10 Free Great Online Courses for Business – Online Course Report

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You don’t need to spend a small fortune on an MBA to learn about business. In the world of online learning, there are hundreds of educational opportunities just waiting to be seized. Today’s digital learning platforms have plenty of free courses in business for all skill levels, from beginners to those who are well-established in the field.

The best free online business courses offer an easy-to-use interface and expert instruction from industry leaders. We’ve scoured the web looking for the top-rated courses and applied an exclusive methodology to them to present only the most suitable and practical options. They are listed below in descending order with our top picks first.

Featured Programs

Disclaimer: Some courses may include an affiliate link. Courses were chosen first based on the methodology with affiliate links only added after the ranking was complete.

Whether you are just starting out as a small business owner or freelancer, or you’ve got a well-established operation with hundreds of employees, you will likely find something on this curated list to pique your interest. Following the review, we will cover some frequently asked questions about how online courses work.

Ranking 10 Free Online Courses for Business

 1. The Future of Work: Preparing for Disruption

Offered by World Bank Group via edX

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This online business course offered through the World Bank Group was a winner in Class Central’s 2019 awards for being one of the best free online courses. Students can opt for the paid version for only $5, which gives them an instructor-signed shareable certificate with the WBG logo, but this is not a requirement. It can also be taken in its entirety free.

The course explores how artificial intelligence, advanced technologies, and automation are disrupting traditional industries and changing the face of business all over the world. Students will learn through short talks, podcasts, readings, quizzes, and exercises about the new skill sets required in the 21st century.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a $5 fee

Time to Complete: Five weeks

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

•Taught by 12 prominent leaders at the World Bank Group

•Fascinating content

•Optional certification is only $5

Cons:

•None

 2. Inbound Marketing Free Certification Course

Offered by Hubspot Academy

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HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Course is a four-hour industry-recognized program ideal for business owners who want to learn more about how to focus their inbound marketing efforts. It features 10 lessons, 34 videos, and nine quizzes. It is designed for those with little experience, making it a great online business course for those who are looking to implement a digital strategy. During the free online business course, students will learn about:

•The fundamentals of inbound marketing

•How to plan a long-term content strategy

•Social media promotion

•Conversational growth strategies

•How to create a conversion optimization strategy

•Nurturing leads

Upon successful completion, students will be awarded official certification from HubSpot, which can be displayed on a resume, CV, LinkedIn page, or website. 

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes

Time to Complete: Four hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

•Taught by four industry experts

•Superior user experience

• Industry recognized certification

Cons:

•Too short

 3. Free Diploma in E-Business

Offered by Alison

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Developed by Mike Feerick in 2007, Alison was the first massive online open course (MOOC) platform on the web and one of the best places to find great online free business courses. The Diploma in E-Business course is sponsored by Google and provides students with an excellent overview of analytics, search optimization, AdWords, analysis, metrics, digital measurement, and much more.

Upon completion, you will receive a Learner Achievement Verification Report, or you can opt to purchase a certificate from the site’s online shop for around $20.

For business owners looking to develop a substantial web presence, there has never been a better time. As consumers take their purchasing power online, companies need to adapt to the changing landscape of how marketing is done, and this free online business course is just what beginners need to get the ball rolling.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: Six to ten hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

•Sponsored by Google

•Easy-to-use platform

•Over 86,000 students have enrolled in the course

Cons:

•Students wishing to obtain a verified certificate will need to purchase it in the online store

 4. Foundations of Business Strategy

Offered by University of Virginia via Coursera

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This 14-hour course can be completed in about four weeks of study but can also be taken at your own pace. Each week’s lessons feature videos, readings, and quizzes taught by two faculty members at the Darden School of Business at UV and provides an excellent overview of business strategy. Topics covered in this free online business course include:

• Theory and frameworks of successful business strategy

• How to use SWOT, environmental analysis and competitor tools

• Understanding how to assess structure and profitability

• Analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of generic competitor positions

• How to use a capabilities analysis to guide decision making

• Strategy maps

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: 14 hours

Curriculum: Introductory to intermediate

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

•Reset deadlines according to your schedule

•Subtitled in English, Vietnamese, and Portuguese

•No previous experience required

Cons:

•Certification requires a fee

 5. Creating a Business Plan

Offered by LinkedIn Learning

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Taught by nationally recognized speaker and blogger Mike Figliuolo, this free online course in business takes just a little over an hour, but it packs a lot of information into that time slot. If you want to build a business or expand the one you already own, it’s well worth your time. Mike guides you through the process of defining your business, researching the market, and determining your product. He then touches upon sales strategy, forecasting, staffing, and day-to-day operations.

You can take the course for free if you already have a LinkedIn premium membership (most business owners do) or sign up for a trial and access the classes at no charge for a month.

Cost: Free with LinkedIn Premium Try a free trial for Linkedin Learning.

Certificate: Yes

Time to Complete: One hour

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

•Taught by an industry expert

•Receive a completion badge for your profile or CV

•Excellent user interface

Cons:

•Must cancel LinkedIn premium before the trial is up to avoid fees

 6. Entrepreneurial Operations: Launching a Startup

Offered by Babson College via edx

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This engaging four-week course is being provided by Babson College, a top-ranked school for entrepreneurship education. Taught by Assistant Professor Jennifer Bailey, it is easily one of our favorite free online courses in business, as it is quite thorough. The course examines real-world operational challenges in starting any new business venture and considers frameworks, setups, and tools for a variety of industries.

Each module features a different concept and includes case studies, readings, and lectures that keep users engaged and interested. Certificates for the online business course can be obtained at the paid level of edX; however, the lessons of each module can be audited for free. Auditing the course allows you to read and view all of the content.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: Four weeks

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

•Comprehensive and informative

•Excellent user experience

•Go at your own pace

Cons:

•Certification only available at the paid level

 7. Business Fundamentals: Effective Communication

Offered by Future Learn

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FutureLearn offers this business communications course as part of their Business Fundamentals program, a four-course program in necessary business skills. It is also one of the only offerings on our list that students can earn credit for. The paid level of the program offers perks like certification; however, all students can take it in audit mode at no charge. During the free online business course, you will improve both your written and verbal communication skills by:

• Learning how to write useful emails and make productive phone calls

• Deliver online communication professionally

• Give engaging presentations

• Write professional proposals and reports

• Conduct productive meetings

• Learning about trends in communication

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: Four weeks

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

•Taught by industry leader and speaker Hillary Collins

•Part of a certification program in business fundamentals

•Perfect for beginners

Cons:

• The course has set start times, so you need to plan accordingly

 8. How to Launch a Successful Startup Company

Offered by MIT

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MIT’s Open Source Learning platform offers this comprehensive course on how to launch a successful startup company. It is a graduate-level course led by William Aulet, Howard Anderson, and Professor Matt Marx.

The free business course online shows students how to identify and quantify market opportunities, covering conceptualizing, planning, and starting a technology-based enterprise. Students will learn how to develop detailed business plans for a startup. The course can be taken by anyone who wants to start their own business, grow an existing business, or move into management roles in a startup. It is also helpful for students who wish to understand the entrepreneurial process better.

MIT’s MOOC courses have no set schedule and can be started at any time with no sign-up or hassles. The classes are not graded or certified, but they do cover the same material as the original course taught at the Institute.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: Varies

Curriculum: Intermediate

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

•No sign-up necessary

•Go at your own pace

•Excellent reputation

Cons:

•You cannot receive credit for the course

 9. E-Commerce Essentials: How to Start A Successful Online Business

Offered by Skillshare

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Taught by Editor-in-Chief at BigCommerce Tracey Wallace, this short course contains nine quick lessons that can be accessed for free on the Skillshare platform. The free online business course takes just over an hour. Students will learn about the current state of E-commerce and how to identify a niche, evaluate its viability, and conduct market analysis. Tracey also covers how to set up your store and how to do so for maximum profitability. There are over 475 similar short online courses available on the Skillshare platform, as well as many longer sessions that can be accessed via a monthly membership.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: One hour

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

• Short and easy-to-digest lessons

• Taught by an industry leader

• Video tutorials

Cons:

• Too short

10. Brand Management: Aligning Business, Brand, and Behavior

Offered by London Business School via Coursera

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Taught by Professor Nader Tavassoli of London Business School, this engaging free online course in business is designed to change the perception of brands as being the identity of an organization and instead teach students to see them as a whole customer experience. It is approximately 25 hours long and provides a comprehensive overview of branding and the psychology behind it, including:

• How to build brands from a broad perspective

• How brands can change the culture of a company’s human resource practices

• How to build brands cross-culturally and globally

• Measuring brand health in non-traditional ways

• How to evaluate the ROI of brands across an organization and how to use employee-based equity to improve results

The course concludes with a peer-reviewed assignment that asks students to reflect on what they have learned throughout the lessons.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: 25 hours

Curriculum: Introductory to Intermediate

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

•Led by a top-instructor on Coursera

•Well-reviewed

•Plenty of excellent material

Cons:

•Certification is only offered at the paid level

Bonus: MasterClass Courses

EDu CourseReport 30BestOnlineCoursesforWriting 14 MasterClass

Help your business thrive with courses from MasterClass. While these courses are not free, you may want to check out these courses taught by the best-of-the-best.

Frequently Asked Questions About Free Business Courses

The abundance of free online business courses is truly staggering, and a result of the tech-based world we live in. Many aspects of business, marketing, and technology intersect and overlap. There are a variety of online learning platforms and MOOCs one can access to learn about nearly every aspect of business they choose. If you are thinking about taking some online business courses, you might have some questions. In this section, we will attempt to provide you with answers.

Who Should Take Free Business Courses?

In most instances, free online business courses are available to anyone who wants to participate. Whether you are still in high school or the head of a Fortune 500 company, you can find something applicable to you in the world of online learning.

Some choose to take classes because they want to start a business. Other people want to grow their existing businesses. For many people, taking courses in business can improve their chances of being hired or enhance their productivity and prospects of a promotion at work.

There are as many reasons to choose online business courses as there are personalities and interests, and even if you aren’t an entrepreneur, you can still benefit from some of the skills and principles taught in many of these courses.  

What Are the Requirements and Prerequisites?

Typically speaking, enrollment in a free business course online does not require previous training. But to give yourself the best foundation for success, you should at least know your way around a computer and have some basic search and typing skills.

Will I Earn College Credits by Taking a MOOC?

While most free online courses in business do not offer college credits, there are exceptions. One of the courses on our list, Business Fundamentals, Effective Communication, is eligible for credit. In some cases, a University will offer life-skills credit for coursework that has been taken as an elective. When in doubt, you should check with your school to see if any of the skills you learned are transferable.

 How Long Do Free Online Courses Take?

Free Great Online Courses for Business

Most free business courses take a few weeks to complete, but others can take as little as an hour or two or as long as a year, depending upon the offering. One of the best parts about them is the flexibility these courses provide to students with busy schedules. Since there are no enforced completion times, students can work at their own pace around what they are already doing.

Are Free Online Courses Graded?

While you will often find auto-graded quizzes as part of the lessons, most MOOCs are typically not graded, and you won’t interact with an instructor. The classes are for personal enrichment only. Graded components of a course can sometimes be found behind a paywall, and these often include capstone projects, final exams, or certificates of completion. 

 The Course I Want to Take Says It’s Free. Why Does It Look Like There Is a Fee Involved?

Graded components or completion certificates for free online business courses are typically found behind a paywall. This means you might be offered a trial or a membership fee that gives you unlimited access to a learning platform’s course catalog.

You may also opt to pay a small fee to acquire a shareable badge or certification.

All of the courses on our list have been chosen because they cost students nothing to take in audit mode. If you want to upgrade to the paid components of a class, you are free to do so, but it is not a requirement.

If you need a digital certificate but can’t afford it, some platforms offer financial assistance. You can contact individual providers for more information.

 Are Free Online Business Courses Worth It?

There is nothing to be lost from taking one or more free online business courses, except for time, and we believe you will find it time well-spent. Today’s economy requires business people, leaders, and workers to stay up to speed with best practices and new technologies, and these short courses level the playing field, giving everyone the same advantage by providing access to high-quality education for free.

Disclaimer: Some courses may include an affiliate link. Courses were chosen first based on the methodology with affiliate links only added after the ranking was complete.

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