There are free online courses and courses that costs tens of thousands of dollars and every price in-between. I have taken a deep-dive into 16 different online course providers to find out the average online course price, the price ranges you can expect and so much more.
In this article, I am going to answer the question: how much do online courses cost? I’m also going to answer every related question, including a comparative list of course providers sorted from free to most expensive.
How Much Does it Cost to Take an Online Course?
In the following table and pie-chart I outline the lowest priced course offered by each of the 16 reviewed platforms:
|Course Starting Prices||Learning Platforms/Companies|
|Free||Udemy, Coursera, FutureLearn, Skillshare, Pluralsight, Codecademy, Springboard, E-Courses4You, Master Project Academy and Whizlabs|
|$0.01 to $50.00 USD||John Academy, LinkedIn Learning and GreyCampus|
|Over $50||eg2go, Edureka and Oxbridge|
As you can see, most of the platforms offer at least a few free courses as a method to drive traffic, interest and backlinks.
On the other end, I’ve also collected the highest price for a single course (or the highest subscription fee for personal accounts) which I’ve sorted into the following table and chart:
|Most Expensive Course Price||Learning Platforms/Companies|
|$0.01 – $100 USD||LinkedIn Learning and Skillshare|
|$100.01 to $500 USD||Whizlabs, Udemy, Codecademy, Pluralsight and Springboard|
|$500.01 to $1,000 USD||John Academy|
|$1,000.01 to $2,000 USD||FutureLearn, Edureka, Oxbridge and Master of Project Academy|
|Over $2,000 USD||Coursera, GreyCampus, ed2go, E-Course4You|
Here are some of the interesting highlights about this data:
What is the Average Cost to Take an Online Course?
There are a lot of different ways to calculate averages, but I wanted to find the metric that was the most useful while not requiring days of research or data acquisition. What I ended up doing was keeping a spreadsheet for each MOOC and notating prices. The price that appeared most often is the price I am including here.
So yes, it’s not the average price if you were to add up all the costs of every course and divide it by the number of courses they offer, but I feel that metric would be next to useless. Instead, the average price I am quoting is literally the most common price for courses from that provider.
|Most Common Course Price||Learning Platforms/Companies|
|$0.01 – $50 USD||Pluralsight, Whizlabs, LinkedInLearning and Coursera|
|$50.01 to $100 USD||Master of Project Academy, FutureLearn, Udemy, Skillshare and GreyCampus|
|$100.01 to $250 USD||ed2go, Codecademy and E-Courses4You|
|$250.01 to $500 USD||John Academy, Edureka, Oxbridge and Springboard|
Frequently Asked Questions & Answers About Online Course Prices
Differences Between Free, Cheap, Normal and Expensive Online Courses
Unfortunately some paid courses are worse than some free courses. At the end of the day, the price of a course is only one potential gauge of the quality of the course.
So instead of thinking about courses and their quality being directly tied to their price, it’s better to consider the following:
- Most of the more expensive platforms work with colleges and universities to provide their courses and/or provide live-instructors and tutors to help you.
- The cheapest platforms source courses from anyone who can make them, often leading to an inconsistency in course quality across the platform.
- Platforms have a tendency to cut prices on a course the older the course gets, with the side effect being that the course is growing more and more out of date.
- Several platforms have an unrealistically inflated course retail price so that they can run discounts constantly to try and appear to be a better deal than they are.
- Many of the free courses will try and up-sell you a certificate, a set of courses or another offer to try and get some money out of you.
Should I Buy a Course Now or Wait For It To Go On Sale?
It can be tough to find a course on Udemy at full price because it’s likely to be 70% off or more on the next Udemy sale event.
This is actually a problem that Udemy has created for itself. People don’t want to buy a course at full price because they know if they can hold out until the next sale, then it will likely be a lot cheaper.
This is the same problem that Steam had in the PC video game market space in the late 2000s. People would wait for their discount sales to purchase games at a huge discount, which hurt the sales of the games the rest of the year. Eventually, Steam fixed this by not offering as deep of discounts as they used to during their discounts.
Udemy shows no signs yet that they are going to stabilize their pricing. That means, for the time being:
- If a Udemy sale just happened and you missed it, then you’re going to be waiting awhile for the next sale.
- If you need to learn a new skill quickly, then who cares about spending a bit extra.
- If there is no urgency, then waiting for the next discount sale makes the most sense.
Udemy is not the only MOOC that routinely runs sales. These same principles also apply to John Academy, Whizlabs, E-Courses4You and more.
Why Some Free Course Are Better Than Some Paid Courses
The quality of a course cannot be adequately judged by the cost of the course alone.
You can spend no money and end up with new knowledge and a valuable certificate and conversely you can spend thousands of dollars and end up with basically nothing to show for it.
This is the reality of online courses. They range from free to prohibitively expensive and in terms of their ability to benefit you, they range from “life-changing good” to “bank-account draining scam” and everything in between.
Pretty scary sounding, but luckily it’s easy to avoid scam courses. If a course promises one or more of the following, then avoid it like the plague:
- Promises to make you rich
- Promises to be easy and require no work
- Promises to share secrets
- Promises it’s not a scam
- Or makes any claim that on the surface seems too good to be true
If you’re still having trouble, watch “The Contrepreneur Formula Exposed” by Mike Winnet so that you can spot scam courses a mile away:
What constitutes a good course will be different for everyone, but to come up with a general list:
- A good course provides a way for you to ask questions to a human if you get stuck, like a tutor or instructor.
- A good course will generally have real reviews out in the wild that you can read before enrolling.
- While anyone could host a good course, you’re going to have better luck if you stick to reputable learning platforms.
- Good courses will explain one subject at a time and use the earlier subject matter to build into later topics.
- A good course that is no longer up to date is no longer a good course. That means a good course is always up to date.
- Good course providers will either allow a free trial, a free audit or a money back guarantee.
- Good courses will provide you with a certificate of completion for your records.
- The best of the best courses will provide college credits or an accredited certificate.
Concluding Thoughts On “How Much Are Online Courses?”
After completing my data collection and analysis of these 16 MOOCs, I am impressed by the price coverage that these platforms provide. If you have no money to spend, or thousands of dollars ready to blow on learning new things, there are hundreds of relevant courses in every price range.
While there is always going to be a debate about whether or not it is worth it to pursue a continuing education, the fact of the matter is that you no longer have to go deeply into debt to take college courses. In fact, I’ve personally earned several college accredited certificates for free in my learning path, and you can too.
I hope this article on online course pricing has scratched your particular itch. If I somehow fail to answer your question, or if you’d like to see me add a particular learning platform into the mix, let me know your question or concerns in the comments below! Thanks again, and happy learning!