Realtors who are looking at getting their agent or broker license will need to complete pre-licensing education requirements—the number of education hours needed before sitting for the exam varies by state. Every state tracks its own data, but the Texas Real Estate Commission cites that the overall pass rate is 60.85% for both agents and brokers. This highlights why online real estate schools can be helpful in terms of the ability to study and receive support for prospects at their own pace.
With so many real estate schools online, it’s hard to determine which one is the best fit. That’s why we compiled a list of the best, looking at factors such as price, support, post-licensing classes and opportunities, availability, strong pass rates, and length of the program.
The 6 Best Online Real Estate Schools of 2020
Best Overall: Real Estate Express
Offers a wide range of real estate courses, including ones to help realtors launch their career
Both ARELLO (Association of Real Estate License Law Officials) and IDECC (International Distance Education Certification Center) certified
Offers live Q&A hours via chat for certain real estate courses
Access to courses expires after six months
No option for post-licensing for many states
No hard copies of study materials for most tiers (though you can print them online)
Founded in 1996 and part of the McKissock group of companies, Real Estate Express offers pre- and post-licensing courses throughout the U.S. The company is accredited by ARELLO (Association of Real Estate License Law Officials) and IDECC (International Distance Education Certification Center), and the courses adhere to its legal and educational guidelines. It offers pre-licensing courses in 34 states, but only post-licensing courses to renew your brokerage license in nine.
Course offerings include four tiers—from a basic self-study course starting at $119 to the “Ultimate Learning” option, which includes instructor Q&A sessions, professional development membership for a year, and a printed course textbook in addition to the pre-license and exam prep course.
All tiers have expert instructors approved by each state that's available on Real Estate Express. With the exception of the basic package, the company offers a “Pass or Don't Pay Guarantee,” in which the company will refund your purchase price if you don’t pass your exam—Florida and Tennessee are the only exceptions.
Why We Chose It: Real Estate Express offers courses that are both affordable and comprehensive, offering exam prep, accredited pre-licensing courses, and career path information. It’s one of the most affordable options for those looking for career guidance pre- and post-exam.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Kaplan
Offers courses with instructors who are practicing real estate agents
Features a wide range of options to access and interact with instructors
Continuing education (CE) hours are competitively priced
Pricing is higher compared to other companies (though those tend to be self-paced courses)
Interface is slightly dated and not as user-friendly
Shipping of learning materials not included in course prices
Founded in 1938, Kaplan is one of the largest online education companies with a presence in over 28 countries. Their online courses are mostly instructor-led in a mix of live and on-demand formats. It’s a great fit for those who prefer a more traditional approach to studying but also want the flexibility of online learning.
All online options—home study (their self-study option), on-demand, and live classes—start at $179 and include their Interactive Study Group feature. This covers all national and state content in a live webinar format, in which you can join in on a discussion with members of Kaplan’s instructors. The online live course includes their interactive exam prep module.
Kaplan demonstrates success in the competitive Texas market with an overall pass rate of 74.71%.
Why We Chose It: Kaplan offers pre-licensing courses in all 50 states and a wide range of offerings in terms of how interactive you want the exam prep courses to be. We also like the two-day bootcamp that helps new real estate agents with their first year of licensure. However, it didn’t make No. 1 on our list because of the higher price point and the website not being as user-friendly.
Best Value: 360 Training
Full pre-licensing courses at the lowest prices on our list
No need to take an exam prep course
Offers a money-back guarantee if you fail your licensing exam three times
Pre-licensing courses only available in 10 states
Website not very user-friendly
No interactive component with instructors
If you’re an aspiring real estate agent who thrives on studying independently, 360 Training is a great choice since it sells self-study packaged and separate pre-licensing courses, plus individual exam prep offerings. Founded in 1997, the company is based in Austin, Texas, and works with over 1,500 e-learning partners worldwide.
360 Training offers pre-licensing, exam prep, post-licensing, and continuing education courses. What’s great is that you can pick and choose from individual courses. Their pre-licensing course offers two tiers—the more premium one offers a money-back guarantee if you don’t pass your exam three times. According to the company, courses are developed by experts in the real estate industry and adhere to state licensing requirements.
Unfortunately, you won’t get as much interactive training as others on this list, and there are no pre-licensing options for states other than Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Montana, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
Why We Chose It: 360 Training offers some of the lowest prices, from $79 for pre-licensing. Customers can also order separate course materials and opt out of exam prep to create a more budget-friendly studying experience.
Best for Brokers: Center for Realtor Development
Offers a number of highly specialized continuing education classes
Has credibility since it has close ties with the National Association of Realtors
Licensed realtors can take certifications and designations that reflect trends and in-demand areas, like the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Green Designation and Real Estate Negotiation Expert Certification
No pre-license and exam prep classes
Most classes require an existing NAR membership
Selection of classes may not be relevant to everyone
The Center for Realtor Development (CRD) is an online real estate school for licensed real estate professionals who want to further their careers by taking niche market certifications and designations. Endorsed by the National Association of Realtors, these courses range from ones such as real estate technology and green real estate.
Since you already need to be licensed, certifications and designations are available nationwide. Specially credentialled realtors and professionals will need to maintain their membership with NAR, whereas a designation offers exclusive benefits that require realtors to maintain NAR membership, plus annual dues. Many designations fulfill CE credits, but check the fine print before enrolling.
Continuing education classes may differ by state. Most of the courses offer an interactive component where you can participate in an online and have the option to contact your instructor.
Why We Chose It: Topics for continuing education include more specialized courses to help with career development compared to other online education companies. On that list are second vacation home sales, solar housing real estate, seniors real estate specialty, and more (will differ by state).
Best for Test Prep: OnCourse Learning
ARELLO and IDECC certified and approved by The Appraisal Foundation
Pre-licensing courses available in all 50 states
Exam prep tool mimics what you might experience during the real exam
Course materials only available for six months (you can pay to extend access for another three months)
Not as wide of a variety of CE courses compared to other competitors
Instructor support not as customized as other online real estate schools
As a nationally approved school and created by instructors who have experience as home inspectors, OnCourse Learning offers pre-licensing, post-licensing, and some CE courses. The company also offers a list of textbooks you can purchase individually to help you with your real estate training.
Courses start as low as $129 and you can add exam prep for an extra $79—higher tiered packages for pre-licensing also include a pass the exam guarantee feature. What we like about OnCourse Learning’s exam prep, called Prep xL, is that it offers a customized way to prepare for your real exam. There's a training mode where you can access all 1,000 questions in an untimed test. The testing mode mimics a real test, pulling in a certain amount of questions. There's even a timer, and after the test, you'll receive your results with feedback.
Why We Chose It: The online school's Prep xL feature is specifically designed for test prep and not the licensing hours. With 1,000 questions in the test bank, getting a passing score on the Prep xL gives students the best indication of whether or not they are ready for the exam.
Best for Continuing Education: The CE Shop
Offers a free trial for some courses on their website
Features one of the largest number of continuing education courses online
Individual CE course start as low as $9
Exam for pre-licensing not available nationwide
Cannot separate pre-licensing and exam prep courses
Website not as user-friendly as others
Founded in 2005 and accredited by ARELLO, The CE Shop shines in its CE courses. That’s not to say their pre-licensing courses aren’t great, considering packages start at $90, but there’s not much that really differentiates The CE Shop from other online real estate schools.
As for their CE courses, they’re available nationwide—although specifics may differ from state to state. Individual courses start as low as $9 and there are plenty of options that will help you fulfill your requirements. For example, realtors can choose from individual courses such as diversity training and mortgage fraud awareness or get their NAR ethics requirement completed quickly.
Instructors are all real estate industry veterans who have been in the business for a number of years.
Why We Chose It: There’s a reason the company is called CE Shop—it offers one of the highest continuing education courses online. Realtors from all 50 states can access courses for all stages of their careers and their offerings are relevant to what’s happening in the real estate industry.
Can You Take a Real Estate School Online?
To become a realtor, pre-licensing hours are required in order to obtain your real estate license. Depending on your state, you’ll need to complete a pre-license education course—you’ll need to meet a certain number of hours from schools that are approved by the state. For example, real estate agents and brokers in California need to complete a course that’s a minimum of 45 hours and is approved by the Department of Real Estate—hours will vary by state.
Online real estate schools that meet the credentials of pre-licensing are those that have gone through an accreditation process (your state should have a list of schools that are approved). Keep in mind that online schools are accredited, but not all will work in your state. That means you’ll need to do some research by browsing through the website to see what’s available in your state and familiarize yourself with any requirements you need to meet before enrolling. It’s also probably a good idea to check your state’s licensing requirements before signing up.
What Is Online Test Prep for a Real Estate License?
Every state requires some kind of pre-licensing education to get your real estate license. Online real estate schools may also offer online test prep services, which are different from getting your pre-licensing hours.
Test prep is typically voluntary, but it might help you pass your state-administered exam to get your real estate license. Some real estate schools offer more personalized approaches by having you go through the course with an instructor. While it can be helpful if you’re nervous about taking the exam or you find you need more help with understanding certain concepts, test prep courses mean you’re paying more. Also, it could mean that you’re spending more time preparing for the test than necessary.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Real Estate License Online?
Each state has different requirements, but the time to complete for pre-licensing work can range from as little as 24 hours to as high as 180 hours. Remember, you’re also going through the course at your own pace, but that doesn’t necessarily change the required pre-licensing hours.
However, taking a bit longer to go through it online—whether that’s through the assistance of a test prep course or other means—could fit your learning style better. You don’t need to worry about setting aside specific blocks of time for an in-person course. Instead, going online could help you fit studying into your existing schedule much better.
How Much Does an Online Real Estate School Cost?
Online real estate schools have a range of prices that vary based on whether you sign up for the pre-licensure class only or tack on an exam prep course. Depending on where you reside and whether you opt for test prep, online classes can range from $119 to $900. This is in comparison to at least $750 that it typically costs to attend a live, in-person class—not including exam prep.
How We Chose the Best Online Real Estate Schools
To make sure that our findings offered the best opportunities for pre-licensing classes in as many states as possible, we looked at 14 online real estate schools before making our decision. We looked at factors such as price, support, availability, post-licensing opportunities, strong pass rates, and length of the program so that you can find the course that's right for you.
Texas Real Estate Commission. "Provider Exam Passage Rates for Sales Agents and Brokers." Accessed April 27, 2020.
Californina Department of Real Estate. "Required Statutory / Pre-License Real Estate Courses." Accessed April 27, 2020.
Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. "Real Estate Commission." Accessed April 27, 2020.
Kaplan. "What Does The Real Estate Prelicensing Education Consist Of?" Accessed April 27, 2020.
State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. "Real Estate Broker."
Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. "Real Estate Board: Pre-License Education."