The Best Online Courses, Free or Cheap


The Best Free (or Cheap) Online Courses

Want to become an entrepreneur or advance your career? It’s easier than you think with these online courses.


When I was a teenager, I taught myself how to code HTML and build a website. Back then, there were no courses on web design, so I had to learn by trial and error. Now that I’m older, I definitely don’t want to stop learning. Learning new things is the key to keeping our brains healthy as we age. Not only does learning keep us feeling young and intelligent, but it helps makes us well-rounded individuals.

The Best Free (or Cheap) Online Courses

 “It’s a shame that for so many people, learning stops when we finish high school or when we finish college. By having this amazing content be available, we would be able to learn something new every time we wanted, whether it’s just to expand our minds or it’s to change our lives.” –  Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera

But even with all this, perhaps the most obvious benefit is that learning a new skill can expand your career opportunities. With the current economy status, jobs are decreasing, unemployment rates are at an all-time high, and college is getting more and more expensive. Statistics say that, in many career tracks, education is the key to increasing your income; but not everyone has the time. But you could. The same classes and knowledge you learn in the classroom, you can learn online. With e-learning, time is no issue because you can learn at your own pace.

Technology and computers are the key industries for making big money right now, and neither of them requires a college education. You can learn the tools and skills online, and companies base hiring decisions on skill tests, samples and how much practice you’ve had. All it takes is an open mind and the drive to learn.

The Best Free (or Cheap) Online Courses

Here are some websites that can teach you a new skill — starting today (click on the site’s name to go to that site):


Take free online courses from the best universities and institutions in the world — Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley, Microsoft, Tsinghua University, The Smithsonian and more, for professional development and to kick-start your higher education. Showcase your skills and knowledge to employers and prove you’ve mastered a class by earning a Verified Certificate, or receive credit to put toward a college or university application.


Recently acquired by LinkedIn, Lynda is filled with online video tutorials, most of which also have accompanying homework. Some of the skills that you can learn are photography, software development, music, business, 3D animation, and computer skills. All the videos feature experts with years of experience, and you can begin at any level. The site is also portable so you can take it on the go! View videos on your laptop, tablet and cell phone. To get access to these hundreds of videos, it costs between $15 and $25 a month. You can also create a video playlist to help organize your different courses.


Join 10 million Alison learners and explore over 800 free online courses from top publishers and A-list schools like Harvard and Stanford. Alison currently offers over 750 courses, many giving you a certificate or diploma, in ten languages. The courses are in a wide range of topics (anything from photography, to grammar and languages, to coding and a range of practical skills) and they take anywhere from 2 to 40 hours to complete. But not to worry — there’s no time limit on completing a course, so you can study entirely at your own pace.


Tuts+ is very popular site with over 5 million users. Their membership prices start at $180 dollars a year, which is about $15 dollars a month. But if you don’t want to pay they have over 16,000 free video tutorials. They’re popular for their tutorials of software like Adobe Creative Suite. They also have videos on learning crafts, which including learning to crochet, make jewelry or decorations and knitting (perfect if you want to start an Etsy store!) If you don’t like video tutorials, they have e-books available for download.

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A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she spends most of her time in France, NYC, London and Switzerland, and travels extensively around the world. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She’s always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 7 Comments

  1. Hannah Mayers

    I love that you focused on free and cheap ones… so many "schools" are totally ripping people off — and for what? A useless degree in a field where degrees don't even matter?

  2. Holy cow – what a list!

  3. Gabrielle Williams

    Good list – online courses are easy and great solution

  4. Francis Woods

    That’s a great idea! The more you know, the more empowered you are!

  5. I definitely want to learn more about WordPress so I can manage my site, myself… thanks for the resources!

  6. What a great resource! Thanks for putting this all together. I’ll share with my friends who want to change careers.

  7. This is GREAT! I’ve been meaning to learn more about video editing. My sister wants to learn how to code (those jobs pay well), so I’ll forward her this list… she hates her current job!! (shhhh!)

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