Various ways to find free online college courses

If you are the independent student type and can work well on your own without the backup of an instructor or professor, you might think about taking free online courses. If you don’t have the money for college or you don’t want to borrow money for your college education, you might be able to fund a free college education by looking for websites that offer free online college courses. Students in high school can supplement their high school courses by taking free online courses. Students who dropped out of high school, but who still want to pursue an education can take free online classes. Anyone who wants a higher than high school education can find courses they are looking for online.

If you are diligent and can research the various websites that offer free online classes, you could plan your whole college career through free online courses. But this would require a lot of work just to find the exact classes you are looking for. Some of the free online education classes may not be legitimate, so it is important to thoroughly check out the website to see if the courses they are offering are actually free. There could be websites just set up to make money on the hits to their advertisements.

Some online courses may have an instructor or professor that you can speak to, whereas others will be offering courses that you can take completely on your own. Most free online classes will not offer college credits. Some will offer a certificate. Some free online college courses will only offer you the course without grades or college credits and without a professor.

Some online classes are tutorials and you can find a lot of tutorial websites while searching online.

Free online college education at coursera

A good online college education website is coursera. Coursera offers courses at various colleges and universities around the country. According to their website they offer 631 courses and 108 partners.

Their mission statement reads as follows:

“Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. We envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education. We aim to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.”

According to this website you will interact with teachers and classmates, watch short videos, take quizzes and obtain peer-graded assessments. This sounds about as close to college education that is free online as possible.

When you go to their course page you will find approximately 25 categories of classes to choose from such as the arts, computer science, economics and finance, Law, Medicine, Education, Humanities and many more. Click on your choice and a page will come up showing the various choices and when they are offered within that category. Then click on the choice of course within your chosen category. Here is an example: The course is called, Buddhism and Modern Psychology at Princeton University and taught by Robert Wright. Scrolling down you will get a course syllabus, recommended background and suggested reading. Click on the tab “Join for Free” in order to sign up. You must agree to the terms of service and Honor Code.

The courses at coursera are global and can be taken with various universities and colleges around the world such as Peking University, Tel Aviv University and University of Copenhagen.

Free online courses at MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW)

At MIT OCW all courses are public, and they can be accessed by anyone. However, there are no teachers, grades or recognition.  But if anyone really wants an education and can work as a totally independent student, these courses can help to supplement a person’s ongoing college education or be a course just to learn about the subject to fill in one’s education. Also these courses are designed for other professors or teachers who are teaching similar subjects. They can access these courses in order to develop their own courses.


You can find tutorials online in virtually every subject if you can take time to look. Tutorials are great for learning a new language. To find tutorials go to a search engine and write in “tutorials.” You will come up with various tutorials. Scroll through the list and choose. Here are a few tutorials to choose from: Tech Tutorials, Free Training Tutorials and Free Language Tutorials.

Be sure to specify when searching what type of tutorial you are looking for. Just putting “free online tutorials” in your search engine may only come up with computer or web development tutorials. To get language tutorials type in “free online language tutorials.” Likewise, do this for the specific subject you are looking for.

Government agencies

Certain government organizations offer free online training, such as The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)…check out these free courses at the  Emergency Management Institute (EMI)

As an independent student you can design what you want to learn. You may or may not get a college degree through your efforts, but you will have learned what you need to know to get the job you are looking for. In today’s world, employers are looking for specialists. Decide what kind of job or career you are looking for. Then find out the qualifications you will need for that job or career. Look for free online courses that will prepare you for the job or career you want. When you write up your resume in preparation for that special job, you can list all the courses you took in order to qualify for that job. Also, you can use that same resume listing all the courses you took as a prerequisite for applying to the college of your choice as a matriculating student. You may be able to waive certain courses if you can prove your expertise in a course.

You now have four ways to look for and find free online college education through these websites: coursera, MIT OCW, tutorials and government agencies. Keep looking. You might find other free online college education websites. But always make sure that what you are accessing is indeed free.