7 Best Excel Courses to Take in 2024 (read this first)
Working with spreadsheets is a fundamental skill for anyone with a computer in the 21st century. Programs like Excel let you do anything from basic to-do lists, goal tracking, and personal finance, to more complex things, like project management, data analytics, and financial modeling.
With Excel having such a vast array of tools and use cases, learners are confronted with an abundance of course options, all with different starting points and goals. By categorizing courses into levels and objectives, this article should help you decide which Excel course is right for you based on your current proficiency and interests.
Course selection criteria
Since Excel is so widely used, there are thousands of classes from which to choose. To help cull down the number of courses to only the most promising, I filtered courses using the following criteria:
- Organization and quality of content
- Breadth of topics covered
- Student and 3rd-party reviews
- Staff and student discussions
- Quizzes and assignments
- Excel version
These data points were used to both reduce all potential options and serve as the final filter, resulting in the list of courses you'll find below.
Best Excel courses for 2024
|Excel Skills for Business Specialization
|Excel for Everyone Professional Certificate
|Microsoft Excel - Excel from Beginner to Advanced
|Excel Basics Free Course
|Excel Skills for Data Analytics and Visualization Specialization
|Excel Skills for Business Forecasting Specialization
|Excel VBA Programming - The Complete Guide
Below, you'll find a breakdown and my impressions of each course after going through the video content, assignments, and reviews.
Most beginners, especially those who are business-focused
This business-focused Excel course from Macquarie University is the best overall course for beginners. This course's content is comprehensive, well-organized, and focused on business applications specifically, making it a great candidate for most individuals learning Excel from the ground up.
This Specialization is a series of courses that carry you from the fundamentals of Excel to advanced usage. The Specialization's primary focus is teaching you how to use spreadsheets in a company to provide meaningful insight via summary data and visualizations.
Course 1: Excel Skills for Bussiness: Essentials
- Excel intro
- Performing calculations
- Formatting data
- Working with data
- Printing spreadsheets
- Charting data
Course 2: Excel Skills for Business: Intermediate 1
- Working with multiple worksheets and workbooks
- Text and date functions
- Named ranges
- Summarizing data
- Pivot tables, charts, and slicers
Course 3: Excel Skills for Business: Intermediate 2
- Data validation
- Conditional logic
- Automating Lookups
- Formula auditing and protection
- Data modeling
- Recording macros
Course 4: Excel Skills for Business: Advanced
- Spreadsheet design and documentation
- Advanced formula techniques
- Data cleaning and preparation
- Financial functions and working with dates
- Advanced Lookup functions
- Building professional dashboards
Overall, I found this Specialization to be the most helpful for most people learning Excel. The assessments and homework are challenging and highly relevant to things you'll do in the real world, and the lecturers teach at a nice pace with great depth.
This course might not be for Mac users, though, since some reviewers mention shortcuts taught and answers on assignments are inconsistent.
Enroll in Excel Skills for Business Specialization
Beginners who have an interest in data analytics
This edX course series from the University of British Columbia focuses on teaching Excel in the context of data analytics. If you're a beginner learning Excel primarily to organize, clean, analyze, and visualize data, then this is a great place to start.
In contrast to the previous course on this list, this course is less focused on business applications and more on analyzing data in general. While this course is an excellent place to start, feel free to check out my other data analytics course suggestions if that's your interest.
Course 1: Excel for Everyone: Core Foundations
- Excel fundamentals
- Data entry
- Formulas and functions
- Filtering and sorting tables
- Basic charting
Course 2: Excel for Everyone: Data Management
- Managing multiple worksheets and workbooks
- Analyze data with datasets and tables
- Implementing What-If analysis
- Decision-making tools
- Date, logical, statistical, and financial functions
Course 3: Excel for Everyone: Data Analysis Fundamentals
- Advanced formulas and conditional logic
- Analyze and report on data frequently
- Automating tasks
- Advanced data analysis
- Workbook collaboration
- Formula audits and data validation
- Macros and Visual Basic
- Advanced charting and dashboards
The instructor for this course is highly engaging in all videos and explains concepts more intuitively than others. Upon completion of this program, you should have a general knowledge of performing analytics effectively with Excel, allowing you to apply it immediately in business or on personal projects. You'll also have a strong base for learning other data analytics skills if you're interested in pursuing a data-oriented career.
Complete beginners who feel less computer savvy
This is an excellent general beginner course but is especially helpful for those that may not feel as comfortable with spreadsheet software whatsoever. The instructor describes every aspect of his actions and the Excel interface in far greater detail than other courses in this list. Some reviewers claim his videos are a little too wordy, but I find this to be a massive benefit for those less tech-savvy.
- Excel fundamentals
- Using text and formulas
- Basic Excel functions
- Modifying and formatting data
- Inserting images and shapes
- Basic charts
- Printing worksheets
- Working with templates
- Working with lists
- Data validation
- Importing and exporting data
- PivotTables and PowerPivot
- Working with large datasets
- Conditional, Lookup, and Text-based functions
- Auditing and protecting worksheets
- What-If tools
- Automating tasks with macros
- Excel VBA fundamentals
There are 218 lectures making up a little over 18 hours of video content, demonstrating the sheer amount of detail the instructor goes into in this course. The course has downloaded practice workbooks after every handful of lectures, allowing you to practice everything you just learned. Additionally, the course wraps up with seven example projects, ranging from importing data to cleaning data with VBA.
Any beginners that don't care about the benefits of a major course platform
The ExcelIsFun channel put together this playlist for learning Excel for free on YouTube. The ExcelIsFun instructor has a knack for teaching, repetition, and simple examples for an optimal learning experience.
This course may not be for you if you prefer more structure and the interactivity that course platforms provide. The instructor does provide downloadable example resources, but you won't find interactive quizzes and assessments like you would on Coursera.
- Formatting, formulas, cell references, page setup
- Formula inputs and charts
- Basic Excel functions
- PivotTables to create summary reports
- Keyboard shortcuts
- Data alignment
- Number formatting
- IF and IS functions
- VLOOKUP function and relationships
- Mixed cell references
- Style formatting
- Sorting, filtering, flash filling data
- Charts and graphs
- Power Query basics
The instructor uses many simple worksheet examples from the start of the series, making the content easy to understand and practice for yourself. The overall sentiment for this course in the comments and on forums is highly positive. The playlist itself currently has almost 700k views, making it a good option for getting the basics of Excel down quickly.
Enroll in Excel Basics Free Course
Anyone familiar with Excel already and have an interest in data analytics
This is an intermediate course by Macquarie University focused more on data analytics and visualization. Since this Specialization is a higher level, you should already be familiar with Excel. The quality of instruction and video style is fantastic, and the explanations for each concept are better than most.
If you already have some Excel experience, this course series would be a better starting point since it covers many other valuable business topics.
Course 1: Excel Fundamentals for Data Analysis
- Cleaning and manipulating text
- Working with numbers and dates
- Defined Names
- Logical and Lookup functions
Course 2: Data Visualization in Excel
- Data visualization using conditional formatting, sparklines, and number formats
- Advanced charting techniques
- Creating interactive dashboards using Pivot Charts, Slicers, and dynamic charts
Course 3: Excel Power Tools for Data Analysis
- Power Query
- Transforming data with the Query Editor
- Power Pivot and the Data Model
- Visualizing data with Power BI
As you can see, there's a much strong focus on using, manipulating, and visualizing data, which are foundational skills in data analytics careers.
Owners of businesses or small business management personnel
Like the previous course, this one also comes out of Macquarie University and is at the intermediate level. Unlike the last course, though, this Specialization focuses on business forecasting, which is an excellent skill set for business personnel.
Course 1: Excel Time Series Models for Business Forecasting
- Time series models
- Level time series
- Trending time series
- Seasonal time series
Course 2: Excel Regression Models for Business Forecasting
- Regression models
- Multiple variable regression
- Dummy variable regression
- Seasonal dummy regression
Course 3: Judgmental Business Forecasting in Excel
- Business indicators
- Subjective assessment models
- Exploratory methods
- Biases and bringing all of business forecasting together
This Specialization contains many topics found in data science courses, and should prove to be a valuable resource for those that are already comfortable with Excel in general.
One downside to this course series is that significantly fewer students have enrolled compared to other courses mentioned in this article, so you may not interact with other students in the forums.
Advanced Excel users looking to take advantage of VBA programming
Visual Basic programming unlocks powerful tools for automation and working with data in Excel, and this course teaches everything you need to know to get started. This is an advanced course that you should only consider taking once you're very comfortable with Excel. With that said, I found the explanations, breadth, and depth of the concepts in this course to be far more intuitive than other VBA offerings.
- Macro fundamentals
- Visual Basic editor intro and features
- Fundamentals of the Excel Object Model
- Objects and Methods
- Variables and Data Types
- Object deep dive
- Range references
- Range actions
- User forms
The outline of this course follows a similar pattern to other general programming language courses.
Furthermore, if you are thinking about learning programming, consider Python (see best python courses), since everything you can accomplish in Excel you can also perform in Python with the pandas library.
Completing real-world projects is the best way to sharpen your skills. And even though it's usually best to research, design, and finish a project of your own interest, even a guided project can be just as helpful.
The best resource I've found for such projects is Coursera's guided projects section for Excel.
When you join one of Coursera's guided projects, you join a hybrid interactive environment in your browser, which lets you step through video instructions as you complete the project. After finishing a few projects, you should feel comfortable applying your new skills to any personal projects of your own interest.
Coursera vs. edX vs. Udemy vs. YouTube
Is there a best platform? Coursera and edX are highly specialized learning platforms with built-in interactive elements, such as quizzes and automatic homework grading. Udemy and YouTube courses don't have these luxuries, but they are similar to Coursera and edX in that they usually have instructor-created assignments available.
Generally, I've found Udemy to have more real-world content and Coursera/edX to have more theoretical content. In this case, the Excel content is relatively similar. Overall, I didn't find many Udemy Excel courses worth the money, even at $10, because of the quality. The great part about Coursera, edX, and YouTube is that all classes on these platforms are free to view. YouTube is free, and Coursera and edX both have free-to-audit options, allowing you to watch all video content and participate in some assessments. However, both Coursera and edX do withhold tests, homework grading, and final projects; for those, you'll need to upgrade to the paid version.
Nothing beats having your questions answered by a knowledgeable person or group when learning online, and each of the courses listed above has some form of Q&A forum. Coursera and edX have discussion forums inside each course, where you can communicate with staff and other students. Udemy has a question board under every video, where you can both view others' questions and ask your own. Similarly, YouTube is replete with question comments under each video.
If you find any of your questions unanswered, you can also check out other discussion forums and apps. For example, Reddit has a subreddit for learning Excel over at /r/learnexcel, where you'll find friendly Redditors answering all sorts of questions, no matter the complexity.
If you're brand new to Excel, I hope you found a course in this list that fits your learning style so you can explore and gain new life and business skills. Likewise, if you're already familiar with Excel, I hope you found a class that'll help you hone your Excel skills even further.
Regardless of where you're at in your Excel journey, good luck and have fun studying, learning, and doing!