best online writing courses

Best Online Writing Courses

Whether you’ve always wanted to be the next big thing after J.K. Rowling or just get that research paper written efficiently or simply craft a decent email to your employer/employees, writing is an important part of everyday life! Ironic, then, that most people struggle with putting forth their views in the written word.

If you fall in the latter category, fret not. Online learning platforms have got your back and how! If you thought sprucing up your writing skills required going to some sort of writing academy, you’ve got another thing coming when you look at our list of the best online courses for writing. Read on for some serious opportunities to enhance your writing skills, be it for business, academic work, or just for the love of writing!

Top 10 Best Online Writing Courses

These are the best online courses for writing, all thoroughly reviewed to ensure that you find the perfect one. Let’s take a look!

Let’s start with the best online writing courses offered on the Coursera platform.

best online courses for writingIt’s no secret that Coursera, with over 1,100 free courses and 33 million registered users, is one of America’s sweethearts (at least when it comes to the best online learning platforms). Their offering to English speakers is no less.

Though all these courses come free of cost (they all start with a 7-day trial), some exercises and lectures may be accessible only on purchasing. Purchasing the course also enables students to receive a course completion certificate that is recognized and accepted in resumes by organizations such as LinkedIn. Additionally, Coursera offers financial aid to students in need, though the application for the same takes a minimum of 15 days to review.

Academic English: Writing Specialization – University of Irvine

The “Academic English: Writing Specialization” is aimed at students with a focus on efficiently conducting academic research or expressing thoughts and proposals within an academic structure. As a specialization course (skill-specific courses), students can either choose to do the entire specialization or pick any one of the courses in the specialization. Even in the latter case, students are automatically subscribed to the full specialization. Additionally, every specialization requires students to complete a project in order to earn their course completion certificate.

Offered by the University of California, Irvine and taught by Brad Gilpin, Tamy Chapman and Helen Nam, the 5 courses in this specialization will take 3 months to complete and is perfect for beginners.

Writing in the Sciences – Stanford University

Whether it’s that research paper you’ve been putting off for God knows how long or a bit of scientific writing you’ve wanted to indulge in, Coursera’s “Writing in the Sciences” is the solution you’ve been looking for. Curated by Stanford University’s Dr. Kristin Sainini (associate professor in the university’s Health Research and Policy department), the course teaches students various topics such as the principles of good writing, how to write quicker and be less anxious while doing so, the format of a good scientific manuscript, peer-reviewing, grant writing, ethical issues the publication of scientific material as well as how to put forth scientific material to the general audience.

With an estimated completion time of 24 hours, the course is recommended for beginners and like the previous one, allows flexibility in deadlines. The 4-week course follows a specific schedule:

  • Week 1: This week introduces students to the course and reviews the main principles of effective writing. This involves writing precisely and to the point.
  • Week 2: This module is a detailed study of verbs, focusing on writing in the active voice, how to avoid turning verbs into nouns, how to choose strong verbs, and identifying the main verbs in a sentence.
  • Week 3: The third week is a study of sentence structure and paragraph writing; it teaches students the use of punctuation marks such as the colon, semi-colon, parentheses and the dash. It also guides students on how to write concise, organized paragraphs.
  • Week 4: Week 4 is a review week, wherein the writing process is reviewed. The instructor provides students with tips to make the writing process much easier without compromising on the quality.
  • Week 5: This week reviews the various sections of a scientific manuscript and teaches students to write an introduction, discussion, methods and results.
  • Week 6: Week 6 explores the peer review process and the ethical issues that plague scientific publishing, as well as avoiding these issues.
  • Week 7: The seventh week introduces students to other types of scientific writing such as grants, reviews, essays and recommendation letters.
  •  Week 8: The last week teaches students the technique to communicate with a general audience, including working with the media and conducting and giving interviews.

Business Writing – University of Colorado Boulder

The power of good writing is highly underrated in the business world. Not only does good writing enable you to put forth ideas well, but it also manages to impress both competitors and recruiters alike. “Business Writing”, instructed by Dr. Quentin McAndrew, teaches students to apply “the top ten principles of good business” writing in their work, as well as how to organize, structure and revise their writing so as to put forth their points in as clear and concise a manner as possible. Students who complete this course also gain a foundation in the “Graphic Design” and “Successful Presentation” courses that the University of Colorado Boulder  also offers on Coursera.

This beginner’s course, which takes approximately 13 hours to complete, is spread over 4 weeks with specific topics covered in each week:

  • Week 1: The introductory week introduces students to the “Effective Communication” specialization and the course itself.
  • Week 2: The second module teaches students how to effectively organize their writing by following the “universal organizational formula” and create a scaffold for their future writing.
  • Week 3: The third week has a practical approach, with students learning how to apply the knowledge gained over the previous two weeks in creating a memo, as well as learning about commonly-occurring grammatical errors.
  • Week 4: The final week of the course provides students with tips and techniques that will enable students to enhance their language and provide clarity to their written communication.

Getting Started with Essay Writing – University of Irvine

The second course in the “Academic English: Writing Specialization” introduces students to the three types of academic essays followed in academic circles worldwide. While it’s great for students who already possess intermediate-level writing skills and are looking to better their research essays or college assignments, it’s just as helpful to those who want to improve their written English skills.

Taught by Tamy Chapman, Brad Gilpin and Helen Nam of the University of California, Irvine, the content of this 15-hour course is divided into 5 weeks worth of study:

  • Week 1: Week 1 picks up from where the first part of the course ended, with a review of sentence types and punctuation.
  • Week 2: Week 2 provides lessons on essay structure and other tools required for effective writing.
  • Week 3: In week 3, students will be guided to compose their first “compare/contrast essay”.
  • Week 4: This week is a study on writing “cause/effect essays”.
  • Week 5: The last module deals with the most common type of essay — the “argument essay”.

While this course is counted as a free course, only the lectures and practice activities come free of cost. Users will need to purchase the course if they want to take the quizzes or receive feedback on their assignments. Considering that students will need to complete all 4 quizzes and 3 written assignments to successfully pass the course, it may be wiser to pay for the course.

Advanced Writing – University of Irvine

Course 3 of the “Academic English: Writing Specialization” equips students with the skills to organize and write better argument essays, identify and avoid plagiarism, analysis and formation of opinions and statements from readings. Taught by the same instructors as the previous course, the course has 15 hours worth of material spread over 4 weeks. Again, like the previous course, only the paid version will allow students to take quizzes and receive feedback.

  • Week 1: The first week is an introduction to the course.
  • Week 2: Week 2 teaches students to write more advanced argument essays by using more external sources and also introduces them to the MLA format.
  • Week 3: Week 3 looks at plagiarism and how to avoid it.
  • Week 4: Week 4 is all about the “synthesis essay”, wherein students read several articles, form an opinion and then effectively express that opinion through the “synthesis essay”.

Better Business Writing in English – Georgia Institute of Technology

This course teaches students to devise strategies to plan, organize and produce concise, accurate text that is comprehensible. With a focus on business communication, students will be taught how to write cover letters, mission and vision statements, proposals, reports and PowerPoint presentations. Offered by the Georgia Institute of Technology and taught by Amalia B. Stephens, the course uses a combination of lectures, quizzes, and external resources while requiring students to complete self and peer evaluations.

19 hours of course material is divided into 4 weeks with the following syllabus:

  • Week 1: The introductory week enables students to develop their personal voice and increase the accuracy of their written English.
  • Week 2: In the second week, students will be taught to write a business proposal.
  • Week 3: Week 3 focuses on writing clear and complete paragraph-style reports.
  • Week 4: The last week imparts students with tips and techniques for designing and writing effective slides.

Let’s now take a look at the best online writing courses offered by the fantastic edX platform.

A massive MOOC provider, edX is a hugely popular non-profit online learning platform that is the brainchild of some pretty big brains over at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. With over 14 million users and 18,00 courses (some free and some paid), it’s popularity doesn’t really come as a surprise, nor does the fact that it has some of the best online courses for writing.

The Writing Process – University of Berkeley

If you’re interested in learning how to write professionally, organize your writing and develop a style of your own, look no further than edX’s “The Writing Process”. The course teaches learners to effectively identify and cater to an audience in the best possible way through your writing. Offered by the University of California, Berkeley, the course is instructed by Margaret Steen and will take you 4 weeks to complete.

Academic and Business Writing – University of Berkeley

This course, yet another offering of the University of California, Berkeley, gives the student community an introduction to writing academically as well as for business purposes. Users will be exposed to various types of written work, enhance their vocabulary and editing skills, and study a lot of material on tone, diction and vocabulary. The 5-week course offers readings and videos and students will be expected to undertake writing assignments and quizzes. Taught by Maggie Sokolik, Director of Berkeley’s College Writing Program, this course is a sure-fire path to successful academic and business writing.

Business Writing – University of Berkeley

A “Professional Certificate program” offered by the University of California, Berkeley, the “Business Writing” program equips students with the skills to craft impressive emails, letters and reports, to name a few, while providing the know-how on writing accurate, to-the-point messages for different types of audiences.

The program offers three different courses which take 4 weeks each to complete (not self-paced):

  • The Writing Process
  • Effective Business Writing
  • Writing for Social Media

The course is taught by Margaret Steen and industry expert Tim Peters; being a Professional Certificate program, it comes at a price of $267.30.

How to Write a Novel: Structure and Outline – University of British Columbia

If you’ve always dreamed of being the next Dan Brown or Tolkien, or have writer’s block bigger than the Lambert glacier, this course is for you. Offered by the University of British Columbia, this 6-week program comes at a little bit of a hefty price ($293) but imparts in great detail the outlining of various elements of a good novel, character interactions and overcoming hurdles in the writing process. The course is instructed by Nancy Lee (Assistant Professor of Creative Writing) and Anabel Lyon (Associate Professor of Creative Writing) and offers a detailed 6-week syllabus.

Final Thoughts

Like we said, somewhere in this list of the best online courses for writing, writing is such a crucial part of everyday life, but such an underrated one. Nothing has held on to its importance like the written word has, in whatever sphere of life. They weren’t kidding when they said the pen is mightier than the sword. If you’ve always wanted the chance to seriously learn writing professionally or just better your skills with minimum investment of money (but a more substantial investment of effort!), our humble list of online courses for writing is sure to help you. Good luck on your journey of words and do remember to thank our humble list in your Booker Prize acceptance speech!

If you want to discover more learning opportunities, then be sure to take a look at our list of the best online courses. Thanks for reading and as always, have a great day!

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