10 Free Online Business Courses to Learn New Skills

Many people now have extra time as they stay at home and comply with social distancing measures. To pass the time, some people bake while others take advantage of free virtual tours.

If you’re feeling motivated to learn a new skill, you can use this time to try the wealth of free courses currently available online. Universities like Harvard and Yale offer free access to some of their courses and websites like edX, Future Learn and Coursera also offer free online courses from various universities.

Whether you want to brush up on your project planning skills, learn how to negotiate successfully, or dip your toes in basic Mandarin, CNBC Make It has curated 10 courses for those interested in expanding their business management, entrepreneurship, personal improve finances and more.

These courses are free, but you may have to pay to receive a certificate proving your completion of the course. Prices vary by class.

corporate governance

1. Collaborative work in a remote team

  • Offered by the University of Leeds and the Institute Coding on Future Learn
  • Duration: 2 weeks, 2 hours per week

Many companies have had to switch to remote work to comply with social distancing measures. But for some business leaders, this is their first time leading remote teams. This course will help you navigate the ups and downs of remote work and effectively manage remote workers.

2. Fundamentals of project planning and management

This course teaches the fundamentals of project planning to ensure your future projects run smoothly. Some of the topics covered in the course are:

  • How to set and develop a project plan
  • How risks are identified and assessed
  • How to set a budget


3. become an entrepreneur

  • Offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on edX
  • Duration: 6 weeks, 1 to 3 hours per week

If you’ve always been curious about starting your own business but don’t know where to start or have no idea, check out this course from MIT. The course, taught by Laurie Stach, Founder and Director of LaunchX, and Martin Culpepper, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, lays out the fundamental elements of starting a new business, including market research, identifying business opportunities and presenting ideas.

Want to learn more about the basics of entrepreneurship? Entrepreneurship 101 from MIT is also available on edX.

4. Financing innovative ventures

  • Offered by the University of Maryland on edX
  • Duration: 4 weeks, 2 to 3 hours per week

Raising funds for a new venture can be a challenge in itself. This University of Maryland course guides aspiring entrepreneurs through developing pitches for investors, identifying fundraising options, and conducting business valuations, among other aspects of financing your own business.

personal finance

5. Personal and family financial planning

  • Offered by the University of Florida on Coursera
  • Duration: 9 weeks, 1 to 2 hours per week

It’s never too late to organize your personal finances. This course can help you learn “prudent habits” to implement in your finances, including managing income taxes and building and maintaining a good credit score.

6. Financial planning for young adults

  • Offered by the University of Illinois on Coursera
  • Duration: 4 weeks, 3 to 4 hours per week

Aimed at young adults, this course introduces the basic concepts of financial planning, including assessing your finances, budgeting, saving, setting financial goals, and more. If you are interested in a career in financial planning, this course also includes video interviews with professionals working in the field.

Self Improvement Skills

7. Negotiating Successfully: Essential Strategies and Skills

  • Offered by the University of Michigan on edX and Coursera
  • Duration: 7 weeks, 2 to 4 hours per week

At some point in your career, you will likely need negotiation skills. You may want to negotiate a higher salary or a job offer. In this University of Michigan course, you will learn the four basic steps to a successful negotiation.

8th. critical thinking and solve problems

  • Offered by the Rochester Institute of Technology on edX
  • Duration: 3 weeks, 4 to 6 hours per week

Critical thinking and problem-solving are two of the most sought-after qualities in employees and managers. If you are looking to improve these skills, this course can help “demystify, discuss and provide application techniques for critical thinking and problem solving in a business context”.

9. Public Speaking

  • Offered by the Rochester Institute of Technology on edX
  • Duration: 3 weeks, 4 to 6 hours per week

Another attractive trait in a leader is the confidence to speak in public. Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, has cited a lecture course as the source of his success.

But for many people, public speaking is frightening. This course from the Rochester Institute of Technology can be a step in overcoming fear. It covers several tools and methods to overcome the fear of public speaking once and for all.

10 Mandarin Chinese Level 1

  • Offered by MandarinX on edX
  • Duration: 6 weeks, 4 to 10 hours per week

Five years ago, Bill Gates admitted in a Reddit Q&A that he felt “pretty stupid” for not being fluent in a foreign language. In contrast, Mark Zuckerberg impressed Chinese university students by demonstrating his Mandarin skills at a Q&A panel.

Studies have shown the benefits of being bilingual, including the ability to outperform monolinguals in conflict resolution. Plus, you can impress employers by speaking multiple languages. If you have extra free time right now, you might want to try learning a popular language like Mandarin or Spanish.

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