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5 High-Quality Online Course Platforms That Are 100% Free

4 minute read

By Jessica Allen

Not too long ago, it was necessary to attend an accredited college or university in order to further your education and career. But thanks to the growing power of the internet, there are now multiple high-quality online educational programs that you can complete from the comfort of your own home. Many of the world’s top institutions now offer not only individual courses, but also full degree and professional certificate programs through online platforms.

1. Yale University – Open Courses

Yale University’s Open Courses offer a variety of introductory courses taught by many different teachers and scholars. Each course includes free and open access to lectures recorded at Yale. These lectures are available through video, audio, and text transcript. Along with the recorded lectures, you’ll also receive supplemental materials such as syllabi, problem sets, suggested readings, and exams.

Registration isn’t required, making it easier than ever to learn and enjoy Yale’s Open Courses. One thing to note is that you cannot earn course credit or a degree through these courses.

Courses are available in many different subjects, including:

Yale’s Open Courses are a truly valuable resource for those who love to learn and want to expand their knowledge.

2. edX

edX started with the goal of making higher education more accessible to everyone, rather than limited to those who can afford it. edX features a vast array of courses — over 2800, in fact — many originating from highly-respected universities such as Harvard, MIT, UC San Diego, Georgia Tech, Stanford, and Boston University. It also features various pathways for advancement, with multiple MicroBachelors programs, MicroMasters Programs, Professional Certificates, and more.

These pathways for advancement don’t require an application and are much more affordable than traditional college courses. For instance, MicroBachelors programs cost $166 per credit.

Best of all, you’ll receive real college credit and work toward a degree as you go through the program. For general edX courses that don’t provide college credit, there is no cost at all.

3. Coursera

Coursera believes in giving everyone the power to transform their lives through learning. By partnering with over 200 leading universities to provide job-relevant learning opportunities and degree programs, Coursera has become one of the most beneficial educational platforms online today. Coursera prides itself on being world-class, affordable, flexible, and job relevant. Some of the well-known universities partnered with Coursera include:

On Coursera, you can gain new knowledge with free courses. You can also learn job skills and industry tools starting at just under $10, master a specific skill with specializations starting at $39 per month, or even earn degrees starting at $9,000, which is much more affordable than the average college or university.

Another option is to purchase a Coursera Plus subscription. This subscription provides you with unlimited access to over 3,000 courses, hands-on projects, and job-ready certificate programs for $59 per month or $399 per year.

4. Smartly

Smartly is focused on providing free certificates to launch your career. The catch is that Smartly is selective when it comes to admissions. However, those who are accepted to the self-paced non-degree programs get to earn a certificate for free. The Smartly network includes the Quantic School of Business and Technology and Miya Miya, a high school STEM program.

Currently, Smartly offers a Fundamentals of Business program and is working on releasing an Introduction to Python program, as well as Getting Hired and Getting Ahead programs. Additionally, you can access short, individual business courses through Quantic — all you have to do is sign up.

Anyone interested in propelling their career forward will surely benefit from Smartly.

5. Upgrad

Upgrad is a platform with a “unique ecosystem” that allows you to get ahead of the curve while participating in a free learning experience. You can enroll in courses that cover topics like marketing, business basics, data science, machine learning, and technology. Many of the courses are only a few hours long, making it easy for those with busy lives to find time for further education.

Upgrad’s values can be summarized by the acronym ASPIRE, which stands for:

Upgrad’s cutting-edge content is self-paced, so you can go at your own speed. You’ll also gain access to a live discussion forum where you can ask questions and interact with others who are also taking the course. The best thing about Upgrad? When you successfully complete a course, you’ll receive a certificate completely free of cost.

Those who are ready to take their education and career to the next level have plenty to gain from this free platform.

Main Takeaways

Gone are the days of having to apply, be accepted, and attend a university in order to earn a degree and make yourself hirable. Now, we’re ushering in a new era of free online education that can propel your life forward and help you to reach your goals.

Five of the top online course platforms are Yale University’s Open Courses, edX, Coursera, Smartly, and Upgrad. Each provides free learning opportunities, and many allow you to work toward degrees and professional certificates that can take your education and career to the next level.

Whether you choose just one of these amazing resources or take advantage of all of them, online course platforms are a great way to achieve your career and education goals while enhancing your knowledge.

Jessica Allen



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