How do you earn an online certificate for free? Online courses are one of the best ways to learn new skills and build the foundation for your career path. However, most of these online courses cost money. Here are some ways to get a certificate from a credible online learning platform without paying a penny.

Google Digital Garage

Launched in 2015, Google Digital Garage is a non-profit program that gives free online training to anyone. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced learner, a new graduate, or an aspiring entrepreneur, expert trainers from Google and other partner educators have got you covered.

While free to take, not all courses offer free certificates. Fundamentals of Digital Marketing is a popular accredited course with a free certificate. You can also try Elements of AI. This course requires you to complete at least 90% of the exercises and answer at least 50% correctly to earn a certificate.

Even if you don’t get a certificate, you’ll receive a badge for every module you complete. All these badges belong to Open Badges, a format for digital badges. All these badges are verifiable. You can also easily share them on social media.

Google Skillshop

Google Skillshop focuses on the skills you need to become an expert in Google products. Some of the most in-demand Google Product Certifications are Google Ads and Google Analytics. If you’re wondering how Google can help you level up your digital skills, this is the learning platform for you.

Skillshop certifications are formal accreditations that help your resume stand out if you’re job hunting. To earn a free certificate, choose a learning path with certification in the course title. Afterward, complete all course activities and pass the assessment. Also, check the guidelines to know how to stay certified. For instance, you should renew your Google Ads certification after one year.

3. Pass CS50 Courses on Harvard OpenCourseWare

Harvard CS50x free certificate

One of the tips for choosing the right online course for upskilling is to take classes from a credible organization. CS50x, or Introduction to Computer Science, is a popular course from Harvard. If you’re exploring a career in business technologies, programming, game development, artificial intelligence, or computer science, this is the course for you.

There are two options to get a certificate, one paid and one free. You can pass a CS50 short course on edX and earn a paid verified certificate. Or you can directly take classes on Harvard OpenCourseWare. You’ll earn a free certificate if you score at least 70% on the problem sets, labs, and final projects.

Is there a difference between the Harvard and CS50 course? According to Harvard CS50 FAQs, an edX certificate is verified and “can provide proof for an employer, school, or other institution that you have successfully completed an online course.” Meanwhile, the CS50 certificate is free and from CS50 itself.

Here are the links to CS50 free certificate courses:

OpenWHO courses

OpenWHO is an interactive platform launched in 2017 by the World Health Organization. Designed for health professionals working during health emergencies, OpenWHO courses aim to transfer life-saving information to frontliners. However, the self-paced courses are free for anyone to take.

If you’re interested in health technology and want to earn a free certificate, you can take these courses:

5. Apply for Financial Aid on Coursera

Coursera course with financial aid

Coursera is a popular online platform with more than 5,400 courses. You can take self-paced online classes and earn degrees and certificates from universities and companies worldwide. If you’re thinking of switching careers or tucking an in-demand skill under your belt, try browsing through Coursera’s massive offerings.

Coursera is one of the best apps for free online courses, but you must pay for a certificate. To earn a certificate for free, apply for Financial Aid:

  1. Go to your chosen course.
  2. Check if financial aid is available. There should be a link saying Financial aid available beside the button labeled Enroll for Free.
  3. Fill up the online application form. You will be asked to describe your educational background, professional goals, and financial status.
  4. Wait for your application to be reviewed and approved.

6. Complete a Course on Coursera During the Free Trial Period

Coursera home page

Coursera gives new users a free trial period. During this time, you can complete any course. Coursera’s Terms of Use state that they reserve the right to require you to pay for a one-month subscription to receive a certificate, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

Wisely choose your course, as Coursera only gives you seven days free. You’ll have to provide your credit card details to start a class during the trial. Cancel your subscription before your free trial ends, so you won’t get charged. Additionally, make sure that you verify your name to get your certificate. Some courses might also require you to verify your ID.

Skillshare Scholarships

If you’re a creator, consider taking courses at Skillshare. Skillshare is an online learning community that lets you take classes and even teach one yourself. However, you have to pay for your subscription.

Thankfully, you can apply for a one-year Skillshare scholarship. The online learning platform selects ten deserving applicants each month. To be considered, you must explain why you need financial aid and show Skillshare that you can “make a creative impact on the world.” Recipients are notified the first week of every month through email.

Coursera Campus Basic Plan

Students may also earn free Coursera certificates through the Campus Basic Plan. You should receive a notification from your school if you’re eligible. Once you join your school’s learning program, you’ll be able to access Guided Projects for free.

You can keep your certificates even after you graduate. Make sure to add your personal email address as an alternative email. You’ll then be able to view all your certificates on your account.

9. Check if Your Company Offers Study Assistance

Smiling woman using a laptop and sitting on a table in a classroom

If you work for companies that offer study assistance as a work perk, check if the benefits include tuition assistance for online courses. For instance, NIVIDIA’s Global Assistance Program in the U.S. offers educational assistance for employees who study at accredited institutions, including edX and Coursera. HubSpot also includes online courses in its budget.

Ask human resources which courses are included in their study assistance program. Usually, a company gives study assistance benefits for courses aligned with your current role. Some companies also require that you work a certain number of hours per week.

Some platforms may offer promos for a limited period. For example, Coursera offered free courses with certificates for a curated collection of courses during Pride Month in 2021. To stay updated on these promotions, follow your favorite learning platforms on social media and subscribe to email notifications.

11. Grab a Udemy Coupon From Online Classes

Online Classes Free Udemy Coupons blog

If you’re looking for a sweet deal, Online Classes offers coupons for Udemy courses. An online learning website, Udemy doesn’t have a monthly subscription. However, you’ll have to buy the course to access it and earn a certificate.

You can browse through thousands of course offerings with existing coupons using Categories. Some coupons give you a discount, but some offer 100 percent off. Click the title of the course that you’re interested in, then look for Click to Redeem to access the promo code. The coupon is automatically applied to Udemy, so you only have to click Enroll on the Udemy website.

Learn a New Skill, and Earn a Free Certificate

Learning something new is never a waste of time. While certificates do not guarantee a job, they show recruiters that you’re teachable and willing to learn. And even if a certificate doesn’t land you a dream job, it still gives you a sense of accomplishment.

Are you looking to advance your career? Online courses can help you get started. They’re accessible and more affordable than traditional education. If you want to develop your skills, try enrolling in a free online course.


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