Are these online courses (MOOCs) really free?

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Written by Dhawal Shah Last updated on September 05th, 2021

The course materials (e.g. video lectures, discussions, etc.) are usually free, but certain features like graded assignments, certificates, and mentorship may be paid features. Course and/or certificate costs vary between courses and providers. Courses may be available either on a subscription basis or for individual purchase.


We have compiled various lists of free certificates and badges from many providers:

Massive List of Thousands of Free Certificates and Badges

250 Top FREE Udemy Courses of All Time

600+ Google Free Certificates and Badges

350+ Hours of Free LinkedIn Learning Courses with Free Certification

85+ FutureLearn Courses That Still Offer Free Certificates

800 Free Digital Marketing Certificates and Badges


Other options are also available:

  • Audit mode: Access course materials for free, without a certificate. If you are not clear on how to sign up for Coursera courses for free, here is a guide from Class Central: A Guide on How to Sign up for Coursera Courses for Free. Other course providers may have a similar process for free access.
  • Financial aid: If you want a certificate but cannot afford the cost, some providers offer financial aid to eligible applicants. See Can I get financial aid for MOOCs?


Some courses are not free. These are indicated by a small green $ symbol on Class Central.


MOOC-based degrees are also available through some MOOC providers. Although not free, these offer a number of advantages, including lower cost as compared to other online and on-campus degrees, flexibility, and pay as you go pricing.

Class Central's Help Center represents our best effort to answer the most common questions new learners face. It may not be completely accurate in every circumstance.

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