Free Graduate Courses You Can Take Online for Career Advancement

Free Graduate Courses You Can Take Online for Career Advancement

Can you find free graduate courses to take online? Absolutely! We share some great sources and some top-ranked colleges that offer totally free online courses.

Key Takeaways

  • Online education offers several options for free master’s degree courses.

  • You may be able to take free graduate courses or even full master’s degree programs online.

  • You can take free online grad school courses in popular subjects like business administration, computer science, education, and more.

If you’re in the middle of your graduate school search, you know how expensive the top master’s degree programs can be. Graduate programs are often costly and challenging.

The good news is that there are countless excellent free online programs designed to provide a graduate level education without the cost. Not only that, but the best of these free programs are directly affiliated with prestigious universities like Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford University.

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

Otherwise, read on to find our how you can take free online master’s degree courses in nearly any subject.

Is it possible to get a free master’s degree online?

It is absolutely possible to get a free master’s degree online. There are numerous options available to undergraduate and graduate students interested in completing free online courses.

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

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

This may include online colleges and universities free master’s degrees without traditional accreditation, those that cover the costs of college tuition for all merit-based enrollees, and those with specialized programs aimed at helping at risk students or awarding credits in exchange for military service.

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What to Look Out For When Taking Free Online Master’s Courses

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

For instance:

  • While many prestigious accredited universities may offer free access to online courses in countless subjects, 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 master’s 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 other educational institutions or prospective employers. Many educational institutions and employers consider accreditation an essential indicator of quality and credibility. Earning a master’s degree online without accreditation may limit your educational and professional opportunities.

  • In some cases, it may be possible to earn free credits and even full graduate degrees from accredited graduate programs through generous financial assistance programs. However, these opportunities are often available only through highly selective institutions. Admission into these programs can be extremely competitive.

Because of these limitations, free master’s degree courses are often most valuable to those seeking practical advanced education. While you may not always be able to earn credits or an accredited degree, free online courses can provide meaningful skills, knowledge, and enrichment.

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5 Free Online Learning Options for Graduate Students

Now that you know what to look out for, check out these popular pathways to free online courses at the master’s degree level.

Accredited Graduate Schools that Offer Free Online Courses

Some of the most prestigious schools in the world make it possible for any student, anywhere to take completely free courses in nearly any subject.

For instance, the highly regarded Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a program called MIT OpenCourseWare. Private gifts, donations, and corporate sponsorship make it possible for the elite university to provide free online courses to students at every level of education.

In fact, with more than 2400 courses offered, it is possible to complete a free master’s degree online in subjects as far ranging as computer science, data science, engineering, and much more. While you won’t necessarily hold a master’s degree from MIT, you can receive this elite graduate education free of charge.

There’s no way to put a price on that kind of free education.


100% Free Online Master’s 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. This includes both free college tuition for bachelor’s degree programs and free online masters degrees.

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

Consortia Offering Free Online Graduate Courses

One of the easiest ways to access free online courses is through the wide range of course consortium sites on the web. These consortia typically gather together courses from various sources at the bachelor’s degree and master’s degree levels.

These courses are often provided by prestigious educational institutions, 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 colleges and universities.

Many Ivy League Schools and top-ranked technical colleges share trusted partner programs with these consortia. That means that a top Ivy League School like Harvard University makes many of its most popular courses and course materials available through these free online education channels.

While you may not have access to the same credits and credentials as graduate 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 master’s programs offered through these consortia.

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

Merit-Based Tuition Free College and Grad School

Some of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world are actually tuition free. For instance, the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, PA provides entirely tuition free college and graduate school degrees through its generous financial assistance program.

Covering 100% of student expenses regardless of financial need, Curtis Institute offers the unique promise that all its students graduate debt free.

Prospective students should be aware that the Curtis Institute is extremely selective and that only those who demonstrate both musical and academic excellence will be eligible for its financial aid program.

But for those who qualify, this is an example of an institution that provides free bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs for both on-campus and online students.

Other Free Programs For Graduate Students

Graduate 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 graduate student, a curious undergraduate, or a working professional looking to update your skills, online classes exist in nearly every subject imaginable.

This, of course, includes unlimited access to courses in popular subjects like computer science, business administration, criminal justice, early childhood education, and much more.

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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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
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    6%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1520/34

    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 in 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 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
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    4%

    Graduation

    97%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1520/34

    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 master’s level teaching 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. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    4%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    13K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1545/35

    What do we love about Massachusetts Institute of Technology?

    MIT is among the most selective, influential, and prestigious universities in the world. Founded in 1861 as the United States approached the age of industiralization, the private research university is regarded today among the top destination in the world for studying, teaching, and researching applied sciences, engineering, and more.

    In addition to serving roughly 12,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels, the Cambridge, Massachusetts institute is widely recognized as a key contributor to essential scientific developments, innovations, and discoveries since its founding.

    MIT makes a number of its most challenging STEM courses available for free online through a partnership with the Open Courseware consortium.

    • MIT is great for students who:

      Have achieved academic excellence in the hard sciences. MIT is one of the top destinations in the world for scientific research and innovation.

    • MIT might not be the best fit for students who:

      Prefer a liberal arts experience.

  4. #4

    Stanford University

    Stanford , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    4%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    13K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1495/33

    What do we love about Stanford University?

    Stanford University is located in Stanford, California and covers over 8,180 acres of land. The private research university was founded in 1885 as a secular, coeducational institution. Today, it serves more than 17,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

    Stanford played an essential part in the evolution of the region known as Silicon Valley. Through both its academic programs and its ongoing investment in research, Stanford has been the site of countless technological innovations and the birthplace of countless groundbreaking companies.

    Stanford University is among the most generous elite institutions of higher learning, providing one of the most extensive selections of free online grad school courses through the EdX platform. Students can complete free online courses from Stanford in everything from computer science and project management to engineering and education.

    • Stanford University is great for students who:

      Are looking for career opportunities in technology. The university shares a close relationship with the top hiring tech firms in Silicon Valley.

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

      Aren’t prepared for a challenge. Students at Stanford typically describe the academic workload as extremely demanding.


  5. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    43K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1420/32

    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 master’s level 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.

  6. #6

    Columbia University

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $64K

    Acceptance

    4%

    Graduation

    97%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1515/34

    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. Many of these courses are focused on areas of computer science like robotics and artificial intelligence.

    • 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.

  7. #7

    Yale University

    New Haven , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    5%

    Graduation

    97%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1520/34

    What do we love about Yale University?

    Yale University is among the most highly regarded schools in the world. Based in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale was founded in 1701. This makes it the third oldest institution of higher learning in the U.S.

    A member of the vaunted Ivy League, Yale is a private research university serving more than 12,000 elite students. It is noteworthy that more than half of enrollees are in pursuit of a graduate degree.

    Yale University offers a number of free online courses for both undergrad and graduate students. In fact, you can download lectures and readings for free directly on Yale’s website, or you can find free courses in subjects as wide ranging as history, politics, and medical science through Coursera.

    • Yale University is great for students who:

      Rank near the top of their class. Yale is among the most selective schools in the world.

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

      Prefer an emphasis on science over humanities. Yale is noteworthy for its excellence liberal arts programs.

  8. #8

    University of Michigan

    Ann Arbor , MI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    44K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/32

    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 subjects like health communication, cryptocurrency, artificial intelligence, and more.

    • 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 is divided into four distinct campus sections, all connected by bus service.

  9. #9

    Brown University

    Providence , RI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    6%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1500/34

    What do we love about Brown University?

    Brown University is a private research university based in Providence, Rhode Island. Founded in 1764, Brown is the seventh oldest school of higher learning in the United States.

    Brown’s more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students earn their degrees in an area rich with history. The campus is located at the heart of College Hill, a neighborhood recognized for its high concentration of well-preserved Colonial structures.

    Brown University’s BrownX program makes an array of undergraduate and graduate level courses available and accessible to both American and international students through the edX and Coursera platforms.

    • Brown University is great for students who:

      Are at the top of their class. The Ivy League school is among the most selective universities in the U.S.

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

      Are not self-starters. Brown offers a unique approach to curriculum that allows to students to chart their own degree path.

  10. #10

    University of Virginia

    Charlottesville , VA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $20K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    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 courses through a partnership with Coursera. Popular free courses cover topics such as financial accounting, digital technology, and cardiology.

    • 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.

Other Ways to Graduate Debt Free

As noted throughout, while you may be able to complete free online courses or even earn a free masters degree online, there are various limitations. Free graduate programs are often unaccredited. So if you are seeking credits and an accredited degree at a serious discount, you may need to consider some other options.

Consider taking a look at some of the most affordable accredited graduate programs for master’s degrees. While these schools aren’t free, most charge less than $10,000 per year for tuition.

You can also consider saving money by completing an accelerated master’s degree program. Spending less time in pursuit of your master’s degree means you’ll spend less in education-related expenses.

Not only that, but you’ll have a chance to complete your degree at a rapid pace and return your full focus to your career.

This is why some of the fastest master’s degree programs are also among the most affordable graduate degrees as well.