The Best Online Courses, Free or Cheap


The Best Free (or Cheap) Online Courses

Want to become an entrepreneur or advance your career? Learning new skills is easier than you think!


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.

The Best Free (or Cheap) Online 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: 128 Comments

  1. Luthi Sanders

    Online courses have been prevalent for many years now, It just needs a little more boost and a little more advertisement for it to really be considered a new mode of education.

  2. Nancy Smith

    My mom always said too much computer will rot my brain, now I’m gonna show her how I can learn from this computer I have now. thank you for this

  3. Maria Rapier

    Is there a course for being a social justice warrior? Seems like It’s booming nowadays, every time I go online social justice warriors are in the comments section spreading their brand of justice.

  4. Mary Beyer

    Maybe I’m a bit old-fashioned, or maybe I just don’t like change. but I don’t want my kids learning through their computers at home. I just feel having other humans to interact with will benefit them more than being cooped up in their room.

  5. Linda Williams

    Having the convenience of learning at home makes it a double edged sword actually. sure you can learn in comfort, but you can also be so lazy you just forget you even enrolled in an online class.

  6. Carol Joyner

    If let’s say I enrolled and didn’t fully consume what I paid for do I get a refund?

  7. Ani Hoker

    Isn’t it kinda scary? like having a 1on1 tutor? speaking behind the keyboard i can handle, having a video call to a stranger i think i can’t :/

  8. Marina Bozek

    Thank you for this great article, I always learn new things from youtube tutorials. It’s good, but I can’t ask something I didn’t understand, now by having an online tutor I can pace my self to get whatever he’she is teaching me.

  9. Selli Coaze

    Constantly improving oneself is such a beautiful struggle. Nobody knows how vast we can learn at the same time nobody knows how much we can retain of that knowledge. such is the way of life.

  10. Maria Bruce

    A question? do we get a certificate if we finish a course? Like do they send it to us?

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