The Best Free or Low-Cost Online Courses to Take Right Now

Online courses of all kinds that can help you learn a new skill, or expand your mind. Escape the quarantine boredom with one of these free or inexpensive classes.
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As long as you are sitting at home, you might as well learn something. Brush up on your art, science, math or computer skills, or learn a new language: it’s all available through free and low-cost online courses you can take right now. Many of the free classes are through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), can have as many as 100,000 participants and are available to everyone.

Class Central

The eight Ivy League schools have created some 500 free MOOC classes, of which 450 are still available in subjects like computer science, art and design, social sciences, mathematics and more.

Coursera

Join for free and then take professional development courses at low prices and even earn a degree or industry-recognized credential. There are more than 3,900 courses, more than 13 professional certificates and more than 20 degrees available. The programs are created in conjunction with some 200 leading universities (Stanford, Imperial College London) and companies (IBM, Google).

Masterclass

Who hasn’t wanted to learn magic from Penn And Teller, filmmaking from Martin Scorsese or photography from Annie Leibovitz? With Masterclass you can — choose one of more than 80 classes and savor the 20-or-so about 10-minute lessons.

University of Chicago MOOCs

Free university courses here explore everything from the law and technology to global warming and urban education. Courses vary in length and availability.

University of California, Berkeley

Take classes in everything from journalism and statistics to data science and marketing, or explore the world of blockchain or bitcoin with these free, mostly self-paced, classes.

Codecademy

Learn web development, programming and computer science, or data science online. Codecademy offers a quiz to point you in the right direction if you are not sure where to start; after that you’ll be coding within minutes and have your code tested when you submit it. The basic plan is free and a professional version starts at $20 a month.

Lynda

This 20-year-old platform is now part of LinkedIn Learning and offers instruction on business, software, technology and creative skills. Lynda’s five main categories — software development, design, web development, business and photography — offer at least 600 courses each and some of the most popular have been viewed over 1 million times. Subscriptions are $20 a month if you buy annually with a free month to start.

EdX

Learn a new language or learn algebra in that language and kill two birds with one stone. Founded by Harvard and MIT, edX is home to more than 20 million learners and is one of the biggest nonprofit MOOCs out there and it’s all free.

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Dan Jewett HeadshotDaniel Jewett has been a Bay Area journalist for more than two decades, getting his start as editor of his hometown newspaper, the Foster City Progress. Jewett went on to serve as Associate Editor for Oakland and Alameda magazines before crossing the bridge to serve as Marin Magazine and Spaces’ Managing Editor. Jewett still calls Oakland home, where he writes and plays music with his wife in My Little Hum and hangs out with his chickens, bees and cats, Holly and Maple.

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