Best Free University and College Courses for Business Analytics
If you want to learn about business analytics for free, either as a beginner or as a professional looking to build on your knowledge, there are countless options available online.
Many people partake in online courses due to the flexibility and ease of access to students.
Providing you have Wifi access and a computer, you can sign up for business analytics training for free.
The following courses are all available online, with no expectation to attend face-to-face lessons in the classroom:
- Learn at your own pace
- Suggested three-hour weekly study accommodates busy schedules
- Suitable for beginners; no analytics experience required
- Can complete some or all of the courses in the specialization depending on preferences
- Access to course project and certificate requires paid option
Five separate courses make up the Business Analytics Specialization at the university:
- Customer Analytics
- Operations Analytics
- People Analytics
- Accounting Analytics
- Business Capstone Analytics
These separate courses provide the cornerstones of learning business analytics and the necessary knowlege for these skills to be employed in a professional environment.
Each module builds on the last; therefore, each course should be taken in the order they are presented during the course.
Enrolment is free.
If you want to participate in the hands-on project and earn a certificate, you have to pay, although financial aid options are available.
The course is self-paced, and the university suggests that most students can complete it in five to six months (based on three hours per week of study).
- Learn at your own pace
- Course forms part of the online Master of Science in Accountancy (iMSA) from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and counts towards the degree learning if you wish to pursue it
- Graded assignments and certificate of completion only available with paid course access
- Lacks hands-on experience/training using data visualization tools
Introduction To Business Analytics: Communicating With Data at the University of Illinois consists of four modules.
The course introduces students to the science of data analytics and intends to teach them how to find and tell stories using data.
The course forms part of their iMBA; therefore, if you are admitted into the full course it can count towards your postgraduate learning.
If you only wish to read and view the course content, you do not have to pay.
If you choose to purchase a certificate, you have access to the course (including graded assignments) as well as a certificate on successful completion.
- Study at your own pace
- Suggested three-hour weekly study accommodates busy schedules
- Option to complete some or all of the courses in the specialization depending on your preferences
- Graded assignments and certificate of completion requires paid course access
- Does require basic understanding of high-level programming instructions; not suitable for beginners
The five courses in the university’s Advanced Business Analytics Specialization are:
- Introduction to Data Analytics for Business
- Predictive Modeling and Analytics
- Business Analytics for Decision Making
- Communicating Business Analytics Results
- Advanced Business Analytics Capstone
Delivered by experienced professionals, this course takes an in-depth look at real-world data analysis and teaches practical skills in how to extract and manipulate data using SQL code.
The course focuses on how effective data analysis can improve and inform a business’s approach to problem-solving.
The course is free to enroll in, with the option of paying for certification.
- Study at a pace that suits you
- Suggested two-hour weekly study accommodates busy schedules
- Flexibility to complete some or all of the courses in the specialization
- Not suitable for beginners but will suit those who already have industry knowledge and experience
- Completion certificate requires paid course access
The Strategic Business Analytics Specialization is an advanced set of courses for those who already understand statistics, data analyzing techniques or programming.
This makes it ideal for those already in the industry who desire to increase their knowledge.
The specialization consists of the following courses:
- Foundations of Strategic Business Analytics
- Foundations of Marketing Analytics
- Case Studies in Business Analytics with Accenture
- Capstone: Create Value from Open Data
The Capstone is an individual assignment that relies on a collaborative learning approach for evaluation.
The course content is free to read online; however, there is a charge for certification and full access to the specialization (financial aid is available).
- Two-week course duration with four-hour weekly study suits busy schedules
- Flexible study at your own pace
- Good introduction to big data analytics for beginners without prior experience
- Free access limited to two weeks
- Completion certificate only available with paid course access
Big Data Analytics: Opportunities, Challenges and the Future is a two-week course with an estimated study time of four hours per week.
No prior knowledge on the subject is required; therefore, it is ideal for total beginners.
The course is available via Future Learn, an online platform that offers hundreds of different subjects and course types.
The courses are designed with accessibility in mind, broken down into a mixture of text, videos and visuals.
The course is free, with the option to purchase a certificate for £44 (approximately $59) upon 90% completion of the course.
6. Data Analytics For Decision Making: An Introduction to Using Excel: Bond University (Future Learn)
- Short two-week course duration with three-hour weekly study suits busy schedules
- Learn at a pace that suits you
- Introductory course suitable for beginners
- Restricted to learners who can access Microsoft Excel
- Those with in-depth knowledge of data analytics may not find much value in the course
Data Analytics For Decision Making: An Introduction to Using Excel is an introductory-level course from Australia’s Bond University.
The course introduces the basics of data analytics and teaches students practical ways to solve quantitative problems using Microsoft Excel.
The course is free, and all stages and lessons are available online.
It is available via the Future Learn platform as a ‘Free Digital Upgrade’, which means you can access the course for free and download a certificate of completion once you have finished at least 90% of the course steps and assessments.
You need to have access to any version of Microsoft Excel to particiapte in some aspects of this course.
- Study at a pace that suits you
- Introductory-level course suits those with little or no knowledge of statistics and data analysis
- Certificate of completion requires paid course access
Analytics For Decision Making is a four-week course that requires four to six hours of study per week.
It is a free self-paced course, with the option to add on a verified certificate for £183 (approximately $250).
It is an introductory-level course that teaches how effective data analysis can be used to avoid bad decisions, and focuses on the practical uses of data analytics in today’s world.
The core ideas within the course are presented in a lively and easy-to-understand way; it is designed to be user-friendly and accessible to those with little or no background in statistical analysis.
The course is ideal for students who are interested in studying business or for budding entrepreneurs.
- Useful course for those seeking an advanced level of study in business analytics
- Uses real-world examples to aid learning
- Forms part of MicroMasters® Program in Analytics: Essential Tools and Methods, which may suit those seeking further study or to advance their career
- Course requires significant time commitment of 10 to 12 hours of study each week for 16 weeks
- Instructor-led course requires sticking to course schedule
- Access to graded assignments and certificate of completion requires paid course access
Data Analytics For Business is an in-depth, 10-week course that forms part of the university’s MicroMaster program.
It is an advanced course, and with an estimated 10 hours of study required per week, is only suitable for students who can dedicate enough time to their online learning.
The course takes a highly scientific approach to understand business analytics and encourages students to solve business problems by applying analytics algorithms and methodologies.
Reading the course materials is free, and enrolment takes place three times per year. The optional verified certificate costs £606 (approximately $820).
A business analytics course can teach you new skills, particularly if you are interested in this area or are planning to start your own business.
For those who already work with business data to some capacity, an online course will strengthen your knowledge, broaden your existing skill set and make you a valuable asset to the workforce.
Reasons for opting to try a free course include:
Financial – If you cannot afford to, or do not want to, pay for a full-time university course.
Commitment – If you are uncertain if the subject is for you but want to try it out. If there is no initial financial outlay, then you have nothing to lose.
Certification is not required – If you do not require a certificate on completion (for MOOC courses, certification is optional upon course completion inclusive of a fee). You may desire to learn, but not require proof of this because: you run your own business, are taking a course in addition to on-the-job training or because you already possess similar certification
The need to understand and compare data, perform analytics, and create detailed analyses using performance indicators and different types of software has become a key component of the modern business world.
The understanding of data analytics among those working in industries such as sales, digital marketing and social media management has become a necessity.
Whether you are a sole trader, an SME or a large corporation, strong data analytical skills are vital to your business.
The successful implementation of data analytics will allow a business to measure its success, evaluate its strategies and compare itself to its competitors.
Commercially, those who may benefit from a business analytics course include:
Business owners – Even if you plan to outsource or delegate tasks, it is always sensible to possess an understanding of analytics for yourself.
Senior/middle managers – Taking an online course can help those in management positions to work more effectively with the data teams they oversee.
Employees – Those already working with data, especially in more junior roles, would benefit from the foundation a free course can offer. Many employees input or export data daily, but are unable to correctly interpret that data; this is exactly what a free business analytics course can help with.
Self-employed/freelancers – Data analytics is becoming increasingly important to evaluate performance and make predictions in business. Clients will likely need you to understand the fundamentals in some capacity or to provide some data that proves your track record of success. Such skills are especially valuable for freelancers who bid for jobs in highly competitive markets; results based on data analytics can quantify your successes with past projects and help to attract new clients.
Others who may benefit from taking a free business analytics course include:
- Students (school leavers or graduates) who wish to develop new skills or explore future career options
- Anyone needing a foundation** in data analytics because they are planning to start a related degree or an advanced course
- Employees preparing for a promotion at work
- Those who are considering a career change or starting their enterprise
- Understand the fundamental components of business analysis and data analytics
- Learn how to turn data insights into actionable business decisions or plans
- Identify patterns in business data to make predictions
- Use data analytics to identify successes and potential weaknesses in business models
- Use data to evaluate the performance
- Understand the relationship between quantifiable data used in business analytics and communicating this effectively in a qualitative way (through story-telling, written reports, visuals, etc.)
There are many tools, both online and offline, that can complement the work you are doing on your free business analytics course.
Try to practice the skills that you are learning by discussing them with your peers, colleagues or looking for real world problems to solve.
Find podcasts covering subjects such as data science, machine learning or economics.
Podcasts can be very informative and inspirational and can be enjoyed while driving, walking, jogging or doing chores.
Search online for blogs written by successful data analysts or entrepreneurs, or read magazines, such as Analytics Insight Magazine.
Make use of your local library or reading app subscription and find and consume as many books as you can on the subject.
Audiobooks are an alternative if you cannot find the time to sit down and read.
The Machine Learning UCI Repository is a useful tool for developing practice problems.
As the world of business becomes more data-driven, the necessity for data analytical skills is increasing.
Software is advancing, and more accurate, sophisticated algorithms and technical methods are being implemented.
The need for humans to be able to identify, extrapolate and make predictions based on the data that technology presents us with is growing; therefore, as technology advances, it is essential to keep up.
There are free online courses in data analysis that can suit all levels of learning, from entry-level training that provides an overview of business analytics to advanced courses that teach complex scientific techniques and methodologies.