7 of the Best Online Courses to Build Your Skills

Many of us made a New Year’s resolution to learn a new language, try our hands at coding, understand the intricacies of photography, grow into leadership positions and otherwise build our skills and talent. Now’s a great time to choose what educational program will work for you. And there are an array of great options from which to choose ––including free offerings.

One word of caution: Before you commit, make sure that you know what teaching style works best for you. Some virtual offerings mimic regular “classes” interspersed with teacher-student interactions, and others are lecture series with no feedback from the educator or student peers. Of course, all virtual skill learning isn’t the same quality. Make sure you read the reviews of programs and classes before you sign up.

7 of the Best Skill-Learning Options

When you begin to search for a way to learn new skills, you want to weigh the pros and cons of each available program. We’ve reviewed some of the most popular programs available to give you a jumpstart. Pricing can be complicated, though, so be sure you understand if you are enrolling in a micro-course, one-off course-course, a multi-course program or a monthly membership. Also, note many of these programs have free courses or free trials. Read below for our top 7 choices. As always, the prices listed may fluctuate over time.


Former President Bill Clinton, Photographer Annie Leibovitz and Satirist David Sedaris are just a few household-name instructors who teach virtually through Masterclass. The education group offers over 100 pre-recorded classes, including lecture series, audio-only, and a new format that allows students to work on projects and activities in a 30-day structured curriculum. In the new program, teaching assistants and other students offer feedback.

The majority of classes have about 20 video lessons that are approximately 10 minutes long. You’ll also receive an in-depth workbook for various courses. Worried you won’t finish everything in 30 days? You can watch the classes at any time. Choose one of three class programs: Standard, Plus and Premium. The main difference is the number of devices you can watch from and off-line access.

One thing to note: Although the classes are geared toward skill learning, there is a lot of inspirational and philosophical advice mixed in.

Buy at Masterclass from $15.


Do you want to learn creative skills such as drawing floral forms, crafting essays or painting with watercolor? Skillshare has become a go-to learning platform for creatives. Teachers include some celebrity instructors, including Writers Roxanne Gay and Mary Karr and Multi-Disciplinary Artist Laci Jordan (Walt Disney Imagineering, ABC, Creative Artists Agency). This is what sets Skillshare apart: the instructors.

When someone meets its editorial standards, they can upload information and teach courses. Most classes are under 60 minutes, with short lessons to fit any schedule. Skillshare is a subscription service where members have unlimited access to thousands of courses on its platform. Prices vary in different markets.

Try at Skillshare for free.

3. Udemy


Udemy offers more than 175,000 self-paced personal and professional video courses in an array of languages. You’ll find self-paced, non-degree offerings on everything from management training to programming to photography and even yoga. Although the offerings are extensive, Udemy is best known for Excel, Web development and similar courses. In fact, Udemy offers an array of business training.

There are different ways to access courses. You can pay for individual classes or buy a membership. Udemy also offers business memberships and programs endorsed by Volkswagen, Aflac and other companies. Another offering is employee training. Both personal and business clients can take advantage of free offerings.

Buy at Udemy from $24.99

4. Coursera


You have access to more than 5,000 non-credit and for-credit courses taught by educators from Yale University, Duke University, University of London and other top schools when you register with Coursera. About 1,700 courses are free, and you can upgrade them to earn a certificate. Students can even work with their current university to take courses through the platform.

There are many educational opportunities, including courses, guided projects, specialized series of classes, professional certificates and online modules of master’s degree programs that you can use as credit toward a degree. You can even use bachelor’s or master’s degrees from this platform.

Buy at Coursera from $9.99.


If you’re ready to learn technical skills––think JavaScript and HTML––you want to consider Codecademy. Like some of its competitors, the platform offers an array of free courses, including introductory programming language.

Not sure what skills you need? Codecademy offers a sorting quiz so you can determine which of the skills and 15 languages offered are best for you. Codecademy has several memberships, including Pro, Business and Pro Student. When you are ready to boost your tech skills, don’t miss their free courses, too.

Try at Codecademy for free.


When you think about building knowledge and skills about creativity, we bet you don’t think of North Indian Classical Music or Style and Strategy in French Fashion. Those are just a few of the advanced courses offered by Kadenze.

The platform partners include the Paris College of Art, the California Institute of the Arts and others. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate level or advanced, you will find offerings in micro-courses, standard courses and curated programs that Kadenze notes will “transform your career.”

Buy at Kadenze from $20

Yale Online

If you’ve always wished to learn from educators at an Ivy League university, you have the opportunity through Yale Online. Yale will likely offer an online course if you want to discover Climate Adaptation for Human Health or American Contract Law. They don’t provide nuts and bolts skills courses, but studies on financial economics and other social science topics are ideal for business leaders and executives.

Try at Yale Online for free.

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