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All Articles / Career advice

Top 20 free online courses you can start today

Man studying online at home

With the rapid advancements of technology affecting nearly every single industry in the market in one way or another, investing in continuous learning has become more important than ever.

However, most of us have a tight schedule, a tight budget, or both, which makes the idea of enrolling in a traditional master’s degree or GED study program sound slightly… unrealistic.

The good news is that nowadays, it’s not as bad as you think.

Valued at over AUD$260 billion, the global online education industry has been growing at a considerable rate and the variety of courses you can find online certainly reflects that growth.

No matter what you want to learn about – from writing to business management, photography, video editing, marketing, and more – there’s an online course about it, and it might even be free of charge.

Keep reading as we check out 20 free online courses you can start today:

Introduction to Project Management

The University of Adelaide via edX

Length: 6 weeks
Time commitment: 2 to 3 hours per week
Skill level: Beginner

Whether you want to take the first step in your education on project management, or you believe you need certain skills within the area for a project you’re going to take on in the future, “Introduction to Project Management” will teach you all the knowledge necessary to efficiently deliver projects of any size.

During six weeks, you’ll get a better understanding of why projects nowadays are more complex, and you’ll get to work not only on project management core skills but also on your communication and leadership capabilities.

This course has a strong practical component, and you’ll get to experience first-hand every single step of project management, from planning to scoping, budgeting, and managing.

The course is taught in English, it has no prerequisites and it is self-paced, so it’s perfect if you need some flexibility.

Once you finish the six weeks, you can get a verified certificate for AUD$278.

Strategic Brand Management

Curtin University via edX

Length: 12 weeks
Time commitment: 8 to 10 hours per week
Skill level: Advanced

Relevant to anyone working in marketing, PR, or communications, “Strategic Brand Management” is a part of CurtinX MicroMasters Credential in Marketing in a Digital World, a 5-course program that covers every essential skill you might need in that realm.

In order to take this brand management online course, you need to have completed the first two parts. Additionally, in order to receive the final MicroMasters Credential, you will need to have a Verified Certificate for all five parts of the program (the courses are all free, while the certificates aren’t).

Needless to say, if you want to take this course, you need to be fully committed to studying for 46 weeks.

Doing so will definitely pay off, as in this part of the program alone, you’ll get to learn all about customer-based brand equity, brand resonance, elements, and value chain, brand-building marketing plans, brand architecture and extensions, and how to manage brands over time, geographic boundaries, and market segments.

The course is taught in English, it is led by an instructor on a specific schedule and the Verified Certificate costs AUD$278.

Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills

University of Michigan via Coursera

Length: 4 weeks
Time commitment: 2 to 4 hours per week
Skill level: Beginner
Rated: 4.8/5 stars

Being able to negotiate is a crucial skill to have, no only in the workplace, but even in our personal lives, and this course is perfect for you to polish your negotiation capabilities.

During four weeks, you’ll practice the four essential steps to a successful negotiation, which are:

1. Prepare: planning your negotiation strategy
2. Negotiate: using key methods for success
3. Close: creating a contract
4. Perform and evaluate

The course is made of short interactive videos, from five to 20 minutes, which include questions to test your understanding of each topic that is covered. In Module 6, you’ll get to complete a negotiation, either with a local friend or an international partner and receive valuable feedback. Finally, you take a mastery exam, in which you have to answer at least 80% of the questions correctly.

The course is available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and it allows you to study at your own pace. In the end, you receive a shareable certificate, which includes the University of Michigan logo.

Preparing to Manage Human Resources

University of Minnesota via Coursera

Length: 4 weeks
Time commitment: 4 to 5 hours per week
Skill level: Beginner
Rated: 4.8/5 stars

Interested in Human Resources but have no experience in the area? Then “Preparing to Manage Human Resources” is the right online course for you.
The course is composed of videos, readings, and quizzes, all of which will give you a good grasp of how you can use alternative HRM strategies to skillfully manage employees, what the monetary and non-monetary reasons for working are and how they impact HR, and how to overcome legal constraints managers typically face.
“Preparing to Manage Human Resources” is taught in English and it has flexible deadlines.

This course is the first part of the “Human Resources Management: HR for People Managers Specialization” program so, if you want to deepen your knowledge on HR even further, there are four other courses you can enrol in:

❖ Recruiting, Hiring, and Onboarding Employees
❖ Managing Employee Performance
❖ Managing Employee Compensation
❖ Human Resources Management Capstone: HR for People Managers

The full program takes about six months to complete (with a commitment to three hours a week) and you can enrol for free to all four parts.

Fundamentals of Graphic Design

Calarts via Coursera

Length: 4 weeks
Time commitment: 3 to 5 hours per week
Skill level: Beginner
Rated: 4.8/5 stars

Digital marketing is an increasingly competitive area and if there’s one thing that can instantly make a brand stand out, it’s their branded visuals. These two facts combined lead to one undeniable truth: graphic design is now more important than ever.
“Fundamentals of Graphic Design” is a comprehensive course that covers all the essential principles a graphic designer needs to be familiar with, including image-making, typography, colours, shapes, patterns, composition, visual contrast, and more.

The course is taught in English, but it also has Spanish subtitles, and it has flexible deadlines.

Once again, this course is part of a broader program, called “Graphic Design Specialization” and which includes five other (free) courses:

❖ Introduction to Typography
❖ Introduction to Image-making
❖ Ideas from the History of Graphic Design
❖ Brand New Brand

In order to complete this course, you need to have access to the Adobe Creative Suite programs, as well as some basic knowledge about how they work.

Explore Animation

National Film and Television School via Future Learn

Length: 4 weeks
Time commitment: 3 hours per week
Skill level: Beginner
Rated: 4.7/5 stars

Taught by award-winning animators, “Explore Animation” isn’t just tailored at beginners in the area, but also at fans who are simply curious to know more about the behind-the-scenes of animated content.

The course is based on real-life examples both from the teachers’ own work and others, and it covers four different types of animation:

❖ Stop motion or stop-frame animation
❖ 2D or cel animation
❖ Big-scale animation in the real world
❖ CGI or 3D computer animation

Over four weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to only hear about these techniques but to experiment with them as well, and even produce your own short animations and share them with others.

The course doesn’t have any prerequisites and you don’t need to own any specific equipment or software, as it will be conducted using everyday tools and free applications.

Upon completion, you can get access to a print and digital Certificate of Achievement for $79. If you choose to pay this fee, you also get access to the course for as long as it remains on the platform.

Fundamentals of Digital Marketing

Google Digital Garage

Length: 40 hours
Skill level: Beginner

Accredited by Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe and The Open University, Google’s “Fundamentals of Digital Marketing” course is the perfect choice for any digital marketing beginner who wants to discover all the essentials they might need for their business or career.

The self-paced course is made of 26 modules developed by Google trainers, which include bite-sized video tutorials, real-world cases, and practical exercises. Some of these modules are:

❖ Your first steps in online success
❖ Get started with search
❖ Make mobile work for you
❖ Get started with content marketing
❖ Deep dive into display advertising

If you’re looking for an all-in-one, comprehensive course, this is definitely it, as you’ll get to work on all the most essential skills within digital marketing: Analytics and data insights, Business strategy, Content marketing, Display advertising, E-commerce, Email marketing, Local marketing, Mobile, SEM, SEO, Social media, Video, and Web optimisation.

Once you complete all the modules and pass the final 40-question exam, you’re awarded a Digital Marketing Certification from Google.

Computer with graphics

Digital Branding and Engagement

Curtin University via edX

Length: 4 weeks
Time commitment: 3 to 4 hours per week
Skill level: Intermediate

If you are familiar with branding, but you’re still relatively new to it, you might struggle to figure out how you can get people to engage with your brand, which is exactly what “Digital Branding and Engagement” is about.

The course was developed based on the fact that, in a world where technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace, traditional business models aren’t enough to boost brand awareness anymore.

To help overcome this obstacle, and answer the question “What do brands have to do to boost awareness and visibility nowadays?”, it goes over four modules:

1. The Digital Consumer
2. Content Marketing
3. Owned Media Assets
4. Earned Media

In order to complete “Digital Branding and Engagement”, you need to have access to a free Google account, as well as to YouTube.

The course is taught in English and the Verified Certificate costs AUD$138. It is also a part of the CurtinX MicroMasters Credential in Marketing in a Digital World, which we have talked about above.

iOS App Development For Beginners

Dee Aliyu Odumosu (Freelance Developer with over 120 Apps Developed) via Udemy

Length: 4 hours and 57 minutes
Skill level: Beginner
Rated: 4.4/5 stars

Developing an entire mobile app without writing one line of code might sound like mission impossible, but it’s exactly what “iOS App Development for Beginners” will teach you.

Ideal for anyone who is completely new to the Apple iOS platform and possesses no Swift programming capabilities, this course uses native iOS development tools to teach you a variety of technical skills, including:

❖ Introduction to stack view
❖ UINavigation controller
❖ property file
❖ Icon and asset catalogue creation
❖ Memory management
❖ IBOutlet and IBActions

The course is composed of 65 lectures in on-demand video format, that are divided into four sections: Introduction, Introduction to iOS Development – The Basics, What’s New in iOS 11 and Xcode 9, and Conclusion and Bonus.

The only requirement for this course is that you own a Mac computer.

HTML, CSS, and Javascript for Web Developers

Johns Hopkins University via Coursera

Length: 5 weeks
Time commitment: 7 to 11 hours per week
Skill level: Beginner
Rated: 4.8/5 stars

Nowadays, the consumers’ expectations for any website are incredibly high and the role of web page coders has become very important in any business.
“HTML, CSS, and Javascript for Web Developers” is a fantastic course for anyone who is interested in the programming industry, as it goes over all the essentials and basic tools that any web coder needs to be familiar with.

The course focuses both on desktop and mobile-responsive design and developing and it is divided into five parts, which all include video and written content, as well as optional quizzes:

❖ Introduction to HTML5
❖ Introduction to CSS3
❖ Coding the Static Restaurante Site
❖ Introduction to Javascript
❖ Using Javascript to Build Web Applications

The course is available in English, but it also has Korean subtitles. You can change your deadlines as it best fits you and in the end, you can receive a Shareable Certificate.

Introduction to Corporate Finance

Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania via Coursera

Length: 4 weeks
Time commitment: 1 to 2 hours per week
Skill level: Beginner
Rate: 4.6/5 stars

The world of finances is a rather complex one, so the best thing any beginner can do is start slow, by learning the fundamentals in a brief, straight-to-the-point way, and that’s exactly what you’ll be able to do by enrolling in the “Introduction to Corporate Finance” course.

Over four weeks, you’ll get to learn what some of the most essential financial concepts are, including risk-return tradeoff, mortgage finance, and internal rate of return, and even more importantly, you’ll understand how they apply to real-life situations, both personal and professional.

You’ll start by learning the time value of money and discussing the topic of inflation, to then understand what interest rates are, how to analyse discount cash flow and, finally, what return on investment means.

This course is a part of other programs and, if upon completion, you feel like you want to dive deeper into corporate finance, you can move on to either of these Specialisations:

❖ Finance & Quantitative Modeling for Analysts
❖ Introduction to Finance and Accounting
❖ Business Foundations

Stock Market Investing for Beginners

John Ducas via Udemy

Length: 1 hour and 31 minutes
Skill level: Beginner
Rated: 4.4/5 stars

Investing in the stock market is always a risk, but it can result in big profits and dividend income, and it can lead you to become a shareholder in a company, growing and expanding your career in business.

Needless to say that you’ll only experience these benefits if you educate yourself on all things stock market investing. If you are completely new to this market, then this “Stock Market Investing for Beginners” course is for you.

Created by John Ducas, a young yet skilled investor and entrepreneur, who according to Forbes, serves more than 110 clients, this course will teach anyone what the stock market is, what are the complexities of the market, how to begin investing virtual money, and how to talk about this sort of topic.

The course doesn’t have prerequisites and it is divided into “comprehensive, interesting and fun lectures”.

English Grammar and Style

The University of Queensland via edX

Length: 8 weeks
Time commitment: 3 to 4 hours per week
Skill level: Beginner

Nowadays, nearly any professional from any area has to send out professional emails and messages and avoiding typos, grammar mistakes, and confusing phrasing is crucial to make a good impression on the receiver.
“English Grammar and Style” teaches all the important concepts and strategies that anyone needs to have in order to meet the high levels of literacy that exist in the 21st century.

Over eight weeks, you’ll learn about seven components of the English language, through video interviews, mini-lectures, reading, writing activities, and more:

1. Sentences
2. Verbs
3. Nouns and pronouns
4. Adjectives and determiners
5. Adverbs and conjunctions
6. Prepositions and paragraphs
7. Punctuation

By the end, you’ll know how to produce coherent and engaging writing material, how to evaluate and critique both yours and other people’s writing skills, and have a better grasp of “grammatical concepts and syntactic strategies”.

The course is taught in English and it is led by an instructor on a predetermined schedule. Once you finish all the modules, you can get a Verified Certificate for AUD$138.

How to Write a Resume

Sunny Online via Coursera

Length: 4 weeks
Time commitment: 10 minutes to 2 hours per week
Skill level: Beginner
Rated: 4.5/5 stars

If your time to enter the workforce is approaching, there’s one document you’ll need to create and perfect, and that is your resume. However, doing so might not be as straightforward as it seems, particularly for those who are applying for their first job.
“How to Write a Resume” is a very light course, and it doesn’t take much of your time to complete, but it will equip you with the knowledge you need to draft your resume.

Firstly, you’ll learn the basics of the basics: what a resume is and what it might be used for. Then, you’ll go over all the typical sections of a resume, as well as how to best present your transferable skills from past experience in yours. During the third module, you’ll learn all about actually writing content for your resume, and after that, you’ll discover how to properly organise the final document. Finally, you’ll learn about looking for jobs in your industry, how the employer might react to a resume, and other F.A.Q.s.

An Introduction to Screenwriting

School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing, University of East Anglia via Future Learn

Length: 2 weeks
Time commitment: 3 hours per week
Skill level: Beginner to intermediate
Rated: 4.8/5 stars

If you’ve always dreamed of writing your own films but you’re not quite sure what doing so professionally entails, enrolling in the “An Introduction to Screenwriting” course is a great starting point.

Over two weeks, you’ll explore both the theoretical and practical components of scriptwriting, understanding not only what the key principles used in all the best films are, but how you can apply them to your creations.

The course is divided into two parts:

❖ “Cinematic story, form and structure”, during which you’ll review how screen stories operate and what a “story structure” looks like.
❖ “Character, writing the scene and first draft”, during which you’ll discover how a cinematic character is developed, how the scene construction process works, and what the ideal workflow for writing your first scene is.

There are no formal requirements for this course and you can go through the modules at your own pace.

For a fee of $79, you get access to a Certificate of Achievement (given that you complete both weeks of learning) and to the course itself for as long as it is still on FutureLearn.

Leading Change: Go Beyond Gamification with Gameful Learning

University of Michigan and Microsoft via edX

Length: 8 weeks
Time commitment: 2 to 3 hours per week
Skill level: Beginner

“Leading Change: Go Beyond Gamification with Gameful Learning” was developed for teachers and school leaders, and the course’s primary goal is simple: to introduce gamification into the learning process that is typically used in schools, promoting engagement, autonomy, and resilience in every classroom.

During the course, you’ll learn why gamification works in learning environments, what the ten core design principles for learning games are, how to create a curriculum that includes gameful learning, how to develop a gameful change plan for your school, and more.
By the end, you’ll be properly equipped to bring gamification into your classroom and support other teachers who want to do the same.

This course is a part of Microsoft K-12 Education Leadership, which was created to offer K-12 school leaders the resources they need to keep providing high-quality educational services in a “changing educational and technology landscape”.

Explore Filmmaking: from Script to Screen

National Film and Television School via Future Learn

Length: 6 weeks
Time commitment: 3 hours per week
Skill level: Beginner

Rated: 4.8/5 stars

“Explore Filmmaking: from Script to Screen” explores a series of film production concepts and processes, and it is tailored for anyone who’s interested in the filmmaking process, whether it is to create their short films, pursue a career in the area, or for pure curiosity.
The course is led by award-winning filmmakers who use their own work, as well as films that have inspired them, to take their students through the entire process of telling a story, from writing to directing, editing, and composing.

The course is composed of six different modules, all of which theory, practice activities, and final reflections:

1. A Passion for Film
2. Having Vision: Telling Stories
3. An Accumulation of Decisions
4. Breaking Down a Scene
5. Transitions in Time and Space
6. Music and Sound in Film

By the end of the course, you’ll have a solid grasp of the roles involved in the shooting of a film, the contribution of the camera and editing to storytelling, the role of music and sound in the filmmaking process, and more.

You don’t need to have any filmmaking skills or equipment, you can go through the modules at your own pace and, for $99, you’ll get a Certificate of Achievement and long-term access to the contents of the course.

Principles of Photo Composition and Digital Image Post-Production

Michigan State University via Coursera

Length: 4 weeks
Time commitment: 2 to 6 hours per week
Skill level: Intermediate
Rated: 4.7/5 stars

Knowing how to arrange the elements of a photo in order to create the ideal composition is what will set your visuals apart from the competition, but what exactly does that mean?

That’s exactly the question that “Principles of Photo Composition and Digital Image Post-Production” answers throughout four modules:

❖ Elements of Design: Building Blocks of Composition
❖ Composition means putting the Elements of Design together!
❖ Photo Editing Fundamentals 1.0: “Workflow,” from Exposure through Adobe™ Lightroom™ Classic
❖ Photo Editing Fundamentals 2.0: SmartPhone Apps

This course is the third part of a Specialisation in “Photography Basics and Beyond: From Smartphone to DSLR”, so if you aren’t at an intermediate level of photography yet, it can be worth exploring the first and second course of the program:

❖ Cameras, Exposure, and Photography
❖ Camera Control

To take your photography expertise even further, considering enrolling in the final two courses of the specialisation program:

❖ Photography Techniques: Light, Content, and Sharing
❖ Photography Capstone Project

The full program tasks six months to complete (with a commitment of four hours per week), but there’s a good level of flexibility, as you can adjust deadlines as necessary.

Youth Mental Health: Helping Young People with Anxiety

University of East Anglia via Future Learn

Length: 3 weeks
Time commitment: 3 hours per week
Skill level: Beginner to intermediate
Rated: 4.7/5 stars

If you know you want to start a career in mental health, particularly working with young people, and you want to start investing in your education, “Youth Mental Health: Helping Young People with Anxiety” is an excellent choice.

Over three weeks, you’ll learn about the characteristics of anxiety, stigma and mental illness, adolescent development, mindfulness, and more.
In the end, you’ll be able not only to identify different anxiety disorders commonly experienced by young people but the root causes behind them, and how you can help them cope with abnormal states of anxiety.

Understanding the Australian Health Care System

The University of Queensland via edX

Length: 9 weeks
Time commitment: 1 to 2 hours per week
Skill level: Beginner

Each country’s health care system has its own characteristics, structure, strengths, and weaknesses. If you know you want to work in the healthcare industry in Australia, getting a good understanding of how it works and how a typical patient journey looks like can be extremely beneficial.
The course has both theoretical and practical components and it is divided into eight sections:

1. Health System Structure
2. Funding and Medicare
3. Insurance and Health
4. People and Roles
5. Health Landscapes
6. Standards and Access
7. Medicines and Therapeutic Goods
8. Mapping and Facilitating Journeys

By the end, you’ll be able to identify the services within the Australian healthcare system, map and facilitate a patient journey, pinpoint reliable information about the healthcare system, and more. The introductory course is led in English, it is self-paced at your own time, and for $82, you can receive a Verified Certificate upon completion.

Investing in your future… without breaking the bank

When it comes to online courses, your options are endless and, as you can see, you don’t even have to spend one dollar to get access to valuable insights – no matter what area you want to learn more about.

If you’re looking for something more substantial that’s recognised in Australia check out Monarch’s courses today or chat to us about which course might be right for you.

Good luck and happy studying.

Any questions? Ask away!