10 Places to Get Free Online Business Courses

Whether you're a student, a small business owner, or just interested in learning more about what it takes to start your own business, you can find the resources that are right for you by checking out this list of 10 places to take business administration courses for free.

Business Administration Courses Online for Free

These free online business education courses offer a convenient and accessible way to learn business administration fundamentals. While it is not typically possible to earn a business management degree online for free, and free courses do not typically offer college credit, they can be used as a supplement for college coursework, or even as a preview of college-level work for students who may be considering a bachelor's or associate's degree in business. Presented in a variety of formats, the online business courses listed below are usually self-paced and designed to accommodate a range of learning styles and knowledge levels.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT's OpenCourseWare program is a resource that provides access to materials used in thousands of previous MIT courses, including business courses originally offered through the Sloan School of Management. Materials typically include syllabi, lecture notes and videos, assignments and activities, and readings. These courses are self-paced and do not offer credit for completion. Some free business classes you can find here include:

  • Management Communication for Undergraduates: An undergraduate course that covers the basics of professional and strategic communication, focusing especially on writing, speaking, and working within a team, as well as cross-cultural communication.
  • People and Organizations: An undergraduate course that examines human organizational challenges through real case studies and analysis. This course is designed to improve a student's understanding of how companies and organizations function and adapt to change.
  • Introduction to Financial and Managerial Accounting: An undergraduate course that introduces business students to financial reporting and accounting processes, with emphasis on understanding and contextualizing the results of these processes.

If you are considering graduate study but you are unsure which type of master's degree in business to pursue, use MIT OpenCourseWare to sample dozens of free graduate-level business courses in a wide variety of subjects, such as accounting, management, finance, law, and more.

2. Harvard University

Students may also access business administration courses for free from Harvard University, offered through the educational provider edX. Each course has its own enrollment window, but they are self-paced and usually able to be completed within a couple of months. These courses do not award university credit, but participation is free and students may opt for a certificate of completion with an additional fee. Course availability varies, but can include classes such as:

  • CS50's Computer Science for Business Professionals: An alternate version of Harvard University's CS50x computer programming course, this class takes a look at computer programming from a business or management professional's perspective, emphasizing mastery of the concepts and methods used to make good technological design decisions.
  • Improving Your Business Through a Culture of Health: A 9-week course geared towards managers who are interested in learning strategies and tools to improve the quality of life for their employees, which could help reduce expenses and improve employee retention.

3. The Open University

The Open University, a UK-based distance education provider, now provides hundreds of free courses for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students of many subjects, including business, management, and marketing. All courses are self-paced and may be completed within a few weeks. Creating an account with OpenLearn is optional, but will allow the student to earn a statement of participation in course subjects like these:

  • Introduction to Bookkeeping and Accounting
  • The Role of the Manager
  • Working in Groups and Teams
  • The Concept of Innovation
  • Introducing a Framework for a Strategy

4. Kutztown University - Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

Kutztown University has arranged this online resource geared towards small business owners and business students. In addition to business services, financing help, and consultation, the SBDC provides a selection of free online business classes, available after registering with an email address and home ZIP code. Each self-administered course includes videos, worksheet activities, and assessments in practical topics such as:

  • Developing a Business Plan
  • Conducting a Market Analysis
  • Accounting 101: The Fundamentals
  • Managing Your Cash Flow
  • Valuing a Business

5. Alison.com

Students may also discover several free business classes online through Alison.com, an online learning platform that offers certificate and diploma courses geared to help you master a topic. Students may access course materials after creating an account with the website, which will automatically track one's progress through the course modules. All courses are free to complete, with an optional physical or digital certificate or diploma available for a fee. Students may find courses in subjects like:

  • Leadership Skills in Business
  • Introduction to Personal and Corporate Taxes
  • Fundamentals of Health and Safety in the Workplace
  • Sales Techniques - Interacting with Customers
  • Modern Business Writing

6. The U.S. Small Business Administration - Learning Center

The Small Business Administration has created the Learning Center, a free business school and online resource created especially for small business owners. It offers fundamental courses on planning and managing a business, financing, finding investors, accounting, marketing, contracting with the government, and running an international company. Each course contains a Flash-based video lesson (with transcripts), plus worksheets and a certificate of completion.

7. The Free Nonprofit Micro-eMBA Program

The Free Management Library offers a Free Nonprofit Micro-eMBA Program entirely online for students and entrepreneurs interested in self-directed study towards managing a non-profit organization. This 12-module course does not confer a free business degree and can't be completed for college credit. However, students may complete the course at their own pace, with no registration required. This comprehensive course covers topics in defining and planning a non-profit organization, understanding the role of the executive, developing management skills, drafting a mission statement, conducting market analysis, managing finances and taxes, fundraising, and staff supervision.

8. MyOwnBusiness Institute

The MyOwnBusiness Institute (MOBI) is offered through Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business and provides business administration courses online for free, in English and Spanish. These self-paced courses contain text and multimedia lessons, plus quizzes and a final exam for self-assessment of the material. Students may access these courses after creating an account, and upon completion, students can receive a certificate of completion and a digital badge for no additional charge.

  • Starting a Business: Consists of 15 lessons that cover the fundamentals of researching and writing your own business plan, including topics in business financing and organization, licenses and permits, insurance, franchising, accounting, and staffing. In addition to the lessons, MOBI students may access free business plan templates, checklists, and other resources that can be used in tandem with the coursework.
  • Business Expansion: Contains 15 additional lessons aimed towards established business owners who are interested in planning for future growth. Course sessions cover establishing internal controls, preparing employees for growth, lowering expenses, negotiating, vertical integration, franchising, global expansion, public ownership, and selling the business.

9. Financial Management Training Center

The Financial Management Training Center is a collection of free online business classes, webinars, videos, presentations, and business spreadsheets that finance students and professionals may use for educational or non-commercial purposes. The website offers 9 online training courses in subjects related to business finance fundamentals, such as:

  • The Basics of Accounting
  • Corporate Finance
  • Risk Management
  • Business Process Modeling

These courses are self-paced and contain multiple chapters per course, plus review questions and a final exam. Students may also choose from 17 shorter courses, covering more specific subjects like evaluating financial performance, managing cash flow, mergers and acquisitions, competitive intelligence, and going public. Each short course may be downloaded as a PDF and comes with supplemental materials.

10. Master Class Management

Students who are interested in learning MBA-level skills for free may complete Master Class Management's free online management and leadership training course. This self-guided course contains ten lesson modules in a full text format, with summaries and quizzes at the end of each lesson, which cover topics in managerial expectations, interviewing and hiring, fostering good teamwork, dealing with workplace conflict, delegation and time management, and communication. After completing this course, students may take a final exam and, if desired, pay an extra fee for a certificate of completion.


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