Some topics are admittedly more popular than others. If your goal is to profit from your online course, you need to find the most popular topics in order to attract more learners. If you are planning on creating an online course for passive income, you might want to take a look at some of the most popular and profitable topics for your online course.

Top Three Most Popular Subjects

most popular subjects


Class Central, a popular search platform for online courses, provides a yearly report on the most popular courses, subjects and course providers. According to Class Central’s 2014 report, the top three most popular subjects are Humanities, Computer Science and Programming, and Business and Management.

The table below shows the top 19 to 25 searches from 2014 to 2016. Based on the data, learners are interested in topics for career development as well as topics related to their personal interest. Note that these data are exclusive to free online courses only.


Table 1. Class Central Top Search Terms

2014 2015 2016
Python Python Python
Healthcare Java Java
Java Writing Machine learning
Finance Statistics Writing
Android English English
English Computer science Statistics
Statistics Machine learning Data science
Marketing Healthcare Image processing
Music Data science C
Writing Marketing Excel
Psychology Accounting Psychology
Accounting C Big data
Design Android Spanish
Spanish big data Marketing
Programming Finance French
Law Excel Accounting
Photography Psychology Project management
Big data Spanish Finance
History Music Android
Project management Music
Photography Javascript
Javascript SQL
Programming Law
Sql Photography
French german


Furthermore, Class Central enumerated 10 of the most popular FREE online courses in 2016.

  1. Coding in your Classroom, Now! from University of Urbino via EMMA
  2. Tsinghua Chinese: Start Talking with 1.3 Billion People from Tsinghua University via edX
  3. The Nature of Code from Processing Foundation via Kadenze
  4. Introduction to Agent-based Modeling from Santa Fe Institute via Complexity Explorer
  5.  The 3D Printing Revolution from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign via Coursera
  6. Becoming a changemaker: Introduction to Social Innovation from University of Cape Town via Coursera
  7. Preparing to Manage Human Resources from University of Minnesota via Coursera
  8. Creative Applications of Deep Learning with TensorFlow via Kadenze
  9. Teaching for Change: An African Philosophical Approach from Stellenbosch University via FutureLearn
  10. Stanford Introduction to Food and Health from Stanford University via Coursera


Most Popular Free and Paid Online Course Subjects Combined

Meanwhile, Online Course Report, a website furnishing thoroughly researched articles on online courses, provided 11 of the most popular subjects offering both free and paid online courses. According to the website, the most popular subjects include:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Business
  • Management
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Javascript
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Design
  • PHP
  • MySQL
  • Software Development
  • Web Development


If you compare the data from the two websites, Adobe Photoshop and Design seem to be unique in the Online Course Report website.  You might want to explore these two subjects since not too many e-learning platforms are offering free online courses for these two. Those courses that are offered free of charge are usually for beginners who need a walk-through and an overview of the subject.

Furthermore, the most popular sub-topics in entrepreneurship have something to do with startups. It would also be a good idea to create online courses that can help budding entrepreneurs succeed in their startup business.

Unfortunately, the site lacks a more detailed discussion on the most popular courses in Design. In case you are interested to learn more, you can check back by clicking the link here.


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