Today I want to share a few of the top schools and organizations offering free business courses online, specific to the needs of business owners or other self-employed professionals, covering everything from startup issues to marketing and finances. Here are some of my top picks:
Schools / Organizations
The U.S. Small Business Association – I’d reckon most U.S. entrepreneurs are already aware of the SBA, but did you know they offer quite a few free courses with practical entrepreneurial advice?
MIT OpenCourseWare – Famous for their technology programs, MIT offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate course materials from the Sloan School of Management. MIT offers one of the most extensive collections of online course materials available.
The Open University – This UK school offers quite a few online business courses, on topics such as entrepreneurial behavior, managing relationships, and project planning. Do a lot of business traveling? Also take a peek at their online language courses.
Stanford University – Stanford goes beyond simply offering text-based course materials. They offer their free online courses through iTunes. You can listen to actual audio lectures from their professors in topic areas such as social entrepreneurship, finance, and economics. You’ll need the iTunes software installed to be able to access these.
UC Berkeley – Berkeley has some outstanding course materials available online. Their webcast courses allow you to listen in on audio lectures from their current and past semesters. In the current semester, you can even subscribe via RSS to be notified when new lectures are uploaded. This link takes you directly to the current Spring 2009 semester, which doesn’t feature much in the way of business courses. But browse through the semester drop-down in the upper right corner, and you can find a lot of hidden gems, including courses in economics, psychology (good to know in marketing), and information systems (better understanding search engines for example, which can play a role in your business’ online visibility).
Yale University – This ivy league school opens its virtual doors with Open Yale Courses, a selection of free online courses spanning several disciplines. While you won’t find a lot of basic courses of entrepreneurial interest here, there are a few departments to check out. For example, you can learn about financial markets from the economics department or their intro to psychology course. The courses themselves are some of the best available (with both audio and video lectures available for download) – they’d top the list actually if it weren’t for the extremely limited collection of courses currently available (only 15 across all departments as of the time of publication).
Later I’ll followup with a list of specific courses you can take online from these schools and organizations (and more). In the meantime, browse through some of the best free online business course offerings on the Web.