We all know that getting a good paying job requires having a higher education degree.
But there may be reasons preventing you from getting one the traditional way, that is, attending an actual College or University. Whether it’s having no time for regular attendance due to a fluctuating job schedule; bad credit preventing you from receiving financial aid; or other commitments.
What if there was a way to get a Degree for free, or cheaply? It would all be done online, some are self-paced, others set on a regularly scheduled time.
Here are 13 ways to earn a degree for free or cheap:
Skillshare is an online learning site with over 17,000 courses offered. It’s easy to find a course in your career field to improve your skills. They do offer a few Certificate courses.
Some certificates available are in:
- Cyber Security
- Facebook Advertising
- Life Coaching
- Project Management
- Animal Psychology
They do offer many Exam Prep courses for free or a small fee, these will help prepare for professional level examination and Certification.
Many of us have heard of Udemy with over 55,000 courses offered. They do offer certificate courses as well.
Some certificates are in:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Neuro-Linguistic Programming
- Risk Management
Coursera doesn’t offer degrees for free, but they are reasonably priced and they can be completed online. There is an advantage here as you can continue to work at your job while studying.
Degrees offered on Coursera are:
- Masters of Business Administration (iMBA) – costs $21,844 (24-36 months to complete)
- Masters of Computer Science in Data Science (MCS-DS) – costs $19,200 (12-36 months to complete)
- Masters in Innovation and Entrepreneurship – €20,000, roughly $23,700 (10 – 16 months to complete)
- Masters of Science in Accounting – $30,000 (18-36 months to complete)
- Professional Certificate in Applied Project Management – $2,980 (6 months to complete)
Now these costs don’t seem “reasonably priced”, but these are Master Degrees and I already mentioned in the previous section that the average cost at a traditional school is about $140,000.
This site is a little different than other schools. edX offers what’s called “MicroMasters” credentials, which are free graduate level courses. The school states these can be used for job advancement as well as applying them towards an accelerated, and less expensive, Master’s degree.
Some of the MicroMasters courses are in:
- Business Leadership
- Marketing Analysis
- Accounting and Financial Management
- Supply Chain Management
- Digital Product Management
- And more…
edX also has professional certificates that are offered cheaply. Some certificates presented include:
- Computer Science – $297 (12-15 weeks to complete)
- Corporate Finance – $297 (12 weeks to complete)
- Retail and Omnichannel Management – $178 (8 weeks to complete)
- Public Library Management – $352 (32 weeks to complete)
- And more…
I listed CodeCademy here as they offer training in the high demand field of computer coding.
You can choose from 3 options:
- Learn HTML, Python, and SQL for free
- CodeCademy Pro – $20/month
- CodeCademy Intensive – starts at $199 for a Certificate of Completion and a Portfolio of completed projects
Completing studies at CodeCademy can open doors to great high paying job opportunities. Get training in Web Development ($60,000 a year average income), Programming ($80,000 a year average income), or in Data Science ($63,000 a year average income).
Maybe you’d like to leave the rat race and work for yourself instead. At MyOwnBusiness Institute you can learn various ways to manage your own business for free and gain a Certificate and “Digital Badge”. There’s two options – Starting a Business, or Business Expansion (for established businesses).
I’m not 100% sure of the validity of this site as it’s not from an accredited college or university. But if you’re willing to try it they offer 10 free courses to receive a “Master Certificate in Business Management” There’s no enrollment, it’s self-paced and completely online.
This is a great site for Computer Programmers to advance their learning as well as well as staying on top of current and future trends.
Their free “Nanodegrees” are available in learning about:
- ARKit (Augmented Reality)
- Self-Driving Car Engineering
- VR Development
- Artificial Intelligence
- And a few others…
They also offer Nanodegree Plus which offers a Degree, plus help in securing a job (or your money back they state). Udacity doesn’t state their prices for these degrees unless you sign up first.
The Nanodegree Plus Degrees offered are:
- Machine Learning Engineer
- Full Stack Web Developer
- iOS Developer
FutureLearn offers a variety of free courses to complete for professional development. You can upgrade these courses for a small fee (starts at $59 plus shipping per course) to qualify for a Program Degree as well as the opportunity to apply these credits towards a Bachelor’s Degree.
Programs at FutureLearn:
- Business and Finance Fundamentals
- Causes of Human Disease
- Environmental Challenges
- Genomics in Healthcare
- Mergers and Acquisitions
- Practical Data Mining
- As well as in other areas….
This site offers over 3500 courses with a 12-month subscription that costs £199 a year (roughly $260 a year). They also offer Specialist Certificate programs, an online MBA, and other certificates for under $500.
Their Specialist Programs are for:
- Professional Technical Writer
- Sales Coaching
- Online Business Startup
- Health & Safety and Child Protection Training
Alison stands for Advanced Learning Interactive Systems Online. Even though this site is based in the United Kingdom, their courses are still valid for today’s workforce.
They offer a variety of diplomas in different work fields such as:
- Hospitality Management
- Nursing & Patient Care
- Human Resources
- Information Technology (IT)
- Business Management & Entrepreneurship
- Social Work Studies
- And more…
This is just a few of the many offerings available on Alison. Now, the courses are free but there is a small fee to pay to receive certification. A digital copy to download is about €21 (roughly $24 USD).
A Parchment copy of the certificate costs about €27 – €199 (roughly $32 – $235 USD) plus shipping fees. A framed Parchment certificate costs about €37 – €215 (roughly $43 – $253 USD) plus shipping fees.
The different prices are dependent on which learning “path” you take. It’s easier and cheaper to buy the downloadable version & print it out on high stock paper.
University of the People is the “world’s first non-profit, tuition-free, accredited, online, American university.” They offer Associate’s degrees, Bachelor’s degrees, and even a Master’s degree.
These degrees are offered in:
- Business Administration – Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s (MBA)
- Computer Science – Associate’s and Bachelor’s
- Health Science – Associate’s and Bachelor’s
Even though these degrees and courses are tuition free, they do charge processing fees which are:
- Application Processing Fee $60
- Assessment Fee $200 (for final exams after every course)
So, for obtaining the Master’s Degree it would cost $2,460. Which is an amazing price compared to the average cost of $140,000! ($80,000 for tuition, $40,000 for Housing & textbooks, and $20,000 for other expenditures).
You may not even have to pay all this as well because the University of the People do offer several Scholarships to cover these fees.
13. TestPrep ToolKit
I’m including this site for those who haven’t had the chance to complete High School. You can take free GED classes in Reading and Writing, Math, Science, and Social Studies.
They also have free study guides to prepare for the exam. After completing everything and taking their free practice tests, you can look for the nearest GED testing facility to take your exam. The cost to take the test varies in each state but averages about $120.
If for whatever reason, getting a degree isn’t feasible, many of these places offer free or inexpensive courses for professional development. Obtaining knowledge and training in your career field certainly can boost the likelihood of promotions, pay raises, or a higher chance of getting hired.
Other places to get free training and professional development classes:
You don’t have to limit yourself to the internet and online courses. There are so many resources and classes out there available to you. Such as the library, local parks and recreation night courses, or corporations offering classes to the public.
Finally, don’t neglect resources at your current job. Does your company offer professional development training, tuition reimbursements, and other opportunities to their employees?
Discuss with your boss any other chance for learning and improving at your job. Once they know you’re interested in improving and advancing they may create an opportunity for you.
It’s always a good idea to continue learning, whether it’s for your current job, a future dream job, or for any personal interests. Learning keeps your mind sharp, gives you confidence, and better able to adapt to change.