If you're a business owner looking to expand your skills, here are just a few of the thousands of free courses offered by some of the largest universities in the world.
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You may not have had the chance to walk the halls of prestigious universities like Harvard, MIT, and Stanford. That doesn't mean you can't take advantage of the knowledge and experience they offer.
Many Ivy League and other top universities offer online courses to reach a wider audience. The best part is that many of these e-learning and development courses are free.
Here are some courses to take for free in 2021 that are worth adding to your resume and professional profile.
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Harvard University and MIT on edX
In 2012, scientists from two leading universities joined forces to create edX, a platform for online courses. Harvard and MIT have teamed up to develop this learning platform and bring university-level courses to people around the world.
Today the website offers over 3,000 courses in many disciplines from over 160 universities. These courses cover subjects ranging from math, medicine, and engineering to computer science, business, and art and design.
Here are some courses from Harvard University:
Rhetoric: The Art of Convincing Writing and Public Speaking: Improve your writing and public speaking skills
Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies: Understand how entrepreneurship and innovation work together to address complex social problems
The Road to Happiness: What Chinese Philosophy Teaches Us About the Good Life: Learn about Confucius, Mindfulness, and Chinese Philosophy
MIT also offers many free courses:
Entrepreneurship 101: Who Is Your Client ?: Discover how entrepreneurship is a learned skill and how to start the journey with the right client goal.
Shaping the Work of the Future: Find out how to develop a career plan that fits today's changing work environment.
Data Analysis: Statistical Modeling and Computation in Applications: Start using statistics and analysis tools to get more out of data. This course is part of the MITx MicroMasters Statistics and Data Science program.
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Stanford University launched its Stanford Online Program in 1995, which offers free courses on many platforms including the aforementioned edX, as well as Coursera, Get Smarter and Aalto University Executive Education.
Algorithms: Design and Analysis, Part 1: Learning the Basic Principles of Algorithm Design.
Artificial Intelligence: Principles and Techniques: Learn more about artificial intelligence and how machines help solve, learn, think and interact with problems.
Media Technology Careers: Explore audio, video, and music technology companies for career opportunities including Adobe, Universal Audio, and iZotope.
Shaping your career: Use a design thinking approach and five career-oriented professional orientation concepts to shape your career.
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Yale University also offers free courses on Coursera. These courses cover a range of topics for students and entrepreneurs around the world. Some courses come with low fees for access to homework, full content, and certifications. Therefore, it is possible to pay for an annual Coursera membership to receive multiple courses. However, these courses are free if you just want to view them. Here are some titles to check out:
The Science of Wellbeing: This course, focused on mental and emotional wellbeing, continues to be one of the most popular and relevant free courses out there.
Introduction to Negotiation: Learn how to improve your negotiation skills by testing concepts against real-life situations.
The Global Financial Crisis: Discover the factors that contributed to the last global financial crisis, their impact, and how you can minimize the same risks in the future.
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Other online courses
Other major universities have also joined online platforms to share their free course offerings. Make sure to add these to your list of learning and development goals in 2021:
Princeton University offers courses on Coursera such as Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies, Effective Altruism, and various technical courses such as The Art of Structural Engineering: Bridges on edX.
Columbia University offers financial engineering and risk management on Coursera, as well as artificial intelligence and statistical thinking for data science and analytics.
The University of Pennsylvania offers a diverse range of courses including specializing in corporate foundations, viral marketing, and contagious content creation, as well as laws and policies protecting intellectual property across platforms.
Northwestern University offers a wide range of business courses including the Content Strategy for Professionals Specialization, Social Media Marketing Specialization, Modern Robotics, and Scaling Operations: Linking Strategy and Execution.
Duke University offers software courses from Excel to MySQL: Analysis Techniques for Business Specialization; Personal development courses like Think Again IV: How to Avoid Mistakes; and finance courses like behavioral finance.
Related Topics: How To Build Your Business Strategy For 2021 In The Face Of Uncertainties
What should you watch out for in online courses?
As an entrepreneur or small business owner, free learning is good, but it still has to fit into your hectic schedule. Before signing up for these free courses, do some research on each course, including how long it will take and what outcomes it may be. The courses can last anywhere from a week to months.
These classes also differ in terms of coursework and certification options. Align your course selection with professional and personal goals so you can focus on building the skills that will advance your career and achieve your goals.
Related: 10 Free Online Courses That Any Business Owner Can Benefit From