Not every entrepreneur looking to gain knowledge before starting a business has physical access or the financial means to attend a college or university. Thankfully, a wide range of free business courses can be found on the internet. Specifically, aspiring entrepreneurs looking for free business training should look into Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs for short.

What is a MOOC?

MOOCs are a type of free online training available to anyone who wants to take a course, with no limit to the number of people who can sign up for a course. A MOOC is delivered via the internet, and is made up of learning materials in different content formats including text, audio clips, and streaming videos.

Most MOOCs are self-paced learning, meaning the student can complete the lessons on whatever schedule works best for them. Some MOOCs may have a specific starting date, as well as certain scheduled dates for things like live lectures, assignments, and exams.

Online business courses have grown in popularity over the last decade. There are dozens of schools, businesses, and non-profit organizations participating in MOOC programs. It’s very easy to take a MOOC. All that’s required in most cases is to go to the website offering the course, create an account, and sign up for the course.

Where can I find free business courses?

There are many different MOOC websites offering free business courses. We’re going to focus on one of the larger and more popular sites called edX.

edX was created in 2012 as a joint venture between Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). edX is a non-profit organization, and uses an open source software platform called Open edX to deliver courses to users.

Besides Harvard University and MIT, these are some top schools that offer courses through edX:

  • Georgetown University
  • University of British Columbia
  • Arizona State University
  • Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
  • Notre Dame University
  • University of Toronto

edX currently offers over 1,300 courses across a broad range of subjects. The site’s Business and Management section is split into the following categories:

  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Communications
  • International Business
  • Risk Management
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Up-and-coming business professionals will definitely be interested in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship category. There are almost two dozen free courses available in this category. Here are some of the courses offered:

  • Creativity and Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing Management
  • People Management for Entrepreneurs
  • Analytics for Decision Making
  • Strategy & Business Models in a Digital World

Of course, you may decide to investigate some of the other categories based on your current level of education and experience. You can even look at courses from non-business subjects. For instance, edX offers courses in several arts and sciences subjects, much like a traditional college.

Where can I find other business MOOCs?

edX is just one of several websites offering massive open online courses. Coursera is another major MOOC provider that is partnered with schools such as Princeton University, Yale University, and the University of Manchester.

Coursera is a for-profit business, and there are fees to take the courses it offers. The site does have its own mobile app available for both iOS and Android devices, a nice feature if you want to learn on the go.

There are many other providers of business-related MOOCs out there. Here is a short list of some of them:

Open Yale Courses: While the number of courses is limited, the quality of the instruction—courses are delivered by Yale teachers and scholars—and the free price tag makes this site worth a look.

Open Learning at Harvard: Harvard University has courses available through edX, but it also has a MOOC which offers some free courses and a number of paid courses. Many of the paid courses give students the opportunity to earn a Harvard-branded certification upon successful completion.

The Open University on iTunes U: Based in the UK, The Open University is one of the world’s largest schools by student enrollment. The Open University Business School opened in 1983, and has become a big player in business education. A large portion of the school’s content can be accessed on Apple’s iTunes U site.

Udemy: With offices in the US, Turkey, and Ireland, Udemy has a more global presence than other MOOC vendors. The site claims to have over 45,000 online courses, and has over a dozen business categories to choose from. There is a fee for courses, but the site often has good sales.

Sign up for free business courses

Every entrepreneur is looking for an edge when they are first starting out. Free business courses offered by MOOC providers give you access to high-quality learning materials, most of which let you learn at your own pace. Taking advantage of these free business courses can help to make you a more knowledgeable and better-equipped traveler on the road to becoming a business magnate.

Which free online business courses do you want to take?

Posted by Aaron Axline

Aaron Axline is an author, technology journalist, blogger, and knowledge management expert.