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Free online tech courses with certificates

Information technology professionals may advance their careers without breaking the bank by taking these free online courses with certificates.
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Written by Doug Wintemute, Contributing Writer on

Free online classes with certificates have made professional development more accessible than ever before. Tech students can complete courses to qualify for entry-level careers, and experienced professionals seeking advancement opportunities can master new skills. 

These courses offer accelerated and flexible schedules and give you the chance to show your mastery of a subject.

Here, we examine the benefits of online tech courses and credentials and highlight some of the best options available.

Quick look at free online tech course providers

Name of provider

Select skills taught

Time to complete

Charge for certificate?

Alison

Cybersecurity
Engineering
Product management

A day or less

Yes

edX

Computer science
Data science
Business

Varies

Varies

Free Code Camp

Data visualization
Web design
Python

More than a month

No

FutureLearn

Information technology
Computer science
Management

Varies

Yes

Microsoft Learn

Microsoft Azure
GitHub actions
Outage monitoring

Varies

Varies

OpenLearning

Network administration
Cloud computing
Artificial intelligence

Varies

Varies

Pluralsight

Cybersecurity
Software development
Machine learning

A day or less

Varies

Thinkful

Oracle
Data science
Software engineering

More than a month

Varies

Why take a free online class that offers a certificate?

The free online courses with certificates below may provide numerous benefits. 

Learners can find courses for the easiest programming language to learn and the most difficult. They can specialize in a particular tech field, like cybersecurity, or answer the basic question, is computer science hard? 

Other reasons you might explore these classes include:

  • Try out a new discipline with little risk
  • Low time commitment: Some courses take only a few hours
  • No to low cost
  • No need to travel 
  • Flexible and accelerated training
  • Build new interests and new careers
  • Update your skills and stay on top of industry changes
  • Demonstrate proficiency in a specific discipline or technology
  • Advance their technology careers 
  • Strengthen your resume and job applications

The value certificates hold depend on the employer and the situation. Some employers recognize that these credentials complement a college degree and offer specialized training opportunities. (In fact, colleges also offer undergraduate and graduate certificates, such as web development certificates.)

Other employers may not care about certificates but may value the skills you've learned while earning them. 

But don't confuse certifications vs. certificatesInformation technology certifications are awarded by professional organizations and vendors that meet industry standards. You may see certifications in specific technologies or with specific vendors listed as job requirements.

Where can you find free online courses with certificates?

In the following alphabetical list, we highlight the platforms offering the most useful online computer science courses

Some offer access to online classes from postsecondary institutions, and others feature third-party training programs and credentials. 

Note that for most platforms, while completing a class may be free, obtaining the associated certificate costs a fee. Also, note that while most award certficates, some (such as Microsoft Learn) may also offer certifications.

Alison 

Portrait of young hacker with computer screen reflecting in the man's glasses.
Getty

Location: Online 
Cost: Free to $115.00
Certificate: Yes, with fee
Time to complete: Less than three hours

Alison features more than 3,500 free online classes covering academic, personal, and workplace training. Each study area features three difficulty levels. 

Among the many study topics available, students can pursue online classes with certificates in cybersecurity, engineering, and project management.

Self-paced and accessible through an online dashboard, the courses feature materials provided and reviewed by subject matter and training experts. 

You'll complete module readings and videos before taking an assessment to demonstrate your understanding.

edX  

edx-shutterstock-1816834112.jpg

Location: Online
Cost: Free to $300
Certificate: Yes, some courses with a fee
Time to complete: Self-paced

Offering more than 3,000 courses to more than 35,000 users, edX connects learners to open access courses from educational institutions around the globe. Learners can pursue online classes with certificates in fields like computer science, data science, and business. 

The self-paced studies include video lectures, visualizations, and interactive components, capped off with quizzes and assessments.

The platform offers beginner, intermediate, and advanced training from recognized experts. While you won't enjoy the interaction offered by real-time courses, these classes provide flexibility and accessibility. 

freeCodeCamp

Young woman in hijab checking code implementation and taking notes in planner
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Location: Online
Cost: Free
Certificate: Yes, some courses
Time to complete: 300+ hours

A nonprofit coding community, freeCodeCamp offers free online courses with certificates in responsive web design, data visualization, and algorithms and data structures, along with various Python credentials. 

You train by reading articles, watching videos, and completing lessons. The coding website features build projects and tests that can help guide you through your studies. 

By completing all six of the free online classes with certificates, you'll qualify for the full stack development program certificate. 

FreeCodeCamp's materials and tutorials come from industry professionals and educators, along with a community of thousands of volunteers from around the globe. 

FutureLearn  

woman looking at code on a computer
Shutterstock / Africa Studio

Location: Online
Cost: Free to $189/year
Certificate: Yes, some courses with a fee
Time to complete: Two to 10 weeks

For personal or professional development, FutureLearn offers hundreds of free online courses with certificates. In addition to information technology and computer science, you can take classes in business and management. 

The training includes audio clips, video lectures, articles, and class discussions. Learners must complete quizzes and activities to graduate.

Through FutureLearn, you gain access to courses from universities and industry organizations. Participants who pay for certificate access take tests to qualify for the credentials. 

Microsoft Learn  

microsoft logo with woman in background
Imaginechina/Corbis

Location: Online
Cost: Free to $200
Certificate: Yes, some courses with a fee
Time to complete: Self-paced

Microsoft Learn provides online learners with access to beginner, intermediate, and advanced online certification classes. 

Aimed at current and aspiring developers and administrators, the online platform offers courses for specific roles and technologies. Each module includes videos, articles, activities, and quizzes.

You can progress through many of Microsoft Learn's courses at your own pace, though live and instructor-led courses are available. 

The online classes require participants to pay a fee and pass examinations designed and reviewed by subject matter experts to receive a certification.

Microsoft certifications may help individual professionals start or advance in tech and assist organizations in the training and development of their staff.

OpenLearning 

man working at computer and writing things down on notebook
By Jelena Zelen -- Shutterstock

Location: Online
Cost: Free to $40/month for individuals
Certificate: Yes, some courses with a fee
Time to complete: Varies

OpenLearning provides its nearly three million users with access to more than 275 courses from educational institutions and over 4,000 private courses from other sources. 

By completing multiple OpenLearning classes, you can qualify for credentials from institutions, such as graduate certificates in security and network administration from the University of Newcastle. 

The online classes include activity-based lessons, community discussions, and collaborative projects. 

You can use the training for lifelong learning or to qualify for entry-level careers. Disciplines available include math and science, computers and technology, and engineering. 

Pluralsight  

online-training-company-pluralsight-sets-up-base-in-india.png

Location: Online
Cost: Free to $450/year
Certificate: Yes, some with a fee
Time to complete: One to 10 hours

Pluralsight features more than 1,500 course authors, industry and education professionals who create the video lessons, labs, and adaptive assessments. 

You can access over 50 free online courses in subjects like software development and data. 

Pluralsight also runs online classes preparing paying students for industry certifications in cybersecurity, cloud computing, and machine learning. 

Pluralsight's platform offers beginner-level training plus assessment programs that help experienced professionals measure and upgrade their skills. The platform also hosts a workflow system for information technology leaders and project managers.

Thinkful

Thinkful logo

Location: Online
Cost: Free to $600
Certificate: Yes, some courses with a fee
Time to complete: Three to six months

Thinkful offers courses for students and professionals at all levels, including free webinars and workshops. 

They also host complete coding programs in software engineering, data analytics, and data science with deferred tuition options, personal mentors, and career services. 

Courses feature one-on-one video sessions with industry experts and mentors, along with community collaboration and individual lessons. 

The organization provides online classes with certificates in Oracle, Python, web development, and more. If you're new to coding, try one of Thinkful's free coding tutorials.

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