• NextAdvocate.com is reader supported, and some of the offers that appear on this website are from companies which we receive compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all companies or all available offers.

Best Online Course Platforms

Whether you are looking to add new skills to your resume or earn a full-fledged degree or certificate, online course platforms can help with your needs. Check out our full list of the best online course below.

Company

Plan Types

Degrees

Focus

Our Rating

Udacity Review

Subscription

Yes

Technology

edX Review

Free

Yes

General

Udemy Review

Per Class

No

General

Coursera Review

Subscription

Yes

General

No review

Skillshare review

Subscription

No

Creative

No review

Codecademy Review

Subscription

No

Coding/Tech

No review

Datacamp Review

Subscription

No

Data/Tech

No review

LinkedIn Learning Review

Subscription or per class

Yes

General

No review

Pluralsight Review

Subscription

No

Technology

No review

If you’re looking for a way to quickly get educated on a skill or subject, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’re going to explore the best online course platforms, otherwise known as MOOC courses. While each has its own characteristics, they all have a common goal of online education at a lower price point than traditional schools.

As you will see, there are some positives and negatives to this strategy, but overall online courses are a great additional tool for increasing your skills. And watch out because we’re likely at the very beginning of this online educational revolution. In the past 10 years, a lot of major online course platforms have started making it pretty simple to find educational opportunities in almost every area.

The biggest problem currently faced by these platforms is the acceptance of mainstream education. Most of these platforms offer certification upon completion of a course or mini-degree. While these are great to add to your resume, they haven’t yet been accepted to the level of a traditional certification or college degree. But with time we believe that trend will change, and these options will be a great way to break into new industries without spending too much money.

How we Compare Online Learning Platforms

Udacity

Udacity Review

Pros

  • Technology focused
  • Earn nano degrees
  • Partnered with real world leaders
  • Career services inlcuded

Cons

  • Higher cost than other services

If you are looking for ways to improve your technical skills, Udacity is our number one recommendation. Because they’re focused on technology, if that’s not your thing, then move on to another of our online courses platform recommendations.

Udacity’s MOOC courses cover all of the most relevant technology-centric topics of today. You’ll have access to courses, including multiple programming languages, artificial intelligence, data science, and much more.

Like many of the online course platforms of today, you will have the option to get certificates of completion for any course you take which can increase your marketability when looking for jobs.

All of Udacities programs come with real-world projects, access to mentors, and a personal career coach and services.

While Udacity does not have the least expensive courses, they do have some of the best. We highly recommend giving them a shot if you’re looking to increase your technical knowledge.

EdX

Pros

  • Partnered with major universities
  • Courses are free
  • Upgrade for certificates
  • Affordable pricing
  • Earn Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees

Cons

  • Full programs and degrees are expensive

EdX has over 2500 courses across a broad range of subjects. They are another of the best online course platforms out there today. Because they are so well recognized having been founded by Harvard and MIT, the credentials you earn here will give you a good way to boost your resume.

What’s great about EdX is they are very mission-driven in trying to increase access to education. For that reason, much of what you can learn on EdX is free, and you simply have the option to purchase a certificate for a fair price at the end of the course.

Another benefit of the EdX online course platform is the number of partners they have. Not only was it started by Harvard and MIT, but they have plenty of other partner universities also teaching a vast array of the courses on their platform.

Lastly, EdX offers what they call MicroBachelor’s and MicroMaster’s programs. This is a set of courses targeted at a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree level for an extremely affordable price compared to traditional college credit hours.

Udemy

Pros

  • Large variety of courses
  • Affordable courses especially with promotions
  • Easy setup for teachers

Cons

  • Can be expensive without promotional prices

Udemy eclipses some of our other top online course platforms in the sheer size of their offering. With over 130,000 online video courses, if you want a great selection, Udemy has the goods.

Not only that, but they have great quality too, and are competitive on pricing. One thing to note about Udemy’s pricing is that they often run discounts that are well over half off normal pricing. If you wait for one of these deals, you’re getting a bargain.

That said, Udemy offers courses on an a la carte basis, so if you need multiple courses, you need to watch how much your total costs add up to.

Another difference between this online course platform is that Udemy gives a lot more accessibility to people who want to create a course. Whereas some platforms only partner with schools or businesses to create courses, Udemy helps individuals who would like to create a course as well. This is one of the many reasons you have more course options on Udemy than some other platforms.

Overall, if you are looking for one-off courses to increase your knowledge in a certain area, Udemy is a great option.

Coursera

Coursera Review

Coursera

Pros

  • Partnered with leading universities
  • Earn actual degrees
  • Affordable monthly price for courses

Cons

  • Degrees are costly

Similar to Edx, Coursera partners with major universities to create courses and offer a wide range of subjects. They operate on a slightly different model in that you take the class for free, but get access to specialization for a monthly fee. That fee is a very reasonable number given you are getting instruction from some of the best universities in the world. It also means that you can save money by getting through the courses faster.

As with some of the other best online course platforms, Coursera offers you a certificate at the completion of the program allowing you to promote your new skills. This certificate is available only to those who have the paid service.

Another thing that differentiates Coursera from the pack is the ability to get full degrees. You can get both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in some areas. Obviously, you do need to apply to these programs as you would with a traditional college. That’s a bit different from their online course, and to be expected for a full degree program. These programs are considerably more expensive than sticking with course specializations. 

Skillshare

Skillshare review

Skillshare

Pros

  • Large variety of courses
  • Focused on creative skills
  • Unlimited access with subscription

Cons

  • No degrees offered

Skillshare out of the box has a wide range of content but is geared more heavily to the creative and design crowd. This is a welcome focus, as most other platforms are either geared towards tech or don’t have much of a focus at all.

So while you will find business and lifestyle courses on Skillshare, you’ll definitely want to check it out if you are looking for courses in creativity.

Skillshare’s online learning platform is a subscription-based model, and very affordable. You’ll be able to look at introductory videos for most classes but then will need to sign up for a subscription after that. If you pay for a year, the cost averages out to $8.25, or even less depending on current promotions. You also have the option to pay monthly for a cost of $19.00/month. That’s extremely fair pricing, and you have unlimited access to all courses after signing up.

Codecademy

Codecademy Review

Codecademy

Pros

  • Technology focused
  • Fair pricing

Cons

  • Significant price increase to pay monthly vs. the year
  • No degrees

Codecademy as the name suggests deals entirely in the world of coding across many different languages. If you know that coding is something you’d like to learn, then Codecademy is the right place for you to start.

Codecademy’s online learning platform is also subscription-based, going for only $19.99/month if you pay for a full year. If you prefer to pay by the month, the cost goes up quite a bit to $39.99/month. Regardless, if you know what courses you’re looking to take and can get through them quickly, either subscription is a good value. If you think you’ll need a longer period of time to complete a group of courses, consider the annual plan.

Datacamp

Datacamp Review

Datacamp

Pros

  • Focused on data technologies
  • Straight forward interface
  • Real-world projects available

Cons

  • No degrees offered

DataCamp is another highly focused online learning platform. Again, as their name suggests, they are very focused on data sciences and the different courses related to these skills.

You can find courses based on the type of technology you want to learn such as Python and R, or you can look more generically at data topics. Regardless it’s a great resource to show people interested in data science all the different potential paths they might take. Not to mention excellent skill-building for those already engaged in the industry.

DataCamp features include skills assessments, interactive learning, and most importantly real-world projects. All of this at a fair price of $25/month for their standard plan. If you want access to all projects then you can upgrade to premium for just $33/month. Both of these monthly rates assume you are billed annually. You can opt to pay monthly, in which case there is a small increase in price. Regardless, you can get access to an incredible amount of material for an affordable price.

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning Review

LinkedIn Learning

Pros

  • Variety of content
  • Offers certificate programs
  • Good recommendations based on LinkedIn profile

Cons

  • Lots of topics to sort through

LinkedIn learning which used to be Lynda.com is another of the best online learning platforms. Its courses focus on some key high demand areas including Business, Technology, and Creative. They also include a number of certification programs for things like Adobe, Amazon Web Services, and many more. So, if you’re are looking to build some key skills that will make you more marketable, LinkedIn Learning is a platform you should consider.

They have a couple of different pricing options in that you can pay a monthly subscription fee, or buy course one at a time. That’s more flexibility than many of the other online learning platforms, especially if you’re hesitant to sign up for any type of subscription. If however, you are committed to taking a number of courses over a period of months or years, then the subscription is a great deal. As with other platforms, you can purchase the subscription for a year at a substantial discount.

Pluralsight

Pluralsight Review

Pluralsight

Pros

  • Technology-focused platform
  • Simple pricing
  • Quality content
  • Certificate practice exams with premium

Cons

  • No degrees or certificates offerred

As online learning platforms go, Pluralsight has been around for a long time, since 2004 in fact. They are another platform that is very focused on technology and software development skills. Their courses focus on topics like Python, Java, Javascript, and mobile development, amongst other things.

They offer a subscription-based plan for $29.99 per month or $299 for the year with a premium option for $449 per year. And while the jump to premium might seem like a big one, it brings some very valuable learning tools. Those include access to certification practice exams, interactive courses, and projects. Those are significant if you plan to take what you’ve learned and use it to create real value on your resume.

The Bottom Line

If you are looking to build new skills or even earn a degree, there are plenty of online learning platforms to look at. The number continues to grow especially in the tech sector where skills are in such high demand.

You will pay a premium to earn a full-fledged degree, but you can literally get them from some of the best universities in the world. On the other hand, you can find extremely affordable courses if you are looking to increase your skills in specific areas.

Regardless of the reason you are looking for online courses, you can find something for almost anyone. If you are on a budget and want to learn from the comfort of your home, then consider using one of these online learning platforms to build some skills and increase your marketability.

Table of Contents