Looking for the best LMS plugins to help you create online courses with WordPress? Short for Learning Management System, LMS plugins make it easy to create and manage detailed courses, just like the courses you find on Udemy or other platforms.
This is definitely a decision you should spend some time researching because you’re going to invest a lot of time into whichever LMS plugin you eventually choose. And once you build out all your course content, you probably won’t want to switch later on.
To make your decision easier, we ve collected five of the best WordPress LMS plugins and compared them in detail.
Because LMS plugins have deep functionality and I don’t want to make this post a book, here’s how I’m going to set up this comparison. For each plugin I’ll:
- Give you a broad overview of its features
- Show you how you’ll actually build and structure your courses
- Share the different monetization options available, assuming you’d like to make some money from the courses you create
- Discuss the price for you to get up and running
Then, at the end, I’ll share my picks for the best WordPress LMS plugin for your specific needs.
Below, you can view a quick summary table of the five plugins that I’ll be looking at:
LearnDash is one of the most popular WordPress LMS plugins and is used by both large institutions such as the University of Florida, as well as standalone WordPress sites.
LearnDash can help you create courses that are as detailed or simple as you want.
If you’d like to sell self-paced courses, you can just set up simple text and multimedia lessons. Or, you can also get more involved and include quizzes and assignments in your lessons.
And if you want to see LearnDash in action on real sites, two good LearnDash examples are:
LearnDash Feature List
LearnDash has a deep feature list, so this is not a full list of everything that LearnDash lets you do. But here are the most important features you get access to:
- Create unlimited courses and lessons
- Use text and multimedia in your lessons
- Create special video lessons that automatically play and skip straight to the next topic once they’re finished (kind of like Udemy)
- Include quizzes and assignments
- Drip-feed course content on a schedule rather than making it all available at once
- Require students to complete prerequisite courses before they can take a course
- Offer certificates and badges after a user completes a course
- Create special course forums
- Send email notifications, including automation
A Deeper Look At The LearnDash Course Builder
Each course that you create with LearnDash contains two core elements: lessons and topics.
Lessons are the broad sections. And you can break up each lesson into different topics.
To help you organize this structure, LearnDash uses a drag-and-drop course builder, which makes it easy to visualize how everything comes together.
You can see it in action below:
You can create new lessons and topics from the editor as needed. Then, you can go back and add the actual content later on.
To actually create the content for each lesson and topic, you’ll essentially use the normal WordPress editor, which means you’ll feel right at home.
And then to actually display your course content on the front-end of your site, you’ll use the included shortcode builder:
LearnDash Monetization Options
In the core plugin, LearnDash includes simple monetization options that let you sell courses as one-time payments or recurring subscriptions.
With that being said, if you’re serious about selling courses, you might want more depth.
To let you get even more creative, LearnDash also includes built-in integrations for WooCommerce, as well as popular membership plugins such as Restrict Content Pro, Paid Memberships Pro, and others.
LearnDash Pricing And Final Thoughts
LearnDash has no free version.
The paid plan starts at $159 (133€) for a single site license.
I know that might seem like a lot in comparison to other WordPress plugins. But LearnDash’s pricing structure is actually very competitive in the LMS plugin market, especially when you consider all the features that you get.
All in all, LearnDash, along with the next option on this list, is a great first port of call if you want to sell courses with WordPress
2. Tutor LMS
Tutor LMS is a fairly new WordPress LMS plugin from Themeum that has a great, modern interface and a generous free version at WordPress.org.
Though it was only launched in early 2019, it’s already become active on over 4,000 sites while maintaining an almost perfect 4.9-star rating on 83 reviews, according to WordPress.org.
To build your courses, it gives you a convenient drag-and-drop course builder, and the front-end interfaces look great right out-of-the-box, which ensures good UX for your course-takers.
One unique thing about Tutor LMS is that it can also help you create a marketplace of courses from different instructors — kind of like Udemy. You can sell all those courses through your site and automatically give each instructor a commission based on the sales.
Tutor LMS Feature List
Though it’s young in comparison to some of the other LMS plugins, Tutor LMS has already built up a stellar feature list:
- Simple drag-and-drop course builder for lesson content and quizzes
- Modern, well-designed front-end course interfaces for your students
- Content restriction
- Lots of quiz options in the quiz creator
- Content dripping
- Course certificates
- Course prerequisites
- Integrated monetization options via WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, or Paid Membership Pro
- Front-end course creation, which is great if you want to allow third-party instructors
- Pay third-party instructors a commission based on their course sales (like Udemy)
- Easy withdrawal methods for instructors
- Reports and analytics
- Email notifications
A Deeper Look At The Tutor LMS Course Builder
Tutor LMS has an easy-to-use drag-and-drop course builder that lets you work from a single interface.
You can divide your courses into different “topics” and then create “lessons” and “quizzes” inside each topic. You can also re-arrange everything as needed:
What’s convenient about this interface is that, when you go to create a new lesson or quiz, you can add your content in a pop-up, rather than having to open a new tab for every single lesson:
To add your lesson content, you’ll use the classic WordPress editor. One nice thing, though, is that you get a dedicated option to embed a video, which is great if you use videos for each lesson:
Tutor LMS Monetization Options
If you want to monetize your courses, Tutor LMS is built to integrate with WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads.
Once you install one of those plugins, you can link a course to a WooCommerce or EDD product. This is nice because it lets you take advantage of eCommerce functionality such as discounts and subscriptions.
Again, the unique thing about Tutor LMS is that it also includes features to help you create a marketplace of courses from third-party instructors, much like Udemy.
You can set up commissions and fees, automatically calculate everything, and dispense withdrawals:
Tutor LMS Pricing And Final Thoughts
Tutor LMS has a generous free version at WordPress.org that can help you get up and running with functioning courses all by itself. In fact, some sites might just need the free version — it’s definitely viable by itself.
Then, there’s also a premium version that adds support for:
- Content dripping
- Assignment submission
- More quiz question types and options
- Course certification templates
- Course prerequisites
- Course previews
- Email notifications
- WooCommerce subscription support (the free version supports one-time payments; you just need Pro for recurring subscriptions)
You can view a detailed breakdown of the free vs premium features at this page.
To purchase the premium version, you can choose between annual and lifetime billing:
- 1 site – $149 (125€) for one year of support and updates or $399 (333€) for lifetime
- 5 sites – $199 (166€) for one year of support and updates or $599 (500€) for lifetime
- Unlimited sites – $299 (250€) for one year of support and updates or $999 (835€) for lifetime
All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
By the numbers, LearnPress is the most popular LMS plugin at WordPress.org.
There’s a reason for that, too — it’s pretty generous with its free features.
Beyond selling paid add-ons, one of LearnPress’ primary monetization methods is selling its own WordPress LMS themes on Theme Forest with LearnPress bundled in, which helps explain why the LearnPress team can be so generous with the free plugin (and also why LearnPress’ WordPress.org popularity numbers are so high).
LearnPress Feature List
LearnPress lets you create unlimited courses, complete with:
- Assignments and quizzes
- Drip-fed content
- Certificates for completing courses
- Prerequisite courses
- BuddyPress/bbPress integrations for course forums
- Co-instructors to include multiple course instructors
- Integrations with WooCommerce and membership plugins
A Deeper Look At The LearnPress Course Builder
Like LifterLMS and LearnDash, LearnPress offers a drag-and-drop course builder to help you lay out your course content.
LearnPress’ builder follows LearnDash’s approach, where it sits inside the WordPress editor as a sort of meta box:
It’s pretty intuitive, and the design is nice and clean. You can either create new sections and lessons or select from your existing lessons.
To actually add your lesson content, you’ll use the normal WordPress editor. You’ll need to add your multimedia content directly to the editor as well, as there’s no dedicated video embed option like you get with LearnDash or LifterLMS.
LearnPress Monetization Options
LearnPress gives you basic monetization options in the core plugin.
You can give each course a one-time price and then purchase affordable payment gateway add-ons to process payments.
Or, if you want to get more creative with your pricing, you can also integrate with WooCommerce or popular membership plugins (starts at $199 ~166€) to handle payments that way.
LearnPress Pricing And Final Thoughts
LearnPress is pretty generous with its free functionality. And even the paid add-ons are significantly more affordable than something like LifterLMS.
For example, individual payment gateways are just $29.99 with LearnPress, while they’re $99 with LifterLMS.
You can also purchase bundles starting at $49 (if you use a LearnPress theme) or $249 (to use LearnPress with any theme).
Overall, this is a solid option if you’re on a budget, especially if you’re willing to use a LearnPress theme. But I don’t think it’s quite as polished as LearnDash or LifterLMS, especially when you get into nitty-gritty details like notification triggers and automation
Sensei has a unique twist in that it’s an add-on for WooCommerce, rather than a standalone LMS plugin.
It’s also developed by the WooCommerce team, which gives it the backing of Automattic’s resources (never a bad thing). With that being said, it doesn’t seem to receive quite as much attention as the dedicated LMS plugins above.
Sensei Feature List
Sensei’s feature list is a little shorter than the other options. But it still lets you create unlimited courses, complete with:
- Drip fed content
- Course progress
That should still be enough functionality for most users.
A Deeper Look At The Sensei Course Builder
Like the other plugins, Sensei gives you two additional content hierarchy levels for your courses: modules and lessons.
Modules are basically like sections. Each course can contain multiple modules, and each module can contain multiple lessons.
Unfortunately, there’s no drag-and-drop course builder. Instead, you’ll need to rely on drop-downs to associate modules with courses and lessons with modules, which isn’t ideal:
Sensei Monetization Options
Because Sensei is an extension for WooCommerce, you get a good deal of flexibility for monetization options.
With just the Sensei plugin and WooCommerce, you can make your courses free or sell them for a one-time payment using any of the WooCommerce payment gateways.
If you want more flexibility, you can tack on the WooCommerce Memberships plugin to create tiered membership levels and/or restrict content. Or, you can use the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin to create recurring payments. But both of those plugins are premium and each of them will cost you $199 (166€).
Sensei Pricing And Final Thoughts
Sensei itself comes for free, however you might also need some Sensei extensions, depending on the features that you need. For example, getting access to content dripping is $29 for a single site license.
And like you saw above, you might also need some other WooCommerce extensions to get the exact functionality that you need.
As you can get access to Sensei for free and it does come from the WooCommerce/Automattic team, it is a viable option that’s worth checking out.
6. WP Courseware
WP Courseware is one of the oldest WordPress LMS plugins out there.
It does a great job of keeping things simple. And it also gives you some good payment options from the core plugin, which eliminates the need to integrate it with a third-party plugin (though it can do that too).
WP Courseware Feature List
WP Courseware gives you a drag-and-drop editor to build unlimited courses complete with:
- Drip content
- Grade books
- Course completion certificates
- Prerequisite courses
- Email notifications for specific events
WP Courseware also now has built-in payment support, which I believe is a new feature.
A Deeper Look At The WP Courseware Course Builder
To help you build your courses, WP Courseware includes a drag-and-drop course builder, though it’s not quite as user-friendly as the other LMS plugins on this list (excluding Sensei, which doesn’t have one):
Here’s why I find it less user-friendly:
You can’t create new modules or units from the drag-and-drop interface. Instead, you have to first add all your modules and units via your WordPress dashboard. Then, you can organize those existing modules and units via the drag-and-drop course builder.
I think it’s more intuitive to do it the other way around (organize your course first and then go back and add the content later), which is what all the other plugins let you do.
Beyond that, the rest of the interface is pretty simple, and adding course content is as simple as creating a WordPress post.
WP Courseware Monetization Options
WP Courseware now gives you a good amount of control over monetization right from the core plugin.
For each course, you can:
- Offer it for free
- Sell it for a one-time payment
- Charge a recurring subscription for access to the course
If you want more flexibility, WP Courseware also has integrations for WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads, as well as membership plugins like:
- Paid Memberships Pro
WP Courseware Pricing And Final Thoughts
WP Courseware is pretty affordable, especially if you’re planning to use it on multiple sites.
Full-featured plans start at just $129 (107€) for use on 2 sites. Or, you can pay a little more ($149 ~125€) to use it on 10 sites.
While I don’t think WP Courseware goes as deep as something like LearnDash or TutorLMS, its pricing makes it a solid affordable option for people who are just looking for something straightforward and easy to use.
Which Of These WordPress LMS Plugins Should You Use?
Both these plugins have good teams behind them and are constantly pushing out helpful new features, both have a great interface and Tutor LMS has a really big feature list, along with a generous free version.