Free online learning for work or pleasure

Take advantage of free online resources to develop your job-related skills, explore a personal interest, or exercise your learning muscles just for fun.


If you’re interested in free online classes on academic subjects, consider spending time on Class Central, a search tool to find online college courses. Class Central has assembled a database of MOOCs, or massive open online courses, that are offered by universities such as Stanford and Harvard, companies such as Microsoft or IBM, and organizations like the United Nations or the Smithsonian Institution.

Course subjects range from computer software and data management to preventing dementia and improving learning outcomes, or topics such as foreign languages and healthy living.

Courses use pre-recorded video lectures and readings, and offer project assignments and quizzes to help integrate and measure student learning. An online discussion component is often included, sometimes with instructors or mentors, or with other students enrolled in the course. Many courses offer students the option of purchasing a certificate to confirm that they have completed the course.

The courses are available through four core providers:

Academic Earth also provides free MOOCs. SkillUp is another great source; you can use their website to search for free or for-fee classes, register to teach a class yourself, or seek collaborators for a project you want to develop with others.

Basic skills and employment skills

Goodwill Community Foundation developed an interactive learning website called GCF Learn Free to offer a wide variety of tutorials free to the public. Topics are organized in four broad categories: Technology, Work, Core Skills, Reading & Math. They provide job search and career planning resources to help write a resume, prepare to interview, and guide users on writing effective business correspondence. The site has particular strengths in personal development topics and digital skills. Lessons take the user through activities, readings and videos in short modules.

Khan Academy provides free online lessons for students in grades K-12 or college, and for adult learners. Khan’s particular strength is in its close linkage with school curriculum in math, science, and the humanities, as well as graduate school entrance test preparation. Many students use Khan tutorials to supplement their homework and improve learning comprehension from the school day. Gamified elements help users engage with lessons.

Foreign language

In addition to foreign language courses offered through MOOCs, there are some excellent free apps you can download to your computer, or to your phone for quick lessons on the go. One of the most popular is The app teaches fun, bite-size interactive lessons in Italian, French, Japanese, Swahiili, and many other languages. Activities to practice pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary are gamified, so users earn points to spend on in-app rewards. Memrise is another popular free language learning app.

Looking for more?

Find more resources and information on gaining knowledge, skills, and credentials at CareerOneStop’s Credentials Center.

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