Moocs round-up: top free and low-cost online finance courses

Cost, effort and certification requirements of several leading programmes

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A collection of the leading programmes available for onlines study.

Business and Finance Fundamentals — FutureLearn.com

Cost: £1,091 for final assessment, certificates and shipping

Effort: 32 weeks with three hours of work a week, plus 22 weeks of assessment

Certification: Complete 90 per cent of each of the eight Moocs (massive open online courses) in the programme, with a mark of at least 70 per cent on all tests to buy a certificate of achievement, which costs £49.

To note: A big challenge with Moocs, in general, has been the low completion rates. But in a recent initiative to combat this, students of the programme can earn credits towards an Open University BA (Hons) business management degree, by finishing eight courses. This also involves passing a final assessment — which integrates learning from all the Moocs — with a pass mark of 40 per cent.

Available courses, which are free to access, range from financial services after the banking crisis to investment theory and practice.

Essentials of Corporate Finance — Coursera.org

Cost: $395

Effort: 24 weeks, with four to six hours of work a week

Certification: Participants need to achieve the pass mark of 50 per cent for all the assessments, including quizzes, exams and peer assignments.

To note: Moocs, such as this programme, can offer students the chance to learn from industry experts. Developed by the University of Melbourne in partnership with Bank of New York Mellon, the programme consists of four courses, each of which can be studied individually. It concludes with a set of assignments, known as a capstone project, which allows learners to apply the skills they have gained.

Students learn how value is created by global markets and the choices companies face when making financial decisions. As of May 2016, there were more than 160,000 enrolments across all four courses.

Introduction to Financial and Management Accounting — edX.org

Cost: Free

Effort: 10 weeks, with a weekly workload of three hours plus one to two hours of self-study

Certification: No award from edX is available, but the course prepares students for assessment leading to the globally recognised ACCA accountancy exams.

To note: Moocs can also lead to professional qualifications, such as this one, which allows participants to prepare for ACCA’s introductory certificate in financial and management accounting. Students obtain the certificate upon passing two online exams and an online professionalism and ethics module. About 108,000 students have enrolled so far. The syllabus covers the banking system, bookkeeping skills and using spreadsheets.

Financial Markets — Coursera.org

Cost: Free

Effort: Eight weeks, with a workload of six to 12 hours a week

Certification: To get a course certificate from Coursera and Yale University, students need to pay $49 and pass all required assignments, with a passmark of 80 per cent.

To note: This Mooc is taught by Yale University’s Nobel laureate and professor of economics Robert Shiller. It covers topics such as risk management, behavioural finance, real estate, futures markets and monetary policy.

With more than 1,800 ratings on the Coursera site, the average score is 4.7 out of five. When the course ran in September 2015, there were about 57,000 active learners — those that have viewed videos or reading material. Among them, about 6,500 completed the entire course with a pass grade in every assignment.

Financial Modeling for the Social Sector — NovoEd.com

Cost: Free

Effort: Seven weeks, with a workload of four to five hours a week

Certification: To obtain a statement of accomplishment, free of charge, students need to complete at least three out of five assignments, within a given timeframe.

To note: Interested in running a social enterprise? This Mooc shows how to build a financial model for start-up social ventures in order to be sure that the prices and margins set today are financially sustainable once the venture expands.

Launched in 2014, the course has run several times with more than 40,000 enrolments in total. The course was created by Acumen, a non-profit venture fund that tackles poverty, and Erik Simanis, the course instructor.

Financial Programming and Policies, part 1: Macroeconomic Accounts & Analysis — edX.org

Cost: Free

Effort: Six weeks, with a workload of eight to 10 hours a week

Certification: If students achieve a pass mark of 60 per cent across all assessments, they can get an optional verified certificate for $25.

To note: Taught by economists at the International Monetary Fund, topics include how to interpret and analyse accounts to determine the state and the progress of an economy.

The Mooc is offered in English, French, Russian and Spanish. For the course in English, about 33,000 students have enrolled, of which 4,200 have passed.

There is a follow-up course where learners assess and make policy recommendations for a case study country.

Search for free online business courses in the FT’s Mooc Tracker

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