Guide to Free Online Courses for MBA Students in 2023

Guide to Free Online Courses for MBA Students in 2023

Can you find free MBA courses to take online? Absolutely! We unveil some great sources of free education and some of the top schools that have free MBA courses.

Key Takeaways

  • Online education offers several options for free MBA degree courses.

  • You may be able to take free graduate courses or even full business school programs online.

  • You can take free online grad school courses in popular subjects like business ethics, project management, financial accounting, and more.

See our complete guide to MBAs for more information.

There’s a reason the MBA program is so popular. Students who earn their MBA can improve their earning power, career trajectory, and qualifications.

But MBA degrees can also be very expensive. Students can expect to pay anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 and beyond for access to the top business schools.

But there is some good news. You may actually be able to reduce the cost of your MBA program by earning a few credits for free.

From online MBA programs that offer free access to introductory courses to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs); from consortium sites to free MBA courses for audit, there are plenty of places where MBA students learn the basics without spending a dime.

Not only that, but the best of these free MBA degree programs are directly affiliated with prestigious business schools like the Wharton School, Harvard Business, Northwestern, and more.

Looking for other ways to offset your student loan debt? Start with a look at these affordable MBA degree programs.

Otherwise, read on to find out how you can access an advanced MBA curriculum free of charge.

Featured Programs

Is it possible to take free online MBA courses?

It is absolutely possible to take free online MBA courses. There are numerous options available to business students interested in completing free online courses.

These options may include free online courses from prestigious business schools, free online course consortia, and even entirely free online MBA courses through popular streaming media outlets like YouTube.

It’s also possible for online graduate students pursuing an MBA degree to complete some courses, or even entire degree programs, through business schools that offer free tuition.

Many online colleges and universities offering free MBA degrees provide online learning without traditional accreditation. In many cases, you may be able to earn an MBA certificate for completing free online courses.

In most cases though, you would not be able to earn an accredited MBA online for free. It is possible to get some advanced business education online. You may even be able to take some MBA level courses for free.

Schools like Columbia, Berkeley, and the University of Chicago offer free online MBA courses. But it is not possible to earn an online MBA degree entirely for free.

Your online MBA will only be worth it if you earn it from an accredited college or university. All accredited colleges and universities charge some tuition for online MBA degrees.

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What to Look Out For When Taking Free Courses Online

While there are many different options for free online MBA courses, there are a few important factors to bear in mind first. While many business schools, education companies, and online services offer access to free MBA degree courses and programs, very few of these options will actually result in an accredited MBA degree.

For instance:

While many prestigious accredited universities may offer free access to online MBA courses, these courses will rarely result in credits toward an actual graduate degree.

Alternatively, there are numerous online degree programs available for free that will award a complete MBA degree. However, these programs often lack accreditation from a Department of Education approved accrediting agency. This means the resulting degree may carry limited value.

Your credits and degree may not be recognized by other educational institutions or prospective employers. Many educational institutions and employers consider accreditation an essential indicator of quality and credibility.

Earning an online MBA without accreditation may limit your educational and professional opportunities.

Therefore, while you may be able to receive an MBA equivalent education, this education won’t necessarily result in an accredited master of business degree.

Because of these limitations, free MBA degree courses are often most valuable to those seeking practical advanced education in the business world.

While you may not always be able to earn credits or an accredited degree, free online courses can provide meaningful skills, knowledge, and enrichment as well as the opportunity to learn at your own pace.

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What kinds of free online MBA courses are there?

Leading business schools and assorted free online MBA course providers offer courses in a wide range of subjects.

Popular MBA subjects include:

  • Supply Chain Management
  • International Business
  • Corporate Finance
  • Marketing Management
  • International Management
  • Business Analytics
  • Business Law
  • Data Analytics
  • Operations Management

Key Point: It is possible to find many popular MBA courses online for free from top schools.

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4 Free Online Learning Options for Business School Students

Now that you know what to look out for, find out how you can take free online courses at the MBA degree level.

Accredited Graduate Schools that Offer Free Online Courses

Some of the most prestigious business schools in the world make free online MBA class attendance possible for any student, anywhere.

Free courses offered will vary from one institution to the next, but it is possible to take a full selection of core courses, elective courses, and specialized courses on topics like global leadership, creating financial statements, and more.

For instance, top business schools like the Wharton School and Harvard Business make it possible for aspiring business school students to get started with some of the best online courses in the world.

While you may not earn credits for completing these courses, you will have access to valuable foundational knowledge and instruction.

100% Free Online MBA Degrees

You can also consider an array of entirely free graduate programs offered by innovative online schools like the University of the People. This privately owned, non-profit online institution provides completely free tuition for a wide range of degree programs including online MBAs.

In most cases, students will only pay for administrative fees and exam costs. University of the People may also offer scholarships to qualifying business students in order to offset these costs.

The University of the People is not currently accredited by a Department of Education-approved accrediting agency. However, it is a candidate for consideration by the regional WASC Senior College and University Commission.

At present, however, courses, credits and degree programs provided by the University of the People do not carry traditional accreditation. This means that you can receive valuable education and even certification in certain areas, but would likely be required to attain additional credentials in order to advance in your education and career.

These options are great for those who are seeking personal education, an improved grasp on business strategy, and fundamental management skills. For business leaders seeking basic practical market research, entrepreneurial strategic management, and finance courses, this free pathway may be a better option than a formal MBA program.

Happy woman doing an online course

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Top Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) providers like Coursera and edX offer free access to numerous business courses through partnerships with top business schools.

These consortia typically gather together courses from various sources. These courses are often provided by prestigious business schools, and may directly mirror the same courses taken by students who are enrolled in these institutions.

For instance, websites like Coursera, Class Central, and edX offer thousands of tuition free online courses at various levels. And the awesome thing about these collectives is that they are generally created using graduate courses provided by real, elite business schools.

Many Ivy League Schools and top-ranked business schools share trusted partner programs with these consortia. This means that top ranked business schools like Wharton at University of Pennsylvania and the Kenan-Flagler school at the University of North Carolina can provide open access to various popular courses.

While you may not have access to the same credits and credentials as business students enrolled in these topflight institutions, your free classes will provide access to topflight content, curricula, and professors.

If knowledge and skill are your top priorities, check out some of the tuition free MBA programs offered through these consortia.

And if you do ultimately go on to earn a MBA degree, these free online graduate courses could serve as valuable educational and professional building blocks.

Other Free Programs For MBA Students

MBA students seeking to widen or deepen their knowledge in specific areas of interest will find enormous online libraries filled with lectures, lessons, and free course materials at readily accessible sites like Learn@Forbes and Open Learn. These sites are designed to deliver free education to all online learners who are interested.

Whether you’re an aspiring business student or a working professional looking for more financial and professional freedom, online classes exist in nearly every business sub-discipline imaginable.

While these free programs will not result in an accredited degree, these online courses are a virtually unlimited source of free education and knowledge.

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How To “Do An MBA Online” For Free

Using the methods listed above, you could actually structure an informal MBA program entirely for free. Online courses offered through MOOCs, online business schools, and even prestigious business schools make it possible for you to complete the same basic MBA classes that might be required for a formal program.

You may be able to complete your own self-directed program by combining introductory courses from the Wharton School on Coursera with a data science concentration through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s OpenCourseWare program and adding courses on the global business environment from an institution like the University of the People.

Again, while this may not result in an accredited MBA, you would be able to accumulate the knowledge and skills to advance your career on your own terms.

If you want to take your career advancement opportunities to the next level, consider an affordable MBA degree program. For information and tips on finding a cheap degree, check out our guide to affordable degrees.

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10 Graduate Schools Where You Can Take Free Online Courses

The following graduate programs offer access to free online courses. Some of these programs may even make it possible to earn an entirely free masters degree online.

Graduate programs included here come in various models including those that provide access to free online courses without credits, those that make courses available through trusted partner programs, and those that provide generous financial assistance in order to offer free tuition.

  1. #1

    Duke University

    Durham , NC
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    What do we love about Duke University?

    Duke University was founded in 1838 in what is now Trinity, North Carolina. Moving to their present location 1892, today Duke covers 8,600 acres of land across Durham, North Carolina.

    The private university consistently ranks among the top schools in the world, and serves nearly 17,000 students across three campuses. And with nearly 10,000 graduate students, Duke dedicates nearly $1 billion to research efforts every year.

    Duke University makes a number of graduate level and MBA courses available online entirely for free through course consortium sites Coursera and Class Central.

    • Duke University is great for students who:

      Love college sports. Duke’s men’s basketball is among the most successful programs in NCAA history.

    • Duke University might not be the best fit for students who:

      Don’t have excellent grades. Duke is one of the most selective schools in the country.

  2. #2

    Harvard University

    Cambridge , MA
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    What do we love about Harvard University?

    Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher learning in the U.S. Founded in 1636, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based private research university consistently places at or near the top of both national and world rankings.

    A member of the vaunted Ivy League, Harvard’s more than $50 billion endowment makes it the wealthiest academic institution in the world. Harvard uses much of these endowment to create opportunities for eligible students with financial need.

    Harvard University’s prestigious school of education makes many of its graduate level business courses available for free online through the EdX course consortium.

    • Harvard University is great for students who:

      Are at the top of their class. Harvard ranks annually as the most selective university in the nation.

    • Harvard University might not be the best fit for students who:

      Don’t enjoy a competitive environment. Harvard students often compete aggressively for grades and opportunities.

  3. #3

    University of Pennsylvania

    Philadelphia , PA
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    What do we love about the University of Pennsylvania?

    The University of Pennsylvania was founded in Philadelphia in 1740 by civic leaders including Founding Father and inventor Benjamin Franklin. Today, the vaunted Ivy League institution is the 4th oldest in the United States.

    University of Pennsylvania serves over 22,000 students. Of those, more than half are studying to earn a graduate level degree.

    University of Pennsylvania makes a number of its most challenging business administration courses available for free online through a partnership with the Coursera consortium.

    • University of Pennsylvania is great for students who:

      Are at the top of their graduating class. University of Pennsylvania is among the most selective schools in the nation.

    • University of Pennsylvania might not be the best fit for students who:

      Don’t wish to attend college in a big city like Philadelphia.

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    What do we love about the University of California, Berkeley?

    University of California, Berkeley is the flagship campus in the University of California system. With fourteen colleges, undergraduate and graduate students can choose from more than 350 unique degree programs.

    The University of California, Berkeley is also renowned for its state of the art research facilities. This means that Berkeley continues to draw highly influential professors in areas like science, math, and engineering.

    University of California, Berkeley offers an array of free online courses through its Berkeley Resource Center for Online Education (BRCOE). Students can take MBA courses on the edX platform and, in some cases, even earn professional certifications for a basic fee.

    • The University of California, Berkeley is great for students who:

      Enjoy the experience of a sprawling campus with a large student body and a full spectrum of course offerings.

    • The University of California, Berkeley might not be the best fit for students who:

      Prefer an intimate environment or small class sizes.

  5. #5

    Columbia University

    New York , NY
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    What do we love about Columbia University?

    Columbia University sits in the heart of bustling Manhattan. Founded in 1754 under the name King’s College, Columbia is the oldest university in New York and the fifth oldest in the nation. Today, Columbia serves more than 33,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

    The private research university is a member of the vaunted Ivy League, and is widely recognized as a hotbed for scientific innovation and cutting edge research. And with an endowment of over $13 billion, Columbia has the largest endowment of any academic institution in the world!

    Columbia University uses the edX platform to provide free access to the ColumbiaX library of courses including numerous graduate level business courses.

    • Columbia University is great for students who:

      Enjoy a college experience in the heart of a vibrant city.

    • Columbia University might not be the best fit for students who:

      Have a limited budget. Tuition for Columbia typically ranks among the highest in the nation.

  6. Man with glasses thinking
  7. #6

    University of Michigan

    Ann Arbor , MI
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    What do we love about the University of Michigan?

    University of Michigan was founded in 1817, which is actually about 20 years before the territory of Michigan became a state. Roughly half of the students at the University of Michigan are from the state of Michigan, which means they enjoy discounted in state tuition rates.

    The University of Michigan draws students from all over the world. International students make up about 15% of the school’s population.

    University of Michigan provides an array of free online four-week courses in unique business subjects corporate finances, contract negotiation, and risk assessment.

    • The University of Michigan is great for students who:

      Enjoy a vaunted athletics program and a large student body—roughly 32,000 undergrads and 16,000 grad students.

    • The University of Michigan might not be the best fit for students who:

      Prefer a small campus. The Ann Arbor campus is divided into four distinct campus sections, all connected by bus service.

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    What do we love about the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill?

    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill is considered a “Public Ivy,” a school with state funding that offers the prestige and educational experience akin to those at a private Ivy League school.

    The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill is the flagship campus for the broader University of North Carolina system and began enrolling students in 1795. This makes UNC the only public school in the U.S. to both teach and graduate students in the 18th Century!

    UNC’s prestigious Kenan-Flagler business school offers an array of free online MBA courses through its partnership with Coursera.

    • The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill is great for students who:

      Desire a well-rounded education. All students are required to complete a liberal arts education on the way to their chosen major. Popular majors include biology, business administration, and psychology.

    • The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill might not be the best fit for students who:

      Prefer a more conservative environment. Many students at UNC note that the campus culture tends to lean to the liberal side of the political spectrum.

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    What do we love about the University of Washington?

    The University of Washington was founded in 1861, just ten years after the birth of its home town of Seattle, Washington. This makes the public research university one of the oldest schools on the American West Coast.

    With campuses in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell, the University of Washington covers a sprawling 20 million square feet of space in the state of Washington.

    The University of Washington’s Foster School of Business offers a select number of specialized graduate level business courses for free through its own learning management system.

    • The University of Washington is great for students who:

      Love reading. With 26 libraries, art centers, museums, labs, and lecture halls, UW boasts one of the largest library systems in the world.

    • The University of Washington might not be the best fit for students who:

      Prefer sunny skies. The Pacific Northwest is famous for its cloudy climate.

  10. #9

    Ohio State University

    Columbus , OH
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    What do we love about Ohio State University?

    Ohio State University is a public research university based in Columbus, Ohio. Founded in 1870, it was actually stewarded into existence by then Ohio governor and later President of the U.S., Rutherford B. Hayes.

    Fun fact: Ohio State University is literally the only institution in North America where you can earn an ABET-accredited undergraduate degree in welding engineering.

    Students who are interested in sampling free online MBA courses through OSU can do so through the school’s very own open courseware site.

    • Ohio State University is great for students who:

      Enjoy a good time. Ohio State often ranks high on the list of best party schools and best spectator sports tradition.

    • Ohio State University might not be the best fit for students who:

      Prefer a smaller school experience. With more than 50,000 undergrads and 15,000 grad students, Ohio State is the third largest school in the nation.

  11. #10

    University of Virginia

    Charlottesville , VA
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    What do we love about the University of Virginia?

    University of Virginia is a public university with an extremely prestigious history. In fact, the original governing board for this “Public Ivy” included Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. At the time of its founding, Monroe was the President of the United States.

    Among the many prominent graduates of UVA are the founders of Reddit and CNET.

    The University of Virginia offers free enrollment online for a wide range of graduate level business courses through a partnership with Coursera.

    • University of Virginia is great for students who:

      Enjoy the prestige of an Ivy League school with the affordability of a public university. In-state students enjoy tuition discounts while joining a tradition that has produced 55 Rhodes Scholars.

    • University of Virginia might not be the best fit for students who:

      Prefer a more personalized experience. UVA students will often take introductory courses in large lecture halls with scores of other students.

How can I get the best value from an online MBA?

While you may not be able to get a fully accredited online MBA for free, but you can still get this valuable advanced degree for a reduced cost. You can get the best value from an online MBA by finding a reputable school with an affordable online MBA degree. Schools like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and the University of Mississippi have top ranked online MBAs for $10,000 a year or less. You can get even better value with the top HBCU MBA Programs Online. You can get an online MBA from the top 9 HBCU programs for under $10,000 a year.

Get tips for choosing and applying to advanced degree programs both in person and online with a look at our Grad Life Guide.

See our Resources Guide for much more on studying, starting your job search, and more.