What Business Courses Are Available Free Online?

By Nadya JosifovLast Updated Jun 24, 2020 7:18:51 PM ET
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In the wake of millions of lost jobs in the midst of the 2020 novel coronavirus pandemic, more people than ever are turning to online sources to bolster their skills by taking free online business courses. In most cases, these courses offer set timelines for completion but with some schedule flexibility built in to help you work around other commitments. They don’t cost any money to take but can help you learn many valuable skills you can apply in your future or current career.

Need some examples? If you’re feeling motivated to start your own business, Udemy has a free course that covers how to develop your business model, create a business plan and research the landscape of that type of business. If you’re eager to learn more about product management, Udacity is offering free access to a course for 30 days (due to the pandemic) to help you learn the elements of product management.

All across the internet, surprising numbers of organizations offer free online business courses, including colleges, universities, private companies, nonprofits and groups of entrepreneurs. Depending on the skill or knowledge you want to gain and the developer of the course, these free online options could include several virtual lectures per week at regular times, a single lengthy session that takes place all at once, or assignments that can be completed at your own pace but with a final deadline.

What Are MOOCs?

It sounds a little rude to refer to something as a MOOC, but in this case, it’s simply an acronym for "massive open online course." Interestingly, the concept isn’t actually new. MOOCs were extremely popular at the start of the last decade. For instance, approximately 160,000 people signed up for only a handful of MOOC courses offered by Stanford University in 2012.

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Despite the continuous rise in the cost of college tuition, the enthusiasm for MOOCs has waned somewhat in the past few years. With so much information freely available via a simple online search, taking a course that focuses on more detailed learning — and takes more effort — hasn’t been as popular. However, MOOCs can still make all the difference when it comes to advancing skills for work, particularly in a specialized field.


Open Culture for MOOCs

Click over to Open Culture to check out a wide range of free online MOOC business courses in one convenient location. Be sure to check the reference dates on all the classes, as the list is comprehensive but sometimes a little out of date on certain topics. For example, one of the items on the list is an audio class offered by Oxford University called "Building a Business: Moving Your Product to the Market." This class covers the fundamentals for building a business, but the course is from 2011. Many things could have happened to alter or even negate the information in the course. It would be better to look for a course that is more current.

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Photo Courtesy: Tumisu/Pixabay

Class Central

At Class Central, you can take a wide selection of free online business courses, ranging from strategic management and leadership training to business accounting, marketing strategies and presentation skills. Well-known universities like Yale University and Duke University host courses, as do institutions like the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

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One popular example of a free course offered by Class Central focuses on teaching you the foundation of marketing in a digital world. The course covers all the basic elements related to digital marketing, including details on how new digital tools are changing the three core elements of marketing: price, placement and promotion.


Approximately 7,000 free classes are offered at Udemy, with many in disciplines that relate to business. You can take free online courses to learn programming code, including HTML, Python and JavaScript. Free classes are also available in math, web development, entrepreneurship and many other fields that could help you get ahead of your competition in the workplace.

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Coursera recently announced that it's taking down its paywall to offer free classes to unemployed workers who may not be able to return to their former jobs due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The popular offerings include classes that focus on healthcare, business, negotiation strategies, computer science and data science.

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As one of the leaders in offering free online business courses, Sophia lets you choose from a wide variety of courses to advance your skills and knowledge in business areas like accounting, project management and macroeconomics. This company also has an established partner network of schools that will count Sophia credits as transfer credits.

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Photo Courtesy: @sophia/Twitter


The well-known training company Kaplan is offering both free and discounted courses to employees who were laid off due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Course options include topics related to building your career and managing financial resources.

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Good news is scarce in early 2020, but the current pandemic has inspired many educators to change the methods — and the cost — of their courses. You no longer have to go to a college or a university to take many business-related courses that can help you expand your career, and a growing number of courses are being offered at no cost, a trend that will hopefully continue to expand.