Online Summer Classes Discounted for Coronavirus

Keep learning from home this summer.

Online classes can teach learners of any age new skills, aid in a career transition or offer an accessible way to explore a new topic. This summer, some online platforms — including those that provide massive open online courses, or MOOCs — are offering discounts to users because of the coronavirus pandemic. Even as states begin to lift stay-at-home orders, many families will remain close to home this summer and millions of Americans are still unemployed or facing reduced hours at work. Consider browsing the online classes on these platforms this summer to make use of any free time and pick up some new skills or credentials.


Since June 1, Coursera, an online learning platform, has offered free access to more than 3,800 courses and numerous guided projects, specializations and certificates for current undergraduate or graduate students and recent graduates. Students must enroll in the course by July 31 and finish it by Sept. 30 to take advantage of this offer. Shravan Goli, chief product officer at Coursera, says the platform has seen an increase of more than 500% in enrollments since mid-March compared with the same period last year. One of the most popular courses on the platform since the pandemic began is Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 Contact Tracing course, which has more than 402,000 enrollments since its launch last month. Some other courses that have been popular since mid-March include Yale University’s The Science of Well-Being and the University of Michigan’s Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills.


In response to the coronavirus pandemic, edX, another popular MOOC provider, is offering a 30% discount through the end of this month on the platform’s MicroMasters programs, professional certificate programs and MicroBachelors programs to help “workers impacted by COVID-19 reenter the workforce as quickly as possible,” the edX website reads. In addition, anyone can tap into edX’s free classes offered through universities like Stanford University and Harvard University. Stanford’s courses are taught by Stanford professors and industry experts in fields like health and medicine, engineering, education and arts and humanities. A few of Harvard’s free course offerings include Introduction to Computer Science, American Government: Constitutional Foundations and Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies.

Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global in Illinois, which is part of the Purdue University system, offers mostly online classes. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Purdue Global is offering one free course and a 25% tuition discount on online course series and microcredentials. These discounted offerings are groups of courses that aim to help students develop skills in a specific area. The university offers microcredentials in fields like health care administration and nutrition, and course series in fields like accounting fundamentals and data engineering. Students must meet certain eligibility requirements to take advantage of these offerings.


Online learning platform Udemy has created a collection of free courses aimed at addressing students’ needs during the coronavirus pandemic. These classes are an opportunity for students to learn something new, and “sometimes that means new skills for a new career, and sometimes it’s as simple as realizing a lifelong passion,” Udemy’s website reads. Available free online classes range from a Mini Course on Time Management to Photography Fundamentals for Beginners.


Stuck at home all summer? There’s no better time to learn more about computer programming languages, also known as coding, which can have applications in numerous industries. Codecademy is offering 100,000 free memberships during the coronavirus pandemic. “If you’ve become unemployed, furloughed, or have closed your business due to COVID-19, you can apply for a free 3-month Pro membership through our simple request form,” the Codecademy website reads.


Harness online education during the coronavirus pandemic to learn more about the virus and its worldwide implications through FutureLearn, an online learning platform offering a free class called COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus, created by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In addition, short online courses offered by FutureLearn are free for the course’s duration plus 14 days, regardless of when a student joins. Examples of other free course offerings include Business Fundamentals: Customer Engagement and Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technology Explained.


While the window to access free courses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has closed on Qwiklabs — a platform that offers labs in cloud platforms and software — students interested in becoming a developer or IT professional can still take low-cost classes. To get familiar with the Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services, online students can take advantage of labs like Getting Started with Cloud Shell & gcloud and Creating a Virtual Machine. Courses are free or low-cost, with the platform operating on a credit basis where one credit costs $1 and courses are typically zero to 15 credits. Purchasing credits in bulk includes some discounts. The platform also offers a lab called Verily Pathfinder Virtual Agent for COVID-19 Chat App, which teaches students to create a conversational interface to answer questions about the disease.

Explore an online education.

Learn more about online education with these answers to frequently asked questions about online classes, and check out the complete rankings of the Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs to find the school that’s best for you. For more tips on online education, connect with U.S. News Education on Twitter and Facebook.

Platforms offering free or cheap online classes

— Coursera

— edX

— Purdue University Global

— Udemy

— Codecademy

— FutureLearn

— Qwicklabs

Emma Kerr is the paying for college reporter at U.S. News & World Report. Prior to joining U.S. News, she covered education in Maryland for the Frederick News-Post and made stops at the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Daily Beast, among others. She graduated from the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, where she studied English and international studies and began her career as a news reporter at its student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. You can connect with her on Twitter at @EmmaRKerr.

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