22 free or affordable online finance courses from top schools like Yale and UPenn's Wharton School

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  • Whether you want to pay off debt or get better at investing, these online finance courses can help.
  • The classes are offered by top universities such as MIT, UPenn’s Wharton, Yale, Columbia, and more.
  • Topics range from investment banking and quantitative modeling to personal finance.

Whether you’re looking to pivot to a career in finance, or just want to build a more sustainable savings account, it always helps to learn from the pros. 

Thankfully, there are seemingly infinite finance courses you can take online — including ones that are completely free. Some are from top schools like MIT, UPenn’s Wharton, Yale, Columbia, and the University of Michigan; others are taught by experts and coaches who can speak to common financial concerns (such as credit card debt). 

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Many of these courses are free to audit (meaning you won’t get certification upon completion), with certificates ranging from $49 to $2,025, depending on the school or program.

22 free or affordable online finance classes:

Foundations of finance

MicroMasters Program in Finance

Taught by: MIT

Cost: Free to audit individual courses; $2,025 for an edX MicroMasters certificate 

Length: 1 year and 3 months

One of edX’s MicroMasters selections, this MIT-led program features five finance courses, covering essential topics from the foundations of modern finance to financial derivatives in global markets. If you’re looking to move into a career in finance, this program can be a more affordable option to accrue college credits and eventually earn a full master’s degree. Alternatively, you can audit each individual course entirely for free — you just won’t receive accreditation. 

Finance for Everyone

Taught by: The University of Michigan

Cost: Free; $49 for a certificate

Length: 6 weeks

The University of Michigan designed this course to do exactly what the name implies — provide a solid understanding of finance no matter what your professional or personal background is. Beyond covering what finance is, why it’s important, and how to make more financially sound decisions using tools like the Time Value of Money (TVM), it also aims to simply make you appreciate finance as a concept. By making the subject engaging and interesting, this course can help even reluctant students feel more empowered by their financial choices by the end.

Finance Basics Everyone Should Know

Taught by: Michael McDonald, a researcher and professor of finance at Fairfield University

Cost: Free with the 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial; $19.99 or $29.99 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 1 hour and 17 minutes

If you consider yourself a complete novice when it comes to finance, this course covers the basics, from bank rates and credit scores to formulating a solid retirement plan. It aims to keep you generally informed of all the facets of finance, whether you’re looking to become more of an expert or just need guidance in understanding your HSA or 401K.

Introduction to Finance, Accounting, Modeling, and Valuation

Taught by: Chris Haroun, CEO, author, and MBA professor

Cost: $18.99 (Normally $149.99)

Length: 4.5 hours

This course tackles the fundamentals of finance and accounting without requiring learners to possess any prior knowledge of either subject. In 61 total lectures (amassing over four hours of material), you learn how to use Excel to create a balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement, as well as build financial models with accurate target prices. 

Personal finance

Build Sustainable Wealth and Get Out of Debt

Taught by: WealthFit, a financial education platform

Cost: Free with the 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial; $19.99 or $29.99 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 1 hour and 16 minutes

This relatively short class breaks down everything you need to know to get out of debt, from saving and building liquidity to the 10-20-70 rule. It’ll also provide you with real-life examples of people paying off their debts, so you can feel more encouraged that these decisions and planning will greatly benefit you in the long run.

The Fab 4 of Personal Finance

Taught by: Son Han, CPA, CFA, and founder of BrainyMoney

Cost: Free with the 7-day Skillshare trial; $8.25 or $19 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 1 hour and 25 minutes

This beginner-level, highly digestible class is meant for people who want to get their money habits in order but feel intimidated by the idea of investing or automating their finances. In a series of super-short videos, CPA Son Han touches upon pretty much every question you might have about personal finance, from Roth IRAs to credit scores.

Manage Your Personal Investments

Taught by: Jane Barratt, the chief advocacy officer at MX Technologies, Inc.

Cost: Free with the 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial; $19.99 or $29.99 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 1 hour and 24 minutes

Want to invest but have no clue where to start? This relatively short course gives you the lowdown on stocks, bonds, funds, compounding interest, risk management, and why you should invest in the first place. It also provides you with the tools you need to find out where to invest or how to work with a financial advisor.

Personal Finance for Artists and Freelancers

Taught by: Galia Gichon, an independent personal financial expert 

Cost: $29

Length: 14 hours and 54 minutes

Being a freelancer can be financially challenging enough, but even more so if you don’t have a solid money plan. This class gives you a realistic toolkit for creating (and sticking to) a budget that you check in on every week, as well as how to save for retirement when you don’t have a company 401K to contribute to. 

Corporate finance

Corporate finance

Taught by: Columbia University

Cost: Free to audit individual courses; $607.50 for an edX professional certificate 

Length: 3 months

Whether you audit these classes for free or take on the paid program, this course teaches you the core basics of corporate finance. After starting off with the theory and financial concepts needed to make investment evaluations, you learn how to value stocks and bonds, compute and project free cash flows, and measure risk. It’s priceless knowledge whether you own a small business yourself or want to eventually work as a financial analyst.

Finance for Non-Finance Professionals

Taught by: Rice University

Cost: Free; $49 for a certificate

Length: 5 weeks

Rice University offers this short online course, which requires no previous knowledge of finance to understand. You learn about financial valuation, compounding returns, and the basic tools of capital budgeting, so you can better understand the stock market and all the other factors that involve making important financial decisions in a corporate environment.

Finance Essentials for Small Businesses

Taught by: Kay Stice and Jim Stice, professors of Accounting at Brigham Young University

Cost: Free with the 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial; $19.99 or $29.99 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 51 minutes

If you’re thinking about starting a small business, it’s imperative that you know the top reasons yours might fail before you even begin. This course covers just that, plus everything you need to know to create a solid plan around cash inflows and outflows, troubleshoot if profit is lower than expected, and institute faster growth in the first few months of your business. 

Investment Banking

Essential Career Skills for Investment Banking and Finance

Taught by: The New York Institute of Finance

Cost: Free; $49 for a certificate

Length: 2 weeks

The New York Institute of Finance offers this approachable introductory course to investment banking. Taught by instructors with decades of Wall Street experience, it covers financial sectors and sub-sectors, industry jargon, and how hiring decisions are actually made. 

Investment and Portfolio Management Specialization

Taught by: Rice University

Cost: Free with 7-day Coursera trial; $49 per month to keep learning after trial ends

Length: 2 weeks

This four-course program from Rice University covers the essentials of investment portfolio management and personal investing — from understanding global markets to figuring out how much risk to take on. You learn to use quantitative skills and analytical tools to create a portfolio that effectively manages risk and brings in money, while also becoming more comfortable around the idea of irrational behavior in financial markets.

Investment Evaluation

Taught by: Yash Patel, Instructor at LinkedIn Learning

Cost: Free with the 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial; $19.99 or $29.99 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 2 hours and 4 minutes

This intermediate course is perfect for people who already know a little about investing but want to learn more about the different methods of evaluations. You’ll go over discounted cash flow (DCF), net present value (NPV), and internal rate of return (IRR), along with a list of pros and cons for each so you can make the wisest investing decisions.

Trading

Trading Fundamentals of Technical Analysis

Taught by: The New York Institute of Finance

Cost: Free; $199 for a certificate

Length: 6 weeks

This course asserts that “In order to apply technical analysis with confidence, it is important to understand the theory of technical analysis.” In the class, you learn about price chart patterns and other theories to predict the direction of prices. You can take this class alone or as part of a paid, two-course certificate program. 

Financial Markets

Taught by: Yale University

Cost: Free; $49 for a certificate

Length: 7 weeks

This theory-based Yale course provides you with some basic knowledge of financial markets, behavioral finance, stocks, bonds, mortgage lending, recessions, and regulations. Citing historical and real-world examples, this class aims at encouraging more ethical and effective use of these industries. 

Algorithmic Trading and Stocks Essential Training

Taught by: Michael McDonald, a researcher and professor of finance at Fairfield University

Cost: Free with the 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial; $19.99 or $29.99 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 1 hour and 29 minutes

Intended for more intermediate learners, this class explains how data analysis intersects with trading — and how so many current stock market trades are conducted via algorithms. Beyond learning how these algorithms work and gaining an overview of securities markets, you’ll be able to develop a simple trading algorithm yourself.

Quantitative Modeling

Business and Financial Modeling Specialization

Taught by: UPenn’s Wharton School

Cost: Free with 7-day Coursera trial; $79 per month to keep learning after trial ends

Length: N/A; five courses total

Wharton’s program gives you a breakdown of the fundamentals of quantitative modeling before moving into spreadsheets and more complex data analysis and modeling. By the end, you recommend a business strategy based on a data model you made in the class, and present it as a course of action to your peers.

Financial Modeling and Forecasting

Taught by: Kay Stice and Jim Stice, professors of Accounting at Brigham Young University

Cost: Free with the 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial; $19.99 or $29.99 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 1 hour and 53 minutes

This popular LinkedIn Learning course provides a historical overview of famous business cases that went wrong — like Home Depot’s 1985 cash flow crisis — so you can make the right financial decisions for yourself. Using the “assets = liability + equity” equation, you’ll be able to look at past data to make effective predictions and models for the future.

Python for Finance: Investment Fundamentals and Data Analytics

Taught by: 365 Careers

Cost: $18.99 (Normally $139.99)

Length: 8.5 hours

This extensive class goes through the fundamentals of finance (from the risk of stocks to Monte Carlo simulations) as well as teaches you how to code in Python, thus doubling as both a programming and finance course. Whether you’re a programming beginner with an interest in finance or an aspiring data scientist, this course covers a lot of important ground. 

Excel

Microsoft Excel for Your Business

Taught by: David Casuto, owner and lead instructor for San Francisco Computer Training and Senior Surf Computer Education

Cost: $29

Length: 14 hours and 5 minutes

Intended for freelancers and small business owners, this Excel class teaches you how to navigate Excel before diving into simple formulas and advanced formatting techniques. Knowing your way around Excel can help you track your invoices in a clear-cut, foolproof way (though this course is also useful for accounting pros who just want to know about the latest features of the software).

Excel: Tracking Data Easily and Efficiently

Taught by: Oz du Soleil, an Excel MVP, author, and trainer

Cost: Free with the 30-day LinkedIn Learning trial; $19.99 or $29.99 per month after (depending on your plan)

Length: 1 hour and 29 minutes

Excel is an invaluable tool for financial modeling, and this course covers the three financial statements used in financial modeling, the key parts of a buyout model, and how to utilize Excel for more complicated modeling. This course is helpful whether you’re working in corporate finance, investment banking, or portfolio management. 

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