The Best Online Real Estate Schools in California of 2023

For those looking to strike it big in real estate, one of the best online real estate schools in California can offer the training needed to begin the journey.

By Melissa Tracey | Published May 31, 2023 3:01 PM

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

The Best Online Real Estate Schools in California Options


The real estate industry can offer a lucrative career, particularly in a place like California, which long has been known for having one of the nation’s most thriving markets. Enrolling in a real estate school is the first step to acquiring a license and kick-starting a new career. The process may feel easier to begin, too, with growing options for real estate online learning programs that meet the state’s requirements. These real estate programs can offer flexibility and convenience for completing the coursework all online and doing it at the student’s pace and convenience.

Real estate professionals must be licensed to fulfill the duties of the job, from writing contracts to negotiating deals, so they can earn commissions from property transactions. When taking a real estate course online, students will be exposed to lessons that cover principles and practices of real estate, financing and mortgages, escrow, buying and selling, fair housing laws, and more. This guide highlights the best online real estate schools in California to help set students up for success as they embark on becoming licensed real estate professionals.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Colibri Real Estate
  2. RUNNER-UP: The CE Shop
  5. BEST EXAM PREP: AceableAgent
  6. ALSO CONSIDER: Kaplan Real Estate Education
The Best Online Real Estate Schools in California Options


What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Online Real Estate Schools in California

To be eligible to take the real estate licensing exam, students will need to complete 135 hours of real estate prelicensing courses in California. One of the best online real estate schools can be a convenient way to fulfill that requirement. But not all schools are created equal. When vetting real estate online classes in California, students will want to consider the course’s accreditation and state approval status, cost, availability, guarantees, and student support offerings. This guide will help students carefully weigh California real estate schools online using the following criteria.

Accreditation and State Approval

The California Department of Real Estate (DRE) is the governing body in the state for the real estate profession. It accredits courses to meet the 135 hours of prelicensing education requirement. So in selecting an online program, students will find this an important criterion to judge the best real estate courses in California, and they can verify that a course is accredited through the DRE website. Also, some programs may tout an added third-party accreditation. This may indicate an extra level of accountability that a program has up-to-date course materials that reflect the latest market conditions.

Course Types

Online real estate schools offer different pathways for agents and brokers to meet the prelicensing education requirement. The courses are usually split into three sections: real estate principles, real estate practice, and an elective such as the legal or financing aspects of real estate. Online providers may offer a variety of coursework to meet these education requirements, such as on topics like escrow, fair housing laws, contracts, and property management.

After completing the prelicensing coursework and getting licensed, real estate professionals will find further education mandates that they’ll need to meet during their careers. The state of California requires licensed agents to complete 45 hours of continuing education every 4 years. Many online real estate schools offer not only prelicensing coursework but also continuing education to meet those requirements. This provides an added level of convenience so students can rely on and return to one platform for all of their learning needs.


The costs for prelicensing training programs can vary widely, spanning anywhere from $100 to about $1,000. The best California real estate license courses may help save on costs since they don’t require commuting to class, campus parking fees, or printed textbooks. But while cost is an important criterion for picking a school, students won’t want to automatically go with the cheapest real estate course. Sometimes a more expensive program may be worth that extra investment, especially for those new to real estate and who desire greater instructor support or a California real estate exam prep course with more study aids to better the chances of passing the licensing exam.

Beyond the prelicensing program fee, students may want to factor in other costs of their real estate pursuit—like the state’s real estate exam (between $60 to $95) and the real estate license California cost with application fees (which could be about $250 or more). Also, new licensees will have additional costs during their career for continuing education, license renewal costs, brokerage or desk fees, National Association of Realtors membership, and marketing and business expenses.

Availability and Accessibility

Students will want to consider the format of how online courses are delivered or accessed and whether that fits the student’s preferred learning style, whether that’s a playback of audio or video lectures or live-streamed classes. Some programs may be self-paced or on demand, which means the student can complete them at their own pace. Other courses may be live, virtual sessions, requiring the student to be present at a specified time. Scheduled classes may be an option for those with consistent daily schedules, whereas those who have variable schedules day-to-day may benefit more from a self-paced option.

Also, in evaluating online real estate programs, students will want to consider how they prefer to access course materials, such as with a print-friendly PDF or via mobile device, tablet, or computer. They may prefer digital course materials or mobile access if they plan to complete the coursework while on the go. Some courses also provide hard copies of learning materials if students prefer to study from physical materials.

Some online programs offer greater instructor support than others. Instructors may be available via email, instant message, phone, or through video calls if questions arise as the student goes through the curriculum. Many online programs require a commitment to completion, too, giving students a deadline to complete the coursework within a certain time frame after enrollment (often spanning 6 months to a year). Students will want to ensure that the timeline is feasible to meet for their purposes.

Preparation and Testing Procedures

Real estate professionals are required to get licensed in California to practice real estate. California requires the passage of a real estate exam to become a broker or salesperson. (The licensing exam is administered in person at locations throughout the state, and students can schedule their exam through the DRE once their course is completed.) Real estate prelicensing courses can vary with regard to the extent of their exam prep support. For example, some programs may offer practice questions, digital flashcards to help students learn key concepts, video exam prep sessions, or exam prep study guides.


Many of the best online real estate programs offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. This allows students who are dissatisfied with the training program to receive a full refund. Some online programs also may offer a “pass” guarantee. With this, students may be eligible for a refund of the licensing exam cost or a class fee if they fail to pass the prelicensing real estate exam. Some students may prefer a program with these extra guarantees to help ensure their investment in an online real estate program pays off in getting licensed.

Student Support

It can feel lonely taking online without the presence of peers or an instructor meeting face-to-face in a classroom. Many programs, however, offer resources for students to connect with instructors if they have any questions about the course materials or need to troubleshoot any technical issues while using the online platform. Having that extra support and responsiveness available throughout the program may help with a smooth completion.

Some real estate programs may offer add-on student support services, like one-on-one tutoring to help students with their coursework (which may be particularly helpful to those who are new to real estate) as well as post-license opportunities, like mentoring for those who just earned their license and are now beginning their careers.

Our Top Picks

California offers dozens of online real estate schools that can help fulfill prelicensing education requirements. Some may prefer a program that just offers basic course materials that they can complete at their own pace with minimal support from instructors, while other students may desire programs that offer more robust instruction and greater interaction with instructors or study aids to prepare for the prelicensing real estate exam. No matter what a student is looking for, the best online real estate schools in California that are featured in this guide cover a broad range of available education offerings.

Best Overall

The Best Online Real Estate Schools in California Option Colibri Real Estate

Why It Made the Cut: Colibri Real Estate has a user-friendly interface for its online learning platform that mixes in opportunities for instructor support, live and on-demand course options, and abundant study prep to help students prepare to take the prelicensing real estate exam.

Colibri Real Estate offers live-stream and online courses so students can choose their preferred learning option, whether that’s self-paced or instructor-led. Live, interactive exam prep sessions include instructor support and invite students to ask questions and receive instant answers. All course materials are available as printouts or digitally optimized for desktop or mobile use so students can study whenever and however it’s most convenient. The program includes extensive study aids, including exam prep materials and practice tests. It also offers training options for post-license students, such as continuing education, sales license renewal, and professional development course options.

Students will need to stay on track: They have 6 months from enrollment to finish the course.

But they can have assurance of success, as Colibri offers a “pass or don’t pay guarantee” for all but its most basic course packages. This can offer extra assurance to students that their investment in a program will pay off by passing the state’s salesperson licensing exam after completing the coursework or they can receive a refund.



  • Cost for prelicensing: $129 to $449
  • Additional course types: Broker prelicensing, sales license renewal, professional development
  • Course expiry: 6 months after purchase
  • Pass guarantee: With Exam Preparation, Exam Preparation Plus, and Ultimate Learning packages


  • Live and on-demand course options
  • Live, interactive exam prep sessions
  • Pass guarantee available with select packages
  • Physical and digital course materials provided
  • Convenient mobile-friendly courses


  • Relatively short 6-month course expiry


The Best Online Real Estate Schools in California Option The CE Shop

Why It Made the Cut: The CE Shop offers several online course package options so students can choose their preferred learning format for coursework, along with extensive exam prep offerings and post-license assistance to help meet continuing education requirements during their careers.

The CE Shop offers several coursework package offerings to choose from that include extra features like e-books, digital flashcards, study schedules, extra exam prep, and business-building courses to help launch a real estate career. The content is downloadable, so it can be available offline to access at a student’s convenience. The courses are in mobile-friendly formats and optimized for both desktop and mobile use.

The CE Shop boasts high exam pass rates and student satisfaction marks for its online real estate program. Many of its course packages come with pass guarantees for the prelicensing exam, or students are eligible to receive a refund. Still, some users have cited concerns over The CE Shop’s test-taking platform (for in-course exams, not the official state licensing exam); students have noted it as being buggy or unresponsive. But student support is touted as being helpful and responsive to troubleshoot any issues that may arise. Students unsure whether they want to commit to the program can take advantage of a 5-day free trial to test out the program first.



  • Cost for prelicensing: $139 to $469
  • Additional course types: Sales license renewal, broker renewal
  • Course expiry: 1 year after purchase
  • Pass guarantee: With Standard, Value, and Premium packages


  • Generous 5-day free trial for prelicensing courses
  • Wide range of continuing education courses
  • Convenient mobile-friendly courses
  • Pass guarantee available with select packages


  • Reports of user-unfriendly testing platform

Best Career Enhancement

The Best Online Real Estate Schools in California Option OnlineEd

Why It Made the Cut: The OnlineEd program has a wide range of professional development courses to choose from in helping students not just pass the prelicensing exam but prepare them to embark on a real estate career.

Students may like the convenience of choosing an online real estate program that doesn’t just offer prelicensing education but also offers abundant choices for courses in professional development and continuing education to help them throughout their careers. OnlineEd also offers state-required sexual harassment training, so students can bundle multiple required courses under one platform.

OnlineEd offers print-friendly PDFs and e-books of all reading materials that also can be available on a tablet or Kindle. Students can also receive a bound textbook with one of the course package options. For licensing exam prep, OnlineEd features a large bank of test questions to help students become familiar with exam topics. OnlineEd students will need to purchase its “silver” or “gold” package offerings to gain instructor support when reviewing course content and concepts (likely a good option for those who are new to real estate or foresee needing additional assistance). Otherwise, under its affordable $99 “bronze” package, students can complete the coursework through self-paced, self-guided instruction. The program offers a free demo to try out the course before fully committing. Students will have 1 year after enrolling to complete the program. OnlineEd offers discounts to veterans as well as provides some cost assistance to eligible students who enroll.



  • Cost for prelicensing: $99 to $324
  • Additional course types: Broker prelicensing, sales license renewal, broker renewal, continuing education, professional development
  • Course expiry: 1 year after purchase
  • Pass guarantee: Not specified


  • Relatively affordable starting cost
  • Physical and digital course materials provided
  • State-required sexual harassment training offered
  • Wide range of professional development courses offered


  • No instructor support offered

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Online Real Estate Schools in California Option RealEstateU

Why It Made the Cut RealEstateU offers one of the lowest costs for an online real estate program at $99 and includes a large library of audio lectures that allow students to listen in as they go.

RealEstateU leans heavily toward delivering content via audio lectures, which caters to students who prefer to listen over watching instructors on video or reading coursework online. The audio lectures may offer busy professionals a better opportunity to squeeze in coursework during their day. The entire online platform can be accessed from any device, from mobile and tablet to desktop. RealEstateU touts that each lesson is taught by experienced real estate professionals. It offers several practice quizzes to help students prepare for the prelicensing exam. Students can review and study key sections using downloadable documents and infographics. RealEstateU does not offer courses beyond prelicensing, so students will need to look at other programs or platforms when looking to complete license renewal requirements or fulfilling continuing education credits.

RealEstateU is considered a budget-friendly option, offering a prelicensing program for as low as $99. The program also features 24/7 student support. Students who enroll will need to complete the program within 1 year. However, RealEstateU does have a 30-day money-back guarantee after enrollment. Students can receive a refund if they’re dissatisfied with the program (assuming they’ve only completed less than half of the program by that time).



  • Cost for prelicensing: $99
  • Additional course types: N/A
  • Course expiry: 1 year after purchase
  • Pass guarantee: Not specified


  • Relatively affordable cost
  • Convenient mobile-friendly courses
  • 24/7 student support


  • No courses offered beyond prelicensing

Best Exam Prep

The Best Online Real Estate Schools in California Option AceableAgent

Why It Made the Cut: AceableAgent offers students a comprehensive study site to prepare for the prelicensing exam, which includes study aids, digital flashcards for learning key vocabulary terms, 75 videos, and 70 audio instructor lessons.

AceableAgent’s exam prep in partnership with PrepAgent is a standout: Students get access to a real estate exam prep e-book and 1,660-plus practice exam questions to prepare for the prelicensing test. AceableAgent also includes live, interactive exam prep sessions to enhance the learning experience. Also, under its basic package, students still have access to instructor support and can email course experts anytime with questions or for feedback. AceableAgent offers coursework in a PDF format to give students the flexibility to “read course material like a textbook” from their digital screens or by printing it out.

A pass guarantee for the prelicensing sales exam is also available under some of its plans, offering students extra assurance after taking the program. AceableAgent’s Deluxe and Premium packages also include live webinars and live-stream Q&As with instructors or even private tutoring from a real estate professional. AceableAgent’s program has professional development courses, but it does not include license renewal courses for California at this time; however, these courses may be available in the future.



  • Cost for prelicensing: $179 to $319
  • Additional course types: Professional development
  • Course expiry: Not specified
  • Pass guarantee: With Deluxe and Premium packages


  • Comprehensive exam prep materials offered
  • Live, interactive exam prep sessions
  • Pass guarantee available with select packages


  • No license renewal courses offered in California

Also Consider


Why It Made the Cut: A giant in the exam prep space, Kaplan offers an online education solution focused on real estate that may be appealing to those who prefer a live-stream format to complete their training.

Kaplan Real Estate Education offers flexibility for learning with a variety of class format offerings, such as printed textbooks or digital course materials, on-demand online videos, or live online classroom instruction. It boasts a wide variety of course offerings whether for those just starting out in real estate, newly licensed professionals, or even more seasoned pros in the real estate space. The program does come at a higher cost than many of its competitors; program packages start at about $400 and can stretch upwards to nearly $1,000. Kaplan also offers a relatively short timeline of 6 months to complete the program after enrollment. Students enrolling will want to be committed to staying focused to finish within that time frame to make sure their investment was worth it.

Kaplan offers extras besides prelicensing education requirements, such as additional courses on how to run a real estate business or even face-to-face time with a career mentor. It also has post-licensing courses, broker prelicensing, sales and broker renewal, professional development, and continuing education—offering a one-stop shop to meet all of a student’s real estate education needs whether pre- or post-licensed.



  • Cost for prelicensing: $399 to $949
  • Additional course types: Broker prelicensing, sales license renewal, broker renewal, professional development
  • Course expiry: 6 months after purchase
  • Pass guarantee: Not specified


  • Live and on-demand course options
  • Physical and digital course materials provided


  • Relatively high costs
  • Relatively short 6-month course expiry

Our Verdict

We recommend Colibri Real Estate because it offers live or on-demand course options, interactive exam prep sessions (which also include instructor support), and abundant study and course materials. Colibri Real Estate also offers a relatively affordable cost for its online real estate program, starting at $129, with even its lowest-cost options including instructor support. The CE Shop is another great site for those looking to pursue an online real estate course, with courses designed to be taken on mobile devices and a 5-day free trial before committing to the full program.

How We Chose the Best Online Real Estate Schools in California

The online programs featured in this guide were evaluated based on multiple factors, including course type offerings, accessibility, costs, availability of preparation materials, program guarantees, and student support.

All of the courses evaluated in this guide also have been approved by the California Department of Real Estate. Also, the DRE has not taken any formal action or filed complaints against any of the companies listed at the time of this guide’s publication.

Before You Enroll in One of the Best Online Real Estate Schools in California

Students have many options for how, when, and where to take real estate prelicensing classes. Online schools usually fit under asynchronous or synchronous formats. Asynchronous classes have no scheduled meetings, and students complete work and assignments within their own time frames; synchronous classes offer courses with set meeting times and where a professor instructs learners virtually. Another option is in a classroom setting, in which live, in-person classes meet face-to-face on a regular schedule. Some California private vocational schools offer prelicense education programs if students prefer a more traditional in-person classroom environment. Hybrid classes can offer a mix of synchronous or live in-person courses.

Self-starters or busy professionals may prefer the greater flexibility of asynchronous classes, which they can complete on their own schedule. On the other hand, some students may desire greater structure and prefer live-streamed virtual classes or even in-person courses for networking or getting instant feedback or any questions answered promptly.

Cost of Enrolling in One of the Best Online Real Estate Schools in California

When desiring to earn a real estate license, students will want to consider the full scope of costs to avoid surprises. In meeting prelicensing education requirements, an online real estate program can cost anywhere between $99 and about $1,000.

Students also will want to budget for additional fees: Licensing fees may cost about $245, and exam fees may cost between $60 to $95. Students who do not pass the exam will need to pay the exam fee each time they retake it. Also, after getting licensed, real estate professionals can expect on-time renewal fees to cost about $245. Broker fees are often slightly higher for all of these categories as well.

The Advantages of Enrolling in One of the Best Online Real Estate Schools in California

An online program can offer many benefits to completing prelicensing education requirements. The growing availability of accredited real estate schools in California may make it feel more obtainable for time-crunched professionals. Here are some benefits of enrolling in an online real estate school in California.

  • Convenience and flexibility: Students will not need to physically attend a class and can access course materials from anywhere and at any time as they work around their own busy schedules and move through the coursework at their own pace.
  • Adaptive learning styles: Online programs cater to many different learning preferences, whether that’s through listening to audio lectures or reading printable PDF course materials or digital copies to accessing live-streaming or on-demand video lectures.
  • Post-licensing opportunities: Besides just offering prelicensing education and exam preparation, many of the best online real estate programs can also help real estate professionals meet their education needs throughout their career, including for sales or broker renewals, continuing education, and certification or designation training.


Before committing to an online real estate program, students will want to ensure it’s a good fit for both how they learn and their budget. They’ll also want to assess whether it will adequately prepare them to pass the prelicensing exam. Here are a few common questions.

Q. Do you have to go to college to be a real estate agent in California?

You don’t need to have a college degree to get a real estate license. But you are required to complete a prelicensing education requirement to earn a license. That encompasses taking three college-level courses that are accredited by the California Department of Real Estate. These courses often focus on the practice and principles of real estate and then cover an elective (often on a topic such as financing or business law).

Q. Are real estate courses tough?

It depends. If you’re not already familiar with the ins and outs of real estate, you may find it challenging at first. There will be lots to study, memorize, and learn to successfully pass the prelicensing real estate exam. Depending on your prior real estate experience and familiarity with it, you may prefer a program that offers greater instructor support or even live sessions to gain instant feedback on your questions as you get up to speed.

Q. Is it worth getting a California real estate license?

California boasts some of the highest home values in the country, and its sheer volume of buyers and sellers has long made it a lively real estate market. But even if you don’t want to work with buyers and sellers in finding a home, you may still find a real estate license beneficial in other ways—such as in becoming a smarter investor, identifying lucrative home-flipping opportunities, or even paving your way into a career in property management, appraisals or more.

Q. How many tries do you get for the real estate exam in California?

California has no limits on the number of times you can retake the exam during the 2-year period following the filing of your original application. But each time you retake the exam, you will be required to pay a new exam fee (about $60 per exam). If you fail to pass the exam after that 2-year application period, you will need to submit a new application and requalify by meeting all of the state’s statutory requirements. Retaking courses or exams not only can add time to the process of earning a real estate license but also to the costs. If you’re concerned about the costs and passing the exam, you may want to seek out online real estate programs that offer pass guarantees or refunds if you do not pass the exam.

Q. What disqualifies you from being a real estate agent in California?

Real estate professionals can face suspension or revocation of a license, as deemed by the California Department of Real Estate. Criminal convictions—whether a misdemeanor or felony—that are related to the duties of a real estate broker (such as those involving fraud, theft, or violence) can be grounds for getting a license revoked. The DRE also can deny a broker license to any applicants who have a criminal history within 7 years of their license application.

Q. What is the average salary for a real estate agent in California?

A lot of factors get rolled into a real estate agent’s commission and how it gets sliced up, per sale. The average base salary of a real estate agent working in California is $105,531 per year, higher than national averages. Agents with more experience tend to earn higher salaries. Still, those just starting (with 1 to 2 years of experience) earn an average of $98,831 per year, which is also higher than national averages. California tends to boast some of the priciest real estate in the nation, and that can translate into higher commission opportunities for licensed professionals.

Sources: Indeed, Shouse California Law Group