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Advice / Career Paths / Training & Development

47 Online Classes That’ll Help Your Career (and They’re Free!)

Looking for a new job? A unique skill could easily set you apart from the hundreds of other applicants. Worked in the same position for a long time? Expertise in a new field could be the factor that gets you the promotion. And even if you’re a senior-level manager who’s totally content, getting experience in an unfamiliar area shows your team how much you value learning something new.

Before you start stressing, know that we’re not asking you to sacrifice your life to a droning professor. Instead, we’re suggesting devoting a few hours every week to advancing your career with an online class. (Online equals on your couch, in your sweats, and with an optional glass of wine or mug of hot chocolate.)

Plus, you don’t have to spend hours searching for what to learn and where to learn it, because we curated a list of 47 online classes from awesome resources across the web. The best part? All of them are free. Whether you’re interested in learning programming, graphic design, writing, or a new language, there’s bound to be a class for you.


1. Harvard University’s Introduction to Computer Science, edX

The on-campus version of this course is Harvard’s largest. You’ll learn how to think algorithmically, solve programming problems efficiently, and become familiar with a number of languages including CSS, HTML, and PHP. The class is free, but you can pay to add a HarvardX Verified Certificate.

Duration: 9 lessons

2. An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python (Part 1), Coursera

Anyone who’s learned high school math is welcome to take this class, developed by Rice University. You’ll learn to build simple, interactive games like Pong, Blackjack, and Asteroids using a browser-based program developed specifically for this class.

Note: free with trial

Duration: 3-4 hours a week/5 weeks

3.Java Programming Basics, Udacity

Java is the core language used in developing Android apps and is commonly used in back-end web development. If you’ve never programmed before but are interested in entering either of these fields, then this course is a perfect spot for you to start.

Duration: 6 weeks/5 lessons

4. Learn HTML, Codecademy

HTML is a foundational coding language for displaying content on websites. Even if you don’t want to be a coder, if you work with websites in any way, HTML knowledge is sure to come in handy. You can view the lessons for free, but you’ll need to upgrade to Pro to earn a certificate of completion. (Don’t worry, there’s a free trial!)

Duration: 9 hours

5. HTML5 Coding Essentials and Best Practices, edX

Anyone with basic knowledge of HTML and familiarity with CSS can take this course taught by the World Wide Web Consortium (also known as W3C). You’ll learn to use simplified HTML5 elements, animate fun web graphics, and practice coding techniques through multiple interactive exercises.

Duration: 6 weeks/6-8 hours a week

6. Dash, General Assembly

Dash teaches HTML, CSS, and JavaScript by giving you step-by-step instructions on creating fun websites. We gave it a go, and loved how the user workspace lets you see the output of your code in real time.

Duration: 4 projects

7. Introduction to C++, MIT OpenCourseWare

This four-week course provides a fast-paced introduction to C and C++ programming languages. You’ll learn the required background knowledge, including memory management, pointers, and object-oriented programming—and practice finding bugs when you inevitably use any of those incorrectly.

Duration: 10 lectures, 5 assignments

8. This Is How You Make iPhone Apps, Udemy

This course will teach you how to create apps and submit your first fully functional app to the App Store before the end of the day.

Duration: 4.5 hours/23 lessons

Read More: 10 Online Coding Classes for Total Beginners (and They’re All Free!)


9. Beginner’s Guide to Image Editing in Photoshop, Pluralsight

Learn the basics of photoshop, including introductory terms, definitions, tools, and techniques. You’ll be surprised by how much you can learn about image editing in 90 minutes!

Note: free with trial

Duration: 1 hour, 31 minutes

10. Professional Logo Design in Adobe Illustrator, Udemy

Build an eye-catching company brand by making a logo that stands out. This course shows you how to use Illustrator to do it.

Duration: 7 hours, 22 minutes/45 lectures

11. Fundamentals of Graphic Design, Coursera

With this class from CalArts, you can learn the basics of design and color theory as well as the fundamental building blocks of graphic design: imagemaking, typography, composition, color, and shape. Access to, and basic knowledge of, Adobe Creative Suite will help you in this class, but it’s not mandatory.

Duration: 3-5 hours a week/4 weeks

12. Beginner’s Guide to Concept Sketching, Pluralsight

Concept sketching can be used for logos, layouts, characters, environment design, and more. In this course, you’ll learn the fundamentals for each type of project using Adobe Photoshop.

Note: free with trial

Duration: 1 hour, 31 minutes

13. Adobe InDesign Made Easy: A Beginners Guide to InDesign, Udemy

We know that completing 105 lessons seems like a lot—but the majority of them are under 10 minutes. Even if you’re a complete beginner, you’ll come out of this course knowing how to use InDesign to build page layouts for a variety of documents.

Duration: 105 lectures/11 hours

Online marketing

14. Social Media Quickstarter, Constant Contact

Email marketing provider Constant Contact created this online tutorial to help you build and grow a social media presence for your brand or business. You’ll learn about a variety of platforms—including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.

Duration: 1 hour

15. SEO Tutorial for Beginners, Udemy

Heard of SEO, but never got the chance to understand what it actually is? This is the course for you. You’ll learn about how to identify keywords to attract visitors to your website and what you’ll need to do to rank highly in Google search results.

Duration: 46 minutes/12 lectures

16. Getting Started With Email Marketing, Skillshare

In this class, MailChimp’s Allyson Van Houten teaches you about email marketing and how you can use it to grow your business. Learn how to develop new campaigns or overhaul your entire email marketing strategy.

Note: free with trial

Duration: 1 hour, 11 minutes/14 videos

17. Social Media 101, Buffer

Learn the basics of social media in just two minutes a day with Buffer’s week-long email class. You’ll master everything from establishing a tone for your social media posts to understanding online marketing analytics.

Duration: 14 minutes/7 lessons

18. Diploma in Social Media Marketing, ALISON

This course teaches you about the rise of social media over the last 20 years to give you a comprehensive view of how it can be used in marketing. Learn how to analyze your social following to gather data about your customers and market, how to craft a brand persona, and how to create a successful social media campaign.

Duration: 10-15 hours

19. Internet Marketing for Smart People, Copyblogger

Copyblogger presents a systematic and simple approach to implementing effective online marketing with this email course. By registering, you’ll also score instant access to 14 ebooks on content marketing, copywriting, keyword research, and many more topics.

Duration: 20 Lessons

20. Marketing in a Digital World, Coursera

This University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign class is one of the most popular on Coursera. You’ll learn how new technologies are changing how we think about and conduct marketing and how to use this tech in your own marketing pursuits.

Duration: 32 hours/24 lessons

21. Getting Started With Google Analytics, Udemy

This training class will teach you the basics of Google Analytics—Google’s own powerful website traffic tracker. You’ll also learn how to take your traffic data and use it to inform your business plans.

Duration: 3 hours


22. Intercultural Communication and Conflict Resolution, Coursera

Taught by the University of California, Irvine, this course explores how increasing communication and interaction across the globe can affect interactions both within a business and between businesses. You’ll develop skills aimed at managing intercultural conflicts in today’s global society and communicating with people who have a different background than your own.

Duration: 5 hours

23. Public Speaking Essentials: How to Craft Your Personal Story, Udemy

This course will help you tell your personal story with confidence and poise. You’ll learn how to craft a speech and deliver it in a way that’s engaging and exciting.

Duration: 1 hour, 10 minutes/33 lectures

24. Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills, Coursera

Negotiation isn’t just about getting the best pay or brokering client deals. Negotiation is a big part of communication since you’ll often have to figure out how to get what you need in the workplace—and compromise with your coworkers over everything from who does what part of a project to what the best strategy is for tracking a campaign.

Duration: 17.5 hours

25. Improving Communication Skills, Class Central

No matter what your job is, strong (or stronger) communication skills will only help you. This class teaches you both the skills you need and how to determine when to use them.

Duration: 4 weeks


26. Business Writing Techniques, edX

Learn how to craft strong messages in a business setting through real-world scenarios. You’ll also find out how to evaluate writing and communication styles, so that you can communicate effectively through text with anyone you may encounter.

Duration: 4 weeks/5-8 hours a week

27. High-Impact Business Writing, Coursera

Being able to clearly and effectively communicate your thoughts in writing is invaluable for the workplace. You’ll also learn how to avoid common writing mistakes and correct them when they do happen.

Duration: 4 weeks/1-2 hours a week

28. Secret Sauce of Great Writing, Udemy

With more than 200,000 students and thousands of five-star reviews, the “Secret Sauce” course teaches you to level up your business writing—whether it’s for cover letters, press releases, sales emails, or blog posts. This course is meant for professionals hoping to upgrade their writing skills, as well as businesses hoping to improve their corporate communications.

Duration: 1 hour

29. Common English Grammar Mistakes and How to Fix Them—Sampler, Udemy

This free mini-course is a combined and condensed version of two paid classes from Udemy: “Common English Grammar Mistakes and How to Fix Them” and “Commonly Confused English Words and Phrases.” If you find yourself making frequent errors in your writing and are looking to brush up on your grammar, this class is a quick way to do it.

Duration: 22 lectures/2 hours

30. What is news? Coursera

This beginner class will give you an overview of journalism as a field and teach you about the ethics of reporting. You’ll also learn about different types of journalism such as print, online, broadcast, and multimedia.

Duration: 6 weeks/22 hours total

31. Start Writing Fiction, FutureLearn

Intended for anyone with an interest in fiction writing (with no prior experience necessary), this course teaches you how to develop plots and characters, conduct research, and reflect on and edit your work. You’ll also hear other writers talk about their processes to help you develop your own.

Note: free with trial

Duration: 8 weeks/3 hours a week

Growing and running a business

32. Becoming an Entrepreneur, edX

Learn how to start your own business—from developing an idea to making your first sale—all while making the best strategic decisions.

Duration: 6 weeks/1-3 hours a week

33. Scaling Operations: Linking Strategy and Execution, Coursera

This Northwestern University course is all about how to make strategic business decisions in the real world. You’ll learn how to take into account your company’s strengths, assets, and processes to create the best strategies for your needs, whether you’re scaling up a department or an entire organization.

Duration: 5 weeks/2-4 hours a week

34. The modMBA, Udemy

This class gives you a free overview of skills you’d gain from a formal MBA. You’ll learn how you can launch your own business and be guided through each step—from idea generation to business model creation to online marketing.

Duration: 23 lectures/2 hours

35. New Venture Finance: Startup Funding for Entrepreneurs, Coursera

This University of Maryland course will help you understand the basics of how to secure funding for a new business venture. You’ll learn about venture capital and different kinds of investors as well as how to find and secure them.

Duration: 4 weeks/20 hours total

36. How to Build a Startup, Udacity

In this class, Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur Steve Blank teaches you how to grow your business by obtaining customer and marketplace feedback at all stages. You’ll learn how to ensure you create a company that fits into the market and solves customer problems.

Duration: 9 lessons

37. Competitive Strategy, Coursera

Taught through Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, this class teaches students that all business decisions are interdependent—including how you can affect competitors and how competitors can affect you—and dives into how to use game theory to gain an advantage in a market.

Duration: 6 weeks/3-4 hours a week

38. Product Design—Validation and UX Through Design Sprints, Udacity

Built by Google, this course aims to help you turn an idea into a product strong enough to sustain a business. You’ll learn about product validation, UI/UX practices, Google’s Design Sprint Process, and metric setting and tracking.

Duration: 4 lessons/48 hours


39. Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy, Coursera

If you care about the environment and want to get involved in protecting it, this beginner course is a great place to start. Learn about existing legal issues governing pollution, water law, endangered species, toxic substances, environmental impact analyses, and environmental risk.

Duration: 6 weeks/2-3 hours a week

40. Copyright made easy, Udemy

This class, which was designed by a licensed attorney, gives you a full introduction to copyright law. It’s especially helpful for anyone who creates content such as websites, articles, or videos.

Duration: 2 hours/8 lectures

41. Cyberwar, Surveillance, and Security, edX

This course, taught through the University of Adelaide, will help you understand the issues and debates surrounding online security. You’ll learn about the laws that govern internet privacy and surveillance as well as the implications of massive data collection by internet providers and tech companies.

Duration: 6 weeks/2-3 hours a week

42. Fundamentals of Business Law, ALISON

Take this course if you’d like to learn about the important principles in business law. You’ll study everything from the different types of business ownership to financial status and taxation.

Duration: 2 modules


43. Spanish I, MIT OpenCourseWare

By watching these video episodes, you’ll learn Spanish (and experience its cultural diversity) through a quality drama-filled story. In addition, you’ll listen to an audio program integrated with the text and workbook.

Duration: 26 half-hour video episodes

44. German Course for Beginners,

The lessons in this course build up an overview of basic German grammar rules by using concise grammar tables. You’ll learn the basic verb forms and syntax in a simple and understandable way.

Duration: 10 lessons

45. Talk Italian, BBC

BBC’s language course includes nine short sections on everyday topics like ordering a meal, asking for directions, saying where you’re from, and checking in at a hotel. You can watch and listen to the clips and have a look at the transcripts for extra practice.

Duration: 9 lessons

46. Chinese for Beginners, Coursera

This class will teach you the basics of Mandarin, including phonetics and daily expressions. You won’t be studying Chinese characters in this class, allowing it to move more quickly for beginners. Instead, you’ll focus on everyday conversations in a variety of scenarios.

Duration: 7 weeks/3-4 hours a week

47. Basic French Language Skills for Everyday Life, ALISON

ALISON’s free online course is a series of engaging video lessons that introduces beginners to various aspects of the French language. You’ll learn to use a range of French vocabulary; understand past, present, and future verb tenses; and become skilled in conversational French.

Duration: 6 modules

Kat Moon and Regina Borsellino contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.