How Much Are Online Courses? Examining 16 Course Providers!

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?

  • The most common price range for online courses is $50 to $100 USD.
  • Most learning platforms offer one or more free courses.
  • Not counting sales & discounts, the price range of paid courses was $9.99 to $5,652.99.
  • Of the online courses we researched the majority cost $100 USD or less.
  • Between all 16 providers the median price of an online course was $100 USD.
  • Between all 16 providers the arithmetic mean average price of an online course was $165.39 USD, mainly due to some very expensive courses on the high-end.
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:
Subscription Services Win
LinkedIn Learning and Skillshare did good in both the lowest and highest price categories due to their subscription services which gives you access to all courses for one price.
50% of Providers Have Courses Over $1,000
Exactly half of the MOOCs we examined offered courses that cost $1000 or more.
Higher Starting Prices = Higher Maximum Prices
The MOOCs that had the highest starting prices also have the highest pricing overall
Gravitation Towards Extremes
In both charts you can see that most services want to offer something for free, but also want to have options over $500

What is the Average Cost to Take an Online Course?

The most common price range for online courses is $50 to $100 USD. The majority of online courses cost less than $100 USD.
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
Affordability Is the Rule
More than half of the online courses we researched were priced at $100 USD or under.
Even Premium Platforms Stay Affordable
Even on the most expensive platforms, no one is pricing the majority of their courses over $500 USD.
Lots of Price Brackets
Enough space in pricing so that each have platform fits into a budget, standard or high-end pricing strategy.
Coursera is Surprisingly Affordable
Coursera has some of the most expensive courses, but their most common course price is just $49.

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers About Online Course Prices

Q: How much are online courses?

A: The majority of online courses cost less than $100 USD. Online courses range in price from free to several thousand dollars per course and every price in-between.

Q: How much are online courses from MOOCs?

A: Here are the 16 MOOCs that I researched for this article. I’ve arranged this data table from least expensive to most expensive sorted by the most common course price. Please note: prices are full retail prices, no sales or discounts were considered. Monthly subscription prices were used for MOOCs that do not allow individual course purchases.
ServiceMost Common Price ↓Lowest PriceHighest Price
Pluralsight$29.00FREE$449.00
Whizlabs$29.95FREE$129.95
LinkedIn Learning$34.99$9.99$49.99
Coursera$49.00FREE$2500.00
Master of Project Academy$52.00FREE$1997.00
FutureLearn$54.00FREE$1029.00
Udemy$94.99FREE$199.99
Skillshare$99.00FREE$99.00
GreyCampus$100.00$50.00$2500.00
ed2go$149.00$79.00$4995.00
Codecademy$239.88FREE$239.88
E-Courses4You$240.99FREE$5652.99
JohnAcademy$259.50$15.65$585.50
Edureka$349.00$199.00$1399.00
Oxbridge$375.00$345.00$1995.00
Springboard$490.00FREE$490.00
Some of the stand out information from this table includes:
  • LinkedIn Learning’s subscription model makes them one of the cheapest options all around.
  • Whizlabs is the ultimate budget MOOC, especially because they’re constantly running deep discount sales.
  • Pluralsight’s monthly subscription fee make it the most affordable of all the MOOCs reviewed today.
  • Oxbridge is the most premium of services I reviewed today, living up to it’s high pedigree.
  • Skillshare is the most balanced of the services price-wise, and offers one of the best bangs-for-your-buck out of those reviewed.

Q: Are online courses more expensive? Why do online classes cost more?

A: In some cases they can be more expensive, in many cases they are identically priced, and in other situations they are provided at a discount compared to in-person classes. Regardless, this question has to be asked on a school-by-school or company-by-company basis, so it is hard to definitively answer this question with one answer that fits everyone. Here are 3 reasons why some online courses are priced more expensively than their regular counterparts:
  • To recoup the costs of creating the online version of the course
  • To pay for additional staff, equipment and support for the online course
  • To encourage students to enroll for in-person classes
It makes sense for some organizations to provide their online courses for the same price as their regular versions when they do not have any significant cost associated with the online version. A lot of organizations create online and in-person courses at the same time, as part of the same budget, so it is already factored into the price of the course. For the organizations that charge less for their online versions and more of the in-person variant, generally you can assume that their online courses cost them significantly less money to host, and so they pass some of those savings on to you.

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!

Published on June 5, 2020 - Authored by

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