It’s no secret that higher education costs a lot of money. Unfortunately, not all of us can afford those high fees and other expenses of superb colleges and universities.
And sometimes, we’re located too far away from cities and educational centers to pursue higher education or learn a skill that would help at career.
Thankfully, this needn’t be a reason be despair. There’re countless free online courses with printable certificates that you can do from anywhere and anytime.
Understandably, these aren’t complete courses and hence, the certifications won’t really form any part of your academic qualifications.
However, the skills you learn online and free certificates can serve as force multiplier when applying for jobs or doing business.
Why Free Online Certification Courses?
Obviously, you’ll wonder who’s giving away free online certification courses with printable certificates. And are they sham or scam or genuine, legit certificates?
The answer to both your questions is simple: these 20 free online courses with printable certificates I’m writing about are 100 percent legit and available from some of the highly respected seats of learning and online academies.
There’s a reason they’re giving it free too. Firstly, these academies, colleges, vocational training institutes and universities wish to popularize one or more courses.
Hence, the free course they offer is actually a sample of what you can expect during the full, paid course.
By offering the free ‘sample course,’ these academies try to promote the full course that costs money. You’ll generally get calls and emails to join the longer and full paid course while you’re studying for the free one.
The educational institute considers you as a lead or potential customer for the full course.
In simplest words, the sample course is a sort of bait or teaser that educational institutes uses as marketing gimmick.
21 Best Free Online Courses with Printable Certificates
Having said that, it may not be an entirely bad idea to study a free online certification course and get their printable certificate. Once you have some clue about what the course entails, you are free to continue or leave it.
Since there’re no fees, you don’t lose anything except the time and effort you invested for three to four hours. There’s no force or compulsion to complete the course merely because you’ve paid for it.
And if you like the course, there’s always the option of paying and taking the full package. So, let’s see which are the best free online courses with printable certificates.
1. Skill Share
Regardless whether you’re looking for a free course to fine tune skills in a specific profession or want to learn something just for fun, Skill Share has it all.
While this website specializes in paid courses through memberships, they also offer countless high-value free training courses with certifications.
Whether you wish to open a marketplace on Etsy or learn how to create excellent graphic designs for free, there’re numerous courses with printable certificates now available through Skill Share.
If you wish to enrol for the premium courses then there is good news for you. Skillshare is offering an absolutely free 7 days trial for all the new users where you can attend unlimited classes. So, don’t miss this chance to learn from the best trainers.
With over 35 million students learning on this platform, Udemy is undoubtedly one of the best online course provider in the world.
So, if you are searching for free online courses with printable certificates then what better than Udemy to learn from. You can find free certification courses on popular topics like personal development, web development, goal setting, java to name a few.
In fact, Udemy lists free courses from 32 different languages including Putonghua or Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Turkish, Japanese, Hangul, Spanish, Portuguese, and others.
This is something important: Udemy has countless courses for any specific language. Therefore, be careful in selecting one which provides printable certificate either free or for a small cost.
These language certificates can prove useful while seeking jobs in a foreign country. Though you won’t master the entire language, the skills would enable you to perform some basic tasks.
A lot of highly reputed universities in the world don’t offer free online certification courses from their own websites. Instead, they offer it from online learning management systems and course providers such as Coursera.
In fact, Coursera has an excellent library of free courses with free certificates from worlds topmost University. You can register for these free MOOCs anytime. Coursera also has free online certification courses from several American and British universities too.
You can get access to over 1500 free online courses with certificates from top universities on popular categories like business, Health, social sciences, personal development, language learning etc.
EDX is the free online courses channel partner for over 140 highly respected seats of learning from around the world, including US, UK, Canada and Australia, among other countries.
You can find excellent short-term online courses in about 50 categories on EDX. Broadly speaking, these are introductory courses which give you superb glimpse into what a particular field of study holds, before deciding to opt for fulltime studies and a career in that sector.
Harvard University, Cambridge University, Princeton University are just some of the reputed seats of learning that use EDX as their channel partner.
So, if you are searching for professional online certifications courses for free then consider signing up at EDX.
5. Future Learn
You can get amazing free courses with digital upgrade and online certifications in subjects such as business & management, literature, creative arts and media, science, engineering, psychology and mental health, linguistics and law, among others from Future Learn.
All their free online courses come from top Australian universities. You can also look for personality development courses here.
Future Health also offers fulltime and paid courses from Australian universities, if you wish to go for higher education.
6. Harvard University
One of the most reputed universities of the world, Harvard University, is offering more than 50 assorted courses absolutely free of cost. And they’re offering downloadable and printable certificates too.
These free courses from Harvard University come under the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) category, meaning there’re no upper limits on the number of students that can register.
You can find courses under different categories: Artificial Intelligence, Data Analysis, Cloud Computing, music and fine arts, theological and religious courses, business skills and medicine, among others.
While these courses from Harvard University are free, you may have to pay some money to get the printable certificate for some of them.
Of course, you won’t mingle with their alumni that reads like who’s who of the world. Yet, you’ll have a certification that tends to attract employers.
7. Stanford University
This might come as a shocker, but another topmost university in the world, Stanford, also offers a lot of free courses. Check their website for details and take one that suits your needs.
Stanford University has courses in education, health and medicine, engineering, arts and humanities and several other streams of study.
Stanford University provides some of these free courses with printable certification from its own website. Others are available from online learning management systems such as Coursera.com, among others.
Generally, majority of all free courses, including those from Stanford University are for people that have basic knowledge about a topic and wish to learn more. And some courses are for beginners. Browse their online catalog of free courses.
You’ll find dozens of free courses with printable certificates on Google Digital Garage, an online learning portal from Google itself.
These courses are available under three broad categories: digital marketing, career development, data and tech. You can register and start the courses right away. All these courses come with printable certifications.
Their digital marketing courses are particularly useful for people that wish to make a career in the field since the certification is a hallmark of your skills.
9. Princeton University
And since we’re talking about free online certification courses from topmost universities of the world, let’s not forget Princeton University. Maybe you’re unaware, but Princeton University is one of the oldest- rather the fourth- college to open in USA way back in the year 1746.
Holding a degree from Princeton University is extremely prestigious since getting admission there requires extreme efforts and high academic scores.
Princeton University has a selection of nine different courses, mainly on arts and humanities. These are MOOCs meaning, you’re free to join the course anytime during its availability.
However, Princeton University charges a small fee for the printable certificate. In fact, I would suggest you to pay and take the certification because holding one from Princeton can open doors for your career.
10. University of Texas at Austin
A selection of 19 different, free online certification courses are available from the University of Texas at Austin. These courses are in various sectors including IT and computing, algebra and mathematics, arts and humanities, agriculture and nutrition, and general science, among others.
Also available as MOOCs, these are very popular short-term courses that people with basic knowledge about the subject can take.
University of Texas offers printable certificates though for some of the free courses, you might have to pay a small charge.
11. Microsoft Learn
The world’s largest software maker, Microsoft, offers its own online learning portal with over 60 different certification courses for the world. These courses are suitable for both, professionals and beginners.
You can find excellent certification courses that testify to your skills on a specific software, IT process or digital marketing. Most courses offer free certifications. However, these certificates have limited validity.
This means, you need to undergo a refresher course periodically to ensure your certificate remains valid. Microsoft certificates are accepted worldwide.
12. University of Oxford
Do you want certificates from a prestigious educational institute from England? Check out the various free courses that University of Oxford, one of the oldest seats of learning in the world has on offer.
However, University of Oxford doesn’t always provide free courses for all. Therefore, you’ll need to check their website frequently to find whether they have ant that suits your specific needs.
13. University of California at Berkeley
More certificate from very renowned American educational institute, University of California in Berkeley are also available. In fact, they have as many as 49 different free online courses with printable certification on offer.
Literature, advanced IT skills, business and business administration, computing, language skills, history, geography, psychology, arts, and humanities are some of the broad streams under which the University of California at Berkeley offers these MOOC courses.
14. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Who would dream of getting a certificate from the world’s single most popular engineering college which boasts of astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and other notables as alumni members?
These personalities are graduates of MIT. And MIT also offers a dozen free online courses with printable certification. Check their website for current and past courses.
Their free online certification courses offering change quite frequently. Holding an MIT certificate is by itself extremely prestigious.
15. University of Cambridge
Yet more excellent free online certification courses for high-school and junior college students are available from University of Cambridge, also one of the oldest and revered seats of learning in the world.
Check their website frequently since MOOC courses from University of Cambridge are short ones. The university adds newer courses regularly.
Thanks to the strong reputation of the University of Cambridge, seats for some free courses are taken up very fast. Usually, most free online courses comes with printable certificates. These are available for a small fee.
16. eLearning College
Thousands of students across the world register for short, free online courses with printable certifications on the eLearning College portal.
Their courses come from reputed colleges and universities in the US, Canada, UK and Australia, among other countries.
Top among their free online courses are the ones in fields such as nutrition and hospitality management, business management and human resources management. This portal adds newer courses whenever a college or university launches them.
Alison’s website says it offers 1,323 free courses in nine distinct categories such as Art, Science, Culinary Skills, Linguistics, Ecommerce, Graphic Design and others. These courses are open for students from all countries.
Their certificate courses are broadly divided into three categories, depending upon the learning time. Certificate courses are of two to three hours duration, diploma courses of eight to 10 hour duration while ‘learning path’ or the more advanced courses span a full 18 to 20 hours.
18. Bit Degree
All courses on Bit Degree are free and with globally recognized certifications. You can also choose a course according to your skill level: beginner, intermediate and advanced.
Then there’re different categories of courses such as Blockchain, business, computer and coding, data science, design, IT security and software, marketing and personal development to name a few.
These courses are available round the year. Bit Degree also adds new courses to its portfolio frequently.
19. Open Learn
Open Learn has very interesting free online courses from The Open University in various subjects such as money and business, nature and environment, society, politics and law and many more.
While the validity of certifications from these courses is uncertain, the syllabus seems to be pretty interesting to any beginner. Additionally, Open Learn also has advanced courses available free for professionals.
20. Saylor Academy
All free courses on Saylor Academy are provided under the Creative Commons platform which allows tutors to create free courses and upload online.
As a result, there’s no shortage of free online courses and you will easily find at least one course that matches your interest or educational qualifications and profession. Register online and select a course of your choice, whether it’s to learn something as a hobby or for your profession.
21. HubSpot Academy
HubSpot Academy provides hundreds of free online courses with certifications in English, German, Spanish, French and Putonghua (Mandarin Chinese) languages in various high demand categories.
Basically, these courses are meant for sharpening your existing skills or to get proper international certifications that’re useful for freelancing or setting up own business. They have courses for most skills and range from basic to advanced learning.
Value of Certificate
As you’ve seen, some of the topmost universities of the world are offering countless free courses online, on almost every subject. As I mention earlier, these courses serve as marketing resource.
And they also provide continuing education for people that already have some qualifications and want to upgrade their skills.
Are the certificated from these MOOC courses worthwhile? I would say yes. That’s because these free online certification courses, regardless of the duration and simple curriculum, are created by topmost faculty members of these universities.
Hence, the certificate indicates you’ve learned something from the best people around. For employers, these certificates show that you’re serious about continuing education to fine tune your work skills and knowledge or develop more talent.
At the same time, I will caution you against doing these free online certification courses merely to get a certification. That’s because the certificate by itself has no value.
It’s your overall academic qualifications and work experience that would add value to these certificates. Hence, I describe them as force multipliers for your CV or Resume.
You’ll come across thousands of free online courses that are of no value in any manner. That’s because some private organizations use them as a marketing ploy.
They don’t teach anything significant and serve only as advertisements for the paid course. Therefore, I would recommend you to go for free online courses with printable certificates only from the topmost universities in the world.
Opt for courses from other platforms only if you’re interested in getting basics about a profession or career or skill.