So you want to sell online courses. Or, maybe, you’re building a site for someone who wants to sell online courses. Here’s the best WordPress LMS themes on the market in 2017.
Building a learning management system is no small task and, if you don’t have a lot of money to sink into the endeavor, starting with a premium theme is the best way to go. You won’t find a free theme that’s powerful enough to do the job, and while there are free plugins available, the premium LMS themes are inexpensive enough that they’re the most sensible starting point. This kind of product was priced four or five times higher little more than five years ago.
Unsurprisingly, there’s not many themes available in this niche, so our list is fairly short this time around. Fortunately all the themes that are available are strong contenders. All of them look lovely, and all of them include the must-have features to sell knowledge online.
Finally, if you’re still on the look out for a reliable, fast and reasonably priced hosting provider, we recommend Bluehost. We do get a bit of money if you sign-up through our link, but we wouldn’t recommend them if we didn’t think they provided the best all-around hosting solutions. We’d never promote GoDaddy, for example. Blech!
Michigan Online Learning Suite
Our current top pick for the best WordPress LMS is Michigan. This is extraordinarily well thought-out and executed product, with a depth of functionality that surpasses many of its competitors.
The design itself is clean, modern, and optimized to provide a smooth, consistent and sensible user experience. Four main templates are included, tailored to specific education needs: first and foremost, Michigan provides an online LMS oriented design. In addition, the developers have provided designs perfect for universities, high schools, and elementary/kindergartens–a nice bonus, although we expect most users will be interested in the learning management and course creation features.
Those LMS features of the theme are powered by the popular LifterLMS plugin. This is the necessary component that makes it easy to create & sell online courses. Michigan also bundles Visual Composer, free, and supports several other excellent 3rd party plugins: bbPress, WooCommerce, BuddyPress and more.
Frankly, we recommend clicking through to the product page for a comprehensive rundown of everything this theme has to offer–there’s far too much to cover in this short summary and review. It’s more-or-less a complete turn-key WordPress lms solution, and an excellent starting point for getting your courseware business off the ground quickly and inexpensively. Highly recommended.More Info/Download
While the name is a bit unispired–Online University–the same can’t be said about the gorgeous, colorful design and seamless UX of this WordPress LMS theme.
We suspect the eye-popping graphics on the theme’s demo alone have seduced a few buyers, and the designers of Online University have expertly incorporated a lot of subtle, elevating flourishes, adding visual interest to the theme without sacrificing usability or bogging down performance/UX with unnecessary gimmicks. That’s a harder line to walk than you’d think, and deserves a lot of credit.
But none of that would be worth a thing without a solid foundation for the LMS features, and Online University relies heavily on the popular (albeit premium) LearnDash plugin and WooCommerce to provide its online course & learning functionality.
Of course, that does require the additional purchase of LearnDash–but it’s often worth it to go with a dedicated commercial product (if only for timely support, fixes, and updates), and the developers of Online University offer a 30% discount on LearnDash to make it more palpable.
Note that you can also use built-in post type features for online courses, but we’d recommend springing for LearnDash if it’s in your budget.More Info/Download
Powered by LearnPress (probably the best free learning management plugin), and boasting a clean cut, modern & expertly conceived UX and design, EduMa is undoubtedly one of the best and most comprehensive products currently available for building a robust online courses website with WordPress.
This is a complete, feature packed solution, and helpfully includes not only support for LearnPress, but bundles an entire pack of premium LearnPress plugins that will significantly extend the functionality of your site, including the addition of integration for WooCommerce (essential for montetization efforts), bbPress, and BuddyPress (for building an active, engaging community of users).
In terms of design & layout, the theme is about as flexible as themes come, offering plenty of options to help you brand and customize the look of your site and make it your own. The developers have also included nine distinct skins/presets.
For the full, extensive listing of everything EduMa has to offer, we recommending clicking through to the product page and checking out the detailed breakdown and demo.More Info/Download
Skilled comes next, a Sensei compatible theme that takes advantage of WooCommerce for e-commerce functionality and course sales. The developers of this theme conceived and designed it especially for the sale of online courses, taking inspiration from high profile sites like Coursera, Udemy, CodeAcademy and Lynda. In addition to Sensei and WooCommerce, the theme supports Events Calendar Pro and Contact Form 7, and comes bundled with Visual Composer and LayerSlider.
Four distinct demo homepages are available to choose from, and the theme includes support for teacher profiles. This is one of the faster selling courseware themes on the ThemeForest marketplace, and is earned a nearly five-star rating from the community and customers.More Info/Download
The major selling point of EducationPress, aside from its sharp, contemporary design and clear, intuitive UX (nicely done, design team!), is its inclusion and out-of-the-box support for the powerful and popular course press Pro plugin. This plugin has nearly 50,000 users, and provides all the functionality you’ll need to build a robust and profitable online education website.
It’s pretty cool. You can create paid or free video driven courses, text courses, assignments and quizzes, and community features encourage student participation and feedback. The theme supports WooCommerce, BuddyPress, and bbPress to boot.
Three homepage variations are provided, 25 page templates, an extensive set of options on the backend are available and powered by the Redux framework. One-click demo install makes for easy & fast setup, and the detailed documentation is included.
For a comprehensive list of features, check out the product page.
Or don’t. We can’t tell you what to do. Maybe check out the next theme on our list instead, which is…More Info/Download
eLearning WP quickly became one of our favorite LMS themes for WordPress. It offers a clean, contemporary design that not only looks great, but provides a top-of-the-line user experience: the snappy, intuitive UX will engage visitors and keep them coming back. A quick glance at eLearning’s massive list of features (far too many to comprehensively cover here) reveals just how much time & effort the developers invested into making this product a standout and one of the best of its kind.
Course management features are powered primarily by the robust LearnPress plugin, a free LSM solution that’s under constant & active development. Numerous premium add-ons are available, making eLearning one of the most versatile and extensible LMS themes on our list. (In fact, over $150 worth of premium add-ons are bundled free.)
Instructors can easily create and manage free & premium courses and quizzes, and excellent BuddyPress and bbPress implementation provide site admins with the tools they’ll need to build and manage a fully-featured online community. The theme is optimized for monetization, and course sales are managed using built-in WooCommerce support, or via a stripped-down solution using PayPal/Stripe payment gateways.
All the necessary functionality to build a superb LMS is there, and secondary features are just as impressive and numerous: SEO optimization, and solid Bootstrap code base, responsive & retina-ready design, WPML support, and drag & drop page building are just a few. Really deserves a closer look.More Info/Download
SmartOwl WordPress LMS
While SmartOwl is a solid theme for selling courses online, we think its stand-out feature is its awesome, modern design. Sometimes, premium WordPress themes having a funny way of looking like premium themes, but the designers of SmartOwl have managed to avoid that pitfall, and create something that could just as easily be mistaken for a custom, proprietary design. That’s no easy feat.
Even though its marketed as a learning management product, SmartOwl might have a bit more in common with the bigger, multi-purpose themes that are all the rage these days. There’s a ton of distinct homepage presets/layouts available to choose from out of the box, and not all of them are centered around academics: this is a strong eCommerce theme in general.More Info/Download
Marketed by the developer as the most advanced learning management system for WordPress, we’re pleased to say that WPLMS lives up to the claim and is just about as good is it gets. This is a theme with so many features and add-ons that a brief summary hardly does it justice.
Included with the theme is an instructor dashboard that allows instructors to track commissions, view course statistics, send messages, and more. A separate student dashboard provides the user an overview of course progress, quiz and assignment stats, and a contact system to easily get in touch with instructors and friends.
Front-end course creations gives your instructors and users the power to create courses, quizzes, and assignments, set pricing, and build forums. Visitors can browse the full course director, searching and filtering courses by subject, interest and price.
Carefully integrated with BuddyPress, bbPress and WooCommerce, the WPLMS theme does all of this while looking fantastic to boot. It’s responsive, retina-ready and highly customizable. Seriously, if you have a few minutes, take a look at the giant list of features we didn’t even cover. The pricing is so low for a product of this size that calling it “a steal” isn’t too far from the truth.More Info/Download
Clever Course is the third theme on our list designed explicitly for the creation and sale of online courses (for selling both online, or on-site – perfect for private institutions and schools).
Like WPLMS above, Clever Course offers both instructors and students their own dashboards for the creation, tracking and management of courses. Students have the option of paying via PayPal integration, and a commissions system is included to make sure your instructors get paid for all their hard work.
A great looking theme that’s mobile and retina-ready, the theme is highly customizable on the backend with page builder support, unlimited colors, a parallax manager, and lots of shortcodes. A rock solid LMS solution overall.More Info/Download
Social Learner (LearnDash or Sensei sold separately)
Social Learner comes at e-learning from slightly different angle, and once up and running, it’s likely the most comprehensive, powerful option on our list (and the closest to providing a turn-key solution). Although, on the flip side–it is also the most expensive.
Combined with either the LearnDash plugin (recommended) or WooTheme’s Sensei, both sold separately, Social Learner hits a higher price point than other options, but the social features give it a significant boost over competitors.
The developers at BuddyBoss are BuddyPress and WordPress social networking experts, and the Social Learner package provides social networking functionality at a level you won’t find in other LMS themes.More Info/Download
This impressive LMSPress packs in all the features you’ll need to create and sell courses. The design is modern and elegant, taking the best from contemporary design trends while eschewing the superfluous gimmicks and extravagances that plague many competing WordPress themes. The result is a user-friendly, high-performance experience.
We recommend taking a look at the comprehensive product details page for a full rundown of included LMS and event features. This is a product that was expertly conceived and realized overall, and represents a development team working at the top of their game.More Info/Download
Released in July, Masterstudy is a focused, streamlined solution for building a well-rounded educational marketplace and e-Learning website. The clean, vibrant design keeps things modern without sacrificing character and identity, and the minimalistic approach helps to keep site performance responsive and fast. User experience is top-notch, engaging your visitors and drawing them in immediately, and the site is intuitive to navigate and search.
The LMS features are well-integrated, and instructors can quickly & easy create courses, set prices, and even create & manage events. The Paid Courses system is implemented via WooCommerce support.
Secondary features add more value, like the inclusion of Visual Composer and Revolution Slider, free. Drag & drop page building and a selection of back-end options provide webmasters with the ability to make necessary customizations and adjustments. Masterstudy is retina-ready, SEO friendly, and WPML compatible.More Info/Download
Guru is a top-of-the-line, clean and contemporary WordPress LMS theme intelligently designed and integrated with BuddyPress, Event Calendar, WPML, Mail-Chimp, and Sensei and WooCommerce from WooThemes. It’s got plenty of features included for building and selling online courses, among them: teacher profiles, user profiles, lesson management, a quiz system, a review system, course tracking and more.
Visual Page Builder is included to give you plenty of hands-on control over the layout and elements. Guru additionally supports the Mega Menu plugin. It’s SEO ready and easy to set up and install with comprehensive documentation and importable dummy content included to get your premium courseware website up and running fast.More Info/Download
The appropriately titled LMS theme (that’s its name and its purpose, whoa) is another superb solution for course creation and course selling. It uses the WooThemes Sensei plugin for its coursework management, allowing users to create courses, plan and write lessons, and write quizzes for students.
LMS supports WooCommerce and both Events Calendar and Events Calendar Pro to help with event organization and management.
Its contemporary, flat design can be customized in the theme options, with four header styles to choose from, a parallax image option, and a variety of color schemes to work with. SEO optimized and WPML compatible.More Info/Download
The EduLMS theme has a lot of offer, even beyond its clean, modern, and user-friendly design. The developers pride themselves on their LMS platform being one of the easiest to use and, indeed, a look into the backend demo seems to support this claim.
Teachers can upload lessons, create assignments, create quizzes, and set passing scores. Students can take those quizzes, upload completed work and assignments, and track their overall progress.
EduLMS also leaves room for customization. Site owners can upload their own backgrounds and create an unlimited number of color schemes. The theme is SEO ready and well documented and supported.More Info/Download
Academy is a WordPress learning management theme that provides everything you need to create and sell courses online: extended profiles, a rating system, a questions system, file attachments, course tracking, WooCommerce support and lots more.
Four custom post types are baked in: Courses, Lessons, Testimonials and Slides. Extended user profiles allow your visitors to customize their profiles with custom avatars, social links, profile text and course lists.
Unlimited sidebars, a shortcodes editor, share buttons support, and Google Analytics add even more value to this already strong theme.More Info/Download
University – Education, Event and Course Theme
The University theme by cactusthemes is a user-friendly, flexible education theme that works as well for creating and selling online courses as it does for developing a more traditional college or school website. The theme is ultra responsive and retina-ready, with tons of options for customization on the back-end and a selection of preset skins to choose from.
Beyond it’s LMS capabilities (made possible by the LearnDash plugin), University additionally supports events and ticket selling via Event Calendar and WooConmerce, as well as course enrollment and payment.
The premium plugins Visual Composer and Revolution slider are included with the download.More Info/Download
Looks like that’s a wrap, everyone. Any of the above WordPress LMS themes ought to work well enough for selling knowledge, but Michigan is easily the standout here at the moment. If there’s one negative, it may be that WordPress beginners could feel overwhelmed by the sheer depth of the product. If you want a slightly simpler solution (without sacrificing any essential features), Guru might be the way to go.
If you have any suggestions or additions, or think that we’re totally, unequivocally wrong about our selections, feel free to let us know in the comments.