Online courses make higher education more accessible to students by offering asynchronous scheduling and flexible start dates, as well as lower tuition rates. Undergraduate and graduate students alike choose distance learning programs as a realistic alternative for personal improvement and career advancement.
With the advent of modern technologies and high-speed Internet connections, people can now access to online lectures and forums in a matter of seconds, earning a degree fully online is becoming increasingly feasible. These students may usually communicate with their professors and turn in their papers and other tasks online, avoiding the need to visit campus.
1. MIT OpenCourseWare
The MIT OpenCourseWare project offers a broad set of courses for you to browse however you want. You don’t need to enroll or even sign up for an account. Available courses include the syllabus and instructional materials you need—many even offer free online versions of the textbooks mentioned by the teachers.
There are undergraduate and graduate-level courses in business, energy, fine arts, the humanities, math, science, teaching, and more. You can also sort by audio and video classes if you find that type of content easier to use and more engaging.
2. Open Culture
Open Culture is a website that collects online education materials and supports lifelong learning with free classes, audio, and video. The non-profit looks across the Internet to find free learning resources and gathers them so they’re easy for you to browse, sort, and find something you want to learn. It currently lists more than 1,500 free courses, predominantly from universities.
For some of its classes, you can choose to receive a credit or certificate for completing the class. This option does come with a price and Open Culture earns an affiliate fee from the place that hosts the course, such as Coursera or edX.
3. Open Learning Initiative
Carnegie Mellon University puts most of its classes online and there’s a free section available to anyone. The “independent learner courses” under its Open Learning Initiative are free for anyone. Once you find a course you want to take, you’ll need to create an account and add it to your list of courses. From there, you get a great dashboard that shows your “Open & Free” course options and will track the status of the classwork you perform.
You’ll find resources from business management and computer programming to learning better study and research habits to more traditional courses such as general chemistry, engineering statistics, environmental technology, and more. Free courses focus on STEM content, but you’ll find some paid plans for other subjects, such as French.
4. Open Yale Courses
Yale University makes a broad range of its lectures and classes available through the Open Yale Courses program. Each course includes a full set of class lecture videos featuring Yale professors, as well as course materials including syllabi, suggested readings, exams, problem sets, and answer keys.
There were dozens of courses available at the time of writing this and Yale says it regularly rotates available classes and adds new options. Many courses are foundational and introductory reviews of broad areas of study, such as biology, physics, and political science.
5. Oxford University Podcasts
Oxford University has put many of its lecture series online in the form of podcasts. These free courses typically feature multiple episodes and sometimes multiple professors. You can find everything from biology and gardening to philosophy and business or even global politics, history, and archaeology.
The service offers multiple ways to get these podcasts and videos, whether you watch online, download, or access through a partner service. If you find one you love, you can even embed it on your own website.
Skillcrush is a coding-focused learning company that offers free and paid classes in areas like design, user experience, digital marketing, and HTML coding. The company offers an ongoing free coding bootcamp to help people learn the basics and then charges for more in-depth classes with hands-on support. It is designed for people new to computer science and coding, so there’s no requirement for prior experience or an existing coding knowledge.
Skillshare is a community marketplace for new skills and there’s a good chance it has sponsored your favorite independent artists, YouTubers, or podcasters. With a broad range of different subjects to choose from, Skillshare offers an online catalog of video-based courses, as well as in-person workshops in multiple cities.
Many classes are available to take without a membership and for free. Some classes do have a cost as these teachers use online training as their source of income. You can pay for them individually or get access with a premium membership. Memberships cost either $19 per month or $99 per year and will make paid programs either free or reduce their cost.
8. Stanford Engineering Everywhere
Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE) expands the Stanford experience to students and educators online and at no charge. Classes can be streamed or downloaded. Courses are focused on engineering and include the courses taken by the majority of Stanford’s undergraduates. There are also advanced options on AI and linear system optimization.
Udacity is a platform with a strong focus on technology, with a small but well-crafted selection of courses. If you’re looking to break into data science, AI, or cloud computing, Udacity’s data science program has an impressive roster of teachers from companies like Salesforce and Facebook.
Udacity’s pricing structure allows you to pay monthly for your courses as part of what it calls a “nano degree.” Generally, these cost $339 per month or you can pay for multiple months at a time to save a little. Classes come with real-world projects, tech support, and career services.
Udemy is an established personal learning company that offers courses ranging from $10 to $500 depending on the class and teacher. Most are inexpensive, but as the subject matter gets more specialized or complex, costs can quickly scale. It’s a bit more expensive compared to the other platforms on our list once you start taking multiple classes.
One of the nicest elements of Udemy is that it offers a wide range of classes on traditional educational topics as well as specific business skills—such as specific ways to use Excel for financial analysis—and past students provide ratings for all of these classes.
Start your education journey today
Online learning provides a chance for anyone to continue their education and sharpen their skills. We hope you’ve found this list helpful and are excited to pursue knowledge and grow.