30+ Free Classes on Entrepreneurship, Public Speaking, Negotiation and More That You Can Take From Harvard, MIT, Stanford and Other Prestigious Universities If you're an entrepreneur looking to expand your skills, here are just some of the thousands of free courses offered by some of the greatest universities in the world.

By John Boitnott

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You might not have had the opportunity to walk the halls of such prestigious universities as Harvard, MIT and Stanford. That doesn't mean you can't tap into the knowledge and expertise they offer.

Many Ivy League and other top-tier universities offer online classes to reach a wider audience. The best part is that many of these e-learning and development courses are free.

Here are some classes you can take for free in 2021 that are well worth adding to your resume and professional profile.

Related: 5 Entrepreneurs Who've Bought Themselves Back From Their Majority Investors -- And What They Learned

Harvard University and MIT on edX

In 2012, scientists from two leading universities joined forces to create edX, a platform for online courses. Harvard and MIT partnered to develop this learning platform to make university-level courses available to people all over the world.

Today, the site offers over 3,000 courses across many subject areas from over 160 universities. These courses include topics in areas from math, medicine, and engineering to computer science, business, and art and design.

Here are some Harvard University courses:

  • Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasive Writing and Public Speaking: Improve your writing and public speaking skills

  • Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies: Understand how entrepreneurship and innovation work together to take on complex social problems

  • The Path to Happiness: What Chinese Philosophy Teaches Us About the Good Life: Learn about Confucius, mindfulness and Chinese philosophy

MIT also offers many free courses:

  • Entrepreneurship 101: Who is Your Customer?: Discover how entrepreneurship is a learned skill, and how you can start the journey with the right customer target.

  • Shaping Work of the Future: Find out how you can develop a career plan that fits today's changing work environment.

  • Data Analysis: Statistical Modeling and Computation in Applications: Get started on using statistics and analytics tools to get more from data. This course is part of the MITx MicroMasters program in Statistics and Data Science.

Related: 5 Ways to Transform Your Business into a Sustainable One

Stanford University

Stanford University launched its Stanford Online program in 1995, offering free courses on many platforms, including the aforementioned edX as well as Coursera, Get Smarter and Aalto University Executive Education.

  • Algorithms: Design and Analysis, Part 1: Learn fundamental principles of algorithm design.

  • Artificial Intelligence: Principles and Techniques: Learn about artificial intelligence and how machines help with problem-solving, learning, reasoning and interaction.

  • Careers in Media Technology: Explore audio, video and music technology companies for potential career options, including Adobe, Universal Audio and iZotope.

  • Designing Your Career: Leverage a design thinking approach and five career-oriented vocational wayfinding concepts to help design your career.

Related: 37 Free Online Marketing and Social Media Classes to Elevate Your Skills

Yale University

Yale University also provides free courses through Coursera. These courses cover a range of topics for students and entrepreneurs around the world. Some courses come with small fees to access homework, full content and certification, so it is possible to pay for an annual Coursera membership to get multiple courses. However, these courses are free if you just want to view them. Here are some titles to check out:

  • The Science of Well-Being: This course, designed with mental and emotional wellness in mind, continues to be one of the most popular and relevant free courses available.

  • Introduction to Negotiation: Learn how to improve your negotiation skills by testing concepts against real-world situations.

  • The Global Financial Crisis: Discover the factors that contributed to the last global financial crisis, its impact, and how to minimize the same risks in the future.

Related: 8 Content Marketing Ideas to Strengthen Your Bottom Line

Other online courses

Other major universities have also joined online platforms to share their free course offerings. Be sure to consider adding these to your list of learning and development goals in 2021:

  • Princeton University features courses on Coursera like Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies, Effective Altruism, and several technical courses, such as The Art of Structural Engineering: Bridges on edX.

  • Columbia University offers Financial Engineering and Risk Management on Coursera, as well as Artificial Intelligence and Statistical Thinking for Data Science and Analytics.

  • The University of Pennsylvania has a diverse course selection, including Business Foundations Specialization, Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content, and Intellectual Property Law and Policy found on various platforms.

  • Northwestern University provides a wide range of business courses, such as Content Strategy for Professionals Specialization, Social Media Marketing Specialization, Modern Robotics, and Scaling Operations: Linking Strategy and Execution.

  • Duke University has software courses like Excel to MySQL: Analytic Techniques for Business Specialization; personal development courses like Think Again IV: How to Avoid Fallacies; and finance courses like Behavioral Finance.

Related: How to Build Your 2021 Business Strategy in the Face of Uncertainty

What to consider when taking online courses

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, free learning is good, but it still must fit into your hectic schedule. Before signing up for these free courses, research each course, including how much time it requires and what type of results are possible. Courses can take anything from one week to months to complete.

These classes also vary in terms of coursework and certification options. Align your course selection with professional and personal objectives so that you can focus on building the skills that advance your career and achieve your goals.

Related: 10 Free Online Courses That Can Benefit Every Entrepreneur

John Boitnott

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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