How to find free online courses with certificates in 2021 – Business Insider


A leading-edge research firm focused on digital transformation.
Subscriber since
When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
One of the biggest benefits of taking online courses is getting certificates of completion to add to your LinkedIn profile or resume. For those looking to get a promotion or transition into a new career field, these can be immensely helpful tools in showing employers your initiative and growth.
While online certificates cost less than traditional college degrees, they can still get pricey — most cost a one-time or monthly fee. However, there are still a few ways to get them for free.
Below, we outlined three major ways to find free online courses with certificates (as well as some free online courses you can take to get certification.)
At the start of the pandemic in 2020, many online learning companies offered free career courses or limited free spots to help offset unexpected layoffs. Coursera, for example, still offers free certification courses from Johns Hopkins University on COVID-19-related training, from contact tracing to safely maintaining assisted living communities
Others, like FutureLearn, have select sponsored campaigns that offer free digital upgrades (meaning the certificate is free), such as a computer programming class from the University of Leeds and an intro nursing course from Kings College London. You can browse all of the free certification courses on FutureLearn here.
Sometimes, some companies offer limited-time free courses around an event or promotion — LinkedIn Learning, for instance, has made trending career courses free in the past. (You can bookmark this LinkedIn blog page for future free course announcements).
While not guaranteed to be completely free, certain e-learning platforms, like edX and Coursera, may offer financial aid if you apply. They can also offer announce scholarship opportunities (like Udacity’s past AWS machine learning scholarship).
Some companies also create scholarships to directly help different communities. For example, Coursera recently announced that it plans to work with Facebook to provide “refugee and formerly incarcerated learners with free access to job-relevant learning on Coursera and career support services.”
Some e-learning platforms offer certificates if you complete the course before their free trial ends. LinkedIn Learning, which offers a one-month free trial, might be the best bet for this route: Its courses are naturally on the short side, so you could take a few of them in a month and get multiple certifications added to your profile. (It’s also a good way to see if you’d like to pay for a subscription, which you’d need for longer learning paths, like mastering Python for a data science career.)
Free online courses with certificates can be a bit tricky to find, especially for the classes you really want to take. That’s why it can be good to consider if you truly need the certification for what you want to learn: There are so many free courses from top universities that can teach you invaluable skills or help you flexibly explore a new career path, even without a certificate at the end. 

Sign up for Insider Reviews’ weekly newsletter for more buying advice and great deals.

You can purchase syndication rights to this story here.

Disclosure: Written and researched by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our partners. We may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected].
For you