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How Long are Online Courses?

At Alison, we often hear the question “How long are your online courses?” Our free online course options are broken down into Certificate Courses, Diploma Courses and Learning Paths. Each option provides a unique learning structure and duration. Choose which one works best for you based on your learning objectives and available time.

Duration and Structure of Online Certificate Courses

Certificate Courses are a range of free online courses designed to provide training that’s as streamlined and to-the-point as possible. Built for learners of any ability or knowledge level, each Alison Certificate Course is designed to be completed in fewer than three hours.

Each class presents a single topic in clear detail. Looking for an introduction to QuickBooks? Hoping to boost your project management abilities? Seeking a class in advanced parenting skills? Whatever your interest, Alison offers thousands of self-paced Certificate Courses from top universities, world-class professors, experts and companies.

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Duration and Structure of Online Diploma Courses

Diploma Courses are free online courses designed to provide comprehensive training on almost any topic you might need. In just eight to 10 hours, each Diploma Course delivers a clear run through of an important subject.

This training is an impressive addition to your resumé and can provide a boost to your professional confidence. From Human Resources to Teaching Skills for Educators to Operations Management, Diploma Courses span an array of subjects and offer immediate and practical benefits to our learners.

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Duration and Structure of Learning Paths

Learning Paths are a combination of niche courses that have been specially designed by experts. This combination of free online courses has an average completion time of 18 to 20 hours.

A Learning Path can help:

  • Broaden your skillset and expand on the skills you have by learning from a range of related subjects.
  • Advance your knowledge and increase your understanding of a particular subject area by focusing your learning for that discipline.

Diploma options range from Accounting Core Concepts to Workplace Health and Safety - and everything in between. Alison’s Learning Paths offer foundational skills and knowledge and build upon one another to guide you on your learning journey.


How long should online courses be?

Unlike traditional learning systems, Alison’s free online courses are not built around a quarter or semester. You have the freedom and flexibility to start learning the moment you enroll in a class and to complete assessments on a timetable that works with your life. Finish as quickly as you want or take all the time you need.

How many hours is an online course?

Alison’s free online courses are structured in such a way that you have a general idea of the instruction time based on the type of course you choose. Duration can vary from two hours for a specialized Certificate Course to 20 hours for a more extensive Learning Path.

How much time should be spent in an online class?

There is no magic formula for how much time should be spent in an online class. All of Alison’s online courses are self-paced (sometimes referred to as asynchronous learning). This means that you complete the work where and when it works for you, building your learning opportunities around your life, not the other way around.

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