The future of learning is e-learning. In the past 15 years alone, online education has risen from the fringes of academia to a widely accepted educational channel. It’s been predicted that e-learning will be fully mainstream by 2025.
Software companies have realized this too: As with ecommerce, there’s an expanding market for tools to launch an online course with minimal design or web development experience. If you’re an expert on a topic, there’s never been a better time to do so.
To create an online course with WordPress, you might be tempted to spring for a generic WordPress theme for your site. However, you might not get far — online learning requires specialized website functionality, including gated course content, lesson plans, and interactive activities. And that’s just the first day of school.
To make an online course with WordPress, you’ll need a WordPress learning management system (LMS) theme to handle all of this for you. Some LMS themes will take care of your entire course, while others are designed to work with WordPress LMS plugins.
Convinced? Then get ready to take notes — we’ve compiled 17 of the best WordPress themes for online courses so you can be ready for the next semester.
Recommended Plugins for Online Course Themes
Before we dive into our list, here are a few WordPress plugins that you might want to consider with this type of theme. These tools will save you a lot of time (and headache) while setting up your site and will power your marketing and sales efforts over time.
HubSpot’s WordPress plugin connects your WordPress site to your HubSpot CRM. This allows you to capture, organize, and engage web visitors with forms, live chat, email, and more.
As you foster relationships and communicate with visitors over time, HubSpot’s WordPress plugin automatically records interactions in your CRM, creating a unified timeline view of each visitor’s contact history with your business. Not only does this make lead management easier, but it allows you to tailor a truly personalized customer experience for every person visiting your website.
LearnPress is a free learning management system that comes with an abundance of interesting features. Not only can you create quizzes with this tool, but you can also offer badges and certificates to individuals who pass or receive outstanding scores. There are also handy management features so you can quickly see who is enrolled in your course and how your course is organized.
If you're hosting an online course, then you probably have a few videos that you want your visitors to watch. You might sprinkle them in throughout the course, or you might want all of them accessible in one location.
Whichever your preference, Video Gallery is a useful plugin for hosting videos on your site. It supports YouTube, Vimeo, and other third-party hosting platforms. You can also customize the design of the video gallery to match the look and feel of your webpage.
Best WordPress Themes For Online Courses
- Clever Course
- Social Learner
Eduma is a premium WordPress education theme, and one of the most popular and best-received on the ThemeForest marketplace. This option is suitable for grade schools, universities, tutoring centers, and extracurricular programs.
Eduma was built to integrate with LearnPress, a leading LMS plugin for WordPress. By pairing the two, you’ll have a powerful education hub where you can offer online courses and seamlessly deliver educational content to subscribers.
Eduma is compatible with the page builder plugins Elementor, WPBakery (included with purchase), and SiteOrigin, allowing anyone to build a site without coding a single line — just drag and drop your elements into place. The theme also supports BuddyPress and bbPress to build a community around your content and get the most out of your site.
Masterstudy is another excellent option for sites oriented toward learning, training, and education. You can use this theme in your latest version of WordPress, and it’s updated frequently to be compatible across modern browsers.
This education theme is built as an all-in-one solution, offering tools to build out your courses with written and video lessons, quiz your members, offer paid zoom webinars, and drip content when you want users to progress incrementally through lessons. You won’t need to download any additional plugins for this — it’s all in the theme.
Masterstudy comes with a handful of gorgeous demos with drag-and-drop builders like Elementor and WPBakery. You can install any demo and adjust it to your needs. You also get two beautiful header options, four skin presets, options for teacher profiles, an events section, a blog section, and a lot more to support your students.
WPLMS (WordPress Learning Management System) is a great pick for fully functional online courses. Be it a training or coaching center, corporate training, tutoring, a college, academy, or school, WPLMS brings what you need to launch.
This theme is based on the BuddyPress plugin which handles all the membership functionality for you. BuddyPress is acclaimed for being flexible and easy to use, and will help you launch a learning community quickly. Having a separate membership plugin is also convenient if you ever decide to switch themes in the future — you won’t have to manually transfer your student data theme-to-theme.
WPLMS is also compatible with WooCommerce, and drag-and-drop builders for easy page designing. The theme’s page templates are perfect for engaging courses that include text, images, and video material. Overall, WPLMS packs an awesome design, smart features, great flexibility, and fantastic support — no wonder it has over 20,000 downloads to date.
Another well-reviewed LMS theme for WordPress, Clever Course combines intuitive course building tools with a minimalist design for educators that want to turn all focus to their valuable material. This theme especially suits schools, universities, and colleges that want to teach online.
Clever Course offers flexibility when setting up your online curriculum. For example, you can divide your course into smaller sections or parts for the convenience of your users. Students can also evaluate their progress by taking a quiz, and receive a certificate and rate the course upon completion.
Lastly, the Clever Course theme has been integrated with various payment options, so it becomes easy for students to make payments and for instructors to receive commissions.
The Guru LMS WordPress theme is packed with features to support any type of online course, including session booking, lesson and quiz builders, lesson management, practice tests, course progress indicators, and easy video embeds. Students can also rate courses and connect with others thanks to Guru’s BuddyPress integration and events calendar.
Guru has a built-in page builder so you can spend less time building your site and more time constructing your lesson plans — and there’s no need to install a separate plugin.
Instructors will appreciate Guru’s features too: the theme adapts WordPress’s user registration system to make a sign-in system for students and gate content. Plus, check on your course popularity with integrated analytics, and easily grade quizzes from the dashboard.
Academia is targeted at websites for education businesses, centers, and academies, but can also be used for online courses and educational events. The theme integrates with WooCommerce to sell your online courses, making it ideal for educators who want to sell online classes but don’t want to commit to a full LMS in their theme.
On the customization side, Academia is full of pre-built templates for full pages, headers and footers, menus, and homepages. You can experiment further with designs in the advanced theme options panel and integrated WPBakery page builder, and install any of Academia’s handful of demos with a click.
Social Learner is a theme all about community. It’s created based on BuddyBoss, WordPress software for building membership sites and online communities. Social Learner leverages BuddyBoss’s powerful abilities to give you a community website that does all the work for you — you just need to fill it with your content and tweak the design to your preference.
With Social Learner, students on your website can interact with each other easily with integrated forum pages, activity posts, profile achievements, and private messaging. It’s like having a social network based around your online course — less like a site and more like a platform.
So, if you want a simpler online course site, this might not be the best option. However, admins in search of a highly capable theme to fuel a highly social learning site might want to give Social Learner a shot.
The BuddyBoss theme is also based on BuddyBoss community-building software, and is ideal for powerful online learning communities. Adopted by leading online courses, BuddyBoss elevates your educational site to a social hub of like-minded learners.
BuddyBoss has all the built-in LMS features you’ll want, including quizzing, lesson timing, assignment management, email notifications, and drip feeds for your course content. Plus, pages are easy to build out with the LearnDash Gutenberg Interface and the option to add the Elementor page builder.
On top of these essential course components, BuddyBoss has perks to boost engagement with your brand and with fellow students, from member profiles to forums to mobile app capabilities with push notifications.
Reptro is a beautiful theme perfect for just about any educational website, especially those looking to offer online courses. This LMS theme works for schools, universities, and training centers that appreciate elevated, yet easy design.
The Reptro theme comes with one-click demo installation, an impressive theme options section and Customizer, Elementor compatibility, user profiles, and clean card layouts for different courses, instructor headshots, and blog posts. This theme works with the latest versions of WordPress and is compatible with various popular WordPress plugins as well.
Eikra is a super-fast, visually appealing LMS WordPress theme that might be the ideal fit for your online course website. With a 4.8 star rating, this theme offers more than enough functionality to help your website launch and attract new learners. Some perks include integration with Zoom video conferencing, 14 single and multi-page homepage demos with clean aesthetics, and tools for building community.
Eikra is also compatible with various advanced plugins so your site stays on par with other sites in your niche, and pages are mobile-friendly for learning on-the-go — the theme’s responsive design extends to course page listings, instructor layouts, and user profiles. Starting is simple: Install a demo with a click and get customizing.
Skillfully is a reputable online course theme for crafting professional-looking education sites. It’s made to work with the Sensei WooCommerce extension, which lets you sell access to your online courses or release them for free. You can also make your service subscription-based by adding the Restrict Content Pro plugin, compatible with the theme.
Beyond this, the theme offers you many options to create a student base. Whether you’re creating and selling courses, creating special preview classes, displaying events and selling tickets, or promoting on social sites, Skillfully makes it happen.
A more recent addition to the WordPress theme space, Superwise works great for schools and learning spaces in need of a straightforward, user-friendly website. The theme has been created with care to meet the expectations of prospective students — you can add information about your institution, share your mission, add courses, and fill out the about section with descriptions and photos of your teaching personnel.
Superwise is nicely coded, clean, flexible, and responsive to get your site to rank on search engines, and brings enough customization options for creative freedom without overwhelming site owners with options. There are three homepage templates, 12 pre-built headers, advanced plugin compatibility (with the WPBakery builder included), and pages for contact forms and scheduling tours.
The last of our specialized online course themes, the Skilled theme is yet another LMS option that combines easy design with flexible course building functionality. Users can integrate WooCommerce Sensei, view course analytics, make quizzes and lessons, and add video lessons.
To convert at a higher rate, Skilled also comes with four different homepage layouts, various CTA banners, six ready-to-use color skins, and plenty of custom elements to help your educational site stand out from competitors.
To round out our list, let’s look at some top-rated multipurpose WordPress themes with options for educational websites. While these themes aren’t specialized for online courses, they pack enough flexibility and functionality to sustain an effective learning site.
First up is Kalium, which offers an importable demo for higher education institutions. The latest version of Kalium has proved itself fully responsive, high-performing on both desktop and mobile, and incredibly versatile.
We’d recommend Kalium especially for educators in creative fields since the theme was made with creative professionals in mind. It offers ways to showcase visual art, design, and architecture in style. With tons of stylish fonts, color schemes, and other customization options, Kalium is an exceptional multipurpose option.
You might have heard of Divi before — it’s made an impact on the WordPress community being both a highly adaptable theme and a page builder combined into one. This allows Divi to take full control of your WordPress page builder interface for an immersive designing experience. Best of all, Divi is completely beginner-friendly despite its plethora of options.
To launch your educational site fast, Divi has a massive library of site layout packs, including a subsection of demos for educational websites. From there, you can choose a pack for language school, elementary school, a yoga studio, or even private music instruction. There’s also a generic LMS layout pack (pictured below) that you can adapt to your course material.
Avada is another multipurpose theme you might already know about. It’s currently the highest-selling theme on ThemeForest, since it can work for just about any WordPress website’s needs and includes both extensive theme options and a powerful native page builder. Like Divi, Avada’s design approach is highly visual and code-free, from headers to footers to forms to your main page content.
Among Avada’s library of 83 pre-built websites are its 15 education sites, great for setting up and promoting your online course. For example, there’s a tutoring demo (pictured below), a university demo, a business coach demo, and a demo for financial advising. Of course, your niche doesn’t need to match the demo’s niche — you can choose any demo, then adapt its content to fit yours.
Wrapping things up is the multipurpose LeadEngine theme, which can be used on any website to generate more conversions — and online courses are no exception. LeadEngine’s more than 35 pre-built sites (including one for education, pictured below) will fit your site beautifully. Then, personalize your demo with over 200 template blocks.
Additionally, LeadEngine includes WPBakery for easy page construction, Slider Revolution for engaging image sliders on the homepage, and an icon pack with over 2,000 images to place on your menus and buttons. If you get stuck, you can ask for help from the theme’s team of experts. After all, if you’re teaching others, it doesn’t hurt to learn a bit more yourself.
Themes to Launch Your Online Course
As we’ve seen, the themes featured in this list not only help you build your course — they help it look good too. With online learning growing in popularity, you’ll need a way to distinguish your site from others. Aside from your content, professional visuals are key for convincing potential pupils to click “enroll.”
So, whether you're teaching finance, a foreign language, or cake decorating, take time to review demos, analyze all their features, and determine which theme will help you most in guiding and inspiring your new students.
Originally published Jul 5, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated October 28 2021