Project management is a rapidly expanding field that offers the potential for a career leading and managing projects, but it’s not easy or affordable to gain the knowledge you need. To help set you on your project management journey, here is a guide to free project management courses and training options.
Founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, edX is one of the biggest MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) platforms available and offers many project management (PM) courses and certifications. You can take individual courses at no charge, and many of them can be accredited towards an edX credential.
Here are just some of the project management courses available to students and professionals. These courses are free unless specified otherwise. Because edX is a large open global online educational platform, note that courses are offered and accredited through various funding or partnering organizations and educational institutions like MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, Microsoft and many others worldwide.
Introductory project management courses
- Introduction to Project Management – a self-paced course that teaches practical ways to use project management skills, whether your project is large or small.
- Big Data Capstone Project – a self-paced course that applies the techniques and theory you have gained from the four courses in this Big Data MicroMasters program to a medium-scale data science project.
- Communication Skills and Teamwork – a $60 self-paced course on effective writing and presentation skills are essential for career success. Learn how to create and deliver high-impact communications, improve your soft skills, and effectively lead and collaborate within teams.
- Six Sigma: Define and Measure – an introduction to the Six Sigma methodology and DMAIC cycle for process improvement with a focus on the define and measure phases.
- Optimization Methods for Business Analytics – covers how to use optimization methodologies and modeling approaches to effectively analyze data.
- Agile Software Development – goes over fundamental agile concepts to enhance your software development skills.
Intermediate project management courses
- Evidence-Based Project Management – a self-paced course that covers which project management strategies, tools, and techniques are most effective by analyzing evidence-based research.
- Project Management Life Cycle – a course on how to apply project management tools, processes, and techniques for the successful execution of a project from initiation to closing.
- Managing Projects with Microsoft Project – a course on how to successfully plan and design your own projects using Microsoft Project, the go-to app for project managers.
- Best Practices for Project Management Success – teaches how to create an organizational environment that supports project success.
- Project Management Techniques for Development Professionals – covers project management best practices to promote economic and social development in Latin America and the Caribbean.
- Managing Projects & Portfolios with Microsoft PPM – a self-paced course on how to use Microsoft Project Portfolio Management (PPM) to successfully manage and align project portfolios with your business needs.
- Project Management of Engineering Projects: Preparing for Success – teaches how to create your own project plan and learn the importance of the early project phases in achieving project success.
- Results-Based Project Management: Monitoring and Evaluation – teaches how to use a results-based approach to design and manage public sector programs that deliver tangible benefits and optimize the use of resources.
- Project Risk Assessment – a self-paced course on how to conduct risk analyses of different projects using both conceptual and practical developments in modern finance.
- Financial Decision Rules for Project Evaluation – a self-paced course on how to use decision criteria and rules to evaluate projects based on their impact on business, including payback, Net Present Value (NPV), and Internal Rate of Return (IRR).
- Six Sigma and Lean: Quantitative Tools for Productivity and Quality – covers how to master Six Sigma and Lean fundamentals to improve productivity and quality in your organization and earn a TUM Lean and Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification.
- Customer-Centric Innovation teaches how to take on competition by creating successful and innovative business ideas through a thorough understanding of customer needs.
- Advanced Leadership for Engineers: Leading Teams, Organizations, and Networks – A $190 course designed for engineers aspiring to become effective leaders and enhance leadership skills through captivating concepts and challenging assignments.
- Project Management – is a course to develop the leadership skills needed to effectively manage a team that will meet the expectations of your customers and business goals.
- International Project Management – addresses the knowledge, skills, and behaviors required to successfully manage projects that span organizations, national boundaries, and cultural differences.
- Adaptive Leadership in Development – teaches the skills to be an adaptive leader in development and learn how to uncover local solutions to complex problems in developing countries.
- Data Analytics in Business – covers how to apply your analytics skills in business by working through a real-world analytics project using Python and software like SAS.
- User Experience (UX) Design: Human Factors and Culture in Design – teaches about the user experience and user interface design-key skills to succeed as a product manager, developer, and designer.
In addition to directly linked project management courses, edX also offers closely related courses that can enhance your knowledge areas linked to effectively initiating, leading and managing projects.
- Business Management – covers how to master the essentials of managing a successful business including accounting, finance, marketing, operations, people management, and strategy.
- International Business Management – is a course to help professionals gain management skills and the mindset needed for international business success from the world-renowned Thunderbird School of Global Management.
- Cloud Computing Management – teaches methods for managing cloud computing projects and helps build an understanding of the various risks and compliance issues involved.
- Evidence-Based Management – covers critical thinking skills and the knowledge needed to become a more effective decision maker.
- Knowledge Management and Big Data in Business – goes over the integrative power of knowledge management, big data, and cloud computing, and how they impact the new business era.
- Analytics: Essential Tools and Methods – covers the fundamental, in-demand analytics skills to maximize business impact and advance your career as an analyst.
- Software Testing and Verification – teaches methods and techniques to test and verify software to advance your career as a software tester or software developer.
When it comes to PM education options, “The future workforce requires not only cutting-edge hard skills but also critical soft skills like project management. Tech employers are looking beyond just technical qualifications and taking a more holistic approach when reviewing applicants, and project management will be an increasingly coveted skill with positions growing at 1.5 million opportunities per year according to the Project Management Institute (pdf),” Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX tells CIO.com.
Moira Alexander, PMP, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, is a recognized project management influencer, thought leader, a regular correspondent for PMI’s Projectified podcast, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of PMWorld 360 Magazine, Founder of Lead-Her-Ship Group, and author of “LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership”. Moira has over 25 years of experience in business (IS&T) and project management for small to large businesses in the US and Canada and has been quoted in various publications including Forbes. She writes thought leadership content for top-tier publications and business blogs and oversees or writes sponsored content and software reviews on PMWorld 360 Magazine.