The 20 Best Websites for Taking Online Courses

Illustration of a man participating in an online class on a computer

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The workplace landscape is constantly reinventing itself. Indeed, with technology dominating most industries, most professionals have had to adapt rapidly to these changes by committing to lifelong learning.

Luckily enough, online learning sites have made this process easier, giving people around the world the opportunity to advance their careers and secure the tools needed to succeed within their chosen professions.

Whether you’re at the beginning of your career, looking to make a change or eyeing a promotion, expanding your skills and knowledge is always a wise move.

Here are 20 reliable online learning sites to help you get started.

1. Coursera

Founded by two computer science professors at Stanford University, Coursera is one of the most prominent online course websites around.

At Coursera, you can pursue a variety of specialisations, professional certifications and online degrees offered by world-class academic institutions and organisations from all around the world. Be it a Configuration Management course by Google or a Financial Markets course by Yale University, there’s something for everyone.

With Coursera, you have the option to trial a variety of courses without charge and there are also quite a few free courses you can embark on, too.

2. Udemy

With 35 million learners and over 130,000 courses on offer, Udemy is one of the most reliable online learning sites available today. The site is home to a variety of online video courses, delivered by top instructors and experts across numerous industries. You can browse course options through different categories.

What’s great about Udemy is the diversity of options available at your fingertips. You’re only afforded with the opportunity to develop your career but also pursue other passions from photography and baking to yoga and arts and crafts and beyond!

3. FutureLearn

At FutureLearn, you can find anything between short online courses, online degrees and microcredentials. The site partners with renowned universities and institutions to provide its online learners with an impressive course catalogue to choose from.

Courses consist of pre-recorded videos and sections where you can join online discussions with others undertaking the same course!

Most courses are free to access for a limited time, but if you want unlimited access to exams, quizzes as well as your certification, you’ll need to pay for an upgrade.

4. MasterClass

MasterClass is a unique product – where else could you receive online classes from the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Annie Leibovitz, Serena Williams and Martin Scorsese?

The site gives you exclusive access to online classes by industry giants, sports legends and field experts who share their creative process, skills, industry secrets and stories on their successes and failures.

You can pick from over 90 classes across 9 categories including arts and entertainment, business, sports, gaming and cooking, with new classes being added every month. Each course comes with a PDF workbook, and there’s also an option to download and watch your classes offline, too.

5. Domestika

Domestika is focused on developing creative online courses. Each course is instructed by an industry expert who will guide you through the process of learning a new skill or refining an existing one. Whether you want to learn more about calligraphy, 3D animation, sewing or Adobe software, there’s a course for all creative types.

You may choose to try a single course, or you could pick a ready-made course bundle which consists of three courses that complement or build up on each other. You can also choose to assemble your own bundle.

There’s also the option of going pro and benefiting from perks like a 20% discount on all courses, free open courses, certificates of attendance and personalised advice from Domestika. The site also has a featured projects page, where it showcases the finished work of its members.

6. SheCodes

SheCodes has a noble mission: to decrease the gender gap in the tech industry. How? By offering online coding workshops to women.

SheCodes workshops encompass three main areas: product development (HTML, CSS, JavaScript), product design (user experience and user interface) and product management. You can enrol in different workshops, depending on how much time you want to invest; durations range from three weeks to four months. All workshops, however, come with the advantage of live help and the opportunity to interact with instructors and other students in real time through Slack chats.

All courses on offer are for absolute beginners, and you have the option to upgrade to another package later.

7. The Open University

The Open University is a leading distance-learning platform. Its main objective is to open higher education to all, regardless of location or circumstances.

With the OU, you can undertake any type of course, including honours degrees, foundation programmes, postgraduate diplomas, open qualifications and short courses.

The OU also offers its students a lot of flexibility, with 70% of its student body being in full-time employment. You can enrol either as a part-time or full-time time student and fit your classes around your own schedule without fuss.

6. edX

edX teams up with leading academic institutions from around the world to bring its users advanced educational courses from every faculty and industry. Its programmes range from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the specialty you choose, and you can enrol in most for free. However, if you want to receive a verified certification, you’ll need to pay a fee.

edX also offers microbachelors and micromasters programmes that are specifically designed to help with your career advancement or set you on the right career path. There’s also XSeries courses that can help you attain a deeper understanding of a specific topic and executive education courses that are meant to help corporate leaders excel in their roles.

9. Alison

Alison is another great platform if you want to upskill yourself. All courses are free, and with over 2,000 courses to choose from, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Once you enrol in a programme, you can take as much time as you want to complete it, and you can keep track of your progress on your very own learner dashboard.

You also have the option to go premium, meaning you can pay $7.99 a month to remove all ads from your courses and receive monthly discounts for certificates and diplomas.

10. Shaw Academy

Shaw Academy offers a wide range of programmes, all of which you can sign up for free for four weeks. Afterwards, you’ll need to pay a monthly fee of $69.99 to continue learning post-trial.

You’ll have the flexibility to plan your classes according to your schedule, the ability to download lessons on your device and access to an educator who can help you with any questions you might have. At the end, you’ll have a globally recognised certification which you can use to advance or kickstart your career.

11. Harvard University

Do you want to study at one of the best universities in the world? Harvard University’s online courses give people the opportunity to advance their skills and enrich their knowledge on a variety of subjects.

Course duration ranges from 1 week to over 4 months, depending on the course you select, and while some will require you to pay a fee, others are completely free to attend. There are also different levels of difficulty, so you can choose between beginner, intermediate or advanced-level programmes.

12. Skillshare

Skillshare is the perfect place to expand your professional skillset. Online classes are taught by teachers who are experts in their domain, and you can participate in interactive projects with others and gain practical experience while honing your skills. You can also join groups that are relevant to your interests and meet other like-minded individuals through the platform.

There are also free online classes available from Skillshare, as well as get a Skillshare Premium membership to gain access to the site’s exclusive class catalogue. You can also apply for Skillshare scholarships which will give you unlimited access to all classes.

13. LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn is not just a powerful networking tool. Indeed, with LinkedIn Learning, you can access expert-led courses and earn certificates that will undoubtedly make a great addition to your résumé.

You can join for free for a month, after which you’ll have to pay $29.99 a month to maintain access to courses.

14. Codeacademy

Ever wanted to learn how to code? Coding is increasingly becoming a key skill in the workplace, and something which could give you a certain edge over other candidates.

With Codecademy, you can access step-by-step programming tutorials for free. Indeed, you can choose from various programming languages, such as Python, Java, HTML and JavaScript, and receive instruction on subjects like front-end development, web design and machine learning.

If you’re not sure where to start, you can take Codecademy’s quiz, which will test your level of knowledge and come up with recommended coding courses for you.

15. Pluralsight

Pluralsight specialises in helping professionals develop the skills of tomorrow through their courses. You can pick between two plans: ‘Skills’ and ‘Flow’. The former is all about technology skill development, while the latter is designed for development teams with visibility and data.

Through their technology skills platform, you can assess your current skills and gain the latest in software development, IT, AI, ops, machine learning and security. Once you sign up, you can gain access to the platform’s courses library and pick one that you’re interested in. You’ll even be able to take practice exams and assess your knowledge gaps through skill assessments.

16. iversity

iversity’s courses are placed under four categories: MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), PRO, Espresso and Bundles. The site has a quite diverse range of subjects, too, ranging from architecture to biotechnology and management to data analysis.

Bundle courses are a combination package of a course along with an accompanying eBook on the relevant topic. Meanwhile, the site also offers some courses in different languages, mainly German but also French, Italian, Portuguese, Serbian, Russian, Bengali and Spanish.

17. General Assembly

General Assembly is focused on helping individuals equip themselves with the most in-demand workplace skills. With a variety of full-time and part-time online courses, you can receive instruction in web development, data science and analysis, user experience design, digital marketing, product management, and more.

You also have access to one-to-one mentor support and the ability to choose between self-paced courses and instructor-led programmes, depending on your availability. Another great thing about this site is that you’ll have access to different events and workshops, too, as well as networking opportunities with other alumni and General Assembly’s hiring partners.

18. Bloc

Bloc is designed for beginners who want to learn about software development and design. In fact, Bloc is the first online coding bootcamp, which was launched in 2012.

The organisation’s main mission is to help you land a job through your newly acquired skills, and all of their available programmes are self-paced, meaning you can go as fast as you want and fit your learning around your own schedule.

Before enrolling, you need to schedule a call with a student advisor who will help you personalise your experience and kickstart your learning journey.

19. Udacity

Udacity focuses on six main areas: programming and development, AI, cloud computing, data science, business, and autonomous systems. You can find numerous programmes within these categories and enrol in nanodegree programmes that take 4 to 12 months to complete and earn certification for.

You may also find courses that are completely free, but the drawback here is that you won’t receive a certificate upon completing them. That said, Udacity does offer financial help and discounts for their programmes, so keep an eye out for them!

20. Academic Earth

Created with the premise that everyone should have access to world-class education, Academic Earth allows you to join free online courses from top universities around the world.

You can filter your search by school, field of study and degree type, and watch recorded lectures delivered by renowned academics. You can also gain insight when selecting a degree through the site’s degree programme directory, which offers essential information about different fields including job prospects, career growth and available degree options.

Lifelong learning is a crucial factor for professional and personal growth. So, if you’re determined to advance your career and learn something along the way, these trusted online websites will help you sharpen your existing skills as well as attain new ones.

Have you used any of these online learning sites? Leave us your review in the comments section below!


This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 7 June 2017.