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We’ve researched dozens of online courses for the best educational learning platforms — these are our top 10 picks.

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.

Why should you take online courses?

Online learning platforms offer lots of advantages for anyone looking to advance their career or learn something new. They are flexible and accessible in comparison to in person classes, as you’ll be able to access course materials anytime and anywhere you have access to a computer and an internet connection. Most online courses allow for self-paced learning, making it easier to commit and follow through with the workload as your personal schedule and priorities shift (here’s our tips on how to stay productive while learning remotely). You can even access online courses from institutions anywhere across the globe, allowing you to learn from top experts without having to leave your home. 

You’ll find online courses are also more affordable than in-person lectures. By studying online, you’ll save tons of money that would typically be spent on commuting and accommodations. Online courses, by comparison, are also cheaper than traditional in-person classes, making it easier for you to advance your skills on your terms. 

That’s why we love these ten learning platforms that are leading the way in online education. These websites are 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. 

Our criteria:

Our team has audited dozens of online courses and learning platforms courses, as well as scoured thousands of customer reviews for this round-up of our favorite educational websites. We update this list regularly with emerging favorites that meet our criteria below:

  • AVAILABILITY OF EXPERT INSTRUCTORS | These online course websites offer a wide selection of courses taught by certified professionals who have authority in their industry.
  • RANGE OF COURSES AND CERTIFICATIONS OFFERED | Each of these learning websites provide courses and certifications for various relevant and in-demand skills, topics, and professions.
  • AFFORDABILITY | We’ve prioritized low-cost and free online learning platforms on this list.

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 Overall | Best For Casual Learners | Best Free Option

1. Udemy

Best For | Affordable classes for professional skills
Features | Certifications available, courses taught by real-world experts, 210K+ courses available, 67M+ learners globally, available app
Our Pick 
| Ultimate Photoshop Training: From Beginner to Pro
| À la carte ($12–$200+) 

Udemy’s focus is to make quality education more accessible—and they’ve made some serious progress. To date, it’s achieved over 900 million enrollments around the world with courses ranging from Instagram marketing to aromatherapy. Starting at just $12, you can access more than 210,000 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—time to get to learning!

Udemy Review | “I’ve learned a lot from this course. Chris is a great instructor and he goes into extreme detail so everyone can understand. I recommend this course to everyone who wants to start using photoshop and more advanced users too.” – Nikola S.  [Read all reviews]

2. Coursera

Best For | On-demand higher education degrees, university certificates, and credits
Features | Certifications & degrees available, courses taught by experts from 275+ leading universities & companies, ability to earn recognized credentials, available app
Our Pick 
| Modern Art And Ideas
| Guided projects (starting at $10/per course); Specialized program (starting at $49/month); degrees (starting at $9K/per)

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 129 million learners and partnered with more than 275 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. You’ll find specializations in topics like data science or econometrics as well as degrees that can be taught over one to four years.

Coursera Review | “The course has expanded my understanding of art at different levels. There is a lot more to art than capturing beauty. It has increased my scope of expression as it is not restricted to colours and canvas now.” – Asha S. [Read all reviews]

3. Masterclass

Best For | On-demand classes from industry experts across fields
Features | Courses taught by globally-recognized icons & experts, 200+ classes available, available app, available on Roku & Amazon
Our Pick 
| Sara Blakely Teaches Self-Made Entrepreneurship
| Starting at $120/year (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 and a downloadable workbook with optional assignments. With over 200 instructors offering high quality education and insight, the fields you can explore are endless.

Masterclass Review | “I’ve watched 36 MasterClasses by tuning in while I’m in the bathroom, eating, and doing chores around the house. MasterClass teaches us how to live–with passion, grit, humility, and with a process that makes our life journeys something to savor instead” – Clarissa [Read all reviews]

4. edX

Best For | Self-paced college courses from top institutions
Features | Certifications & degrees available, courses taught by experts & professors, partnered with universities, 4,400+ programs available, 81M+ learners, available app
Our Pick 
| IBM: Software Engineering Basics for Everyone
| 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 250 partners, including MIT, Columbia University, and Georgia Tech, 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.

edX Review | “Nearly every single thing I learned in the boot camp has transferred to the jobs I got after completing it” – Andrew [Read all reviews]

5. Skillshare

Best For | Accessible classes for personal and business development
Features | Certifications available, courses taught by knowledgeable teachers, available app
Our Pick 
| Graphic Design Basics: Core Principles for Visual Design
| 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 830K active members. 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.

Skillshare Review | “WOW! So much depth! I love all of Geetanjali’s courses. She’s one of the most knowledgeable instructors I have seen on Skillshare and she has a way of calmly delivering instruction even when the course material is complex.” – Julie C. [Read all reviews]

6. LinkedIn Learning

Best For | Professional development
Features | Certifications available, courses taught by industry professionals, personalized course recommendations, available app
Our Pick 
| Project Management Foundations
| Starts at $20/month (Unlimited classes)

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 13 languages, you can download exercise files so you can practice while you learn and will earn a certificate for each class you complete.

LinkedIn Learning Review | “This course as a beginner has spiked my interest in project management and wanting to know more. I am thrilled by the simplicity of delivery” – Joshua A. [Read all reviews]

7. Alison

Best For | Free online classes for endless learning
Features | Certifications & diplomas available, courses taught by the world’s leading experts, 6M+ graduates across the globe, available app
Our Pick 
| Introduction to Spanish
| 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 knowledgeable instructors and high-quality content for every imaginable subject.

Alison Review | “This course was very easy to understand and grow from. I already want to see what courses are available for me related to this topic! For all my first timers, you will enjoy going through a class, I promise!” – Ralph R. [See all reviews]

8. Udacity

Best For | Online classes for in-demand tech and programming skills
Features | Certifications & nanodegrees available, courses taught by industry experts, 205K nanodegree certifications earned, available app
Our Pick 
Intro to Programming
| Starts at $249/month (Unlimited classes)

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.

Udacity Review | “I started with the basics, completed a Nanodegree program, and gained so much experience. I’m now in a new Android job!” – Mahmoud [Read all reviews]

9. Khan Academy

Best For | Nonprofit based learning courses for students pre-k to college
Features | Classes taught by teachers and experts, available in 36 languages, available app
Our Pick 
| Official LSAT® Prep
| Free

Khan Academy is a non-for-profit learning resource with a mission to empower students’ education through their accessible online platform. Started by one man who simply wanted to tutor math to his cousin, the company has now grown into a huge team that’s committed to offering world class educational skills. Here, you’ll find foundational school courses ranging from 6th grade math and AP college physics to SAT test prep and financial literacy classes. Best of all, these courses are self-paced, offer both instructional videos and exercises, and are 100% free! Take your growth into your own hands and at your own pace.

Khan Academy Review | “I just found your web site. I am 72 years old and I am now taking up learning where I left off. Thank you so much for all your hard work.” – Barbara [Read all reviews]

10. Catapult

Best For | Zoom classes and virtual workshops for writers
Features | Courses taught by industry experts, online and in-class options available 
Our Pick 
| 6-Week Open-Genre Generative Seminar: From First Thought to First Draft
| À la carte ($15 for independent study—$6,000+ for year long course)

Writers and readers looking for a 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.

Catapult Review | “Lena was a wonderful instructor, always a great blend of thoughtful and thorough when reading, as well as insightful during critiques. Our class featured a very diverse blend of voices, styles, and genres, and Lena was able to add value to every submission. She reads and comments with a true editorial eye, and her feedback truly helped improve my work.” – Former Student [Read all reviews]