The world is constantly changing and growing, and so are all the wonderful things to learn. From changing perspectives on history and studies of people to the world of artificial intelligence and computer science, there’s more to know than ever before.
When you’re out of school, however, finding places to learn new things, create new skills, and expand your horizons can be hard. The internet helps by making courses and training easier to find. Online classes are a great way to continue your education.
We cover 30 of the best online learning sites, offering a mix of free and paid classes, courses, training, professional certificates, and more.
Online courses websites:
- Academic Earth
- Alison Learning Paths
- Canvas Network
- Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative
- General Assembly
- Hack Design
- Harvard Online Courses
- HTML Dog
- Khan Academy
- LinkedIn Learning
- MIT OpenCourseWare
- Open Culture
- Open Yale Courses
- Stanford Engineering Everywhere
1. Academic Earth
Academic Earth is a collection of free online college courses from some of the world’s leading universities and colleges. On the site, you can find specific courses in many subjects and search by university. The platform collects playlists and video groups to help you learn from different services, too.
2. Alison Learning Paths
Alison offers free online courses created by experts in various fields. You’ll find a mix of educators and entrepreneurs creating this content. Some are sponsored by different companies to help with very specific projects, such as applying for different types of certifications and exams.
Classes fall under a few major categories, such as marketing, health, humanities, science, and technology. Some of the more advanced classes have a cost, but the service offers many free online learning paths designed to give you the groundwork to earn a diploma elsewhere.
For those wanting to learn math and how it applies to the real world, BetterExplained offers interesting classes, articles, and lessons. Individual lessons and online course texts are generally free. You can purchase “complete” courses that include PDF versions of textbooks, video lessons, quizzes, and invitations to webinars.
Courses cover a wide range of study areas and complexities, plus some specific places where math rules guide computer programming and web development.
4. Canvas Network
Canvas Network provides educators access to professional development courses and programs, and some of its courses are open to the public. You can sign up with an email and access a wide range of content and lessons. Content is also available under an open license, so those wanting to create content and lesson plans can use what Canvas makes available in some cases.
Canvas offers courses and tools in a variety of languages, making it open and more accessible than some other options on our list.
5. Carnegie Mellon 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, simply create an account and add it to your list of courses. From there, your dashboard will show your “Open & Free” course options and track your classwork status.
You’ll find resources in a variety of fields including business management, computer programming, and chemistry, as well as courses on professional development. Free courses focus on STEM content, but you’ll find some paid plans for other subjects, such as French.
Codecademy is dedicated to teaching people how to code. The free service has helped millions of people with its fast-paced teaching method designed to keep you moving and stay encouraged with supportive groups and a gamified points system.
You can find free courses and paid memberships offering more direct guidance and support for creating a real-world portfolio that you can use to jump-start a freelance career.
The platform offers courses on a number of languages—including PHP, Python, and Ruby—and students are often already building and deploying projects by the time they finish their course.
Coursera is perhaps the biggest name in online courses and education, with a global roster of universities and partners offering more than 7,000 specialized courses. Much of the service is available for free, or you can use it to earn an online degree from an accredited university.
Software companies have also added many of their certification lessons and exams to Coursera, which can help you with things like database management and using enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools.
Between its free courses, paid degrees, and membership programs, Coursera likely offers the largest number of classes, courses, and accreditation support of any on our list.
Drawspace offers full courses and individual lessons to help you master different drawing techniques. The platform provides a mix of free and paid content. You can learn the basics of drawing and painting all the way through advanced elements, drawing people, and using special techniques to create art with tea bags or make your own colors.
If you want to become an artist, Drawspace includes some lessons on working as a visual artist, getting past an artist’s block, and even teaching art to others.
edX is an online learning platform founded by Harvard and MIT. The global nonprofit organization features courses from teachers and universities in topics like computer science, languages, engineering, psychology, writing, electronics, biology, and marketing. Most courses are free. However, you can pay for a verification certificate that attests you’ve completed a course. You can also use the platform to research degree programs.
FutureLearn offers subscribers online courses from over 260 top universities and organizations, such as the University of Glasgow and King’s College London. You can earn certificates at your own pace. Class options include a wide range of courses, such as copywriting for content marketing, generative AI, biochemistry, and an introduction to personal development.
In addition to individual classes, you can sign up for specific tracks to master various disciplines. For example, the Advanced and Applied AI course includes four classes in IT and computer science. The class is accredited by Microsoft and normally takes 15 weeks to complete.
11. General Assembly
Focusing on education in design, business, and technology, General Assembly has campuses in several cities around the world and a comprehensive online education experience. The platform offers a mix of full- and part-time online classes, plus workshops, free training, and coding events.
General Assembly livestreams popular lectures and provides real-time interaction with the lecturer and other students. Costs vary if your choices are one-off lectures or multipart workshops.
The GCFGlobal.org program is an educational tool from the Goodwill Community Foundation (GCF) Global initiative. GCFGlobal has offered classes for nearly 20 years and primarily focuses on essential business skills to help people find work. You’ll also discover life skills around finances, freelance work, internet and computer skills, and creative hobbies.
If you want to learn a core work computer program—getting as specific as learning the differences between Office 2019, 2016, and 2013—this is likely the strongest resource on our list. The service currently offers more than 2,300 lessons on over 200 topics, all for free.
13. Hack Design
Hack Design is a program designed to help you create a career in design and continue to grow. Its main offering is a weekly design lesson delivered via email. Most content is free, and the site provides a curated list of fundamental courses in its Lessons 101 offering.
One thing to note is that Hack Designs doesn’t always follow a traditional course. Because its teachers often come from design firms, some lessons are in the form of blog posts and other materials hosted on those firms’ websites. That said, you’ll get access to talented thought leaders and new experiences, such as games to help you test your abilities.
14. Harvard Online Courses
If you’re interested in studying business development or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), Harvard University has made some of its courses and special projects available online. The Harvard Online Courses program gives you a mix of free and paid programs. Topics vary from the latest in computing trends to learning how early explorers navigated using the stars.
Most courses are self-paced and include lectures from Harvard professors and additional study materials. Every piece of audio or video content comes with a transcript to provide greater accessibility. While Harvard has put thousands of courses online over the years, it offers only a few hundred at any given time. This means most courses have registration deadlines.
15. HTML Dog
This option is a great free way to polish your skills or get help with a specific issue you’re experiencing on a website. However, it doesn’t dive deep into theory or feature long explanations of computer science in general.
Instructables insists hands-on learning is fun. This website is designed to showcase projects where people build physical items, including food. You’ll learn fundamental engineering and even advanced electronics.
From turning old linens into ropes and old coins into rings all the way to creating drones or coding a 3D game, there’s plenty to discover. Projects are mostly submitted by users and hobbyists, so available topics often lean toward pop culture (such as creating props and costumes for characters of popular video games).
Hailed as the “Coursera of Europe,” Berlin-based Iversity has partnered with European and international universities to offer academic courses for free. The company has certificates and verification of course completion for most of its classes, allowing students to verify course participation and learnings with an official document. Costs vary, and there are a few free options.
Businesses can partner with Iversity to train their workforce, or you can take classes specific to a type of work, organization, or software. If Du sprichst Deutsch or Tu parles Français, this service could be a great help.
18. Khan Academy
Khan Academy is a nonprofit online platform providing a free library of educational “micro-lectures.” Focusing on more traditional academic subjects, Khan Academy provides a mix of video and text-based materials in math, science, economics, humanities, and a bit of computer programming. Since Khan Academy is free, it’s a great way to get a taste for a subject before moving on to a more advanced course elsewhere.
The organization expanded its online services for school-age students, and learners of all ages can benefit from the growth in content, lesson plans, and more.
LifeHack is a learning tool focused on making the most of your life by “hacking” it to achieve more or accomplish things easier. The platform offers free assessments, books, and classes, plus a podcast video series. Courses revolve around a specific philosophy the company created to promote a specific type of lifestyle. You can start with free options on things like how to stop procrastinating and how to be more motivated in your daily life.
Of the items on our list, this resource focuses more on how you live and learn instead of learning a specific subject, skill, or trade.
20. LinkedIn Learning
In 2020, veteran online educator Lynda.com became LinkedIn Learning. LinkedIn Learning offers an extensive video skills and tutorial library. Your subscription, which starts at $19.99 per month, also includes LinkedIn’s Premium Career features, which can be useful for growing your career.
The service largely focuses on technology skills like programming in multiple languages. You’ll need a LinkedIn account, and the company says it will provide courses and make recommendations based on your current job, skills, and what professionals like you are learning.
A MasterClass subscription gives users access to over 180 on-demand individual courses. Each option contains video lectures and bonus content, such as class guides. You can watch classes online or download the MasterClass App to access course materials on the go. Prices start at $10 per month for a single account and device, and family plans are also available.
MasterClass courses are taught by world-class industry experts. For example, you can learn cooking from Gordon Ramsey, science from Bill Nye, and basketball skills from Stephen Curry. Courses span a wide range of topics, including business, writing, home and lifestyle, food, and wellness.
22. MIT OpenCourseWare
The MIT OpenCourseWare project offers a broad set of courses 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.
You can find 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.
23. Open Culture
Open Culture collects online education materials and supports lifelong learning with free classes, audio, and video. The nonprofit looks across the internet to find free learning resources and gathers them so they’re easy to browse, sort, and use. Open Culture currently lists more than 1,700 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 course host, such as Coursera or edX.
24. 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 like syllabi, suggested readings, exams, problem sets, and answer keys. Many courses are foundational and introductory reviews of broad areas of study, such as biology, physics, and political science.
Focused on web development, Thinkful is a more intensive option for those wanting to learn quickly. Instead of short courses or lectures, this highly structured program runs for 50 to 60 hours over five months for full-time students. With tuition starting around $8,500, the platform doesn’t come cheap. However, you can defer payment until you get hired, and it includes a money-back guarantee if you don’t get a job.
Thinkful offers several degree tracks, such as software engineering, data analytics, and UX/UI design. Over 80% of Thinkful graduates report receiving a job offer within 180 days of program completion.
Skillcrush is a coding-focused learning company offering 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 charges for more in-depth classes with hands-on support. The bootcamp is designed for beginners to learn computer science and coding, so experience or existing coding knowledge isn’t required.
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 subjects, Skillshare offers an online catalog of video-based creative courses in categories like music, drawing, painting, creative writing, photography, and video. You can also find in-person workshops in multiple cities.
Many classes are available without a membership and for free. Some classes 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.
28. 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 focus on engineering and include the courses taken by the majority of Stanford’s undergraduates. You can also find advanced options on AI and linear system optimization.
Udacity has 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 for your courses monthly as part of what it calls a “nano degree.” Generally, these cost $399 per month, or you can pay for multiple months at a time at a discount. Classes come with real-world projects, tech support, and career services.
Udemy is a personal learning company offering courses at different prices. Most are inexpensive, but costs can scale as the subject matter gets more specialized or complex. The platform is a bit pricier than 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 how to use Microsoft Excel for financial analysis) and student class ratings.
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.
For more free resources and advice, check out Upwork’s Resource Center. Good luck with your classes, study sessions, and wherever this new information may take you.
Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this article. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.
Prices are current at the time of writing and may change over time based on each service’s offerings.
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