List of the Best Free Online Universities

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Paying for tuition is a necessity, but how many students can afford to pay tuition without incurring debts or spending all their savings? The cost of education is increasing day by day but thanks to free online universities that make online programs available for free.
Are you a prospective or current online student finding it difficult to pay for tuition? Do you know there are free online universities? This article includes top universities that offer free fully online programs and courses. Some of the best universities in the world offer a variety of free online programs and courses ranging from business, to healthcare, engineering, art, social sciences, and many other study areas. A few online universities are totally free while many offer financial aids that can fully cover the cost of tuition. Some of the universities also offer free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) through online learning platforms like edX, Udacity, Coursera, and Kadenze.

How to Attend Online Universities for Free

Below are ways to get an online education for free:

  • Attend Tuition-free School

Some online schools exempts students from paying tuition. Students exempted may be from a particular region or state.
  • Attend Online Schools that provide Financial Aid

Some online schools provide financial assistance to eligible students, in form of grants and scholarships. These grants and scholarships can be use to cover the cost of tuition and other necessary fees.
  • Apply for FAFSA

There are online schools that accepts FAFSA, some of which are mentioned in this article. FAFSA will determine the type of federal financial aid you are eligible for. Federal financial aid can cover the cost of tuition and other necessary fees.
  • Work-study Programs

A few online schools have work study programs, which allows students to work and earn some amount of money while studying. Money earned from work-study programs can cover the cost of tuition. Work-study program is also a way to gain practical experience in your field of study.
  • Enroll in Free Online Courses

Free Online Courses are actually not degrees but the courses are useful for students who wish to gain more knowledge of their study area. Some universities provide free online courses through learning platforms like edX, Coursera, Kadenze, Udacity and FutureLearn. You can also gain a certificate at a token price after the completion of an online course.

List of the Best Free Online Universities

Below are some of the tuition-free universities, universities offering free online courses and online universities that accepts FAFSA.

Tuition-Free Online Universities

These universities does charge for tuition. Students will only have to pay for application, book and supplies, and other fees attached to online learning.
Name of InstitutionAccreditation StatusProgram LevelFinancial Aid Status
University of the PeopleYesAssociate's, bachelor's, and master's degree, and certificatesNo
Open UniversityYesDegree, certificates, diploma and micro credentialsYes


University of the People is the first accredited tuition-free online university in America, founded in 2009 and accredited in 2014 by Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). UoPeople offer fully online programs in:
  • Business administration
  • Computer Science
  • Health Science
  • Education
University of the People don’t charge for tuition but students have to pay other fees like application fee.


Open University is a distance learning university in UK, founded in 1969.
Only residents of England whose household income is less than £25,000 can study for free at Open University. However, there are several scholarships and bursary for students. Open University offer distance learning and online courses in different study areas. There is a program for everybody at Open University.

Top Universities offering free online courses

There are several top accredited universities that offer free online courses through online platforms like edX, Coursera, Kadenze, Udacity, and FutureLearn. These universities are not tuition-free, but provide students with short courses that can improve knowledge of their study area. Below are the top universities that offer free online courses:
Name of InstitutionOnline Learning Platform
Columbia UniversityCoursera, edX, Kadenze
Stanford UniversityedX, Coursera
Harvard UniversityedX
University of California IrvineCoursera
Georgia Institute of TechnologyedX, Coursera, Udacity
Ecole Polytechnic
Michigan State UniversityCoursera
California Institute of Arts Coursera, Kadenze
Hong Kong University of Science and TechnologyedX, Coursera
University of CambridgeedX, FutureLearn
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyedX
University College London FutureLearn
Yale UniversityCoursera


Columbia University is a private Ivy league research university that offer online programs through Columbia Online. In 2013, Columbia University started offering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on Coursera. Online specializations and courses offered in a variety of subject are provided by Columbia University on Coursera. In 2014, Columbia University partnered with edX to offer varieties of online programs from Micromasters to Xseries, Professional Certificates, and individual courses on a variety of subjects. Columbia University have several online courses available in different online learning platforms:


Stanford University is a private research university in Standford, California, US, founded in 1885. The university offer free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) through
Standford University also have free courses on iTunes and YouTube.


Harvard University is a private Ivy league research university that offer free online courses in a variety of subject, through . Founded in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States.


University of California – Irvine is a public land-grant research university in California, US. UCI offer a set of on demand and career focused programs through Coursera. There are about 50 MOOCs provided by UCI on . University of California – Irvine is a sustaining member of the Open Education Consortium, formerly known as OpenCourseWare Consortium. The University launched it’s OpenCourseWare initiative in November, 2006.


Georgia Institute of Technology is a public research university and institute of technology in Atlanta, Georgia, It offer more than 30 online courses in various subject areas from engineering to computing and ESL. It’s first MOOCs was offered in 2012.
Georgia Institute of Technology provide MOOCs through


Founded in 1794, Ecole Polytechnic is a french public institution if higher education and research located in Palaiseau, France. Ecole Polytechnic offer several on demand courses online.


Michigan State University is a public land-grant research university in East Lansing, Michigan, US. History of MOOCs at Michigan State University can be traced back to 2012, when Coursera just started. MSU currently offers different courses and specializations on . Also, Michigan State University is one of the online universities that accepts FAFSA. This means you can sponsor your online education at MSU with Financial Aids.


California Institute of Arts is a private art university, founded in 1961. CalArts I’d the first degree-granting institution of higher education in the US created specially for students of visual and performing arts. California Institute of Arts offers online credit-eligible and micro courses, through


Hong Kong University is a public research university located in Peninsula, Hong Kong.
The world-class international research university excels in science, technology, and business and also in humanities and social sciences. HKU started offering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in 2014. Currently, HKU offer free online courses and Micromasters programs through


University of Cambridge is a collegiate research university in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209, University of Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and World’s fourth-oldest surviving university. University of Cambridge offer varieties of online courses, Micromasters, and professional certificates. Online courses are available in


Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private land-grant research university located in Massachusetts, Cambridge. MIT offer free online course through MIT OpenCourseWare. OpenCourseWare is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course contents. MIT also offer online courses, XSeries and Micromasters programs through .


University College of London is a public research university in London, United Kingdom, and the second-largest university in the UK by population. UCL offer about 30 online courses in a wide range of subjects on .


Yale University launched an educational initiative “Open Yale Courses” to offer free and open access to a selection of introductory courses. Free online courses are offered in a variety of liberal arts disciplines including humanities, social sciences, and physical and biological sciences. The lectures are available as downloadable videos, and an audio-only version is also offered. Searchable transcripts of each lectures are also provided. Apart from Open Yale Courses, Yale University also offer free online courses on iTunes and .

Best Online Universities that accept FAFSA

Another way online students can find their online education is through FAFSA. Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form filled to apply for financial aid for college or graduate school. Only US students are eligible for FAFSA.

Check our dedicated article on online colleges that accepts FAFSA to learn more about eligibility, requirements, how to apply, and online colleges that accepts FAFSA.

Name of InstitutionProgram LevelAccreditation Status
Southern New Hampshire UniversityAssociate's, bachelor's and master's degrees, certificates, accelerated bachelor's to master's, and for-credit courses Yes
University of FloridaDegrees and certificatesYes
Pennyslavia State University World CampusBachelor's, associate's, master's and doctoral degrees, undergraduate and graduate certificates, undergraduate and graduate minors Yes
Purdue University GlobalAssociate's, bachelor's, master's and doctorate's degrees, and certificatesYes
Texas Tech UniversityBachelor's, master's and doctorate's degrees, undergraduate and graduate certificates, certifications, and preparatory programsYes


Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education Southern New Hampshire University is s private non-profit institution located in Manchester, New Hampshire, US. SNHU offer over 200 flexible online programs at affordable tuition rate.


Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges. University of Florida is a public research university located in Gainesville, Florida. Online students at University of Florida are eligible for a wide range of federal, state and institutional aid. These include: Grants, Scholarships, Student employments and loans. University of Florida offer high quality, fully online degree programs in over 25 majors at an affordable cost.


Accreditation: Middle State Commission on Higher Education Pennyslavia State University is a public research university in Pennyslavia, US, founded in 1863. World Campus is the online campus of Pennyslavia State University launched in 1998. Over 175 degrees and certificates are available online at Penn State World Campus. Apart from federal financial aid, online students at Penn State World Campus are eligible for scholarships.


Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Founded in 1869 as Indiana’s land-grant institution, Purdue University is a public land-grant research university in West Lafayette, Indiana, US. Purdue University Global offer more than 175 online programs.


Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) Texas Tech University is a public research university located in Lubbock, Texas. TTU started offering distance learning courses in 1996. Texas Tech University offers quality online and distance courses at affordable tuition cost.

Frequently Asked Questions about Free Online Universities

What are Online Universities?

Online Universities are universities that offer fully online programs either asynchronous or synchronous.

How can study Online without money?

Many universities including online universities provide financial assistance including federal financial aid, student loans, work-study programs and scholarships to online students. Also, online universities like university of the people and open universities offer tuition-free programs online.

Are there totally free Online Universities?

No, there are many tuition-free online universities but they are not totally free. You will only be exempted from paying tuition.

Is there any Tuition-Free Online University for International Students?

Yes, there are a few tuition-free online universities for international students. For example, University of the People. University of the People offer free online programs to both domestic and international students.

Are the Best Online Universities properly accredited?

All the universities mentioned in this article are accredited and recognized by the right agencies.

Are Free Online Degrees taken seriously?

Yes, free online degrees are the same with paid online degrees. It will not be stated on the degree or certificate whether you paid or not.

Where can I Find Free Online Courses?

Free Online Courses are provided by many universities through online learning platforms. Some of the online learning platforms are:
  • edX
  • Coursera
  • Udemy
  • FutureLearn
  • Udacity
  • Kadenze.

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Conclusion on the Top Free Online Universities

Whether you are taking a paid or free online program make sure you verify the accreditation status of the online college or university. Accreditation is a very important factor to consider before earning a degree online. Online learning is moving from being an alternative to becoming a norm among students. Students with busy schedules prefer online learning to traditional education because of Flexibility. You can be in the Kitchen and still be attending classes online. All thanks to advancement in technology, with high-speed internet network, laptop, unlimited data, you can earn a quality degree without leaving your comfort zone.

If you are clueless on online learning and how it works, check our article on how to find the best online colleges near me, a complete guide on how to choose the best online college and program of study.

We have come to the end of this article, we hope you found this article informative and helpful. Let us know your thoughts in the Comment Section below.