5 Open Online Course Providers for Advancing Your Career

What is your purpose in taking a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)? Some might take it for leisure and fun, while others are just for curiosity or sheer love of learning. There may be another important goal of engaging in an online course – your career advancement. Ever since the first MOOC in 2011, open online course providers have evolved greatly to cater to the needs of job seekers, or whoever wants to acquire new skills that may help them thrive in their career.

When MOOCs first emerged, renowned frontrunners like edX and Coursera tended to partner with elite universities and provided traditional university courses on various fields of study. Almost a decade later, there have been numerous MOOC platforms across the globe. While the workplace is advancing and the demand for gaining and applying new techniques is growing, there is a trend that industry professionals have become the key educators and offer courses on practical topics and skills. Across different platforms, you may find courses on trending and in-demand knowledge and skills like blockchain, cloud computing, UX design, video production, business analysis that are believed to be needed most globally, according to LinkedIn.

If you are seeking to explore a few skills that may help with your career, here are five MOOCs platforms that are career-oriented for you to get started. They not only provide courses on new skills, but also have specific components and courses for career development or offer career advice or updates on job openings in related fields.


If you are interested in learning more about the media industry and expanding your skills in digital marketing, copywriting, and journalism, this site offers paid courses and other career services on a membership basis. It will grow your knowledge and open your eye in the commercial social media world with its course like leveraging internet influencers to drive brand growth and planning a Facebook campaign. The site also has a built-in job board and a freelancer pool. Before enrolling in any courses that interest you, you can start off browsing their career-related blogs.

General Assembly

Although this site’s primary focus is on courses (in-person and online) that cover popular tech skills like Python, data analytics, and web development, what makes it stand out is the free events it hosts that touch on different industrial skills and career development topics. There are also workshops, panel discussions, or weekly meditations for enhancing your career wellbeing.


If you have taken any courses online, you might be no stranger to Udemy. It has a large curation of courses with a very wide range of topics, from IT and business to daily life skills like parenting and pet care. Everyone can be an instructor as long as they have a skill to share, and the prices of the courses vary from instructors. You can always rely on the rating and reviews of a course to make your own judgment about its quality and the topic’s popularity. It houses a huge collection of career development courses and has a category called office productivity that helps you learn various functions within popular software programs used in the workplace.


Udacity offers courses exclusively focusing on technologies including artificial intelligence, data science, cloud computing. It has a career preparation page with free courses on interview preparation for different careers such as machine learning and mobile development.

Future Learn

Unlike other MOOC platforms introduced here, Future Learn is UK-based though it partners with universities globally. It offers university-level courses focused heavily on humanity subjects like literature, history, law, and language, and it also features courses on health education. Its career advice page lists various career fields with potential salaries and top skills required for each post. It could be a great reference when you are choosing a course for a targeted skill.

Here is one piece of advice before you decide to join a course: ask how much time you can spare each day or week for the course and check the duration and suggested study hours of the course. If you don’t have the bandwidth at the moment to engage in a course that requires quite a bit of your investment of time and energy, perhaps hold off for now, but start – by making a wish list of courses which you will come back to during semester breaks or whenever you can commit to them.

Besides taking an online course and updating your skill sets, don’t forget to check out and make use of the career resources available in each platform:


Photo courtesy of kreatikar at Pixabay 

By Damiao Zoe Xu
Damiao Zoe Xu Graduate Assistant, Graduate Student and Postdoc Career Programs and Services Damiao Zoe Xu