10 Great Free Online Courses in Finance – Online Course Report

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Finance is a field that is ripe with opportunity and excellent earning potential. Despite recession or economic downturns, careers in finance remain stable. This constancy is probably because even in dire financial circumstances, companies and individuals need to track their cash flow closer than ever, creating a need for talented professionals in the industry. Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, finance professionals are always in demand.

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.

In compiling this list of the best free online courses in finance, we uncovered many options. However, using our exclusive methodology, we’ve come up with some solid offerings. Listed in descending order with the best options at the top of the list, you will find something here for all skill levels. At the end of the review, we will cover some questions and answers about free finance courses.

Featured Programs

 Ranking 10 Free Online Courses in Finance

1. Financial Markets

Offered by Yale University at Coursera

Yales logo

Taught by Nobel Prize
winner Robert Shiller, Financial Markets is one of the top free online courses
in finance and is offered through Yale University. If you ever wanted the
opportunity to attend an ivy league school, here is your chance to learn from
the best for free.

In recent years, advertisers and finance experts have been focusing on behavioral finance—a combination of traditional finance, behavioral, and psychological theory that looks at why people make the financial decisions that they do. This free online finance course covers this topic and more.

There are seven modules,
each covering different aspects of financial markets. This engaging course is
comprehensive, insightful, and free for students who take it in Coursera’s
audit mode. For those who wish to obtain a certificate of completion, a fee is
assessed.

Cost: Free

Certificate:
Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: 38 hours

Curriculum:
Beginner to Advanced

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• 130 videos

• Unique course material

• Korean and Spanish
subtitles available

Cons:

• Completion
certificates are only offered through Coursera’s paid mode

Cons:

• Must cancel the
subscription before the two-month trial period ends to avoid being charged a
fee.

• Too basic for students
looking for a more detailed course

2. Finance Theory 1

Offered by MIT

asumag 8781 mit logo

This graduate-level finance
course is offered through MIT Open Courseware and covers the same materials
taught on campus. However, it is entirely free. While you won’t receive credits
or certification for taking it, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you
completed a graduate-level course in financing from MIT. How cool is that?

The free accounting online course introduces the theory of modern financial management and economics, focusing on investments and capital markets. The topics include:

• Functions of financial
intermediaries and capital markets

• Fixed-income
securities

• Asset valuation

• Capital budgeting

• Common stocks

• Portfolio selection
and diversification

• Equilibrium pricing of
risky assets

• An introduction to
derivatives and options

• The theory of
efficient markets

This is an advanced
course, and those without a solid background in finance may find it a bit too
challenging. However, for students up to the challenge, it offers a wealth of
information to take with you as you advance your education or career.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: 27 hours

Curriculum:
Advanced

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• Learn at no cost
through the Sloan School of Management at MIT

• Excellent for those
looking for more advanced coursework

• Contains videos, examples,
lectures, recitations, readings, and more

Cons:

• Certificates and
grading not offered

•May be too advanced for
some students

3. Introduction to
Corporate Finance

Offered by Columbia Business School through edX

edX Logo R Black

All first-year MBA
students at Columbia are required to take this introductory finance course
taught by world-class instructor Daniel Wolfenzon. In it, you will learn about
time-honored financial rules and concepts and how to apply them to value
stocks, bonds, and firms.

The course covers the
cost of capital and capital budgeting and the time value of money. Using Excel,
students will learn to compute NPV, find IRR., and value stocks and bonds.

You can opt to take the course in edX’s paid component, which provides an instructor-signed shareable certificate from Columbia Business School. However, the course can also be taken in audit mode at no cost. You should have a basic understanding of accounting and excel to succeed in the free online accounting course.

Cost: Free

Certificate:
Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: Four weeks

Curriculum: Introductory
to intermediate

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• Identical to what is
taught at Columbia Business School

• Part of a professional
certificate in corporate finance

• Excellent quality

Cons:

• Verified learners will
need to pay a fee for the certification

4. Finance for
Everyone: Smart Tools for Decision Making

Offered by University of Michigan through edX

edX Logo R Black

In this six-week edX
course, you will learn how to apply smart tools and frameworks to help you
navigate everyday financial decisions. No matter what reasons you have to take
this course, the content is down-to-earth and useful and will help you when it
comes to making good financial choices in both your business and personal life.

This practical free online finance course highlights the power and beauty of finance and how it applies to everyday life decisions such as whether to buy or rent or how to put a value on the impact of home, vehicle, and student loans.

Students will develop an
appreciation for the time value of money, allocating scarce resources to add
value, how smart tools can help make financial decisions easier, and much more.

For anyone interested in
the world of finance and how it affects them personally, this engaging course
won’t disappoint. It can be taken for free in audit mode, or students can add a
certificate for $49

Cost: Free

Certificate:
Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: 30-36 hours (six weeks)

Curriculum:
Introductory to intermediate

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• Taught by a University
of Michigan professor

• Enjoyable

• Ideal for all levels

Cons:

• You will need to pay
to obtain a shareable certificate or earn credit

5. Fundamental of
Financial Mathematics and Capital Budgeting

Offered by the New York Institute of Finance through edX

edX Logo R Black

This introductory course offered through edX is four weeks long and is provided through the New York Institute of Finance. It can be taken on its own or as part of a certificate program called Corporate Finance and Valuation Methods. Students can take the course for free or opt to pay for a completion certificate for $99.

During the free online course in finance, you will learn determinants of value, foundations of financial mathematics, and capital budgeting.

Cost: Free

Certificate:
Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: Four weeks

Curriculum:
Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

•Thorough and detailed,
with plenty of chances to practice your skills

•Excellent user
interface

•Opportunity to get a
certificate signed by an instructor at the NYIF

Cons:

•Certificate is part of
the paid component of the platform

Featured Programs

6. Free Cash
Flow Analysis

Offered by Columbia University through edX

edX Logo R Black

In this course, students will learn from Columbia’s Professor Wolfenzon about value firms and how the free cash flow method is applied to them. The free online finance course also covers valuation using multiples and constructing excel models to value firms by participating in practical hands-on activities. 

Cost: Free

Certificate:
Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: Five weeks

Curriculum:
Intermediate

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• Taught by an esteemed
Columbia professor

• Great user experience

• Detailed and engaging

Cons:

• Certificate can only
be accessed by paying a course fee

7. How to Read
Financial Statements

Offered by Corporate Finance Institute (CFI)

CFI

How to Read Financial
Statements is an interactive course taught by industry expert Scott Powell and
serves as an introduction to CFI’s other more comprehensive classes. It takes
around 1.5 hours to complete and contains pop quizzes, case studies, and lots
of practical exercises.

Highly interactive, the
course does exactly what it says—teaches students how to read financial
statements. A glossary, reference guide, and accounting factsheet are included
and can be downloaded and saved for future reference.

If you are interested in
receiving your certification as a financial analyst, this is one of the best
free online finance courses to start with.

Cost: Free

Certificate:
No

Time to Complete: 1.5 hours

Curriculum:
Beginner

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• Thorough and
informative

• Excellent user
interface

• Lifetime access

Cons:

• Too short

8. History of Corporate
Finance in a Nutshell

Offered by Alison

alison logo primary

Alison was one of the
first platforms to offer MOOCs (massive online open courses), and now the site
has around six million registered learners and provides some great free online
finance courses. 

In this course, you will
take a journey through the colorful history of corporate finance and learn
about some of the crazy scams and influential thinkers that have shaped it over
the years. Basic financial concepts will be broken down into easy-to-understand
ideas as you learn about risks, acquisitions, mergers, bubbles, and financial
markets.

The free online finance course is published by entrepreneur Chester Sky and takes just two to three hours to complete. If you want to obtain the optional certification, you will need to get an 80 percent or better on the final assessment and pay a small fee in the Alison store to download a shareable certificate.

Cost: Free

Certificate:
Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: Two to three hours

Curriculum:
Introductory to intermediate

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• Fun and engaging topic

• Excellent user
interface

• Video tutorials and
course assessments

Cons:

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

9. Financial Literacy

Offered by Alison

alison logo primary

Alison’s online learning
platform allows students to take personal enrichment and professional courses
in a wide range of subjects. This financial literacy course will show you how
to manage, budget, and save your money effectively.

While at first glance the free finance online course may seem a bit too basic, it’s quite thorough, with seven modules covering everything you need to know about personal finance including:

• Budgeting

• Checking and savings
accounts

• Credit cards

• Banking products

• Dealing with debt

• Insurance

• Short-term savings

• Planning for
retirement

Each module features a
quiz and covers all of these essential topics in detail. Upon completion, you
can take a course assessment to become eligible for a certificate of
completion. The certificate is a paid component of the course that will need to
be purchased and downloaded from the Alison store. It’s relatively inexpensive
at around $20 but is not mandatory. 

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes,
with a fee

Time to Complete: 6-10 hours

Curriculum:
Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• Quizzes to test your
progress

• Excellent user
experience

• Video tutorials and a
final course exam

Cons:

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

10. Communication
Skills for Finance Leaders

Offered by Learn@Forbes

learn@forbes

The renowned financial
publication has developed its own learning platform offering a wide range of
options in finance, accounting, business, marketing, and more. This interesting
course, Communication Skills for Finance Leaders, will teach students how to
enhance their communication skills for today’s audiences by instructing them on:

• How to identify
communication gaps

• Defining the six
elements of The Perception Pyramid

• How to change other
people’s perceptions

• The primary ways
people communicate in the workplace

The course can be
accessed for free with a 14-day trial on the platform. It is only an hour-long,
so you will have ample time to cancel your trial if you chose not to take more
classes through Learn@Forbes. 

If you decide to remain
a member, you will be eligible for a certificate that you can display on your
website, CV, resume, or LinkedIn Profile.

Cost: Free

Certificate:
Yes, with a monthly membership

Time to Complete: One hour

Curriculum:
Beginner to Intermediate

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• Taught by New York
Times bestselling author Gerry Sandusky

• Study at your own pace

• Well-respected company

Cons:

• You can only receive
certification behind the paywall

Frequently Asked
Questions About Free Finance Courses

 Why Should I Take Free Finance Courses?

If you are interested in
finance, you will discover that there are a multitude of career options across
a wide range of industries in this field. Studying finance can prepare you for
a role as an analyst, manager, or advisor and with a degree in finance you can
work in:

  • Financial planning services
  • International financial management
  • Brokerage firms
  • Investment services
  • Corporate management
  • Insurance companies
  • Credit unions and private banks
  • Commercial and investment banks

Who
Should Take Free Finance Courses?

Students interested in
finance are typically detail-oriented people who are intrigued by statistics
and mathematics. They have a natural creative knack for solving problems using
a numbers-driven approach. Far from being mundane to them, spreadsheets and
formulas are a passion.

If this sounds like you,
taking some free financing courses might just help you decide what avenues to
pursue as you look at different areas of study.

If this sounds like you,
taking some free classes before investing in expensive college courses can help
you decide if this is the field for you. It also may help you decide what
avenues to pursue as you look at different areas of study.

If you are a business
owner, you may improve your bottom line by learning more about finance. For
those who are already in the financial industry, taking some free courses can
help you improve your prospects of a promotion or job change.

Taking free online
finance courses is not just for students or business people, either.
Individuals who want to learn more about how to make sound financial decisions
can definitely benefit from many of the offerings we listed.

What
Are the Requirements and Prerequisites?

Free online finance
courses are open to anyone with a desire to learn. But if you want to get
through them with the least amount of frustration, you should have solid
computer, keyboard, and math skills. It can also help if you know your way
around a spreadsheet when it comes to more interactive classes.

How
Long Do Free Online Courses Take?

Most of the free finance
courses offered are self-paced, and this makes their duration quite flexible.
While there is typically an estimate of how long a course might take, nothing
is set in stone. You can finish up the lessons whenever and wherever you want.
Our list has courses ranging from a few hours to several months for a suggested
time of completion. 

Are Free Online Courses Graded?

Usually not. Most online
courses in finance do not have final exams or grading with the free component,
although there may be auto-graded quizzes and exercises throughout the classes.
Courses that provide the option for a paid certificate will sometimes have a
final graded exam or capstone project.

Are There Specific Start Times and Deadlines for Free Online Classes?

The greatest thing about
free online courses is flexibility and the opportunity to start and stop at
your leisure. Most of the courses on our list have lessons that can be
completed anywhere and anytime at your own pace. Sometimes you will see a
deadline for an assignment. This is designed to keep students interested and on
course, However, usually you can progress through as you work classes around
your own schedule.

If These Courses are Free Why Does It Look Like There Is a Fee Involved?

Sometimes, graded exams,
certificates, or other components of MOOCs are hidden behind a paywall. For
example, you may be offered a membership or a trial that provides you with
unlimited access and additional features.

All of the classes on
our list can be accessed for free either in audit mode or by completing the
course without these additional features.

If you need a
certificate of completion but can’t afford one, some sites offer scholarships
or financial aid. 

Are Free Online Finance Courses Worth It?

Whether you are thinking
about your future career options, want a deeper understanding of markets and
investment, or you want to make sound personal financial decisions, taking some
free online finance courses is well worth the time and effort.

Finance requires you to develop many skill sets at once and is something everyone deals with daily. From how much to tip the waiter, to saving for retirement, we all use these skills more often than not. Even if you choose not to pursue a degree in finance, the concepts you learn will still have hundreds of practical applications throughout the course of your life.

By BCR Staff

March 2019

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