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The short version on investment courses

  • If you’ve decided to take an online investing course, you should first determine what kind of teaching you want to receive and what your risk aversion is.
  • There are thousands of online investing courses, many of which are either of poor quality or attempting to sell you get-rich-quick schemes.
  • Do your research to decide whether an online course is worth your time, especially if it costs money.

Thousands of online investing courses are available today, many free, and many charging a steep price. How do you choose?

In this guide, we’ll discuss a handful of potential investment courses we think may be worth your time and money.

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What to consider when looking for an online investing course

While choosing a course, it’s important to take a moment and think about what kind of investment approach is right for you.

Understanding the best investment approach begins with knowing your risk tolerance. Investors who are older and closer to retirement, for example, may want to avoid investing in small-cap stocks prone to dramatic price fluctuations. Similarly, if you’re younger and have a longer time horizon, you may be more willing to take bigger risks.

Questions to ask yourself

You should also think about your learning preferences. Ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • Do you benefit from guided instruction or prefer self-led courses?
  • Do you benefit from visual aids?
  • Is community interaction important?
  • Would you like an instructor with a particular background or identity?

Once you’ve figured out your investing profile and ideal learning environment, you can then consider your goal and what you hope to learn.

Common red flags to watch for with online investing courses

Red flags for investment courses range from the obvious to the subtle. It’s best to steer clear of courses with strange-looking websites riddled with grammatical errors. But also, because many great free courses are available, you'll want to exercise skepticism when considering paying for one.

Look into what exactly a paid course promises to teach you before deciding if it’s worth the extra money.

To that end, third-party review platforms can offer tons of insight. The testimonials on a course’s website might not paint the whole picture. Instead, if you search a course’s name and type “is it worth it?” or “user reviews,” you’ll sometimes find Reddit threads or blog posts with past users discussing their experience.

Remember to be wary of get-rich-quick schemes. Any website telling you you’ll make millions in a few years should probably be dismissed immediately. There are no guarantees with investing, and any course or publication with integrity will admit this.

More: 9 ways to double your money in 24 hours (ranked by risk)

The 7 best online investing courses for 2023

Best online investing courses for 2024
Course Name Creator Best For Price
Investing Classroom Morningstar Investing in Mutual Funds & ETFs Free
Blockchain Business Models Duke University, Coursera Investing in Crypto $49/month
ESG and Sustainable Investing 101 ED4S, Udemy Ethical Investing $69.99
How Investing Works: 7 Course Bundle Clever Girl Finance Investing as a Woman Free
Financial Markets Yale, Coursera General Finance Knowledge Free ($49 for a certificate)
Bear Bull Traders Basic Bear Bull Traders Day Trading $99/month
Financial Management Specialization The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Coursera Advanced Tools Free to audit; $49/month

Best for investing in mutual funds & ETFs: investing classroom

  • Creator: Morningstar
  • Price: Free
  • Style: Articles, self-led

Morningstar is a financial services firm that, like TD Ameritrade, offers a free and extensive library of courses on its website to educate people on investing and financial topics. However, Morningstar does not require you to have any affiliation with them to access their courses.

These courses are conveniently separated into two levels — one for beginners and one for advanced investors. They cover a wide range of topics, from the basics of reading a financial statement to economic moats and stock valuation. But Morningstar's bread and butter has always been mutual funds and ETFs. So if you're wanting to learn more about how funds work and how to compare them, Investing Classroom might be right for you.

Be aware that Morningstar's courses are reading-heavy and include quizzes. They don’t have many visual aids or videos, however, so visual learners may prefer another platform.

Best for investing in crypto: blockchain business models

  • Creator: Duke University, Coursera
  • Price: $49/month
  • Style: University-led
  • Duration: Approximately 12 hours

Before investing in crypto, it may be worthwhile to evaluate for yourself whether you think the technology is worth investing in. Taught by Duke professor of finance Cam Harvey, the Blockchain Business Models course is rated intermediate by Coursera and takes about 12 hours to finish.

It starts with an overview of blockchain technology. It then moves into lessons on cryptographic hashing, different consensus protocols (like proof-of-work and proof-of-stake), and the future of cryptocurrency, plus potential regulations. User reviews are overwhelmingly positive, praising Professor Harvey’s depth of knowledge and the complexity of his lectures.

Best for ethical investing: ESG and sustainable investing 101

  • Creator: ED4S, Udemy
  • Price: $69.99
  • Style: Pre-recorded lectures and downloadable resources
  • Duration: Approx. 2.5 hours

The ESG and Sustainable Investing 101 course from Udemy comes with 2.5 hours of video lessons and 24 downloadable learning resources. It costs $69.99 (though Udemy often has seasonal sales which allow you to pay less for content), but offers a practical yet comprehensive intro on ESG investing. It includes discussions of how ESG ratings are determined, how ESG factors influence risk and reward, and different strategies for sustainable investment with real-world case studies.

The course is good for investors who benefit from video instruction and quizzes. User reviews are positive, with many people praising the clear instruction and interesting content.

More: Demystifying ethical investing (ESG vs SRI vs impact investing

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Best for investing as a woman: how investing works: 7 course bundle

  • Creator: Clever Girl Finance
  • Cost: Free
  • Style: Articles and pre-recorded videos

Clever Girl Finance is a financial education platform launched in 2015 by Bola Sokunbi, a Certified Financial Education Instructor. The site is specifically designed for women interested in increasing their financial literacy or adding to their income sources. Sokunbi writes on the Clever Girl Finance website that her mission is “to help women ditch debt, save money, and build real wealth.”

Clever Girl Finance offers a dozen or so investing courses, all of which can be accessed for free by signing up for an account on the website. Though very simple, the lessons are easy to read through and often accompanied by short videos explaining basic investing concepts.

A big plus for Clever Girl Finance is its focus on building a community of finance-savvy women. The company encourages users to go on their Facebook page and find an accountability partner — someone with similar financial goals who can motivate you to keep your portfolio organized.

Though advanced investors will probably already be familiar with the course material, it’s a good choice for new investors who care about being in a community designed for and run by women.

Best for general finance knowledge: financial markets

  • Creator: Yale, Coursera
  • Cost: Free ($49 for a certificate)
  • Style: University-led lectures
  • Duration: Approximately 33 hours

One of the most highly regarded financial courses on Coursera is Dr. Robert Shiller’s course, simply titled “Financial Markets.” Shiller is a Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale. This course is not strictly an investing course. Instead, Dr. Shiller’s lectures deal with a broad range of finance topics, from behavioral finance to investment banking, the basics of bonds, dividends, and market caps, and advice on starting a career in finance.

Most users praise the course, speaking highly of Dr. Shiller’s lecture style and the exhaustive amount of information the lectures provide. You can access the material for free if you don’t wish to earn a certificate upon completion.

Best for day trading: bear bull traders basic

  • Creator: Bear Bull Traders
  • Cost: $99/mo
  • Style: Self-led courses, chatroom

Many people learn best by simply jumping in the deep end. But those who want to learn about day trading before trying it out themselves will find reliable guidance through Bear Bull Traders.

One significant benefit of Bear Bull is its live chat room. This community resource is available most days of the week, and users can watch an expert trade throughout the day while talking through their tips and investment strategies. Bear Bull also offers courses in day trading to members with Basic and Elite subscriptions.

The biggest drawback to Bear Bull Traders is the high cost of subscribing. A seven-day introductory trial is $39, while the Basic subscription costs $99 monthly and gives you limited access to Bear Bull’s collection of courses.

An Elite subscription can either cost $199 monthly or $1,199 when purchasing annual access. Still, users can participate in more courses on advanced financial topics with the expensive Elite subscription.

More: Best stock trading apps for day trading 2022

Best for advanced tools: financial management specialization

  • Creator: The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Coursera
  • Cost: Free to audit; $49/month
  • Style: University-led lectures
  • Duration: Approximately 8 months to complete, suggested pace of 4 hours/week

This extended course from the University of Illinois is suited to advanced investors who are interested in strategic financial management. The course syllabus covers how to read financial documents and cash flow statements, portfolio management, and firm valuation techniques.

Their investment-related lessons take you through different asset pricing models, defined-contribution pension plans, and the ins and outs of actively-managed mutual funds. We especially like that this course teaches you how to identify segments of portfolios that have high potential to outperform others, a useful skill to have in value investing.

At eight months long, the length of the course may be daunting to some. However, that offers plenty of time and opportunity for students to gain specialized knowledge of major strategic corporate and investment decisions and truly level up their investing skills.

Final thoughts on investment courses

If you’re interested in learning more about investing and enjoy a more traditional classroom approach to learning, online investing courses are a great way to do it. While it’s not absolutely necessary to take an online course to start investing, educating yourself before starting could help you avoid making poor decisions in the future.

Investing in the stock market inherently comes with some risk, so it's worth it to take time and learn about markets and investment strategies. Just be careful and practice due diligence as you choose the right course for you, as there are thousands of investing courses out there and some are more dubious than others.

Some resources to get you started on your investment journey>>>


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About the Author

Eric Rosenberg

Eric Rosenberg

Freelance Contributor

Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel and technology writer in Ventura, California. He is a former bank manager and corporate finance and accounting professional who left his day job in 2016 to take his online side hustle full time.

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