The Best Free Online Computer Courses
The Internet boasts a wealth of free computer training for those who know where to look. Here are some of the best free online courses available right now.
This article will be updated continually with the latest and greatest schools and courses.
Rankings are unbiased; ITCareerFinder receives no compensation to be featured in the best free online courses.
Nonprofit organizations, technology companies, and educational institutions provide free computer courses across all IT subjects and skill levels. Some do this to expose more people to their software or hardware, while others strive to make top-notch education more accessible. Regardless of the training provider’s mission, self-motivated learners can capitalize on this massive cache of free online computer training to grow their skill set, earn certifications to validate their expertise to prospective employers, and gain exposure to new IT careers.
To compile our list of the best free computer courses, we looked at numerous factors including relevance of curriculum, ease of accessibility, course quality, and provider reputation. We also endeavored to represent the top training options across multiple categories and skill levels.
In no particular order, here are our favorite online training providers and their best free computing courses:
Best free online courses for learning how to code.
- Responsive Web Design Certification
- Data Visualization Certification
- Browse all free courses at freeCodeCamp.org
Skill Level: Professional Career Training and Certifications
Best free online college-level computing courses.
Unbeknownst to many, the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been offering a large portion of its course catalog online and free of charge since 2002. MIT’s free course list features over 2,400 undergraduate and graduate level classes in fascinating areas like computer science, mathematics, physics, and engineering. Training materials vary from course to course and feature components such as video lectures, transcribed lecture notes, online textbooks, assignments, and exams to track and measure your newfound skills. Keep in mind these free online courses do not count towards credits for degrees from MIT.
- Introduction to Computer Science and Programming
- Performance Engineering of Software Systems
- Introduction to Computational Thinking & Data Science
- Browse all free MIT courses
Skill Level: Higher Education (Undergraduate and Graduate)
Accessibility: Courses available online and as downloads for offline learning. Available languages include Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, French, German, Vietnamese & Ukrainian. Captioned audio and video is available for many courses. Not every course is available in every language.
Best free online tech courses with certificates.
Coursera is one of the world's most prolific providers of online computer training for good reason. In addition to strategic partnerships with major schools like University of California, Stanford and Yale, and leading tech vendors like Google, IBM and SAS, it's their well-curated professional certificate programs - wherein students learn marketable tech skills and earn certificates to validate said skills - that really distinguish Coursera from the competition. Not all of Coursera's training programs are gratis, but there are many free training options (including some well-designed professional certificates) to prepare you for hot careers like cloud engineer, DevOps engineer, and IT project manager. Beyond the free options, many courses and certs are available at a low cost.
Featured Free Courses:
- Cloud Architecture with Google Cloud Professional Certificate
- IBM Data Science Professional Certificate
- Machine Learning (from Stanford University)
- Browse all free courses at Coursera
Skill Level: Professional Certificates, Training for Role-Based Projects, Courses, and College Degree Programs
Accessibility: Closed caption subtitles are available for hearing-impaired students in multiple languages, and special test-taking accommodations are available for students with learning disabilities.
Best free online courses for IT beginners.
GCF - short for Goodwill Community Foundation and provided by the same nonprofit as the Goodwill thrift shops, jobs training and other charitable programs - delivers a variety of free online computer classes through its GCFLearnFree platform. These high-quality courses are ideal for IT beginners of all ages from young children to senior citizens. Most courses are presented as video tutorials and some feature interactive sections to workshop your new skills. Notable curriculum areas include Computer Basics (which covers foundational lessons in hardware, software and web browsing, and introduces hot topics like cloud computing and cyber security), Microsoft Office, Career Planning, Creative Design, as well as core competencies like Reading and Math. GCF’s online computer courses are segmented into easily digestible chapters and provide a great place to begin your info-tech journey.
- Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint & Access)
- Computer Basics
- Skills for Today
- Browse all free courses at GCFLearnFree.org
Skill Level: Computer Courses for IT Beginners
Accessibility: Courses are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese, and can be accessed on the GFCLearnFree.org website or via YouTube.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Best free cert prep for cloud engineers.
Cloud computing is taking over the IT landscape, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) is its biggest player. Amazon’s cloud division already accounts for a larger part of the tech and retail giant's profits than its online store. Gaining skills on this expansive platform, and in cloud computing in general, is a great way to advance your career. AWS certifications are also among the highest paying and most sought-after credentials in the IT workforce. In addition to its free online tech courses, some of our favorites of which are highlighted below, AWS offers paid [virtual and physical] classroom training through authorized training partners, but their free digital course library is extensive and provides a strong entry point into this white-hot field and its leading platform.
- AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials (includes certification prep)
- Job Roles in the Cloud
- Deep Dive into AWS IoT Rules Engine
- Browse all free Amazon Web Services courses
Skill Level: Professional Training & IT Certification Prep
Accessibility: AWS courses are available in multiple languages, including English, Korean, French, Japanese, Spanish and Thai.
Best free computer courses for K-12 students.
Khan Academy believes “education is a human right.” To this end, the nonprofit offers free web-based courses for preschoolers through early-college students in core subjects like reading and history, plus a deep catalog of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) courses. They also provide top-notch resources for teachers and parents so they can help learners maximize their education. In addition to its growing library of free computer courses, Khan offers online prep for standardized tests like the SAT, LSAT, NCLEX-RN, and Praxis Core exams. Especially in light of recent quarantines and school closures from COVID-19, Khan Academy has proven itself a vital tool for parents, teachers, children, and students around the world.
- Computer Programming
- AP Computer Science Principles
- Hour of Code
- Browse all free courses at Khan Academy
Skill Level: Preschool, Kindergarten through High School (K-12), Undergraduate College Coursework, and Standardized Test Prep
Accessibility: Free online courses from Khan Academy are translated into more than 40 languages. In addition to its distance learning platform, courses are available to download for offline learning, and via the Khan Academy Android and iOS mobile applications.
Best free training options for DIY learners.
For the ultimate self-motivated student, the Web presents a multitude of free courses in computing and information technology. YouTube reigns supreme on this front as you can discover free computer training in just about any topic. Search YouTube for “How to code in Python,” “How to make an Android app,” “Adobe Photoshop tutorial,” and whatever else you can imagine, chances are there's a free lesson to be had. Not sure where to start? Go to your favorite job board and peruse the openings for your dream job, then search YouTube for free courses in the skills and experience they’re seeking. At the very least, exploring these courses will help you determine if you have a genuine interest or knack for the work, all while learning some valuable skills. Beyond YouTube, many technology companies offer some level of free training on their software and hardware platforms, including Microsoft, Cisco, and Google.
Regardless of your age, experience, or learning goals, there are plenty of free training solutions to help you level-up your skills and career. Happy Learning!