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31 Free Online Courses With Certificates of Completion

By Crystal Lee
Last Updated June 23, 2020

Summary
Ready to expand your knowledge and career opportunities without paying a dime? Several companies offer free online courses in areas like business, digital technology, communication, science, education, art and design, and the social sciences. You can even boost your resume by earning certificates of completion—all while learning from home.

Free Online Courses with Certificate of CompletionExploring free online courses with certificates of completion can open up a whole new world of educational and career opportunities. After all, expanding your skills and broadening your knowledge base will always serve you well. You can punch up your resume to make yourself more attractive to employers or develop new skills that will help you be more effective in your job; if you don't have to spend any money doing it, there's not much of a downside.

MOOCs (massive open online courses) are college-level courses that are published online and are accessible to anyone in the world for free; many come with a certificate of completion that you can put on your resume or share on social media. MOOCs offer a unique opportunity to learn from industry experts without spending a cent. In 2018 alone, 20 million people around the world signed up for at least one MOOC.

However, the big English-language MOOC providers (Coursera, edX, Udacity, and FutureLearn) operate on a model of offering the actual courses for free, but charging a fee if you want to receive a certificate of completion. In some cases, you have to pay the fee in order to complete exams or access the full course materials.

But there are still plenty of online courses available that come with a certificate of completion and don't cost you a dime. We've compiled a list of examples below, along with some tips on how to make the most of free online training and how free online certifications can boost your career prospects.

 

3 Ways to Get the Most Value Out of Free Training

Getting free certifications online can enhance your productivity and make you a more valuable employee, but just because they're free doesn't mean they don't require any effort. Here are a few tips on how to maximize the benefits of free online training:

1. Choose wisely

Do some research to make sure you actually want to learn whatever the course is teaching. Dropping out of a free course is easy (and many do: fewer than five percent of people who sign up for MOOCs actually complete them), but it can negatively affect your motivation to learn. Find a course that suits you on a topic you want to know more about. Some of the most useful courses offer project-based work that will give you something concrete (besides your certificate) that you can show an employer to demonstrate your competence.

2. Pace yourself

Boost your chances of success by only taking one course at a time. You don't want to exhaust your mental resources. You need to be realistic about what you can fit into your lifestyle: A self-paced course might be a better fit than one with a set schedule, for instance. Make sure to plan out when you can do the work—maybe you could watch videos during your morning bus ride or read course materials just after dinner. Watch that you don't overschedule yourself.

3. Commit to the process

It takes serious mental discipline to keep going with a course even when your interest wanes or your lifestyle gets hectic. If you find your motivation sagging, try to refocus on what skills you hope to acquire and why you wanted to take the course in the first place. Practicing good time-management skills can go a long way toward reducing your stress and keeping your enthusiasm level high.


5 Companies That Offer Free Online Courses With Certificates of Completion

It's easy to find companies that provide free online courses; it's a bit trickier to find those that will also provide a free certificate of completion. Here are some that fit that description:

  • OnlineDegree.com—This website allows you to take as many first-year college courses as you want without paying any tuition, submitting an application, or taking entrance exams. Plus, you can get a certified transcript for all the courses you complete with a passing grade. And the site has direct relationships with schools such as Ashworth College and Southern New Hampshire University that allow you use the courses for college credit in certain associate and bachelor's degree programs.
  • Saylor Academy—Saylor is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. that offers more than 70 free self-paced online courses in 18 different areas. You earn a free certificate of completion if you pass a course's final exam with a grade of at least 70 percent.
  • Aquent Gymnasium—Aquent focuses on courses for digital, creative, and communications professionals. It offers nine free online courses on topics like web design and content development. If you score at least 85 percent on the final exam, you get a free certificate of excellence.
  • Oxford Home Study Centre—UK-based Oxford Home Study Centre offers more than two dozen free online courses that come with certificates of completion. A wide range of courses are available, from marketing and business management to fashion design and public relations.
  • Stanford Online—This site hosts online courses taught by Stanford faculty. Some (but not all) are free and offer a Statement of Accomplishment to those who meet certain criteria, though those criteria vary from course to course.

Free Online Courses in Business and Management

Free Online Courses with Certificate of CompletionBusiness topics are a popular focus for online courses. You can learn how to run a business, manage events, and design marketing campaigns, all without spending a dime. Here are some examples of free online courses with certificates of completion in business and management:

1. Supply Chain Management

Learn how to manage the logistics of getting a product from manufacturers to delivery services to stores and ultimately to consumers. You'll focus on the mechanics of a working supply chain and the process of sourcing operations. This course takes 20 hours to complete, can be started at any time, and can be done from anywhere in the world at your own pace.

  • Offered by: Oxford Home Study Centre

2. Introduction to Marketing and Strategy

Figure out best practices by scrutinizing the branding and product positioning techniques of some of today's most successful companies. This beginner-level course includes instruction in market research, pricing, communications, and more.

  • Offered by: OnlineDegree.com

3. Event Management

Weddings, festivals, and corporate parties all rely on the expertise of an event manager to handle the details and make sure things go off without a hitch. This free course teaches the fundamentals of event creation along with strategies for effective event marketing. The course is designed to be 20 hours long, and no prior experience is required.

  • Offered by: Oxford Home Study Centre

4. Business Law

Explore the laws and ethical standards that businesses must abide by. This course takes about 49 hours to complete and covers topics like dispute resolution, torts, contracts, property law, and business ethics. Through it, you can develop a solid understanding of the legal framework that protects both consumers and businesses.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

5. Small Business Management

Discover the key steps involved in starting and running a business. You'll learn about creating a plan, assembling a team, and securing financing. You'll also get lessons in how to be an effective leader.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

6. Introduction to Accounting and Finance

Do you wish you knew more about cash flow statements and balance sheets? This course provides an overview of the accounting process and the fundamentals of analyzing financial statements and markets.

  • Offered by: OnlineDegree.com

Free Online Courses in Computer Science

Free Online Courses with Certificate of CompletionFree online courses are available on a wide range of computer-related topics, from architecture to web design. The following are just a few examples of free online courses with certificates of completion in computer science:

7. Introduction to Computer Science

Learn the basic concepts of computers and computing. A beginner class specifically designed for students with no programming experience, this course provides an introduction to software development, object-oriented programming, the fundamentals of Java, user-defined methods, and arrays. Completing all course units requires about 52 hours.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

8. Responsive Web Design Fundamentals

Learn what goes into making content look great across different devices. Designed for front-end developers as well as web designers with coding experience, this course covers topics like designing with flexible grids, creating layouts that incorporate typography and fluid media, and using CSS media queries. By the end of the course, you will have built a responsive website from scratch.

  • Offered by: Aquent Gymnasium

9. JavaScript and jQuery Survival Guide

This course uses exercises and coding examples to teach students best practices for adding or changing interactive elements on a website. You'll see how the JavaScript console fits into the front-end web development process and how it can be used to debug problems. You'll need basic-to-intermediate experience with HTML and CSS; knowing the basics of JavaScript will also come in handy.

  • Offered by: Aquent Gymnasium

10. Computer Architecture

Study the complex interactions between hardware and software. Lessons cover a number of important features in computer architecture, including processor arithmetic, pipelining, memory management, and storage, among others. Expect to spend 109 hours on completing this course. You'll need to be a confident programmer with experience in a high-level language such as C or C++.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

11. Introduction to the Internet of Things

Get an overview of the technologies that underpin today's increasingly interconnected devices. This free course focuses on sensors, circuits, networks, embedded systems, and applications.

  • Offered by: Stanford Online

Free Online Courses in Communication

Free Online Courses with Certificate of CompletionThose who work with the written or spoken word can easily train online. Online courses cover topics like writing for the web and speaking in front of a crowd. Check out this list of free online courses with certificates of completion in communication:

12. Writing for Web and Mobile

Use data from tools like Google Analytics and Google Keyword Planner to help you write compelling content that your customers want to read. This course will show you how to craft effective content for email messages, blog posts, and more. A Google Analytics or Google Drive account is recommended, but not actually required.

  • Offered by: Aquent Gymnasium

13. Public Speaking

Examine the elements and factors that go into an effective speech. This course looks at audience analysis techniques, the importance of listening, and how you can train yourself to speak confidently. You will identify effective speaking techniques and learn how to construct informative and persuasive speeches. The 15 units should take about 92 hours in total to complete.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

14. Public Relations

Do you understand the differences between public relations, advertising, and publicity? This course will teach you about the role of public opinion in business success and the importance of reputation management. You'll learn about various PR tools and get a broad overview of public relations in general. No experience is required, and you can start at any time.

  • Offered by: Oxford Home Study Centre

15. Professional Writing

Find out how to craft clear and effective business documents like email messages and presentations. This four-hour course will show you how to tailor your writing to your audience and how to polish your text so that it has an impact.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

Free Online Courses in Science

Free Online Courses with Certificate of CompletionA huge range of free online courses are available to those with a thirst for scientific knowledge. Want to learn about climate change? Explore the workings of the human body? Discover how the universe has evolved? No problem. Here are some examples of free online courses with certificates of completion in science:

16. Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology

Get a detailed introduction to the structure and function of biological macromolecules and cellular components. This course will teach you about proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids; you will also learn about mitosis and meiosis, genetics, and cellular metabolism. There are 10 units in this course; completing them all takes about 57 hours in total.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

17. Climate Change and the Cryosphere

Analyze the impacts of climate change. This course looks at how the melting of ice and snow is affecting the planet's climate, ecosystems, and people.

  • Offered by: OnlineDegree.com

18. Introduction to Electromagnetism

Study waves and oscillations in extended objects and learn about the laws that govern static electricity and magnetism. This course also covers optics and gives a brief overview of Einstein's theory of special relativity. The average student takes about 97 hours to complete all units in this course. A basic understanding of calculus and classic mechanics is required.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

19. Introduction to Cosmology

Begin exploring the formation and development of the universe. This introductory course focuses on stars, planets, and galaxies, and how the night sky changes over time.

  • Offered by: OnlineDegree.com

20. General Chemistry

Delve into the structure, properties, and behavior of matter. Learn how atoms behave, get an introduction to chemical equations, and investigate different chemical reactions.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

Free Online Courses in Education

Free Online Courses with Certificate of CompletionThe education field easily lends itself to online training. Whether you want to learn how to teach children or engage adults, you can expand your skills without spending a cent. Check out these free online courses with certificates of completion in education:

21. Language and Literacy in Education

Boost your ability to support language development in K-12 students. You'll see how linguistic principles like phonology, semantics, orthography, and syntax relate to classroom teaching. You'll also explore issues of dialect variation and second language learning.

  • Offered by: OnlineDegree.com

22. Teaching Assistant

Get a broad overview of the role of a teaching assistant. You'll learn about the duties of the position as well as the skills that are required.

  • Offered by: Oxford Home Study Centre

Free Online Courses in the Social Sciences

Free Online Courses with Certificate of CompletionIf your interests run to areas like political science, psychology, history, or economics, you can broaden your knowledge base through online courses that don't cost a thing. The following are a few free online courses with certificates of completion in the social sciences:

23. Introduction to Western Political Thought

From Plato to Rousseau, this course looks at the major texts and figures in the history of political thought. Topics include power, justice, rights, law, and other issues relating to political science. You will learn how different views of human nature inform the design of government and the relationship between the citizen and the state. This comprehensive course requires about 120 hours to complete.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

24. Democratic Development

Examine the cultural, political, social, institutional, economic, and international forces that affect the development of democracy. You'll explore issues related to legitimacy, inequality, ethnicity, corruption, and other areas.

  • Offered by: Stanford Online

25. Turning Points in Modern History

Look at 24 critical moments in history and see how they formed the world as we know it today. Focusing on the period from the 15th century to the present, this course examines events like the American Revolution, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the emergence of social media.

  • Offered by: OnlineDegree.com

26. Principles of Microeconomics

Analyze the choices and decisions individuals make to manage scarce resources after evaluating resources, costs, and trade-offs. Learn about consumer and producer behavior, the nature of supply and demand, and the different kinds of markets and how they function. This course is made up of seven units that take approximately 83 hours to complete.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

27. Introduction to Psychology

Build a base of knowledge in the key areas of the discipline, including memory, language, thinking, learning, and cognitive development. This beginner course lays a foundation for further study in psychology.

  • Offered by: OnlineDegree.com

28. Ethics and Public Policy

Explore the impact that ethical, religious, moral, and cultural principles have on the development of public policy. You'll consider issues like equality, justice, freedom, security, and human rights.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

Free Online Courses in Art and Design

Free Online Courses with Certificate of CompletionIf the creative arts are your passion, you can probably find an online course that will pique your interest without picking your pocket. Here is a sample of free online courses with certificates of completion in art and design:

29. Art Appreciation

Designed for the student with limited experience in the visual arts, this course looks at the elements, methods, and media used in creative thought and processes. You will explore different visual art forms and their cultural connections. By the end of the course, you will be able to connect formal attributes of art with their meaning and expression.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

30. Fashion Design

Are you curious about the workings of the modern fashion industry? Through this free course, you can learn about the business aspects of fashion as well as the essential principles and elements of clothing design.

  • Offered by: Oxford Home Study Centre

31. Interior Design

Get a sense of how function, style, and mood factor into the overall design of a space. In this course, you'll explore principles like scale, balance, unity, and contrast. You'll also learn about building and maintaining relationships with clients.

  • Offered by: Oxford Home Study Centre

How Free Certifications Can Help Your Career

Getting free certifications online can confer real advantages: In a survey published in the Harvard Business Review, 72 percent of people who had completed MOOCs reported receiving career benefits as a result. And 61 percent said they'd received educational benefits.

Completing courses and getting certifications shows an employer that you are motivated, disciplined, and curious. It demonstrates that you are committed to lifelong learning and professional development. These are all things that can set you apart from other job applicants. Don't be afraid to list online courses on your resume or LinkedIn profile; they are great indicators of your drive to learn new skills and add value to a company.

Ultimately, what employers are really interested in is what you can do—learning new things is great, but it's what you do with your knowledge that matters. Some courses require you to complete some sort of practical hands-on project, which can be very useful when it comes to selling yourself to an employer. But as long as you can talk about what you've learned and how your newfound skills are relevant to different jobs, free online certifications can be a boon to your career development.


Reach Your Goals

Exploring free online courses with certificates of completion can be worth your while if you're looking to improve your resume or learn new skills. If you're looking for more in-depth career training and more marketable credentials, then a vocational school might make sense for you. Vocational schools offer job-focused training that can prepare you for a wide range of different occupations. Start exploring programs in your area by entering your zip code into the school finder below!