32 Free Online Courses With Certificates of Completion

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. And they are a growing trend in online education: In 2016, 58 million people around the world signed up for at least one MOOC, up from 35 million in 2015.1

However, the big three English-language MOOC providers (Coursera, Udacity, and edX) have moved to a model of offering the actual courses for free, but charging a fee (generally ranging from $30 to $100) 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: only about four percent of people who sign up for MOOCs actually complete them2), 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:

  • Saylor Academy—Saylor is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. that offers more than 70 free self-paced online courses in 17 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.
  • Open2Study—Based in Australia, Open2Study offers nearly 50 courses in a wide range of areas; each course runs over a period of four weeks. If your average score for a course is at least 60 percent, you get a free certificate of completion.
  • 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 College—UK-based Oxford Home Study College offers 15 free online courses that come with certificates of completion. Courses are mainly focused on business management, though things like fashion design and public relations are also available.
  • 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 employees and processes, 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 80 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 College

2. 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 80 hours long, and no prior experience is required.

  • Offered by: Oxford Home Study College

3. Entrepreneurship and Family Business

Explore the key elements that are essential to the success of an entrepreneur. Topics include ethics, leadership characteristics, funding strategies, business plans, and managing both family and non-family employees. This course requires two to four hours of study (which includes watching videos and taking assessments) per week for four weeks.

  • Offered by: Open2Study

4. Sports and Recreation Management

Discover the different roles within the sports and recreation industry, develop leadership skills, and learn how to plan and deliver a sport, fitness, or recreation session focused on your clients' needs. This course runs for four weeks and includes about three hours of videos; you should expect to spend anywhere from two to four hours a week reviewing course material.

  • Offered by: Open2Study

5. Business Law and Ethics

Explore the laws and ethical standards that businesses must abide by. This comprehensive course takes about 133 hours to complete and covers topics like dispute resolution, torts, contracts, property law, and business ethics. Through it, you'll develop a solid understanding of the legal framework that protects both consumers and businesses.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

6. Principles of Marketing

Get a detailed introduction to the art and science of selling a product. This course will teach you how to position a product, conduct marketing research, consider the impact of competition, and make good promotional decisions. You'll also learn how to launch a marketing campaign. The entire course takes about 95 hours to complete.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

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 web design and cyber security to computer architecture and video game development. 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 95 hours.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

8. Responsive Web Design

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. User Experience for the Web

Get an overview of the principles of user experience for the online world. Learn the importance of knowing your users, discover how to make websites accessible, and explore usability evaluation techniques like walkthroughs, usability testing, and competitor analysis. This self-paced course can be started at any time.

  • Offered by: Open2Study

10. 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 learn 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

11. 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

12. Concepts in Game Development

Learn about the relationship between game design, balance, and player experience. This four-week course looks at graphs and data structures that represent game worlds and explores artificial intelligence techniques that can direct the behavior of game characters. Some programming experience is helpful, but not required.

  • Offered by: Open2Study

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:

13. 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 technically required.

  • Offered by: Aquent Gymnasium

14. 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

15. 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 College

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 life in the ocean depths? Explore the workings of the human body? Discover how robots move? No problem. Here are some examples of free online courses with certificates of completion in science:

16. Marine and Antarctic Science

If you're fascinated by life under the sea, check out this course. You will learn about key features of our oceans, explore humans' impact on marine systems, and discuss how marine ecosystems can be monitored and managed. This four-week course is self-paced and includes five hours of videos; plan to spend about two to four hours a week on coursework.

  • Offered by: Open2Study

17. Climate Change

Explore the impacts of climate change. This course looks at how the changing climate is affecting our species, ecosystems, coastlines, food supply, economy, and more. Find out why the timing of solutions is critical, and learn what kind of impact different emission reduction solutions have had. This course runs for four weeks; expect to spend at least a couple hours a week reviewing course materials.

  • Offered by: Open2Study

18. Understanding Common Diseases

Learn how diseases like high blood pressure, heartburn, diabetes, and the common cold affect the human body. This course will explain the functioning of the major body systems, including the cardiovascular system, the gastrointestinal tract, and the respiratory tract. You will learn how disease affects body function and what you can do to best manage your health.

  • Offered by: Open2Study

19. 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 80 hours in total.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

20. Chemistry: Building Blocks of the World

Discover how atoms go together to make most of the materials we use every day. You will discover how different matter is made, examine common chemical reactions, and delve deep into the periodic table and its structure. This introductory course runs for four weeks.

  • Offered by: Open2Study

21. Introduction to Electromagnetism

Explore 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

22. Agriculture and the World We Live In

Examine the role of agriculture in feeding the world. You will discover how climate, soils, and fertilizers affect the way people farm and explore the arguments for and against organic farming. This course will introduce you to the technologies that are transforming agriculture and the sustainability issues that modern farmers face. The four units of this course are spread over four weeks.

  • Offered by: Open2Study

23. Mobile Robotics

Do you know how robots make decisions? This course will teach you about the different ways that robots move themselves around and how they follow logical sequential instructions in order to function. You will learn how to design, implement, and troubleshoot a robotic system, and even build your own mobile robot.

  • Offered by: Open2Study

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 toddlers or engage adults, you can expand your skills without spending a cent. Check out these free online courses with certificates of completion in education:

24. Early Childhood Education

Step into the world of the under-5 set. Explore the stages of child development, the importance of play in early learning, and how caregivers can support the unique needs of each child. You will learn why taking risks is essential for a child's learning, and how early childhood educators can offer positive forms of behavioral guidance. This course runs for four weeks.

  • Offered by: Open2Study

25. Education in a Changing World

See how education has changed over time as society redefines the knowledge, skills, and cultural values it considers most important. This course looks at how cultural understandings of the transition from childhood to adulthood have changed and how education has been shaped by these understandings. You will also examine how literacy is changing as a result of globalization and the information revolution.

  • Offered by: Open2Study

26. Teaching Adult Learners

Develop teaching skills and tactics that create a safe and accountable learning environment for adult students. You will examine the role technology plays in the learning environment and identify key components of effective instructional design. This is a four-week course that requires anywhere from two to four hours of study per week.

  • Offered by: Open2Study

Free Online Courses in the Social Sciences

Free Online Courses with Certificate of CompletionIf your interests run to areas like political science, psychology, 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:

27. 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 134 hours to complete.

  • Offered by: Saylor Academy

28. Foundations of Psychology

Study the biological framework for human behavior and how psychologists understand and diagnose mental health issues such as anxiety and mood disorders. Learn how people cope with stress and how the body reacts when stress levels get too high. This beginner course lays a foundation for further study in psychology.

  • Offered by: Open2Study

29. 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

Free Online Courses in Art and Music

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 music:

30. Art Appreciation and Techniques

Designed for the student with limited experience in the visual arts, this course looks at the elements, media, and methods 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

31. The Art of Photography

Learn practical skills to broaden your understanding of photography as a visual art. This course will teach you how to use key features on your digital camera, how to make more effective compositions, and how to understand the tools and functions of image editing software. You will also explore the work of contemporary photographic artists.

  • Offered by: Open2Study

32. World Music

Discover music traditions outside the normal day-to-day music heard on mass media. You will learn to listen to and analyze the basic elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, texture, and dynamics. Through this course, you will develop an appreciation of different musical traditions and how they create cultural identity.

  • Offered by: Open2Study

How Free Certifications Can Help Your Career

Getting free certifications online can confer real advantages: In a survey of people who had completed MOOCs, 72 percent reported career benefits and 61 percent said they'd received educational benefits as a result of taking their courses.2

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!



1 Class Central, "Monetization Over Massiveness: A Review of MOOC Stats and Trends in 2016," website last visited on July 18, 2017.

2 Harvard Business Review, "Who's Benefiting From MOOCs, and Why," website last visited on July 18, 2017.