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Free Online College Courses for Credit in 2020

We’re spending more time learning and working from home these days, and now could be the perfect time to enhance your education with free online college courses for credit. Whether you’re currently enrolled in a degree program or you’ve decided you’re ready to go back to school, there are several affordable, flexible options for learning online.

MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Course, have been around for years, and hundreds of colleges worldwide offer these free classes to anybody with access to the internet and a computer. They cover a vast range of topics and learning levels, spanning everything from reviews on interactive programming in Python to courses in happiness and fulfillment. MOOCs have revolutionized higher education, making world-class curriculums available to everyone regardless of education level or financial status.

But while these classes offer unprecedented access to a college-level education, they haven’t always provided the academic credit to go along with it. Recently, more courses offer ways to earn credits for transfer: some completely free, and some for a low cost.

Free online college courses for credit

You’re probably wondering if you can get college credit for free online courses. Not all free online college courses or MOOCs are for credit, but there are several no- and low-cost ways to work toward your degree from your couch, kitchen table, or wherever you do your remote learning or working.

Let’s break down some of the different categories of free online college courses for credit:

  • 100% free courses – These courses are entirely free of charge, and you don’t have to “buy” the credits you’ve earned for transfer to another institution.
  • Pay after you pass – Many classes are completely free, but once you pass the course, you’ll have to pay a fee to purchase the credit so you can apply it toward your degree or transfer it to another school.
  • Subscribe to study – Many programs work on a subscription or pay-per-credit basis where you pay a relatively low fee before taking a class and earning credit. These may be a good option if you can’t find a particular class that’s 100% free but still need to stay on a budget.

Where can I find free courses for credit?

There are many different online learning platforms that offer free college courses for credit and no credit. Several companies are well-known as pioneers of the MOOC movement, including edEx, Coursera, and Udemy. But over the years, many universities have joined the ranks, including Ivy League schools like Harvard and Yale and state institutions, including Arizona State University and Charter Oak State College. Remember, most MOOCs and free online courses are not available for academic credit. However, some of these companies and schools have teamed up to offer completely free classes you can use toward earning your college degree, and they generally fall into one of the three categories you can browse in our list below.

How can I transfer my courses for credit?

Every school has a different transfer credit policy and process. The best way to know if a school will accept your transfer credits (from any type of program) is to contact the school directly and speak to an admissions advisor or transfer advisor. Usually, a school’s website will have a page with information specifically about its transfer policy, including the number of credits it accepts and other guidelines.

No matter which route you take to earn free or low-cost online college credits, it’s smart to do your research before enrolling. Only select reputable programs that are accredited or associated with an accredited school, and can verify that other institutions will accept their credits. Accreditation means a school meets specific educational quality standards. A school’s accreditation status may affect whether other schools accept credit transfers from them or if you’re eligible for financial aid.

There are thousands of programs available online, and we know the choices can be overwhelming. We gathered information on many different no-cost and low-cost MOOCs and online courses that can be applied or transferred toward a college degree for credit. Take a look and see which programs may be a great way to enhance your degree for free.

 

100% Free Courses

These college-level courses are free for anyone to take online (although some conditions may apply, which we’ve outlined for each class).

American Government

Available through: Modern States and edX

Course description: This CLEP course reviews the material usually taught in one semester of an introductory course in American Government and politics at a university. It covers topics including institutions and policy processes of the federal government, the federal courts and civil liberties, and political parties and interest groups. This program is part of Modern States, a non-profit that has aligned with edX as part of a goal to provide “Freshman Year for Free.” All courses, textbooks and materials are provided online and free of charge, and prepare students for the major Advanced Placement (AP) or “College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests offered by the College Board, which enable students to earn credits towards a degree before enrolling.

Application process: There is no application, and no prerequisites are required.

Credit information: Many schools accept CLEP and AP credits, which could save you tuition dollars. The College Board charges $92 per AP exam and $89 per CLEP exam, but Modern States is paying the test fee for the first 10,000 students, and military personnel can take the tests free of charge.

 

Course: AP Environmental Science – Part 1: The Living World

Available through: Modern States and edX

Course description: This course prepares students for the AP Environmental Science exam and is part of a comprehensive series focused on the living world and evolution. This program is part of Modern States, a non-profit that has aligned with edX as part of a goal to provide “Freshman Year for Free.” All courses, textbooks and materials are provided online and free of charge, and prepare students for the major Advanced Placement (AP) or “College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests offered by the College Board, which enable students to earn credits towards a degree before enrolling.

Application process: There is no application, and no prerequisites are required.

Credit information: Many schools accept CLEP and AP credits, which could save you tuition dollars. The College Board charges $92 per AP exam and $89 per CLEP exam, but Modern States is paying the test fee for the first 10,000 students, and military personnel can take the tests free of charge.

 

Course: Human Growth and Development

Available through: Modern States and edX

Course description: This CLEP course covers the fundamentals usually taught in a one-semester introductory class in developmental psychology or human development, teaching about infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and aging. This program is part of Modern States, a non-profit that has aligned with edX as part of a goal to provide “Freshman Year for Free.” All courses, textbooks and materials are provided online and free of charge, and prepare students for the major Advanced Placement (AP) or “College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests offered by the College Board, which enable students to earn credits towards a degree before enrolling.

Application process: There is no application, and no prerequisites are required.

Credit information: Many schools accept CLEP and AP credits, which could save you tuition dollars. The College Board charges $92 per AP exam and $89 per CLEP exam, but Modern States is paying the test fee for the first 10,000 students, and military personnel can take the tests free of charge.

 

Course: Western Civilization I: Ancient Near East to 1648

Available through: Modern States and edX

Course description: This CLEP course reviews the civilizations of Ancient Greece. Rome, and the Near East; the Middle Ages; the Renaissance and Reformation; and early modern Europe. This program is part of Modern States, a non-profit that has aligned with edX as part of a goal to provide “Freshman Year for Free.” All courses, textbooks and materials are provided online and free of charge, and prepare students for the major Advanced Placement (AP) or “College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests offered by the College Board, which enable students to earn credits towards a degree before enrolling.

Application process: There is no application, and no prerequisites are required.

Credit information: Many schools accept CLEP and AP credits, which could save you tuition dollars. The College Board charges $92 per AP exam and $89 per CLEP exam, but Modern States is paying the test fee for the first 10,000 students, and military personnel can take the tests free of charge.

 

Course: Communications and Networking

Available through: University of the People (UoPeople)

Course description: This course covers the fundamentals of communication networks, including the OSI model and different types of communication protocols, such as Internet Protocol (TCP/IP protocol) and basic concepts of the Internet. This course is offered as part of the Computer Science Associates Degree at University of the People, the world’s first tuition-free, accredited, 100% online American university.

Application process: Students need to enroll in the University of the People in order to take free classes. The application process is online and requires you to provide some basic information about your identity, education history, English proficiency-completion and score (if relevant), and a one-time non-refundable application fee of $60.

Credit information: Tuition is completely free at The University of the People. Many schools worldwide accept transfer credits from UoPeople, such as University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), a partner institution of the school.

 

Course: Understanding Barriers to Learning

Available through: University of the People (UoPeople)

Course description: This course covers the diverse needs of different students in a single classroom and how the single-classroom model can hinder learning. It covers challenges students may experience that impede learning, including physical and sensory disabilities and health impairments; cognitive, emotional, and psychological differences; and racial/ethnic, gender, cultural, socio-economic, and linguistic variability. This course is offered as part of the M.Ed. – Online Master of Education in Cooperated with the International Baccalaureate Program at University of the People, the world’s first tuition-free, accredited, 100% online American university.

Application process: Students need to enroll in the University of the People in order to take free classes. The application process is online and requires you to provide some basic information about your identity, education history, English proficiency-completion and score (if relevant), and a one-time non-refundable application fee of $60.

Credit information: Tuition is completely free at The University of the People. Many schools worldwide accept transfer credits from UoPeople, such as University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), a partner institution of the school.

 

 

Pay After You Pass

The classes in this category are entirely free to take online, and anyone can enroll. However, you can only purchase the credits you’ve earned for transfer after completing the course.

Course: College Algebra and Problem Solving

Available through: Global Freshman Academy from Arizona State University (ASU) and edX

Course description: This college-level math course prepares students for future courses in Calculus by teaching Algebra’s basics.

Application process: No application is necessary. Students can start the class immediately with no application or no fees.

Credit information: This class is a 3-credit hour course at Arizona State University and the cost to convert the credit is $600. Students pay for credits after they pass. Credits can be applied at ASU or any accepting university.

 

Course: Precalculus

Available through: Global Freshman Academy from Arizona State University (ASU) and edX

Course description: This college-level course teaches the skills needed for future Calculus studies.

Application process: No application is necessary. Students can start the class immediately with no application or no fees.

Credit information: This class is a 3-credit hour course and meets the Mathematical Studies (MA) general studies requirement at Arizona State University. Students pay for credits after they pass. Credits can be applied at ASU or any accepting university.

 

Course: Agile Development Using Ruby on Rails – the Basics

Available through: Charter Oak State College and edX

Course description: This course teaches Ruby programming language basics, the Ruby on Rails Model-View-Controller (MCV) development framework and other software engineering essentials.

Application process: There are no admissions requirements or application necessary.

Credit process: Students can choose to receive transferable credit only after they’ve completed the course. Credits are available for purchase at $100 per credit hour and can be applied at any accepting university.

 

Course: Agile Development Using Ruby on Rails – Advanced

Available through: Charter Oak State College and edX

Course description: This class teaches students how to become advanced Ruby on Rails developers by applying Agile techniques to enhance and refactor legacy code.

Application process: There are no admissions requirements or application necessary.

Credit information: Students can choose to receive transferable credit only after they’ve completed the course. Credits are available for purchase at $100 per credit hour and can be applied at any accepting university.

 

Course: Professional Writing – English Composition

Available through: MicroBachelors Programs for Undergraduate Education

Course description: This course teaches students how to effectively express their ideas through writing for various personal and professional purposes, audiences, and occasions. Students can take this class as part of the Professional Writing MicroBachelors program designed for adult learners who want an affordable, accelerated, and flexible way to earn their Bachelor’s degree while working.

Application process: There is no application process.

Credit information: After successfully completing a program, students can elect to receive academic credit from colleges and universities that have reviewed the program and agreed to grant credit for completion. Thomas Edison State University, a New Jersey public university, provides credit for most MicroBachelors programs. Each credit costs $166 after completion.

 

Course: Marketing Foundations

Available through: MicroBachelors Programs for Undergraduate Education

Course description: Students can learn the fundamentals of marketing and how to apply it in an overall business strategy. Students can take this class as part of the Marketing Essentials MicroBachelors program designed for adult learners who want an affordable, accelerated, and flexible way to earn their Bachelor’s degree while working.

Application process: There is no application process.

Credit information: After successfully completing a program, students can elect to receive academic credit from colleges and universities that have reviewed the program and agreed to grant credit for completion. Thomas Edison State University, a New Jersey public university, provides credit for most MicroBachelors programs. Each credit costs $166 after completion.

 

Subscribe to Study

Several websites require a monthly subscription fee providing access to hundreds of courses for credit. Some sites charge a flat fee that grants access to every class, while some charge a monthly fee and then costs for each course you take additionally.

Course: Introduction to Criminal Justice

Available through: Straighterline

Course description: This course covers the essentials of the American criminal justice system, including how laws are created, the structure of the court system, and how the American correctional system has evolved over time.

Application process: There is no application required.

Credit information: This course provides three college credits and costs $59. This fee is in addition to the $99 monthly membership that provides access to every course on the site.

 

Course: Medical Terminology

Available through: Straighterline

Course description: This course provides a review of medical terminology, including how to apply it properly and the spelling for major pathological conditions. It covers terms used for the integumentary, respiratory, nervous, reproductive, endocrine, urinary, digestive, lymphatic, hematic, immune, and musculoskeletal systems.

Application process: There is no application required.

Credit information: This course provides three college credits and costs $109. This fee is in addition to the $99 monthly membership that provides access to every course on the site.

 

Course: Business 107: Organizational Behavior

Available through: Study.com

Course description: This course teaches the principles of organizational behavior, including workplace ethics, conflict management, employee motivation, and career management, as well as workplace diversity,

Application process: There is no application required.

Credit information: This program has been evaluated and recommended for two semester hours and may be transferred to over 2,000 colleges and universities. There is a flat subscription rate of $199 per month, which gives students access to their College Accelerator program that offers ACE- and NCCRS-recommended courses available for transfer.

 

Course: Spanish 105: Spanish for the Workplace

Available through: Study.com

Course description: This course, designed to improve your Spanish skills, will also help you learn how to speak Spanish in a way that’s useful in the workplace and business world.

Application process: There is no application required.

Credit information: This program has been evaluated and recommended for three semester hours and may be transferred to over 2,000 colleges and universities. There is a flat subscription rate of $199 per month, which gives students access to their College Accelerator program that offers ACE- and NCCRS-recommended courses available for transfer.