10 Best Websites For Affordable Online Courses In 2023
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Many of us follow a pretty typical education trajectory: elementary school, middle school, high school. Some of us go on to college or university, and others go even further, earning higher degrees and making careers in academia. No matter how far your formal education journey takes you, learning doesn’t have to stop there. We can continue learning—whether for career advancement or simply for fun.
That’s why we love these 10 learning platforms leading the way in online education. These websites are often free or low-cost and offer courses from a wide spectrum of topics like knife and cooking basics to graphic design and mobile development. For the tech lover, language learner, or aspiring artist, there’s something for everyone. No matter where you are in the world or your educational background, let’s keep learning together with these online training and certification programs.
(Psst, and for a subject close to our hearts, check out this list of our favorite online writing classes!)
Best For | Affordable classes for professional skills
Our Pick | Ultimate Photoshop Training: From Beginner to Pro
Pricing | A la carte ($12–$200+)
Udemy was founded by Eren Bali, Oktay Caglar, and Gagan Biyani to make quality education more accessible—and they’ve made some serious progress. To date, it’s achieved over 773 million enrollments around the world with courses ranging from Instagram marketing to aromatherapy. Starting at just $12, you can access more than 200,000 online courses that work with your pace and your lifestyle—plus, it’s yours forever. There’s a reason why businesses like Adidas and Mercedes-Benz utilize Udemy for their teams. Available in many languages and accessible around the world, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking up Udemy’s trial offer—and get to learning.
Review | “I like the fact that the videos are self-paced. You can utilize the training for any duration of time. Also, you can read the reviews of others prior to choosing a course. Once you purchase a course, it is yours forever and you can always refer back to it. Many courses with a lot of material can be purchased for less than $20. I would equate this to an App store for training courses. Courses are submitted and Udemy provides a large and competitive market which brings down the price and improves the quality.” – Tom K.
Best For | Self-paced college courses from top institutions
Our Pick | Corporate Finance, Columbia University
Pricing | Free–$25,000+ (online Master’s Degrees)
What happens when two of the most prestigious higher education institutions come together for open learning? edX. Harvard and MIT collaborated to create the only MOOC (massive online open courses) provider and nonprofit around. Today, it works with more than 160 partners, including Georgetown University, Brown University, and Dartmouth, to name a few. The online learning options run the gamut: you can choose one course or an online Master’s Degrees, with a range of professional certificates and “micro” Master’s programs.
Review | “I love the self-paced modules on edX, in a range of different subjects. Professional development opportunities can be somewhat limited in Higher Education, but edX is a terrific way to explore different areas at no extra cost to the department. I’ve been able to continue my Spanish on my own time, learn additional skills through International Business courses, and even explore personal interests related to Human Rights – and I can do it on my lunch break! None of this would be possible without edX!” – Ilse D.
Best For | On-demand classes from industry experts across fields
Our Pick | Dr. Jane Goodall Teaches Conservation
Pricing | Starting at $15/month billed annually (Unlimited classes)
Masterclass brings revered and renowned heroes, icons, and experts to your screen for one-on-one classes in their areas of expertise. Whether you’re learning acting from Natalie Portman, scientific thinking from astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, or self-expression from famed queen of drag RuPaul, each practice and process is broken down into an average of 20 on-demand, cinematically produced video lessons (at an average of 10 minutes each) and comes with a downloadable workbook with optional assignments. Once enrolled, learners gain access to the online student community, and once completed, Masterclass provides tips on how to further use the site to continue their studies. With over 100 instructors offering high quality education and insight, the fields you can explore are endless.
Review | “Annie [Liebovitz]’s MasterClass offered insight into her approach, but also offered the permission to create, create, create! And with a tenacity I had been afraid to embody.” – Jesse L.
Best For | On-demand higher education degrees, university certificates, and credits
Our Pick | Modern Art And Ideas
Pricing | Individual course (starting at $29/per course); Specialized program (starting at $39/month); degrees (starting at $9K/per)
Started in 2012 by two Stanford professors, Coursera believes that everyone should be able to learn anywhere, anytime, and from the world’s top education providers. Since then, it’s reached over 60 million learners and partnered with more than 200 universities to bring all kinds of content to users. Whether you’re looking for a general course, a specific specialization, or a university-recognized degree, Coursera will be your one-stop-shop. Courses range from $29 to $99; specializations in topics like data science or econometrics go up to $99/month; degrees run up to $50,000 that can be taught over one to four years.
Review | “[Coursera] is a brilliant tool for lifelong learners. The best part about Coursera is the diverse range of subjects and topics available for us to learn and grow. It offers someone like me who has a passion for lifelong learning, an opportunity to keep learning within the confines and comforts of my house. I can get access to some of the best faculties in the world and institutions in the world without moving an inch.” – Nelson T.
Best For | Accessible classes for personal and business development
Our Pick | Graphic Design Basics: Core Principles for Visual Design
Pricing | Free, Premium ($32/month or $168 annually)
Skillshare offers more than 34,000 classes to anyone, anywhere, based on design, business, tech, and more. It prides itself on providing more than just access to education; Skillshare considers itself an online learning community of more than seven million strong. At Skillshare, you can learn skills, network with others, and discover new opportunities, all in one place. There are classes available for free (check out “Going Freelance” or “Intro to SEO”), or if you upgrade to Premium you can unlock even more. Those funds enable them to pay teachers, and you’ll have access to classes offline and without ads. Not sure if you can afford them? Skillshare offers plenty of scholarships (and free or low-cost trials), too, so there is something for everyone.
Review | “I love Skillshare for its variety of classes. You can learn anything from knitting, to cooking, writing, logo design, analytics, photography, and so on. The platform has thousands of classes on any topic you can think of. The classes are taught by business owners, freelancers, and people loving what they teach about which is a nice change when you compare it to classes at your school where some teachers seem like they don’t really care about the topic they teach.” – Michaela B.
6. LinkedIn Learning
Best For | Professional development
Our Pick | Time Management: Working From Home
Pricing | Starting at $19.99/month (annual)
You’ve likely already heard of LinkedIn, and may even currently use it for networking and job-searching. But the employment-oriented service also offers online education. With LinkedIn Learning, you gain access to over 20,000 expert-led classes across business, technology, and creative. (Dozens are added every week and there’s no limit to how many you can watch.) The platform also provides personalized course recommendations based on your skills. With classes available in five languages, you can download exercise files so you can practice while you learn and will earn a certificate for each class you complete.
Review | “The best thing about LinkedIn Learning is that it is integrated with your LinkedIn account. The tool has access to your job profile, subjects of interest, skills and areas of expertise. Due to this, courses are automatically recommended based on your profile. It is a rich repository of learning resources. I really like the graphics in some of the trainings. I can also upload my own content and share resources with my colleagues.” – Shreshthi M, G2.com
Best For | Free online classes for endless learning
Our Pick | Introduction to Spanish
Pricing | Free, paid certifications/diplomas available
No matter what your interest is, Alison likely has a course for you, including ones that offer certifications and diplomas. Completely free to use, payment only comes in with certified or diploma courses. Otherwise, you can learn to your heart’s content on topics like project management, web design, or amateur French and German. Not sure where to start? Check out the Career Guide for many career paths and associated class options. From architecture to manufacturing to human services, you can find knowledgable instructors and high-quality content for every imaginable subject.
Review | “I think Alison courses are very standard online educative and informative programmes, and that is why they are gaining [popularity] around the world. I took some of their courses myself and as a teacher, I find them very rich in content and delivery as well. I will recommend them to anybody that is interested to broaden their knowledge in any area of their interest.” – Uzadinma O.
Best For | Online classes for in-demand tech and programming skills
Our Pick | Intro to Programming
Pricing | Free; Nanodegrees starting at $399/mo
Students first—that’s the policy of Udacity, an online learning platform started by two Stanford instructors who knew that offering up quality education would revolutionize the future of learning. What began as an “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” course soon became hundreds of classes that focus on in-demand skills like virtual reality, full-stack development, and even self-driving cars. Ideal if you’re looking for a job in the world of tech or programming, Udacity’s classes are free. You only have to pay if you want to pursue a “nanodegree” which takes you down a specific career path.
Review | “The best thing about Udacity is that its training programs are developed by the industry experts from Google, Facebook, etc. Also, their training program contains a lot of assignments which are reviewed by a real person. This helps the student to learn effectively and retain it for a long time.” – Arif K.
Best For | Technology (Cloud, Mobile, Security, Data) classes
Our Pick | Digital Forensics
Pricing | Starting at $34/month; $399/annual
If you know your future is in technology, look no further than Pluralsight. The courses here are focused on specific tech skill sets like C#, IT Networking, and Cyber Security & Malware Analysis, all of which are updated regularly and added to often. Plus, the programs meet you where you are in your knowledge. Are you a novice? No problem. Have experience with the skills at hand? Dive a little deeper. Opt for the monthly or annual plan, and you’ll have access to the entire library, so you can research and study whatever you fancy. Once you start a course, you can check your Skill or Role IQ, too, so you’ll always have a baseline of where you are in your learning and growth. Not ready to dive in just yet? It offers a free 10-day trial!
Review | “One of the best ways to quickly get up to speed with the latest development related technologies. [What I like best is] how knowledgeable the presenters are. They give you insight into specific technologies that are cutting edge and show you best practices so you can immediately be productive. Many times I have [gone] from zero knowledge on a specific subject or technology to feeling very confident with that same technology just by going through a single course.” – Mike D.
Best For | Zoom classes and virtual workshops for writers
Our Pick | 6-Week Open-Genre Generative Seminar: From First Thought to First Draft
Pricing | A la carte ($15 for independent study—$6,000+ for year long course)
Writers and readers looking for community love Catapult for the wide variety of online classes, workshops, independent studies, and seminars offered in all genres. Take a generative fiction class, dig into revision techniques for your novel, or learn how to write a query letter to agents from leading writing and publishing professionals on a day-job-friendly schedule. You can even join a class to read and study books with other writers! Our team has taken multiple classes and loved our experiences, especially the connections we have made with other writers around the world.
Review | “On day one of our workshop, Lena set up a strong, elastic net of trust and support. We all felt inspired to try challenging feats, knowing that when we fell, we’d bounce back up and catch the bar with the momentum to swing to the opposite platform.” – Former student