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Leadership Professional Development

Online Continuing Education Courses: 20+ Free and Paid Websites

By Meaghan Maybee on February 28, 2024

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Meaghan Maybee
Meaghan Maybee

As pc/nametag's in-house Word Wizard, Meaghan creates educational content that brings people together and drives meaningful conversations in the events industry.

Whether you’re interested in supplementing your existing education or looking to learn a new skill for your career, it’s never too late to become a life-long learner!

Check out this list of awesome websites, filled with free and paid online courses for continuing education. By enrolling, you will gain valuable knowledge, earn certificates, explore new interests, and in some cases, complete your degree. No matter the subjects you’re interested in, you’re bound to find a great website that will fit your needs here.


What's Inside:

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What are continuing education courses?

Continuing education courses are learning opportunities designed for individuals who want to enhance their skills, knowledge, and expertise in a specific field. Continued education courses are often pursued by professionals, practitioners, or learners who want to stay current with industry trends, maintain professional certifications, or explore new areas of interest.

Continuing education courses can take various forms, including workshops, seminars, online classes, conferences, and certificate programs. They cover a wide range of subjects and are typically tailored to address the evolving needs of professionals in specific industries.

Many organizations, educational institutions, and online platforms offer continuing education opportunities, making it accessible for individuals to pursue lifelong learning and career advancement. Read on to find a list of free and paid continuing education websites to help you stay competitive!

  • tag/tip: Add continuing education to your resume. Dedicate a section specifically for your education and professional development. Label it "Continuing Education." List the courses or programs you've completed, including the course names, institutions/websites, and completion dates. Lastly, note any certifications or designations you've achieved.

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What are continuing education credits?

Continuing education credits (CE credits) are units of measurement that quantify participation in professional development activities beyond your formal education. These credits are earned by engaging in accredited programs, courses, or activities designed to enhance your knowledge, skills, and expertise.

Continuing education credits serve as a tangible record of ongoing learning and are often required for maintaining professional certifications, licenses, or memberships. Accumulating continuing education credits demonstrates your commitment to staying current in your field and meeting regulatory or organizational requirements.

  • tag/tip: Make sure to track and document your earned CE credits! You may be required to provide proof of participation during audits or when renewing certifications.a team of young event professionals

Best Websites for Continuing Education Online Courses

1. Udemy

On Udemy, you can learn about virtually anything. With over 213,000 courses to choose from, there’s something for everyone on this fun and engaging virtual learning website. From professional development courses to hobby-related content, there’s a high likelihood that Udemy will have a course to help you achieve your goals. Become one of Udemy's 62 million users today!

  • Free continuing education courses? Yes
  • Number of Courses: 213,000+
  • Certifications Available? Yes


2. Coursera

Coursera is a great website for individuals looking to learn the latest skills, get ready for their careers, earn certificates and degrees, and upskill for their organization. One thing that sets Coursera apart from other websites is the opportunity to learn from real universities, institutions, and companies. Choose from thousands of college-level courses — many of which you can enjoy for free from the comfort of your home.

  • Free continuing education courses? Yes
  • Number of Courses: 7000+
  • Certifications Available? Yes

3. edX

Did you know that you can take classes provided by Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley, Microsoft, the Smithsonian, and others? Now you can with edX, an online course provider that hosts university-level content in a wide range of disciplines. This even includes some courses at no charge. Choose edX if you’re looking to gain useful knowledge from leading industry experts – all on your schedule.

  • Free continuing education courses? Yes
  • Number of Courses: 3500+
  • Certifications Available? Yes


4. Stanford Online

The Stanford Center for Professional Development offers awesome online courses, degrees, grad and professional certificates, e-learning, and open courses, all for free! The best part is that courses are highly flexible and affordable so you can learn new skills and study emerging topics more easily than ever. From free online courses to advanced degrees, Stanford can help you meet your goals for professional advancement.

  • Free continuing education courses? Yes
  • Free content library? Yes - Stanford Online's Free Content Library
  • Certifications Available? Yes, many courses offer a free certificate of completion

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5. LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning offers a variety of engaging video courses taught by real industry experts in three categories: Business, Creative, and Technology. A perk of this website is gaining access to personalized recommendations based on your business profile. This way, you can discover, complete, and track courses related to your field and interests quickly and easily!

  • Free continuing education courses? Yes
  • Number of Courses: 21,000+
  • Certifications Available? Yes


6. Skye Learning

If you’re looking to evolve your skillset with certifications that will make you more competitive, employable, and confident at work, try Skye Learning. This website has been operational for over 20 years and produces online courses and professional credentialing you’ll find useful. This is an ideal option if you’re looking for learner-tested, online training that focuses on a great user experience and concise learning opportunities.


7. “Learn” from Fiverr

If you’re a photographer, graphic designer, web designer, digital marketer, or copywriter, this website is for you. “Learn” from Fiverr is perfect for creatives and freelancers who want to learn from some of the world’s top experts. You’ll find on-demand courses that will teach you in-demand skills to start using today. Plus, the courses are highly affordable for anyone needing a budget-friendly learning option.

  • Free continuing education courses? No, but course fees are low
  • Categories: Marketing, Graphic Design, Websites, Writing, Business, Video, Photography, etc.
  • Certifications Available? No; Learners earn “badges” upon course completion


8. FutureLearn

  • Target Audience: All professions
  • Free Option: Access to free versions of classes ends after five weeks

FutureLearn features thousands of short, online courses from top universities and specialist organizations. Some options even offer digital certificates of completion. Browse classes for business management, creative arts, healthcare, computer science, teaching, language, psychology, and more.

team collaborates on a client project


9. HubSpot Academy

  • Target Audience: Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service Professionals
  • Free Option: Access to free versions of classes ends after five weeks

HubSpot Academy is a well-recognized leader in free online training for inbound marketing, sales, and customer service professionals. Here, you will find comprehensive certifications, topic-focused courses, and bite-sized lessons for professionals looking to grow their careers and businesses.


10. YouTube

  • Target Audience: All professions
  • Free Option: YouTube Videos are free to access

Great for the casual learner and hobbyist, YouTube offers countless videos filled with tips, tricks, lessons, and strategies on virtually any subject. Improve your knowledge and make learning fun by utilizing free access to user-generated content.


11. Skillshare

  • Target Audience: Creatives, Artists, and Designers
  • Free Option: Sign up for a free month of Skillshare

Skillshare is an online learning website that focuses on creative skills. Browse 25,000+ courses on design, photography, entrepreneurship, and more. Take advantage of peer-to-peer learning through project-based classes, taught by 8,000+ teachers.


12. Alison

Alison offers over 4,000 free online courses across nine categories. The best part? You can earn certificates and diplomas from Alison, with certificate courses taking 2-3 hours, and diploma courses taking only 8-10 hours. Explore classes in IT, business, sales, marketing, management, and more.

a group of employees discuss a professional development book


13. Oxford Home Study

  • Target Audience: All professions
  • Free Option: Access nearly 200 courses for free

Oxford Home Study is an online education institution that provides nearly 200 free and 576 paid online courses. These courses cover a wide range of subjects, including business, marketing, health care, finance, and more. Oxford Home Study College aims to make education accessible to learners worldwide, allowing individuals to study at their own pace.


14. Microsoft Learn

  • Target Audience: Microsoft Users
  • Free Option: Explore free, hands-on training for all career levels

Microsoft Learn is a library of technical documentation and training for users of Microsoft, including end users, developers, and IT professionals. Dive deeper into learning with interactive lessons, complete professional development hours, earn certifications, and find programs to meet your goals.


15. Meta Blueprint

  • Target Audience: Facebook and Instagram Users, Marketers, Social Media Managers
  • Free Option: Enjoy free, self-paced courses

Facebook Blueprint is a global training and certification program focused on Facebook and Instagram marketing. Learn best practices for advertising on Facebook and Instagram, and take advantage of free, self-paced online courses and learning paths.


16. Saylor Academy

  • Target Audience: All professions
  • Free Option: Free and open online courses

If you're a dedicated learner, then Saylor Academy is for you! Learn new skills or earn credit towards a degree at your own pace, with no deadlines. This website removes barriers to education and helps you build essential skills to advance your career goals. 

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17. CreativeLive

  • Target Audience: Entrepreneurs, Creative Skill Seekers
  • Free Option: View pre-selected lessons for free viewing (per course)

CreativeLive is an online learning platform that offers a wide selection of creative classes. Dive into topics on photography, marketing, art, design, entrepreneurship, and lots more. Its 2,000+ curated classes are taught by 700+ instructors. 


18. Google Digital Garage

  • Target Audience: Google Users, Digital Buffs
  • Free Option: Free training, courses, and certifications

Google Digital Garage is a non-profit program that helps people improve their digital skills. It offers free training, courses and certifications via an online learning platform. Explore topics in artificial intelligence, cloud computing, coding, data analytics, digital marketing, diversity, productivity, and more.


19. MasterClass

  • Target Audience: All professionals
  • Free Option: N/A - Membership required

Great for the adventurous learner, Masterclass is the premier streaming platform where anyone can learn from the world's best experts. Get unlimited access to all 200+ instructors across 11 categories with an annual membership. You can stream your courses from anywhere, including on mobile, tablet, desktop, Apple TV®, Amazon Fire TV®, and Roku® players and devices. 


20. PluralSight Skills

  • Target Audience: Technology enthusiasts
  • Free Option: Get a 10-day free trial

PluralSight Skills offers courses, assessments, labs, and learning paths for people interested in software development and information technology (IT). Browse thousands of courses authored by technology-focused experts, including those on security best practices, machine learning, cloud architecture and design, IT automation, and office applications.

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21. Treehouse

  • Target Audience: Web Development enthusiasts
  • Free Option: Take advantage of a 7-day free trial.

Treehouse offers courses on web development and coding skills. Complete with interactive learning opportunities, coding challenges, and engaging projects, Treehouse is a great option for people interested in learning more about AI, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Computer Science, and Digital Literacy.


22. University of the People

  • Target Audience: All Professions
  • Free Option: Tuition-free course options

University of the People is a non-profit, tuition-free online university. This website is recognized as an accredited online university. Plus, it's 100% online so you can study to fit your schedule. Take classes in collaboration with NYU, McGill, Harvard Business School Online, and others. 


23. MPI Academy

  • Target Audience: Event professionals, Meeting Coordinators
  • Free Option: N/A - Course fees typically apply

Great for Meeting Professionals International (MPI) members, MPI Academy is an interactive, hands-on certificate program designed to equip meeting professionals with the knowledge and practical skills needed for creating successful event experiences. Earn certificates and designations here.


24. PCMA Educational Content

  • Target Audience: Meeting planners, Event Managers
  • Free Option: Earn CMP clock hours with certain free content!

Access a PCMA Digital Event Strategist Certification course, The Advanced Event Design and Strategy course, CMP Exam Preparation content, and more with PCMA's library of educational content for the meetings and events industry. Event planning courses have never been more fun!

conference attendees wear two sided fanfold event badges

Why is continuing education important?

You may be wondering why continuing education is important or necessary. In a nutshell, lifelong learning can lead to a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life, especially for employees and businesses that want to remain competitive in their fields.

By exploring the websites listed in this article, you’ll be on your way to improving the skills you already have (or taking on brand-new interests and hobbies)!

Benefits of continuing education include the following:

  1. Stay Current with Industry Trends: Industries evolve, and continuing education allows professionals to stay ahead of the latest trends, technologies, and methodologies in their field.

  2. Maintain Professional Competence: Regular learning helps professionals maintain and enhance their skills, ensuring they remain competent and effective in their roles.

  3. Meet Certification and Licensing Requirements: Many professions require ongoing education to renew certifications or licenses. Continuing education ensures compliance with regulatory standards.

  4. Adapt to Change: Continuing education helps individuals adapt to changes in their industry, whether due to technological advancements, new regulations, or shifts in best practices.

  5. Enhance Career Opportunities: Remain competitive in your job market with improved career prospects and increased opportunities for advancement.

  6. Expand Knowledge and Expertise: Explore new areas of interest, broaden your knowledge base, and acquire expertise in specialized domains.

  7. Networking and Collaboration: Access opportunities for networking and collaboration! Continuing education enables you to connect with peers, mentors, and potential collaborators.

  8. Boost Confidence and Job Satisfaction: Staying updated and acquiring new skills can boost confidence in your abilities, leading to increased job satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.

  9. Address Skill Gaps: Professionals can use continuing education to identify and address skill gaps, ensuring they have the competencies needed for the evolving demands of their profession.

  10. Promote Lifelong Learning: Help yourself maintain a mindset that values curiosity, adaptability, and the pursuit of knowledge throughout your career.

What websites, books, videos, podcasts, or newsletters do you use to keep learning throughout the year? Let me know by leaving a comment below. If it’s useful to you, it’ll be useful to someone else. 📖

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