The Best Free (or Cheap) Online Courses

Wondering what to do while you’re quarantined at home? #StayHome


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.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Avatar of Hilary Rowland

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 lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 137 Comments

  1. Avatar of Lauren Plain

    Lauren Plain

    I absolutely love this post. It makes me happy that there are actually people in the world that still want to learn. sure, lots of people go to college, but there would not be as nearly many people in schools if they didn’t earn a degree for going. Hoping everyone will take the time out of their day to look at some of these websites.

  2. Avatar of Angelina Benham

    Angelina Benham

    Your article just earned a spot on my bookmarks. Great stuff!

  3. Avatar of Sara Bragg

    Sara Bragg

    Forget overpriced schools, long days in a crowded classroom, and pitifully poor results. These websites and apps cover myriads of science, art and technology topics. They will teach you practically anything, from making hummus to building apps. There is absolutely no excuse for you not to master a new skill, expand your knowledge, or eventually boost your own pace and in the comfort of your own home. it’s hard to imagine how much easier it can possibly be. I can’t wait to learn something new. Already made an account on Alison. I want to learn Spanish.

  4. Avatar of Zoe Sawyer

    Zoe Sawyer

    Learning new skills can keep our mind sharp as you age and open up to a whole new world of possibilities. Thanks urbanette for the list I am so thankful to you. You have helped me in keeping my new year resolution of learning something new.

  5. Avatar of Alexis Schuler

    Alexis Schuler

    With little more than an internet connection needed, these websites are empowering millions of people from around the world, to build their skills, launch a business, and create meaningful changes in their lives. Thank you urbanette for the information and educating people.

  6. Avatar of Lucinda Hanslow

    Lucinda Hanslow

    Education isn’t about getting that degree. It’s about honing skills that will make graduates desirable in the competitive workplace. These list of the website is so good I didn’t know there were so many of them. I have only heard of Alison and coursera.

  7. Avatar of Lily Amiet

    Lily Amiet

    This list is so amazing, whether you desire to become the next business leaders, learn a new language, or hack the world of traveling, they, ve collected the best website to learn new things online.

  8. Avatar of Lynda Diaz

    Lynda Diaz

    The future of learning is online, where you can learn new things anytime, anywhere.

  9. Avatar of William Dean

    William Dean

    I have read somewhere, she’s responsible for over 3000 marriages. How in the world can someone make some many matches? I can’t find even one wife for my self. I need some tips from her.

  10. Avatar of Luthi Sanders

    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.

Load 10 more comments

Join in the Conversation! Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Urbanette moderates and edits comments for grammar and to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Please use your full name. Moderators can only approve comments written in English.

All content is strictly copyright. Contact us for permission.