30+ Distance Learning Courses that are free, low cost, or supported by scholarships

There are increasingly more courses that you can take online and study according to your own pace. scholars4dev lists the courses that are free, low cost, or supported by scholarships. These courses are offered by online Universities like EdX and UoPeople as well as Universities in the UK which offers distance learning degrees.



EdX MicroMasters and Short Courses »


EdX offers MicroMasters programs which are a series of graduate level courses from top universities designed to advance your career. They provide deep learning in a specific career field and are recognized by employers for their real job relevance. Students may apply to the university offering credit for the MicroMasters program certificate and, if accepted,  students can pursue an accelerated and less expensive Master’s Degree. The price for these programs range from $350-1000. Here are examples of such courses:


EdX MicroMasters® Program in Water and Global Human Health at Queen’s University
Queen’s University is home to the Beaty Water Research Centre. Equipped with 58 faculty members from 11 departments, the Centre brings together world-class researchers to tackle our most important resource on this planet, water. Start today with this Micromasters program in Water and Global Human Health and unlock advanced standing to future graduate diplomas and master’s degrees at Queen’s.

EdX MicroMasters® Program in Sustainable Energy at University of Queensland
Learn about the complex nature of energy generation, distribution and supply, and the challenges of transitioning to a sustainable energy future. The UQx Sustainable Energy Micromasters program has four courses (ENGY0x, ENGY1x, ENGY2x and ENGY3x) and the final Capstone Assessment.

EdX MicroMasters® Program in Solar Energy Engineering at TU Delft
In this MicroMasters program you will gain the knowledge and skills needed to pursue a career in the solar energy field and become a successful solar energy professional. This program will teach you what is expected from solar experts, and will prepare you for employment in various capacities including: Systems design and engineering, Solar systems installation, Device fabrication and characterization, QA and reliability testing, and Project management and consultancy as well as (technical) sales.

EdXMicroMasters® Program in Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research at University of Michigan
This innovative MicroMasters program provides an advanced, professional sequence of courses in social work so you can gain the skills needed to empower individuals, families, communities and organizations to meet needs and create positive changes. You will gain a greater understanding of social work practice, an awareness of the history and impact of policy on the provision of key social services, and an appreciation for the research that supports effective practice.

EdX MicroMasters® Program in Leadership in Global Development at the University of Queensland
Balancing theoretical knowledge with practical abilities, the Leadership in Global Development MicroMasters program provides the strong technical and management skills you need to tackle the most demanding and complex challenges in global development. This program certificate will demonstrate that you have the advanced competencies that international development agencies are increasingly demanding from their leaders and managers. After gaining a verified certificate for each of the four prerequisite courses you will be awarded the MicroMasters program certificate in Leadership in Global Development.


If you are more inclined to take a short course, EdX offers many short courses in social sciences, environmental studies, economics and finance. The courses are mostly free but if you want a verified certificate, you only need to pay an amount ranging from $5-150 dollars, depending on the course. Here are some some of them:



Courses supported by Scholarships »


A number of distance learning courses are supported by Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships and Edinburgh Global Distance Learning Scholarships. Here are some of them.


Tropical Forestry (Distance Learning) (MSc) at Bangor University
The Tropical Forestry MSc by Distance Learning at the University of Bangor is a 3-year part-time distance learning Masters degree programme. Key modules cover social issues in forest management, agroforestry systems and practices, sustainable use of non-timber forest products, and silviculture. The programme targets individuals working in forestry/forestry-related industries/natural resource management, particularly in the fields of planning, regulation, policy, monitoring and environmental protection. Applicants should have at least an upper-second class degree in a relevant subject (forestry, conservation, land management, natural sciences, economics).

Global Challenges (Distance Learning) (MSc) at University of Edinburgh
The MSc Global Challenges (Online Learning) at the University of Edinburgh comprises 3 Postgraduate Certificates, with each certificate also available as a standalone qualification. To achieve MSc qualification you must successfully complete all the following 3 PG Certificates: 1) Global Development Challenges 2) Global Environment Challenges and 3) Global Health Challenges. Students can opt for the 3 to 6-year Part-time Intermittent Study MSc (ICL) programme, or the 3-year Part-time MSc programme. Applicants must have a UK 2:1 honours degree or international equivalent.

Global Health and Infectious Diseases (Distance Learning) (MSc) at University of Edinburgh
The Global Health and Infectious Diseases (Online Learning) MSc is a 3-year distance learning, part-time programme at the University of Edinburgh, that addresses the challenges posed by infectious diseases in the 21st Century by offering courses in surveillance, prevention and control of infectious diseases, as well as evaluating how they impact public health. Applicants must have a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a biomedical, medical, public health, veterinary or relevant bio-science topic.

International Development (Distance Learning) (MSc) at University of Birmingham
The MSc in International Development by Distance Learning at the University of Birmingham is a 2 to 4-year Masters degree programme which provides students with an understanding of the evolution of thinking and practice in international development over the last fifty to sixty years. Applicants do not need to have prior knowledge of international development, but they must possess an upper second-class Honours degree or equivalent from an approved university or an equivalent professional qualification in a relevant field (the equivalent US Grade Point Average is 3.2); or a lower second-class Honours degree from an approved university with excellent work experience.

Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management (Distance Learning) (MSc) at University of Leicester
The MSc in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management at the University of Leicester is delivered by distance-learning over 2 years, which targets risk and disaster management practitioners and responders. This programme aims to develop the confidence of these practitioners and help them to improve practice, alleviate poverty, reduce systemic risk, and assert leadership in this field. Applicants must a good honours degree in a relevant field (2:2 or above, from a recognised higher education institution) or its equivalent, or at least 3 years of work experience in a related field plus completion of a practice assignment.

Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies (Distance Learning) (MA) at University of London
The MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies at the University of London is the only Masters programme of its type to be offered by distance learning. The course takes 2 to 5 years to complete. This MA is designed for anyone who wishes to pursue careers in the refugee, human rights or humanitarian fields. Applicants need to have an undergraduate degree that is comparable to a UK upper second class honours degree.

Global Food Security – Food Safety (Distance Learning) (MSc) at Queen’s University Belfast
The MSc in Global Food Security (Food Safety) at Queen’s University Belfast is a 3-year part-time, online Masters programme for those working in the agri-food industry who wish to develop their skills and knowledge to a postgraduate level. Applicants should have a 2.2 Honours degree or above in a relevant area of science or equivalent qualification

Water Management for Development (Distance Learning) (MSc) at Loughborough University
The MSc Water Management for Development (Distance Learning) programme at Loughborough University is a 3 to 5-year Masters degree online programme that aims to develop careers managing water and environmental sanitation services for low- and middle-income countries. Applicants should have a UK undergraduate 2:2 honours degree, or international equivalent, in any discipline.

MSc Global Health (MSc) at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
The MSc Global Health is a 2-year part-time Masters degree programme taught in English offered by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. This is a flexible online programme that covers 6 modules and a research report. Applicants should be university graduates in health or related disciplines. Graduates from other disciplines and non-graduates with considerable work experience in the health sector who can provide evidence of continued academic development will also be considered.

MPA Public Administration – International Development (MA) at University of York
The MPA Public Administration – International Development 2-year part-time distance learning Masters degree programme at the University of York is eligible for the Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships. Students will investigate how policy is made, from development to deployment, and identify the challenges public organisations face in developing countries, and how to solve them. Applicants must possess an undergraduate degree of 2:1 or international equivalent.



University of the People Free Online Degrees »


University of the People is tuition-free, which means there is no charge for teaching or instruction. UoPeople charges only an application fee and an Assessment Fee per course completed. For those who cannot afford these fees, scholarships are available to help support their studies. Here are the degrees currently offered:


UOPeople Online Degree in Business Adminstration
The University of People offers an associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree in Business Administration. Providing an in-depth understanding of the industry, innovative key solutions to the field & a hands-on experience. Program leadership & faculty hail from top universities & corporations worldwide.

UOPeople Online Computer Science Degree Programs
The UOPeople offers an associate’s & bachelor’s degree in computer science, with a strong academic foundation & real-life applications. Preparing students for employment with hands-on experience, specialized internships & mentoring programs.

UOPeople Online Health Science Degree Programs
The University of People offers an Associate’s and Bachelor’s degree in Health Science – Community and Public Health Track, with an emphasis on the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to function in today’s complex and evolving health care environment. The degree prepares our students to work in the emerging health care world.

UOPeople Online Masters of Education
To increase the amount of highly skilled teachers across the world, the University of the People (UoPeople) and the International Baccalaureate (IB) have launched a tuition-free, online Master of Education (M.Ed.) program.


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