Here Are the Best Free Online Courses Available

Are you looking for ways to supplement your child’s learning from home? Here’s a list of where to find the best free online courses.


Everyone knows edX, the big name on virtual campus. If you’re looking for serious online courses from the top universities in the world, this is your answer. Founded by MIT and Harvard, edX is a nonprofit platform aiming to change up education and allow people to learn without the usual financial or geographical restraints. There are a whole host of different types of courses on the site, and you can access plenty of the courses for free if you’re just doing this for the good of your own brain.

Courses to check out:


If you’re looking to learn a thing or two from cultural heavyweights like the British Film Institute, step this way. Privately owned by UK public research body The Open University and job-seeking giants The Seek Group, FutureLearn has teamed up with top UK educational and cultural institutions for some niche courses that you can truly sink your teeth into. They’ve even built a section of “boredom busting” courses for people spending a lot of time at home these days — one of which is a virtual tour of Ancient Rome, while another teaches you how to build your own mobile game.

There are short courses and online degrees, depending on what you’re after, and you can access course content for free for 14-day periods, pay for an upgrade for a certificate, or get an unlimited membership (meaning you can get certificates and take as much time as you like to finish the courses), which is $250 for a year. But if you want to just spend two weeks playing student on one course, it’s free online learning!

Courses to check out:

CourseraFree online courses

Founded in 2012 by Stanford computer science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, Coursera works not only with the top universities in the world — Stanford, Duke, Penn, University of Michigan, Imperial College London, Johns Hopkins — but also tech companies like Google and IBM to offer courses in computer science, data science, language, business and other areas. Coursera Plus is the platform’s paid annual subscription, which lets you access the majority of the courses and get certificates. It’s about $400 per year. That being said, most courses are available for free without the accreditation. Hot tip: they’re offering free certificates for 85 of their courses.

Courses to check out:

General Assembly

If you’re looking to learn new skills with some of the preferred talents many employers are looking for in this digital age, General Assembly is a strong place to learn them. Started in 2011 as a humble co-working space, GA is now a global learning business attempting to close the global skills gap. GA runs many online courses in coding, design, data, marketing, business, career development, and more. It’s important to note that GA isn’t accredited by the US Department of Education, however. GA’s full-time and part-time courses are pretty expensive, but other shorter courses are free, like their handy coding course.

Free courses to check out:


Launched in 2010 by founder Eren Bali, Udemy was set up as a means for teachers and instructors to create and run their own online courses. Now it’s pretty huge, with 57,000 instructors around the globe and 150,000 courses that you can open up on multiple devices. Most courses sit around the $15 mark on Udemy, but can go all the way up to $300. Luckily, there are free deals popping up all the time — Mashable’s shopping team publishes them often. Plus, Udemy seems to be aware of the importance of online courses in this new weird world. In April 2020, the team released the Udemy Free Resource Center, a collection of 150 free online courses. Plus, their courses are taught in over 65 languages.

Free courses to check out:


If you’re looking for an online STEAM course, check out Kadenze. Specializing in courses in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, design, music, and math, this platform partners with a whole bunch of the world’s top institutions in these fields — Berklee College of Music, Stanford, Columbia University, Goldsmiths, Paris College of Art, Seoul Institute of the Arts, and more. Kadenze works with two tiers of membership: free and premium, the latter of which allows you to get verified certificates and access to a whole bunch of online courses for $20 per month. Some courses are free without a certificate.

Courses to check out:


Want to learn some sweet skills from someone whose work you admire? Launched in 2011 by Mike Karnjanaprakorn, Skillshare has a whole heap of classes in animation, design, illustration, writing, business, photography, filmmaking, and general lifestyle subjects taught by people who are smashing it at the top of those fields. Skillshare costs $19 per month for the Premium membership, which gets you access to all classes, and they sometimes have good deals if you want to try it out. Luckily, there are plenty of free online classes available too.

Courses to check out:

Honorable mention: Class Central

If you’re looking for reviews of classes before you pick one, Class Central functions as a handy search engine and reviews site for free online courses. You can check out what’s new on platforms like Coursera, edX, Future Learn, and others, or you could look just at Ivy League courses.

Allison Green
Boston Tutoring Services

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