the humanities and literature, but the Free Market Economics course can teach you how markets and money work.

Do They Offer a Certificate?

Hillstone does not offer certificates for free courses.

Conclusion

Free courses will usually not earn you a degree. Some may not even carry a formal certificate. They do offer something just as important: knowledge. Many of the courses described here are taught through major universities and contain very sophisticated coursework. Mastering the information they contain can give you the tools you need to improve your life professionally and personally.

Knowledge is one of the keys to progress, and you don’t always have to pay to get it!