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The 9 Best Free Online Courses

Looking to expand your knowledge or gain new skills? Check out our list of the top 9 free online courses, covering subjects from various prestigious institutions like Harvard, Yale, and Microsoft.

Robert Chilcott
Updated on Apr 21, 2023

In recent years, online learning has exploded in popularity, with more and more people turning to the internet to gain new knowledge and skills. One of the biggest advantages of online learning is that it allows you to learn at your own pace and on your own schedule, making it ideal for busy professionals, stay-at-home parents, and anyone who wants to fit education into their busy lives.

With so many online courses to choose from, it can be challenging to know where to start. That's why we've compiled a list of the 9 best free online courses available today. These courses cover a wide range of subjects, from coding and data science to philosophy and psychology, and are all offered by reputable universities and organizations.

Codecademy's Learn Python 3

Are you interested in learning how to code in Python? Look no further than Codecademy's Learn Python 3 course. This comprehensive online course provides a practical and hands-on introduction to Python programming, designed to equip learners with the skills they need to write real-world applications and programs.

Whether you're a complete beginner or an experienced programmer looking to learn a new language, Learn Python 3 is a great choice for anyone looking to learn one of the most popular programming languages in the world.


  • Highly accessible and user-friendly.
  • Provides a range of support resources to help learners succeed.
  • Accessible to individuals with disabilities.


  • May not be as comprehensive as other paid courses.
  • May not be suitable for learners who prefer theoretical explanations.

Harvard University's Introduction to Computer Science

Harvard University's Introduction to Computer Science is a free online course designed to provide learners with a comprehensive introduction to the field of computer science. The course is self-paced and requires no prior experience with computer science or programming.

The course covers a wide range of topics, including algorithms, data structures, software development, and computer architecture. Students will learn to write programs in the widely-used programming language Python, and will also explore key concepts such as abstraction, recursion, and iteration.

One of the key benefits of Harvard's Introduction to Computer Science is its strong emphasis on problem-solving and hands-on learning. Students will work through a variety of problem sets and programming assignments, with opportunities to apply their skills to real-world scenarios.


  • The emphasis on problem-solving and hands-on learning helps students to develop practical skills.
  • The course provides a strong foundation for further study in computer science or related fields.


  • May be challenging for some beginners.
  • While the course is free, there is no option to earn a formal credential or certification.

Yale University's The Science of Well-Being

Are you curious about what really makes people happy and fulfilled? Yale University's The Science of Well-Being is a free online course that aims to answer that question. Developed by Professor Laurie Santos, this course is a unique blend of psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience, drawing on the latest research in these fields to offer practical advice on how to live a happier and more fulfilling life.

The course consists of ten modules, each of which focuses on a different aspect of happiness, such as social connections, gratitude, and mindset. Throughout the course, students will be given various tools and techniques to build habits that promote well-being. The course also includes interactive quizzes and activities to help students apply the concepts they learn to their own lives.


  • Draws on the latest research in psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy.
  • Accessible to everyone and does not require any prior knowledge or experience.
  • The focus on practical tools and techniques provides students with actionable steps to improve their well-being.


  • Some learners may find the content too basic or simplistic.
  • While the course is free, students who wish to receive a certificate of completion will need to pay a fee.

OpenLearn's Understanding Dyslexia

OpenLearn's Understanding Dyslexia is a free online course that aims to help individuals gain a deeper understanding of dyslexia and how to support those with dyslexia. The course covers a wide range of topics related to dyslexia, including the signs and symptoms of dyslexia, the impact of dyslexia on learning, and strategies for supporting individuals with dyslexia.

The self-paced course is accessible to individuals with disabilities and offers comprehensive content that is useful for parents, educators, and anyone interested in learning more about dyslexia. However, as a free online course, it does have limitations in terms of interaction with instructors and certification.


  • Self-paced learning
  • Comprehensive content
  • Accessible to individuals with disabilities


  • Limited interaction with instructors
  • Limited certification

University of Edinburgh's Introduction to Philosophy

Have you ever found yourself pondering over life's biggest questions, such as what is the meaning of existence or how do we know what is real? If you have, then the University of Edinburgh's Introduction to Philosophy course might be just what you're looking for. This course provides an overview of some of the key concepts, ideas and arguments in philosophy, from the ancient Greeks to modern times.


  • Provides an excellent introduction to the key concepts and ideas in philosophy.
  • Covers a broad range of topics and time periods, from ancient Greece to modern times.


  • Requires a significant time commitment, with lectures and readings to be completed each week.
  • May be challenging for those without prior experience in philosophy or critical thinking.

Game Development for Modern Platforms by Unity

Game Development for Modern Platforms by Unity is an online course designed to teach the fundamentals of game development using the Unity game engine. With over 16 hours of video content, the course covers everything from creating game mechanics to designing user interfaces and deploying to different platforms.

The course is suitable for beginners and experienced game developers alike, and includes hands-on projects and quizzes to help reinforce learning. By the end of the course, learners will have created their own 2D and 3D games that can be deployed to various platforms, such as Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and more.

While the course does come with a fee, it provides a comprehensive and practical introduction to game development that can be applied to a wide range of game genres and platforms.


  • Provides a comprehensive introduction to game development using Unity.
  • Offers hands-on projects, quizzes, and assignments for practical learning.
  • Offers a valuable opportunity to gain skills in the gaming industry.


  • Requires a subscription to Unity Plus or Unity Pro, which can be expensive.
  • May not offer as much flexibility in terms of pacing and scheduling as some other online courses.
  • Limited interaction with instructors.

Microsoft's Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

If you're curious about artificial intelligence and want to know more about this rapidly advancing field, Microsoft's Introduction to Artificial Intelligence course is a fantastic place to start. This online course is designed to be accessible to complete beginners, providing an overview of what AI is, how it works, and the different types of AI that exist.

The course is divided into four modules, each covering a different aspect of AI. The first module introduces you to the basics of AI and machine learning, while the second module dives deeper into supervised and unsupervised learning techniques. In the third module, you'll explore the world of neural networks and deep learning, and in the final module, you'll get hands-on experience building your own AI models using Microsoft's Azure Machine Learning Studio.


  • Provides a thorough introduction to artificial intelligence, suitable for beginners.
  • Hands-on exercises and projects allow you to apply what you've learned.


  • Assumes no prior knowledge of programming or computer science, so may not be suitable for more advanced learners.
  • Some learners may find the material too basic if they already have some knowledge of AI.

Foundations of Data Analysis by Microsoft

Foundations of Data Analysis is a free online course offered by Microsoft through edX. The course provides an introduction to the fundamentals of data analysis, including data visualization, statistical inference, and regression analysis.

The course is designed for individuals with little or no prior experience in data analysis, and provides a solid foundation for further learning in the field. The course is self-paced, and includes hands-on exercises and quizzes to help reinforce your understanding of the material.


  • Provides a solid foundation in data analysis skills and techniques.
  • Includes hands-on exercises and quizzes to reinforce learning.
  • Taught by experienced instructors from Microsoft.


  • May not offer as much depth or specialization as some other data analysis courses.
  • Requires a basic understanding of mathematics and statistics.

Khan Academy's Pixar in a Box

This collaboration between Pixar Animation Studios and Khan Academy provides a unique opportunity to explore the art and science of animation. From character modeling to lighting and rendering, you'll learn about the creative and technical aspects of making animated movies.


  • Includes a range of interactive exercises and activities, including animations, simulations, and quizzes, to help reinforce learning.
  • Provides a rare opportunity to learn directly from Pixar artists and experts in the field of animation.
  • Offers a unique and engaging way to learn about animation, using real-world examples from Pixar films.


  • May not be suitable for learners looking for a more technical or scientific introduction to the field.
  • Primarily self-paced and self-directed.
About Robert Chilcott
Robert Chilcott is a technology editor who has focused his career on the tech industry and writes about software topics with over 5 years of in-depth experience. He is the author of more than two dozen books and has contributed to many sites and publications. At Higospot, He spends most of his time hunting for the latest stories on mobile gadgets.
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