The Ultimate List of Free + Low Cost Online Classes for Product Managers

It’s 2018. A new year. One of my annual goals is to strengthen my product management knowledge, and also specific skills that will help me be a better PM.

But where to start looking for an online course to meet your skill gap? There are a billion online classes. So I've done the hard work for you, I've pored through (and taken) a plethora of online classes and compiled this list of the best ones.

Here is the ultimate list of free and low-cost resources to learn essential product management skills.

The 3 Best Courses for Product Management Fundamentals:

Digital Product Management: Modern Fundamentals. - Coursera - Audit for free, verified certificate for $79

This course is designed for anyone interested in becoming a product manager, including current project or product managers who want to learn modern fundamentals.
 

Digital Product Management - EdX + Boston University - Audit for free, verified certificate $200

This 5-course "MicroMasters" includes courses on agile, Design Thinking, platform strategy and business analytics.
 

Software Product Management Specialization - Coursera - Audit for free, $49 a month

I completed this entire specialization last year, and found it to be a great foundation for new product managers, and an excellent, over-all refresher for seasoned PMs. 
 

Learn about software development process.

Software Development Process - Udacity - Free

Offered in partnership with Georgia Tech, this class will teach you how to select and implement the ideal software process for your development project.

Software Development Processes and Methodologies — Coursera — Audit for free, $49 a month

This course looks at traditional processes (waterfall) as well as more ‘modern’ methodologies (Agile and Lean) — a good overall course for all types of methodologies.

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Learn the fundamentals of product design.

Product Design - Udacity - Free

This course "is designed to help you materialize your game-changing idea and transform it into a product that you can build a business around." Learn about product validation, UI/UX practices, and most importantly Google’s Design Sprint and the process for setting and tracking actionable metrics.

Learn about machine learning. 

Machine Learning - Coursera + Stanford - Audit for free, verified certificate for $99

This course does get technical. But if you're just looking to understand concepts, I'd focus on the Introduction (Week 1), Neural Networks (Weeks 4 & 5), Advice for Applying Machine Learning (Week 6), and Recommender Systems (Week 9). 

Episode 16 of the Product Popcorn Podcast - I talk over the basics of supervised and unsupervised learning, reinforcement learning, and neural networks with machine learning engineer Kate Silverstein. Learn the basics in under an hour.

Learn about deep learning... from a business perspective.

Deep Learning for Business - Coursera - Audit for free, verified certificate for $49

It's not often I see a great course focused on a technical subject, but from a business perspective. This course was designed to help you build business strategies and enable you to conduct technical planning on new DL and ML services and products.


Learn to build personas for your enterprise B2B product.

Product Management and Marketing: Personas - Udemy - $95

Learn how to build, critique, and apply the B2B "buyer persona" to your enterprise or start-up business.

Learn about customer analytics.

Customer Analytics - Coursera + U of Pennsylvania - Audit for free, verified certificate for $49

Learn about the three main types of customer analytics - descriptive analytics, predictive analytics, prescriptive analytics - and their application to real-world business practices including Amazon, Google, and Starbucks, among others.

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Learn to make better data-driven decisions.

Business Analytics for Data-Driven Decision Making - EdX + Boston University - Audit for free, verified certificate for $200

I feel like 'data-driven decisions' is the catch phrase of the century. But how many product managers really know how to do this? This course teaches the fundamentals of making data-driven decisions.

Learn about product marketing, messaging, and media landscape.

Content, Advertising, and Social IMC - Coursera + Northwestern, Audit for free, verified certificate for $49

Learn to take a thoughtful, integrated approach to content that stands out. You will learn "why developing engaging content for your audience is an essential component in effective social marketing." This class also explains paid/owned/earned media, and walks you through an integrated who/what/where approach that utilizes platform-specific messaging to grow your market share.

Learn about social listening and insights. 

The Importance of Listening - Coursera + Northwestern - Audit for free, verified certificate for $49

Looking for in-depth knowledge of social listening and customer insights? This course explores the Big Data of social, and helps gain a complete picture of what can be learned from interactions on social sites. This course is also part of a 6-course Specialization in Social Media Marketing, but I find the social listening course is most relevant to software product managers. 

Learn to use Big Data.

Knowledge Management and Big Data in Business - EdX - Audit for free, verified certificate for $50

This course is geared towards business peeps, and explores what big data is, and how can we use data analytics. It explores case studies for perspective and context.

Learn how to do Agile testing.

Testing with Agile - CourseraAudit for free, verified certificate for $49

This course shows you how to integrate the practice of experimentation across concept/feature testing, usability testing, and testing the software itself. Basically, you’ll learn how to answer these four big questions with experiments: 1. Should we build it? 2. Did it matter? 3. Is it usable? 4. Did it break?

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Learn to develop data products.

Developing Data Products - Coursera + John's Hopkins - Free for 7 days, then $49/month

This is the last course in a 9-course Data Science Specialization, so it does require some statistical knowledge to get through it. However, if you're not interested in the technical parts, I'd recommend just auditing the course materials to get the gist of it. 

Learn about blockchain ... from a business perspective.

Blockchain for Business - An Introduction to Hyperledger Technologies - EdX - Audit for free, verified certificate for $99  

This is an intro level course for technical and non-technical peeps. It examines blockchains for business, and a number of specific use cases. If you're curious about blockchain - or you work in FinTech (you must know about blockchain if you work in FinTech), this course is highly recommended!

Learn product marketing for apps.

App Marketing - Udacity - Free

Are you a mobile product manager, looking to increase you knowledge on the marketing side? This free course from Udacity explores app marketing. Understand your users, develop a market segmentation plan, position your product, and create a value proposition.

Learn negotiation skills.

Successful Negotiation: Essential Skills - Coursera + University of Michigan - Audit for free, verified certificate for $49

One student who binge-watched this course concluded that “It’s as good as Breaking Bad.” Another learner compared it to “House of Cards.” Either way, this video-based negotiation course is hosted by one of the top 10 business schools in the country, and you can audit it for free. Which is good news for PMs, because all product managers need stellar negotiation skills.

Negotiation Skills Tutorial - Lynda.com - Free for 7-day trial, $20-30/month for Lynda subscription

Looking for a (very) short course on negotiation? Try this 2-hour tutorial. 

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Learn how to effectively price and promote your product.

Price and Promotion Analytics - EdX - Free or verified certificate for $199

The product I manage was recently involved in a pricing structure overhaul. I wish I'd taken this course beforehand, so I could have contributed more to the conversation. This course covers: How to price your offerings, how to allocate your scarce marketing budget among different promotion vehicles.

Improve your strategy skills & thinking.

Digital Strategy and Action - edX - Audit for free, verified certificate for $49

This course explores how digital giants like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Netflix solve problems, raise capital, win market share, and sustain growth. A great course for aspiring CEOs or side-hustlers!

Learn management skills (to kick ass after being promoted!)

New Manager's 5-week Success System - Udemy - $15

The New Manager's Five-week Success System will give you all the information you need to start managing effectively, from day one. If you are already a new manager, then you will be able to apply this material straight away, and get immediate results.

Coaching Skills for Managers Specialization - Coursera + UC Davis - Free for 7 days, then $49/ month

An in-depth, 4-course specialization for managers that want to take their skills to the next level. You will learn how effective managers use coaching to establish clear expectations and accountability, how to assess performance, and how to conduct coaching conversations that build awareness and get results. 

Build strong and cohesive teams.

Culture-Driven Team Building - Coursera - Audit for free, $49/month for the specialization

Building strong, cohesive teams is key to product success. In this 4-course specialization, students will analyze a real world case provided by N2Growth, a global firm that helps clients create a culture of leadership through practice areas like strategy, cultural transformation, and organizational design.

Building Your Team - Lynda.com - 30-day free trial, then $20-30/month

Looking for a short tutorial on team building? This short, one-hour course helps you identify your leadership style, and guides you through the different stages or team development.

Learn to manage those product budgets.

Financial Decision Making - EdX - Audit for Free, verified certificate for $249

If you're looking to become more financially literate, this brand-new course will teach you how to perform basic financial analyses to support decision-making. 

Finance Essentials for MBA Students - EdX - Audit for free, verified certificate for $49

This is a little more extensive than needed for most product managers, but if you're looking to move up in your company and 'talk the talk' with execs, you should know key financial basics and terms. Learn financial topics like present value, Internal Rate of Return (IRR), capital budgeting, diversification, portfolio choice and the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), all of which are often discussed and explored in great detail in MBA programs across the globe as well as everyday business operations.

Learn to manage an IoT product. 

IoT PM Certificate Program - Tech Product Management - 7-course program, $899

This one isn't exactly 'low-cost', but it is specific, and nothing similar exists in the free course marketplace. PMs from Google, Amazon, and other tech giants have vouched for this program, although I haven't taken it myself.

2018 is the year I'm finally learning to code. But for real, though.

Udacity's Intro to Programming Nanodegree - I know there are a ton of great free resources out there to learn to code - Code Academy, Free Code Bootcamp, and Code Wars to name a few. But some of us need an extra kick in the ass (without spending $20k on a bootcamp), a step-by-step format and some hand-holding, to learn how to code.

If this is the case for you, I highly recommend Udacity's Intro to Programming Nanodegree. It takes 5 months to finish the program (assuming you're studying about 10 hrs/ week), and at a bargain price of $399 for the entire program. You can also pay $99/ month for however many months it takes you to complete the course. Either way, I'd say it's a sound investment.

I am looking to change jobs. (I need resume help!)

Udacity just added 3 new, free short-courses that I recommend to anyone looking to make a change, or just to keep their resume and LinkedIn profile strong.

Craft Your Cover Letter  Udacity — Free — 1 day

Refresh Your Resume — Udacity — Free — 2 days

Strengthen Your LinkedIn Network & Brand — Udacity — Free — 1 week

 

I'm looking for a big, personal transformation

Leading from the Emerging Future - EdX - Free

I dabbled in this course in 2015, and really enjoyed the content. If you're looking for inspiration, personal transformation, or just a boost, this free course is a great start. It's sold as "an introduction to leading profound social, environmental and personal transformation." You'll learn about leadership, self-knowledge, capacities of deep listening and observation, and practices for creating innovation that create wellbeing in society.

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