17 of the Best Online Courses for Improving Your Skills

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17 of the Best Online Courses for Improving Your Skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 12, 2021 | Published November 12, 2020

Updated November 12, 2021

Published November 12, 2020


Online courses are designed to help you learn new skills or improve your current skill set, all from the convenience of your own home. With so many online classes to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which ones are right for your personal and professional development. In this article, we provide a list of 19 of the best online courses to consider to help.

How do online courses work?

Usually, especially in the case of free courses, you won't receive a degree or certificate for taking the course. Instead, these classes are designed to help you increase your understanding of certain topics and strengthen your hard and soft skills to expand your job opportunities in the future.

Related: 34 Online Training Programs To Advance Your Career

Best overall online course websites

Here is a list outlining a wide variety of courses in several disciplines, both personal and professional. If you're not sure what you want to study, but you know you want to take a course, these websites can help you find the best class for your goals. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Alison is a learning hub that offers classes in a wide range of topics including such fields as technology, finance and science. A few of the most popular courses listed include:

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

  • Food Safety and Hygiene in the Catering Industry

  • Advanced Parenting Skills

Udemy offers both free and paid courses in professional subjects, like business and marketing, as well as personal topics, such as health and productivity. A few of the free courses include:

  • Introduction to Website Development

  • Practical Oriented Analysis of Financial Statements

  • Angular: Overcoming Common Obstacles

Udacity gives users access to free courses primarily in the technology field. Their classes vary in length and intensity to meet the needs of the student. Popular offerings include:

  • Hybrid Cloud Engineer

  • Developer for Microsoft Azure

  • Data Science for Business Leaders

Skillshare is an online platform that offers courses in a variety of subjects, primarily in creative fields like photography and filmmaking. Top free courses include:

  • Introduction to SEO: Tactics and Strategy for Entrepreneurs\

  • Typography That Works: Typographic Composition and Fonts- Visual Thinking: Drawing Data to Communicate Ideas

Codecademy provides users with courses in coding and other software development areas. You can choose from several different subscription plans. One plan is offered for free but does limit the selection of courses you can access. Popular free Codecademy courses include:

  • Learn JavaScript

  • Learn HTML

  • Learn Java

Pluralsight, like a few other online course providers, is primarily a paid service. However, it does offer a free trial, so you can try a few classes before committing to the program. Popular course offerings include:

  • Understanding Psychology of Change

  • Communicating and Documenting Security Incidents

  • Getting Started in SolidWorks

Memrise is both a website and an app created to help you learn another language. It's free to use and offers a long list of languages to choose from. Popular choices include:

  • Chinese Simplified

  • French

  • Spanish

University online courses

Some colleges and universities provide free access to their courses online for nonstudents. If you're interested in increasing your academic knowledge, consider taking a college course on one of these sites:

Related: 6 Certifications You Can Get Online To Help Advance Your Career

Open Culture provides access to over 1,500 college courses for no cost. Choose from subjects like literature and computer science or from specific schools like Harvard and Oxford. Popular courses include:

  • The American Novel Since 1945

  • The History of Western Social Theory

  • Artificial Intelligence

Academic Earth matches prospective students with online coursework, either to audit or to work towards a degree. It's free to audit classes, but if you want course credit, you'll need to pay for the class. Academic Earth's courses include:

  • Advanced Topics in Real Estate Finance

  • Comparative Health Policy

  • Early Education and Care in Inclusive Settings

Future Learn offers free classes in several subjects taught by college professors and industry experts. Top course offerings include:

  • Become a Better Presenter: Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

  • Curriculum Design for Secondary School Science

  • From Waste to Value: How to Tackle Food Waste

Coursera affords students access to free courses and paid degree courses from several renowned international colleges and universities. A few of the classes offered include:

  • Understanding Research Methods

  • Organic Solar Cells: Theory and Practice

  • American Contract Law I

Like many of the other college course websites, edX offers students both free and paid options from top universities. Popular classes include:

  • The Foundations of Happiness at Work

  • Fat Chance: Probability From the Ground Up

  • English Grammar and Style

Stanford Online is the digital extension of Stanford University. You can audit courses for free or take them for credit after paying tuition. The available courses are taught in real-time, so the options change each semester. Some of the courses frequently offered include:

  • Accounting for Managers and Entrepreneurs

  • Aircraft and Rocket Propulsion

  • Health Care Operations Management

Harvard University's online courses offer free and paid classes across a wide range of subjects, including art and design, business and computer science. Course offerings include:

  • Exercising Leadership: Foundational Principles

  • Shakespeare’s Life and Work

  • Using Python for Research

Open Yale Courses gives you free access to a wide range of Yale's classes. There's no certificate or course credit option available through Open Yale Courses—it's an exclusively free offering for those who want to expand their academic knowledge. Popular courses include:

  • Introduction to Political Philosophy- Financial Theory

  • Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600

MIT OpenCourseWare gives anyone free access to a host of MIT's most popular classes. All the classes are free, and there's no registration required to view and watch the lesson materials. Featured courses include:

  • Ethics for Engineers: Artificial Intelligence

  • Fundamentals of Biology- Mathematics for Computer Science

The Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative offers students free access to courses and paid options for credits. You can choose from a range of classes covering a host of topics. A few popular courses include:

  • Statistical Reasoning

  • Biochemistry

  • American English Speech