Free project management certifications

Free project management certifications

Project management is a rapidly expanding field that offers 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 PM certifications 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. 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 PM 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.

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Intermediate project management courses

[ Related story: 6 ways to be a better project manager ]

Advanced courses

  • 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

Alison is another portal that provides free online project management courses and certification and offers a comprehensive review of project management with things like methodology, tool sets and documentation. It also includes insight into the project life cycle plus analysis, planning, design, and evaluation. The course also includes a project management case study.

Coursersa is a provider of PM courses and has partnered with world renowned educational institutions to offer project management courses and certifications to businesses worldwide. Businesses and individuals can register for free to take courses, and Coursersa offers project management courses at every level. While their courses aren't free, they are priced from approximately $29 - $99 making them affordable for most, especially in light of the high-value content. Coursersa's full project management course list can be found here.

Cybrary is an open source project management portal that "educates on how to initiate, plan and manage a project, as well as the process behind analyzing risk, monitoring and controlling project contracts and how to develop schedules and budgets." The site offers various PM modules and certification.

[ Related story: 8 free online courses to grow your tech skills ]

Moving your career forward

Regardless of which PM course or provider you choose, gaining a more in-depth understanding of project management can improve your effectiveness as a business professional and ultimately it will increase your marketability. It's a good idea to weigh your desired career options, path towards certification, as well as course provider carefully beforehand.

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