Free Coursera for University and College Students

Online learning has grown exponentially more popular throughout recent years, especially in the current climate of physical distancing due to COVID-19. In addition to colleges and universities converting some or all of their instruction to virtual settings, online learning platforms have ramped up their offerings and designed incentives for engaging with their content.

Coursera logo

Coursera, for example, is a world-wide online learning platform that offers massive online open courses. Their courses cover a wide variety of subject areas including the arts and humanities, business, computer science, data science, information technology, health, math and logic, personal development, physical science and engineering, social science, and language learning. Accessing Coursera content typically requires a monthly fee. However, back in March, Coursera launched the Coursera Together initiative to offer a selection of courses free to all users through the end of July. Between mid-March and mid-June, Coursera saw more than 25 million enrollments, which is a 520% increase from the same period last year (Source: CNBC).

In addition to the Coursera Together initiative, Coursera is now offering FREE access to college and university students. Students who enroll before July 31, 2020 will have access to 3,800 courses, guided projects, specializations, and professional certificates through September 30, 2020. All experiences can be completed 100% online.

When I first created a Coursera account back in March, it took me a little while to figure out what some of the terms meant, especially those that describe the different types of experiences I could enroll in. Here’s a brief explanation of each from my perspective to help you determine which option might be the best for you:


Description: On-demand video lectures, homework exercises, and community discussion forums taught by top instructors from world-class universities and companies.

Typical Duration: 4-6 weeks


  • Excel Skills for Business
  • From Freedom Rides to Ferguson: Narratives of Nonviolence in the American Civil Rights Movement
  • Python for Everybody
  • Learn Spanish: Basic Spanish Vocabulary
  • Fundamentals of Graphic Design
  • The Science of Well-Being

Guided Project

Description: Self-paced practice using job-relevant skills and industry tools in real-world scenarios.

Typical Duration: 1-3 hours


  • Build a Full Website using WordPress
  • Introduction to Project Management
  • Investment Risk Management
  • Machine Learning with H2O Flow


Description: A series of courses combined with hands-on projects designed to help you master a specific skill.

Typical Duration: 4-6 months


  • Applied Data Science
  • Improve Your English Communication Skills
  • Conflict Management
  • UI/UX Design
  • Virtual Teacher

Professional Certificate

Description: Similar to Specialization but more comprehensive; a tangible credential.

Typical Duration: ~1 year


  • Google IT Support
  • Project Management
  • IBM Customer Engagement Specialist
  • SAS Programmer

Now having been a Coursera member for about two months, I have completed two courses and one guided project. So far, I have really enjoyed my experience! I learned tangible skills, got to engage in discussion board conversations with others around the world who share my interests, and discovered new strategies I can use to be more productive and efficient at work. If you are looking for an opportunity this summer to brush up on an existing skill, learn a new skill, or connect with other professionals around the world who share some of your interests, Coursera is a great option.

To get started, visit and enter your school email address. Happy learning!

Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

By Lisa Famularo
Lisa Famularo Assistant Director, Equity and Inclusion | Pronouns: she/her/hers