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Best Online Leadership Classes

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Online leadership classes give current and potential managers the interpersonal and management skills they need to effectively manage and lead their employees, teams, or companies. They can jumpstart and enhance your career by providing a blend of leadership theories and best practices combined with specific leadership skills: delegation, communication, planning, team motivation, and more.

We reviewed and evaluated hundreds of leadership course providers and leadership classes that cover a range of needs and budgets for leaders in dozens of industries. Read on for our list of the best online leadership classes.

Best Online Leadership Classes of 2023

Best Overall : Center for Creative Leadership

Center for Creative Leadership

 Center for Creative Leadership

Pros & Cons
  • Best-in-class leadership development training

  • Classroom-based virtual setting with live instructors

  • Low student-to-instructor ratio

  • Pricey: Classes cost $1,500 to $5,000 or more

  • The fixed class schedule doesn’t offer self-paced options

  • U.S.-based time frames may be difficult for global attendees

Why We Chose It

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) offers top-tier leadership development courses in all formats—live, onsite, blended learning—and across all leadership dimensions, from basic supervisory and management skills to team leadership.

We chose CCL as best overall because it's dedicated to research-based leadership development, and its Leadership Development Program is the “longest-running program of its kind in the world.”

CCL offers a five-day, 20-hour version of the course session titled The Effective Leader, targeted to mid- and senior-level managers who want to develop leadership mastery. This CCL course has an average of one instructor for every 12 participants.

CCL courses are hands-on, with lectures, discussions, feedback, polls, and lots of classroom interaction between instructors and learners. The Effective Leader virtual course costs $4,500, which may be too expensive for those paying for their own training or smaller businesses. Mid- and senior-level managers wishing to attend the class may want to ask their employer if they can expense all or part of the training costs.

CCL also offers numerous online leadership classes such as Frontline Leader Impact, Lead 4 Success, Leading Strategically Experience, and Maximizing Your Leadership Potential. These virtual leadership courses range in price from $1,500 to $7,000, which is cheaper than completing an MBA program.

Additionally, CCL can bring its leadership training to an organization for firms that want to host a class virtually (or onsite) for a group of existing managers. The prices vary depending on the content, number of attendees, length, and format of the course.

Best for New Managers : Coursera Strategic Leadership and Management Specialization

Business and Financial Modeling Specialization from Coursera

Business and Financial Modeling Specialization from Coursera

Pros & Cons
  • Tailored to new supervisors

  • No prerequisites required

  • University-based; can be part of a master’s degree program

  • Flexible scheduling and time frame

  • To get university credit, you must apply and enroll in the university

  • Must join Coursera and pay a membership fee ($49–$79/month or $399 annually)

Why We Chose It

Coursera offers affordable, university-based leadership courses that don’t require prerequisites, perfect for new managers who need in-depth training. Its top-rated leadership class, Strategic Leadership and Management Specialization, is designed for those new to supervision and management.

The Strategic Leadership and Management Specialization includes a series of seven online leadership classes taught by university professors, and is hosted entirely online. Membership to Coursera, required to attend the course, costs between $49 and $79 per month for enrolling in a single course. At $49, the entire series of seven classes would cost the student less than $400.

At the end of the online leadership class, the participant receives a leadership certificate from the university after completing a hands-on project. As a student, you can choose to sign up for one or all of the seven classes, and those who simply wish to view the materials can audit the course for free. It’s a low-cost way to attend college.

For businesses looking to develop supervisors, managers, and leaders, annual memberships at $399 can eliminate the need for an internal corporate training department. Otherwise, the individual course prices are affordable enough for aspiring supervisors and job candidates to pay for as part of their own leadership self-development.

This course is conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has 4.8 stars out of 5 from nearly 6,000 ratings.

Best for Current Managers : LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning
LinkedIn LearningOwner
Pros & Cons
  • Affordable video-based, self-paced online classes

  • Leadership certification included

  • LinkedIn Learning offers a 30-day money-back guarantee

  • Video-based courses offer no live peer or instructor interaction

  • Lacks real-time dialog and feedback

  • Completion rates for online video courses are low, overall

Why We Chose It

LinkedIn members have access to hundreds of classes through the company's LinkedIn Learning platform, including leadership classes that are self-paced and affordable.

The benefit of online leadership classes with LinkedIn Learning is that the learner has mobile access to the course, which is great for busy managers. Upon completion, attendees receive a certificate and leadership badge to display on their LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn members can purchase access to the entire LinkedIn Learning Premium catalog for $39.99 per month.

In addition, each participant has full access to transcripts, exercise files, quizzes, and frequently asked questions. These tools can be used on the job as existing managers practice their new leadership skills with their teams. Best of all, if attendees don’t like the course or find they’re not using it, they can cancel LinkedIn Learning within 7 days and get their money back.

The affordability of this LinkedIn Learning online leadership class makes it great for aspiring leaders who want to validate and build their leadership skills. Smaller employers without a training department may consider purchasing their managers a LinkedIn Learning Premium subscription for $379.99 per employee per year, and assigning this course to all existing managers as a means of expanding their team’s leadership skills.

Best Self-Paced Class : TrainUp



Pros & Cons
  • Affordable pricing

  • Self-paced video training courses

  • Quality e-learning content built by instructional designers and industry experts

  • Self-paced instruction lacks personal interaction

  • Each course is priced separately

  • Courses lack an attendee rating system to see how others like the course

Why We Chose It

We picked TrainUp as the best self-paced class because it offers e-learning courses online, including video-based online leadership classes like Leadership Essentials for New Managers. This online leadership class includes nine video modules for $319.

TrainUp is the online leader in self-paced, video-based online training, offering over 300,000 e-learning titles with over 500 online leadership classes. They’ve sold training content to 90% of Fortune 500 firms and the programs it offers are robust, well-designed, and affordable, ranging in price from about $75 to $499 per course for leadership topics.

In the leadership training arena, TrainUp provides more timely topics than some other online leadership class providers, such as leading innovation and gender and leadership. Course timeframes vary. Some of the TrainUp online leadership classes are as short as 19 minutes, whereas others provide several hours of leadership instruction. 

TrainUp also offers affordable e-learning bundles, such as the Leadership Development Program, powered by MIT, which includes 198 videos and costs only $229. Individuals can sign up, browse courses, pay discounted rates, and track their progress online. Businesses can purchase an account that offers a custom learning portal for their staff, making TrainUp their one-stop-shop for leadership training as well as other topics like business skills, finance training, HR, and IT.

Best Live Online Class : American Management Association

American Management Association (AMA)

 American Management Association (AMA)

Pros & Cons
  • Well-established management and leadership training organization

  • Wide variety of live online leadership class options with CEU credits

  • The in-person virtual setting provides interaction, context, and feedback

  • Membership costs $239 per year for an individual (in addition to the class cost)

  • Classes are expensive; each priced separately

  • Live classes require you to attend in real time, rather than in a self-paced format

Why We Chose It

The American Management Association (AMA) offers 71 different leadership courses, with topics covering leadership preparation, team development, leader influence, and inspiring extraordinary performance.

If you prefer live instruction to self-paced, Preparing for Leadership might be a good choice. It’s conducted in either two live-online lessons or two in-person class days. During class sessions you’ll discuss scenarios, role-play various leadership situations, and complete leadership assessments. It costs between $2,395 and $2,695 depending on whether you or your organization is a member of the American Management Association.

AMA also offers women’s leadership certification courses, courses in executive leadership skills, and specific leadership topics like critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and leadership communications.

Individual membership with AMA costs $239 per year, with access to all available courses in the training library. Membership provides discounts on all courses (including the online leadership classes) making it a worthwhile investment.Members receive access to leadership research and best practices, leadership skill assessments, and AMA publications that cover management topics.

Joining the American Management Association with a corporate membership costs $2,495 annually for up to 10 employees. It’s a solid option for organizations that want managers to participate in interactive learning facilitated by management industry experts.

Best Low-Cost Class : Nonprofit Ready

NonProfit Ready

NonProfit Ready

Pros & Cons
  • Free

  • Includes high-quality learning resources from Cornerstone OnDemand

  • Self-paced, flexible

  • Three-hour course provides an overview of leadership; not in-depth

  • You must create an account with to attend its free online classes

  • No peer or instructor interaction

Why We Chose It

The Leadership Training for Nonprofit Professionals, available through Nonprofit Ready, is a high-quality leadership class that is free to anyone who does nonprofit or volunteer work.

This class provides a great start for people entering the leadership field, or those who want to step up into a people-management role in the nonprofit sector. It provides over 40 online leadership resources as well as self-paced instruction, on topics like:

  • Hiring and managing a team
  • Transitioning from an individual contributor to a manager
  • Developing a leadership plan

As a division of the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation, Nonprofit Ready offers over 500 free learning resources for the nonprofit sector. Cornerstone is a high-quality human capital organization that offers professional learning resources and leadership training content in addition to HR tools and resources across multiple for-profit industries and government.

Best for Leadership Certificate : Udemy

Financial Modeling for Startups & Small Businesses by Udemy

Financial Modeling for Startups & Small Businesses by Udemy

Pros & Cons
  • Affordable courses taught by industry experts

  • Most courses provide a certificate of completion

  • Course attendee ratings help you choose the best classes

  • Course quality, content, and format varies by instructor

  • Many courses aren’t eligible for CEUs or any official certification

  • End-of-course certificates demonstrate completion, not competency

Why We Chose It

Udemy offers hundreds of affordable leadership courses taught by experienced leadership experts.

Courses on Udemy are available to anyone, worldwide. There are no prerequisites, and details are provided in each class description before payment. 

For example, the $17.99 Practical Leadership course has been purchased by nearly 160,000 students. It covers leadership theories, delegation, and team management. This online leadership class includes 7 downloadable resources and 2.5 hours of on-demand video that learners can access via TV or mobile phone. Once paid for, learners have lifetime access to the course and receive a certificate of completion once finished.

Udemy courses are best for those who wish to learn about leadership or want to provide proof to a manager that they’ve completed a class. Courses can vary from an hour to 20 hours or more, depending on how the instructor has set up the class.

Udemy courses are useful for business leaders who want to send their management staff to “training,” as the classes are affordable. Udemy offers a business subscription that costs $360 per year for up to 20 employees to access over 8,300 courses. Larger enterprises can contact Udemy for customized pricing.

With Udemy, it’s best to select a course based on participant feedback. Any course with a four out of five-star rating is likely to be solid. Even firms with a formalized leadership development program may want to source Udemy classes for specific leadership content such as delegation or communication skills.

Final Verdict

The best leadership course for you depends on what you’re seeking. Some learners need to fulfill a promise to their boss to “attend a leadership class.” Others may want continuing education to support career growth in their field. You may prefer a self-paced workshop you can do in your spare time, while another student may be seeking leadership certification from a university-level program.

If you want to take a leadership class, a good place to start is our best overall choice, the Center for Creative Leadership. Although slightly more expensive and lengthier than other choices, it provides a comprehensive curriculum with live instruction. If you need less expensive or shorter options, consider any of the other sites on our list.

Compare Providers

Company/Course Name Why We Picked It Cost Time to Complete
Center for Creative Leadership Best Overall $1,500-$7,000 per course 20+ hours
Coursera Best for New Managers $49 - $79 per month Up to 8 months
LinkedIn Learning Best for Current Managers $39.99 per month 1-3 hours/course
TrainUp Best Self-Paced Class $75-$499 per course Varies
American Management Association Best Live Online Class $2,395-$2,695 9 hours
Nonprofit Ready Best Low-Cost Class Free 3 hours
Udemy Best for Leadership Certificate $17.99-$199 Varies

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Online Leadership Classes?

Online leadership classes provide you with best practices in leading people, focusing on the work environment. However, these classes can benefit you in leading nonprofit activities and even team sports. They are generally hosted using a blended learning approach with a mix of reading, videos, and hands-on practice. 

Some of the best online leadership classes provide live instructor-led webinars with leadership scenarios and role-plays. Most offer leadership self-assessments and many provide you with a certificate of completion or a leadership certification after completing a course project or exam.

How Much Do Online Leadership Classes Cost?

Online leadership classes cost between $15 and $7,000, with the difference in costs due primarily to the reputation and accreditation of the provider as well as the length of the course. 

For example, a leadership course hosted by the Center for Creative Leadership may cost thousands more than one provided by Udemy. But in the end, the only real difference (if the learning content is the same) may be in the authority provided in the certification.

Who Can Benefit From an Online Leadership Class?

Many people can benefit from online leadership training, including:

  • Individual contributors hoping to be promoted into a supervisory role
  • Existing managers who wish to attain mastery by honing their leadership skills
  • Struggling leaders who need to self-assess and eliminate any leadership skill gaps

One of the benefits of an online leadership class is that you may meet and interact with others at all levels of their leadership journey. You can learn from mistakes made by other leaders and get feedback on the strengths and weaknesses in your leadership style.

How Long Do Online Leadership Classes Take to Complete?

A good online leadership class may take months to complete. It’s difficult to learn effective leadership techniques in a one-hour workshop, although a short workshop may be appropriate as an overview or to refresh your understanding of what good leadership looks like. 

Leadership training classes cover many subtopics. Therefore, any leadership class that takes fewer than a few hours to complete is probably skimming the surface. 

Do I Need an Online Leadership Class to Get Promoted?

If you are looking to get promoted or assigned greater responsibilities at work, a leadership class will certainly give you an edge. For example, if you want to be promoted, it can’t hurt to show your boss that you’ve invested time in a leadership training course or achieved a leadership certificate. 

However, it’s rarely required as a condition of employment or promotion. Instead, what employers want to see is how you’ve led others, not that you’ve merely been theoretically trained to do so. You can develop leadership skills in non-traditional ways, including parenting, coaching a sports team, or owning your own business. 


We evaluated hundreds of online leadership classes to find those that offer real-life leadership training in a format you can complete while on the job. We prioritized affordable courses, led by top-notch trainers or built with solid learning principles that provide you with CEUs, certifications, or badges you can take to your employer as proof of your leadership training accomplishment.

All of the choices on our list are trustworthy institutions that provide training at a reasonable cost to all kinds of leaders, from first-time supervisors to experienced executives.

Businesswoman with colleagues in board room

Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

Article Sources
  1. Center for Creative Leadership. "The Effective Leadership Training."

  2. Coursera. "Business - Compare Plans."

  3. Coursera. "Strategic Leadership and Management."

  4. LinkedIn. "LinkedIn Learning - Subscriptions."

  5. Linkedin. "LinkedIn Refund Policy."

  6. Trainup. "Leadership Essentials."

  7. Trainup. "Online Leadership Development."

  8. Trainup. "Leadership Development Program Powered by MIT."

  9. American Management Association. "Preparing for Leadership: What It Takes to Lead."

  10. American Management Association. "Individual Membership."

  11. American Management Association. "Corporate Membership."

  12. "Free Leadership Training for Nonprofit Professionals."

  13. Udemy. "Practical Leadership."

  14. Udemy. "Plans."

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