Online courses are a great way to get some extra credit where you need it or to boost your resume for better jobs or salaries. With the internet making inroads into all aspects of our daily life, it is almost impossible to ignore how it has changed the way in which we learn. Instead of physically visiting an educational institution in the city, state or country that you reside in – and paying a large sum of money – you can gain access to fantastic course material, helpful videos and a bunch of different assignments just by registering yourself on these online platforms.
Many people are wary of online courses because they aren’t sure if the course will be recognized or hold any significance later in life. The key to avoiding such situations is opting for platforms that have joined hands with some of the premier institutions in the world – Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Berkeley and so on – and then looking at the best online courses or the best MOOCS (massive open online course) that these platforms have to offer.
However, with a spike in the number of such platforms, it may be a little confusing when you have to pick the best online courses to take, but this helpful guide will make things so much easier for you by giving you an overview of the best platforms that offer online courses!
Top 28 Best Online Courses
Let’s take a look at the best online courses you can enroll in today and find the perfect one for you!
Due to the enormous amount of subjects available, the list comes up to 28 different choices – each representing the winners for their respective category.
They’re ranked in terms of popularity, with the most attended ones being listed first. Simply click on your preferred subject and you’ll be directed to its very own article. Let’s begin!
Top 6 Best Online Course Platforms
If you want to discover the best online courses in general and explore the tremendous amount of choices and subjects by yourself, then all you’ve got to know is which platform is the best. Let’s now take a look at the top platforms that offer the best online courses on the web.
Even though we’ve already written a full in-depth article on the best online course platforms, we’ll be taking a quick look at the top choices below:
The first platform for the best online courses – both paid and free – is edX, a website put together by scientists from two of the most prestigious universities in the world—Harvard and MIT. The edX platform is very interesting, as it allows users to pursue a wide range of courses from graduate-level MicroMasters programs and online master’s degrees to professional certifications or even freshman year courses – offered by Arizona State University – that make you eligible for university credit. These courses are usually offered in partnership with some of the leading institutions like MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, Dartmouth, Georgetown and other prestigious universities. With all this and more, you will never be short on the best online courses to take.
Each and every course comes with a dedicated instructor and often even more than one, who will work on your basic understanding of the field with the help of examples that are practical and easy to understand. If the course that you are looking to pursue is a little more complicated, there may be some prerequisites like the knowledge of a particular language or something along similar lines so keep an eye out!
The courses are designed in a way that you get many opportunities to test out your newly acquired skills with the help of case studies and hands-on assignments. Even though it isn’t necessary for each and every course to have a set of assignments, most modules do come with quizzes or similar tools for you to check your knowledge of the subject.
Finally, it is important to talk about the fee structure. Most of the larger programs, degrees and specializations will have to be paid for, but there are a bunch of courses that can be access free of cost. However, if you need a verified certificate to show that you completed the course, a nominal fee will be charged.
To learn more, be sure to read our full edX review.
Another popular online education platform that has been the top choice for young adults and professionals to get their hands on some high-quality course material for free is Coursera. Founded by two Stanford University, this seems to be the go-to place for people who want to get a college-level education without paying the high prices that are associated with tuition.
The Coursera platform offers a wide range of fantastic courses in many different fields, ranging from computing, programming and data science to arts, humanities and literature. Coursera has partnerships with some of the best universities in the United States – including the likes of Stanford, Princeton, Johns Hopkins and more – that offer premium courses that can help you expand your horizons.
Coursera offers both degrees and certifications on its platforms. While the degrees may be master’s or bachelor’s degrees, the certifications are offered by both educational institutions as well as leading organizations in the field, for example, IBM for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence and Google for IT support. All programs and certifications are designed and taught by either professors with significant experience or industry professionals.
While most courses on this online platform are offered free of cost, you will have to pay a nominal fee if you want to gain access to some graded assignments or get a certificate when you finally complete the course.
The great part about Coursera is that you can enroll in a program for free and pay only if you want to continue. Otherwise, you can simply retain access to the course material without paying a fee. In case you cannot afford some courses on the platform, there are also provisions for financial aid, which can be applied for separately.
To learn more, be sure to read our full Coursera review.
If you are interested in software development and want a platform that gives you the opportunity to learn more with the help of fantastic free courses in the field of data science, programming and web development, Udacity is the platform you need to be looking at.
The company has developed five different schools of learning – school of data science, school of artificial learning, school of programming, school of autonomous systems as well as the school of cloud computing – to give its users an in-depth look into any of these fields, depending on their individual interests. The programs offered are developed by industry experts so that you are able to gain access to knowledge that will be of help to you if you pursue a future in the industry.
In addition to a bunch of free courses – about 200 different options – that cover a wide range of topics in this realm, Udacity also offers a specialized nanodegree program for people who want to delve into greater depths or want to pursue a career in the field. These programs are designed to help you get an edge over a competitor in the job market by giving you access to real-world projects by experts, technical mentoring sessions, a personal career coach, as well as a learning program that is truly flexible.
While you won’t have to pay to gain access to the material provided with the free courses, nanodegree programs can be quite expensive – going above $2,000 in some cases. While the company often has special discount offers on the nanodegree tuition fee, the costs can still add up. In such a case, you need to decide whether or not your individual case will stand to benefit from it.
To learn more, be sure to read our full Udacity review.
Udemy offers a wide range of free online courses as well as free certifications to its consumers, which makes it one of the most sought-after online learning platforms in the world right now. The courses offered range from topics like web development, business, IT and software and marketing to music, photography, lifestyle or more. All in all, there are very few areas that may not be covered by Udemy as a part of their vast course curriculum.
Ideal for students and young professionals who don’t want to spend too much money, the free of cost courses are very easy to access and follow. There are also a large number of paid courses but most of these are priced very sensibly. In addition to this, the company runs a large number of special classes, bootcamps and discounts on the programs that are currently running on the platform.
However, the use of these courses is not limited to just the two categories of people mentioned before. Even if you are an entrepreneur or a professional at a later stage of his or her career, you can benefit from these courses in some way or the other.
The interesting part about Udemy is that it also has a platform for teaching, where instructors can build their own online courses for their target audience. After picking the topic of their choice – usually, something that they are experts in – they can use the website’s course development tools to put up presentations, videos, PDFs, or even live classes for their students.
To learn more, be sure to read our full Udemy review.
Skillshare is different from most of the learning platforms mentioned in this list for one major reason – instead of putting an inordinate amount of attention on data science, programming and web development, this platform also offers a wide range of creative courses to its users. Designed for users who do not have too much time to dedicate each day, the platform offers over 30,000 classes that cover topics like design, illustration, photography and film, entrepreneurship, writing, business and technology. The classes are usually project-based so that the students can get more real-world experience in the field of their choice. All you need to do is browse through the website to find something that meets your fancy.
The platform has close to 500 free classes that you can gain access to without paying any money, but if you want to be able to access all 30,000+ videos and lessons available on the platform, you will be required to sign up for the Premium plan, which is billed either monthly or annually – for a better price. With the Skillshare Premium, you have the option of downloading your classes to your smartphone or tablet for offline access when you are on the go. There will be no advertisements that show up between your videos when you opt for this plan.
The company also mentions that a portion of the money collected through the Premium plans is also spent on offering scholarships to students who need support. Another thing that sets skillshare apart from other similar platforms is its emphasis on community learning and collaboration.
To learn more, be sure to read our full Skillshare review.
The final name on this list of the platforms that offer the best online courses is Treehouse, a platform designed for beginners who want to build a career for themselves in the fields like web design, web development, mobile development, game development and so on. With over 300 courses and 278 workshops that cover 23 major topics, the platform currently boasts of over 50,000 students, which is fairly impressive for a company with a narrower focus in terms of topics. The company has partnerships with Google Developers, IBM Watson, Amazon Alexa and Microsoft – leaders in the field.
Treehouse’s signature offering is the company’s Techdegree, a well-structured online learning program that is targeted at beginners who are interested in coding. The company does not require the student to have any background or experience in the field. The learning process is facilitated by teachers who help the enrolled students as they learn the basic fundamental concepts of coding through tutorials, quizzes and other interesting methods.
To learn more, be sure to read our full Treehouse Tech Degree review.
Final Thoughts on the Best Online Courses
The best online courses are the ones that don’t just give you access to a ton of material but carefully guide, instruct and engage you from start to finish, effectively upgrading your skills and understanding. There is a lot more that goes into putting together an effective learning experience. While all of these platforms have their share of advantages and disadvantages, one may be better for a certain type of education or learning than the other.
In order to make the most of the best MOOCs and regular online courses available in front of you, it is important that you understand your own requirements. Similarly, some may charge you some money (depending upon the type of course), while others will give you access to all materials free of cost. Choose wisely and you will have much to gain – now roll up your sleeves and get to work, it’s time to level up your education!