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The best websites for free education

Free online education can help you skill-build, develop professionally, or self-improve from your couch. Check out our list of resources offering free online courses.
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(Image: Shutterstock)

Have you heard about free online education but dismissed its potential as a resource? Think again! 

Free online learning can help you out if you need skill training, personal development, or an excuse to expand your mind. Many providers offer high-quality educational content from experts.

No-cost or inexpensive online learning can benefit you if you want help with:

  • Mastering a new language
  • Becoming a professional artist
  • Building a coding portfolio
  • Advancing as a business professional

The list goes on.

Free online education can be accessed through many popular websites and apps. Let us be your guide through this crowded landscape. Read on for our roundup of websites offering free educational content in both general and topic-specific areas.

Best general websites for free education

These online learning platforms have something for everyone. They bring together courses from the world's elite institutions and experts.

Alison

Topics covered: Software development, engineering and construction, health, IT, personal development, management, and more

Paid elements: Degrees and diplomas; costs vary

Alison is an e-learning platform offering free personal development courses and paid degrees. Students can also opt for training in trades such as construction and plumbing. The service also offers free personality and well-being tests to all.

Coursera

Topics covered: Business administration, data science, applied arts and sciences, public health, and more

Paid elements: Degrees, certificates, and business membership; business membership costs $399 annually per member

Coursera, a massive open online course provider, was founded in 2012 by Stanford faculty. The service offers professional development, paid degrees from the bachelor's to postgraduate level, and free courses.


SEE: Coursera review: Pros, cons, and popular courses


CreativeLive

Topics covered: Photography, Adobe Creative Suite, UX, programming, entrepreneurship, self-improvement, music production, and more

Paid elements: Paid courses; costs vary

CreativeLive is an e-learning platform that caters to entrepreneurs and artists. The site offers free and paid courses in creative topics including photography, Adobe Photoshop, and UX. Learners can also find courses in self-improvement, business, and programming.

edX

Topics covered: Web development, risk management, Java, international relations, social work, and more

Paid elements: Bachelor's and master's degrees, bootcamps, professional certifications, and XSeries advanced courses; costs vary

edX is an online learning platform founded by Harvard and MIT alumni. The site offers both a variety of free courses and paid certifications, bootcamps, and degrees in topics including web development, risk management, and Java.

Khan Academy

Topics covered: Computer programming, math, economics, chemistry, finance, history, physics, art, and more

Paid elements: None

Khan Academy is a nonprofit, open-source library of video courses on various topics that caters to K-12 learners worldwide. The site also offers practical courses in standardized test prep, computer programming, and life skills.

MIT OpenCourseWare

Topics covered: Energy, entrepreneurship, environment and sustainability, introductory programming, transportation, and more

Paid elements: None

MIT OpenCourseWare is an extensive online catalog of past MIT course content. While the site does not offer degrees, course credit, or certification, most courses offer exams, notes, and video lectures completely for free.

Udemy

Topics covered: Python, excel, data science, web development, data science, JavaScript, and more

Paid elements: Some paid courses; prices vary

Udemy is a global platform for free and paid online courses based in San Francisco. The service's technology video courses rank among its most popular. They cover topics including Python, web development, and data science


Best websites for professional development

Do you want to embark on a new career, improve your focus at work, or replace a habit with behavior that leads to greater success, happiness, and productivity? These free online coaching and professional guidance sites help you find the right steps to achieve your goals.  

Class Central

Topics covered: Humanities, business, computer science, engineering, data science, personal development, and more

Paid elements: Some paid courses among mostly free courses; costs vary

At Class Central, students can find career development, personal development, and self-improvement resources. The site's extensive partnerships with universities, course providers, and institutions make it a centralized hub for online education.

MaxKnowledge

Topics covered: Teaching, online teaching, career services, campus operations, admissions, and more

Paid elements: Annual subscription costs $195 per five people, $19 for each additional person

MaxKnowledge is a career education platform offering paid certifications and free professional development tutorials. The website, which serves over 3,000 organizations, is in line with standards established by the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE).

The Muse

Topics covered: Resume reviews, interviews, job search strategy, company profiles, resume + LinkedIn review, and more

Paid elements: Site is mostly free, but career coaches and job search services are paid; costs vary on case-by-case basis

The Muse is a free remote job search site that offers paid job coaching services. The website's mentors, coaches, and master coaches can help job searchers of all experience levels with interview tips, resumes, and promotions.


SEE: 10 productivity apps that will transform the way you work


Open Sesame

Topics covered: Compliance, safety, IT services, business skills, wellness, diversity and inclusion, and more

Paid elements: One month free, different plan levels for individuals, small businesses, and enterprises starting at $21.99 per month

Open Sesame is an e-learning platform with an extensive catalog of professional development courses, covering topics such as time management strategies. The site helps organizations find solutions to issues such as wellness, compliance, and safety in industries that include technology, healthcare, and manufacturing.

Open Sesame

Topics covered: Compliance, safety, IT services, business skills, wellness, diversity and inclusion, and more

Paid elements: One month free, different plan levels for individuals, small businesses, and enterprises starting at $21.99 per month

Open Sesame is an e-learning platform with an extensive catalog of professional development courses, covering topics such as time management strategies. The site helps organizations find solutions to issues such as wellness, compliance, and safety in industries that include technology, healthcare, and manufacturing.


Best websites for learning a new language

Free language learning apps offer a convenient pathway to mastering a new language. Though most language learning apps offer paid subscriptions, you can get started for free on the apps listed below.

Babbel

Topics covered: German, Italian, Danish, Portuguese, Swedish, Indonesian, Turkish, Russian, Norwegian, French, and more

Paid elements: $13.99 monthly for a subscription to the pro version, which offers analytics, personalized lesson help, and access to all classes

Babbel is a language-learning app covering speaking, writing, listening, and reading skills. The app (available in free and subscription versions) allows learners to focus on cultural areas of interest to keep lessons relevant and interesting.

Duolingo

Topics covered: Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Hindi, Turkish, Arabic, Russian, Irish, Hebrew, and more

Paid elements: $6.99 monthly for a subscription to Duolingo Plus, which offers personalized lesson support, analytics, and progress tracking

Duolingo is a free language learning app for Android, iOS, and desktop. Lessons follow a game-like format that incentivizes hitting time-based goals. The premium version is ad-free and tracks students' progress.

Memrise

Topics covered: Chinese, Spanish, Yoruba, Japanese, Korean, Danish, Swedish, Mongolian, Turkish, and more

Paid elements: $8.99 monthly for a subscription to the premium version, which offers offline access to the app, analytics, and personalized lesson support

Memrise is a UK-based online language learning platform offering free courses in 25 languages. Lessons are based on flashcard repetitions and videos of native speakers. The paid pro version offers personalized learning support and offline learning.


Best websites for picking up a new hobby or skill

Free online education also provides a route to acquiring a new skill, such as programming. For instance, free web development courses can empower you to build a coding portfolio and master programming problems.

Codecademy

Topics covered: JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Python, Go, Ruby, SQL, C++, Swift, and more

Paid elements: $19.99 monthly for a subscription to the pro version, which offers certifications and personalized lesson support

Codeacademy is an online learning platform that offers free courses in over 12 coding languages, command line, and Git. The site also offers a paid membership option featuring portfolio development, personalized learning plans, and professional certifications.

Check out our Codecademy review here.

Drawspace

Topics covered: Color pencil, acrylic, oils, portraiture, landscape, horizontal and vertical lines, and more

Paid elements: $10 monthly for a subscription to the pro version, which allows access to all courses, not just free ones

Drawspace is an online art education platform offering free tutorials and paid courses taught by professional artists. Students can take courses offered on different artistic techniques and styles at the beginner, intermediate, and expert levels.

General Assembly

Topics covered: Data science, data analytics, computer languages, product management, UX design, and more

Paid elements: Paid and free courses; costs for paid courses can vary from $500-$2,000

General Assembly is a for-profit coding bootcamp that offers courses on a variety of information technology, web development, and software engineering topics. It's among our picks for the best coding bootcamps of 2022. The site offers a free course that teaches HTML, CSS, and JavaScript called Dash.

OpenLearn

Topics covered: Creative writing, history, art, psychology, education, languages, math, and more

Paid elements: None

OpenLearn is a MOOC platform affiliated with the UK's Open University system. The site offers thousands of self-paced, free courses in college subjects, such as creative writing. Many courses award digital badges or statements of participation upon completion.

SkillCrush

Topics covered: JavaScript, Github, react, web and visual design fundamentals, HTML, CSS, Git, and more

Paid elements: The Break into Tech course is $2,499, while specific skill courses cost $549 each; free courses also available

SkillCrush is a coding learning app tailored primarily to women and POC. The service's self-paced Break Into Tech + Job Guaranteed provides 180 days of job search support upon graduation and opportunities to interview with partnered companies.


SEE: 10 Websites to practice coding problems: Our picks


Thinkful

Topics covered: Software engineering, data science, UX/UI design, data analytics, and more

Paid elements: Mostly paid courses range in cost from $7,000-$13,000; free webinars also available

Thinkful is an online coding bootcamp offers a customized learning experience and one-on-one mentor support for bootcamp enrollees. The platform also hosts dozens of webinars each month, which are free and open to the public. Webinar topics include data analytics, career advancement, and intros to programming languages.

SoloLearn

Topics covered: HTML/CSS, Python, JavaScript, SQL, C++, Java, data science, and more

Paid elements: $12.99 monthly for the pro version, which offers personalized lesson support, no ads, and goal-tracking features

SoloLearn is a coding learning app that teaches popular coding languages from the basic to specialist level. Key features include a downloadable offline function for mobile users and a structural chart layout for displaying course progress.

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