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1000+ Medical Online Courses with Free Certificate & CME Credit

Free certificate courses from Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Brown, and other top universities and med schools.

To support continuing medical education (CME), many universities — including top institutions like Johns Hopkins, Stanford, and Yale — offer free medical online courses and webinars.

These include free certificates of completion like the ones above, and often also a transcript. And if you’re a healthcare professional, they also carry continuing medical education credit (CME credit).

I’ve scoured the web in search of platforms that offer free medical courses, testing these platforms one by one, and collecting a dozen free certificates along the way, including five from Ivy League schools. 

In this Class Central article, I’ve compiled all the platforms I’ve found. Combined, they offer over 1000 medical online courses and webinars, with free certificates and CME credit.

I’ll continue to update this article as I find more platforms. If you know a platform that fits the article and isn’t listed below yet, please share it in the comments.

Understanding Continuing Medical Education (CME)

Columbia University CME platform

Medical research is very active. Every year in the US, more students earn doctoral degrees in life sciences than in any other field. And in most EU countries, medical sciences are the primary recipients of research funding. This is only natural. We’re talking about people’s health. The stakes are high.

Since the medical field evolves rapidly, lifelong learning is an integral part of medical professions. Continuing medical education (CME) simply formalizes this necessity. It consists of activities, including courses and webinars, that allow healthcare professionals to keep up with development in their fields.

These activities lead to certificates and carry continuing medical education credit (CME credit) in proportion with the activities’ length and depth. In many places around the world, healthcare professionals must earn CME credit on an ongoing basis to demonstrate their continued competency.

While primarily geared toward healthcare professionals, fortunately for us, these activities are often accessible to everyone, whether you work in healthcare or not. And sometimes, they’re even free. In this article, we focus on online platforms that offer free CME resources available to everyone.

Enrolling in CME Courses

Johns Hopkins CME activities

After spending some time researching CME platforms, you start to notice some patterns.

For one, most med schools offer CME activities. Some only organize in-person activities. But often, they also offer online activities, in the form of courses or webinar recordings — so called enduring materials.

Additionally, universities typically rely on third-party platforms to organize their online CME activities and issue certificates. A couple of platforms seem to be particularly popular. I’ve come across these quite often:

  • CloudCME — used by Stanford and Johns Hopkins, among others.
  • EthosCE — used by Brown and Chicago, among others.

The advantage of these platforms being popular is that once you’ve tried them, you’ll feel comfortable navigating the CME platforms of most universities, at least US-based ones.

The sign up process, in particular, is almost always the same. Compared to platforms like Coursera, CME platforms tend to ask for more information, including your phone number, address, and current degree.

If you don’t want to share that information, you can just fill in random values. They don’t verify phone numbers. But know that the degree information you input will usually be appended to your name on certificates, and the address will typically show up on your transcript, so you might want to fill in sensible values.

Earning CME Certificates

My Stanford transcript, listing the course I’ve taken

After finishing an online CME activity, you’ll have to complete a posttest to demonstrate your learning. These typically involve 2 to 10 multiple-choice questions, specifically about the CME’s content.

Some instructors make their posttests very easy — sometimes concerningly so, since some posttests just involve ticking a checkbox promising that you’ve watched the CME videos in full. I found this a bit alarming, considering these activities are used for the ongoing validation of clinicians’ knowledge.

Other instructors make their posttests quite difficult, testing learners on minute and sometimes subjective details, verifying programmatically that the learner watched the CME videos in full before unlocking the posttest, and allowing learners only two attempts to pass the posttest.

If you achieve a passing grade in your posttest, you’ll typically be asked to fill a survey evaluating the quality of the CME activity. Once you’ve filled the survey, you’ll have direct access to your certificate of completion, or the certificate will be emailed to you within a day.

Additionally, most platforms will also allow you to access and print a transcript listing all the CME activities you’ve completed on the platform. You can see one of my transcripts above.

CME Platforms

Without further ado, here are the CME platforms I’ve explored. Combined, they offer over 1000 CME activities, most of them with free certificates, and for healthcare professionals, CME credit. I’ll continue to expand the list as I find new platforms. If you have a recommendation, please share it in the comments.

Stanford Free CME Courses

My certificate of completion for Stanford’s Intro to Food and Health

Stanford Medicine offers more than 730 online learning resources in the medical field, from podcasts to full-fledged courses, many including free certificates of completion and CME credit. Learners also have access to a formal transcript from Stanford, listing all the training they’ve completed.

Here are some of the free resources available on the platform:

You can find Stanford’s entire CME catalog here.

If you’d like to learn more about Stanford CME, I’ve written a detailed article about the platform: Stanford Medicine Offers Courses with Free Certificate & CME Credit.

Johns Hopkins Free CME Courses

My certificate of completion for Johns Hopkins’ Management of Low Back Pain

Johns Hopkins University offers close to 250 online CME activities, including mini-courses, webinars, and grand rounds, which involve discussing specific patients, their treatment, and outcomes, to turn these cases into learning opportunities.

Here are some of the free resources available on the platform:

You can find Johns Hopkins’ entire CME catalog here.

Dartmouth Free CME Courses

My Dartmouth transcript, listing the course I’ve taken: Calming and De-Escalation

Dartmouth University offers just over 210 online CME activities, almost all free, including grand rounds and webinars on topics such as patient and pain management, pediatrics, organ donations, and sexual violence.

Here are some of the free resources available on the platform:

You can find Dartmouth’s entire CME catalog here.

Note that on this platform, you may have to click on the “Purchase” button to take a course, giving you the impression you’ll have to pay, but the on the checkout page, price will actually be $0.

Brown Free CME Courses

My certificate of completion for Brown’s Fears, Bias and Discrimination in Substance Use Disorders

Brown University offers over 100 free online CME activities on a wide variety of topics, including psychiatry, opioid use disorders, and autoimmune diseases.

Here are some of the free resources available on the platform:

You can find Brown’s entire CME catalog here.

California Free CME Courses

My certificate of completion for California’s Improving Access to Contraception

The University of California has a common CME platform for its various campuses, including UCSF, UCLA, and UC Irvine. In total, the platform offers close to 50 free CME activities, on topics such as diabetes, addiction, and emotional wellbeing.

Here are some of the free resources available on the platform:

You can find California’s entire CME catalog here.

Chicago Free CME Courses

My certificate of completion for Chicago’s First, Do No (Financial) Harm

The University of Chicago offers over 40 online CME activities, many of them free. These discuss topics related to various areas of medical research, such as oncology, palliative care, and pediatrics.

Here are some of the free resources available on the platform:

You can find Chicago’s entire CME catalog here.

Penn Free CME Courses

My certificate of completion for Penn’s Tarasoff Duties

The University of Pennsylvania offers just over 25 free online CME activities. These include mini-courses and webinar recordings on both purely medical topics as well as topics surrounding the medical field, such as the laws and ethics of doctor-patient confidentiality.

Here are some of the free resources available on the platform:

You can find Penn’s entire CME catalog here.

Yale Free CME Courses

My certificate of completion for Yale’s Neuro-resuscitation after Traumatic Brain Injury and Cardiac Arrest

Yale University offers just over 20 online CME activities, almost all free. These range from mini-courses to full fledged symposiums on topics such as inflammatory diseases, COVID-19, and HIV/AIDs.

Here are some of the free resources available on the platform:

You can find Yale’s entire CME catalog here.

Columbia Free CME Courses

My certificate of completion for Columbia’s How Common is Celiac Disease Around the World?

Columbia University offers a couple of free webinars about celiac disease that include a free certificate and CME credit:

You can find Columbia’s entire CME catalog here.

Manoel Cortes Mendez Profile Image

Manoel Cortes Mendez

Software engineer and online graduate student in computer science passionate about education, technology, and their intersection.

Comments 4

  1. Dr Deepak bhadra

    All courses are such that no one would pay for them. Certificate Courses really needed are Diabetes mellitus, Hypertension, Rheumatology, dermatology, lasers in cosmetology, Trichology, cosmetology.

    Reply
  2. ghazvini

    Thank you 🙂

    Reply
  3. Thomas L Scrivens

    Thank you for your very timely and informative article

    Reply
    • Beshar Mia

      Thank you.

      Reply

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