Take College Finance Courses Online for Free
How would you like to learn more about personal finance issues and economics at the college level from the comfort of your home? And wouldn’t it be nice if you could do it for free? Thanks to the power of the internet and the growing popularity of courses being offered online for free, this has become a reality.
Here you’ll find a wide array of finance courses you can take for free right on your own computer. Some courses are offered by the likes of Yale and MIT, and others are slightly less formal courses meant to provide a more basic and conceptual overview of financial topics. While there may be even more free courses out there, these cover some of the core concepts that can be used by most people. This means there are a number of courses that talk about personal finance basics, introductory economics, and some tax planning issues. If you take the time to poke around the sites listed here, you’ll also find plenty of more advanced topics and even some non-finance courses that may be of interest to you as well.
20 Free Online Financial Courses
1. Fundamentals of Personal Financial Planning at UC Irvine
The course was created to help those who cannot afford extensive planning assistance better understand how to define and reach their financial goals. It provides basic understanding so informed decisions can be made. The course can also be seen as a reference for individual topics that are part of personal financial planning. This is a great introductory course to help anyone gain a better understanding of personal finance.
2. Financial Markets ECON 252 at Yale University
The course strives to offer understanding of the theory of finance and its relation to the history, strengths and imperfections of such institutions as banking, insurance, securities, futures, and other derivatives markets, and the future of these institutions over the next century. This course is packed full of video and audio of the lectures by Professor Robert Schiller.
3. Family Finance from Utah State
Upon completion of this course you should be able to: 1. Identify personal/family values and establish appropriate financial goals. 2. Develop financial plans that reflect your values and goals. 3. Begin implementation of your plans to meet short and long term financial goals. 4. Evaluate options for providing financial security throughout your life. 5. Recall and apply specific fact concerning various financial topics, tools, and services.
4. Money 101 at CNN Money
CNN Money has put together a casual course of money basics. The course is broken down into 23 different lessons from creating a budget to estate planning. While not affiliated with any specific educational institution, there is a lot of information that’s easy to navigate through.
5. Personal Finance: Debt and Borrowing at Open University
Debt is regularly featured in the news media, with stories about how much some people are borrowing, how some extraordinarily high rates of interest are being charged, or with questions about whether debt is becoming an intolerable burden for some households. This unit is going to explore some of these issues in detail. Section 1 looks at evidence on the level of debt in the UK before going on to examine some of the changing social and economic context. Section 2 explores the costs of having debt, and Section 3 considers the relationship between debt and household finances. Finally, Section 4 investigates the borrowing process, and suggests that gathering information and making informed decisions about taking on debt is an important part of financial capability. While offered by and referring to the UK, the concepts can be applied in the U.S. as well.
6. Introduction to Economics at Utah State
Introduction to Economics is designed to build an understanding of economic institutions, history, and principles. In addition, it will focus on relationship between private and public sectors of the U.S. economy. Also, it will analyze major economic institutions, such as property rights, markets, business organizations, labor unions, money and banking, trade, and taxation.
7. Investment Risk at Open University
A fair return on investment is defined as one that compensates the investor for the risk incurred in making the investment neither more nor less. Conversely, an excess return is one that over-compensates the investor for the risk incurred. Investors want to avoid investments that pay less than a fair return, while borrowers want to avoid paying an excess return. Learn how to identify and manage different types of investment risk.
8. Investing in Your Future at Rutgers
This 11-unit home study course was developed by the Cooperative Extension system for beginning investors with small dollar amounts to invest at any one time. After exploring “the basics,” the course describes specific types of investments (e.g., stocks and bonds) in detail. You’ll begin to understand their characteristics, how they are purchased, and what it costs to purchase each investment. There are also units that focus specifically on tax-advantaged investments and investments that can be purchased with $1,000 or less.
9. Financial Security for All at Michigan State University
Financial Security for All has compiled in depth information to educate you on specific financial issues and strategies. Ranging from personal finance basics to estate planning, there are a number of resources here that can help you learn more about important financial issues that affect everyone.
10. Investments at MIT
The focus of this course is on financial theory and empirical evidence for making investment decisions. Topics include: portfolio theory; equilibrium models of security prices (including the capital asset pricing model and the arbitrage pricing theory); the empirical behavior of security prices; market efficiency; performance evaluation; and behavioral finance.
11. Taxes and Business Strategy at MIT
Traditional finance and other business courses analyze a broad spectrum of factors affecting business decision-making but typically give little systematic consideration to the role of taxes. In contrast, traditional tax accounting courses concentrate on administrative issues while ignoring the richness of the context in which tax factors operate. The objective of the course is to bridge this gap by providing a framework for recognizing tax planning opportunities and applying basic principles of tax strategy.
12. Entrepreneurial Finance at MIT
This class examines the elements of entrepreneurial finance, focusing on technology-based start-up ventures, and the early stages of company development. It addresses key questions which challenge all entrepreneurs: how much money can and should be raised; when should it be raised and from whom; what is a reasonable valuation of the company; and how funding should be structured. The subject aims to prepare students for these decisions, both as entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
13. Economics at Carnegie Mellon University
The Introductory Economics course is a collection of online experiments and related on-line workbooks which can be used by individual learners or to supplement an instructor lead course. In each experiment a student is an active participant attempting to make deals with other traders in a market. After each experiment, the data the students generated is stored and the student will use this data to complete an online workbook. The workbook guides the student through the analysis and much of the economic theory needed to understand the related experiment. In these experiments the student is both a participant and an observer.
14. Finance Theory II at MIT
The objective of this course is to learn the financial tools needed to make good business decisions. The course presents the basic insights of corporate finance theory, but emphasizes the application of theory to real business decisions. Each session involves class discussion, some centered on lectures and others around business cases.
15. Behavioral Economics and Finance
This course surveys research which incorporates psychological evidence into economics. Topics include: prospect theory, biases in probabilistic judgment, self-control and mental accounting with implications for consumption and savings, fairness, altruism, and public goods contributions, financial market anomalies and theories, impact of markets, learning, and incentives, and memory, attention, categorization, and the thinking process.
16. Free Credit Education Webcasts
Money Management International has a collection of free online webcasts that cover topics on credit and debt. Each of these webcasts are relatively short and will allow you to digest the important topics in small pieces. Most webcasts run around 10 minutes in length and cover everything from credit scores to comparative shopping. Be sure to check out what is a good credit score.
17. Principles of Macroeconomics at MIT
This course provides an overview of the following macroeconomic issues: the determination of output, employment, unemployment, interest rates, and inflation. Monetary and fiscal policies are discussed, as are public debt and international economic issues. This course also introduces basic models of macroeconomics and illustrates principles with the experience of the United States and other economies.
18. Principles of Microeconomics at MIT
This introductory course teaches the fundamentals of microeconomics. Topics include consumer theory, producer theory, the behavior of firms, market equilibrium, monopoly, and the role of the government in the economy.
19. Free Online Tax Course
Our home study online income tax course will teach you everything you need to know to become a tax professional. Our online income tax course will give you the skills you need to prepare tax returns professionally, even with no previous experience. If you want to earn extra income as a tax professional our online income tax course is for you. It makes learning tax preparation easy and fun!
20. Planning for a Secure Retirement at Purdue
The objective of this course is to help you with your planning for retirement. Each module provides information that can be valuable in answering the questions you need to consider as you make your plans. The modules include specific goals for the module, activities to complete, and sources for more information.
Photo: Steve Woods
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.