Consider these 7 online course certificate builders to design and create polished, editable, and professional course certificates for free.

If you’re not already creating course certificates, I encourage you to start today.

Course certificates are a valuable resource for course creators looking to reward student success and provide recognition for a job well done.

Certificates are easy to create and you can tailor them to fit the needs of your specific course. And this can give your students something tangible to illustrate all the hard work they’ve put in to completing the course.

Especially with the overall completion rate for online courses around 15%, according to Columbia University, it’s now important than ever.

And with free tools available, you can effortlessly create course completion certificates. Here’s a bookmarkable guide to creating custom online course certificates for free.

Understanding certificates of completion

An online course certificate is a physical or digital credential you issue to your students for course completion.

You’ll usually reward your learners with a certificate of completion once they’ve successfully done all the work required in the curriculum.

Courses with certificates of completion are extremely important to both course creators and students.

Why certificates matter?

As a course creator, offering certificates of completion for your online course can help:

  • Attract and retain students who want to receive a course completion certificate for any reason
  • Create an incentive for students to complete the course. Without a course certificate, as many as 50% of students never completed the course, according to this study.
  • Make your course more legitimate
  • Enhance your professional image and social proof
  • If you can learn how to get your online course certificates accredited you can deliver even more value, increasing enrollment and student engagement.

For students, getting a certificate at course completion is crucial because:

  • Course completion certificates are tangible proof of their learning journey.
  • Additionally, a certificate of completion can help learners showcase their newly acquired skills to current and potential employers or educational institutions.
  • It can also validate their efforts, learning progress, and provide social proof to friends and family in person or online.

But not all course certificates are made equal.

What are the key elements of a good certificate?

To create custom course certificates that motivate your learners to complete the course, ensure the following.

  • Name of the course and school/business
  • Include the full names of the learner
  • Certificate ID
  • Indicate fulfillment of certification requirements, such as completing the course, scoring above 75% or higher overall, meeting a deadline for completing the course, etc.
  • The certificate should clearly state what it is for (type of certificate)
  • Includes course completion timeframe
  • It is easily sharable
  • Includes verified badges from the course creator or issuer
  • Can include expiration date

So, how do you create custom certificates for online courses free of charge? Here’s exactly how.

5 ways to create online course certificates for free

Here are some of the best tools to use to create customized certificates for free.

Using Canva for free certificate design

Canva free course certificates maker

The Canva Free Certificate Maker is a great tool for designing and creating custom online course certificates. It offers a wide variety of templates, fonts, and images to create beautiful and professional-looking certificates. It’s easy to use, even if you don’t have any design experience.

Here are some of the features of Canva Free:

  • A wide variety of templates to choose from
  • Easy to use drag-and-drop interface
  • Customizable fonts, colors, and images
  • Ability to add your own logo and branding
  • Bulk-create functionality

All in all, Canva Free is a great way to create an attractive and professional-looking online course certificate for free.


Microsoft PowerPoint course certificate templates

PowerPoint is a powerful tool that can be used to create professional-looking course certificates. Here are the steps on how to create a course certificate with PowerPoint:

  • Open a new PowerPoint presentation.
  • Click the “Insert” tab and select “Shapes.”
  • Choose a shape that you would like to use for your certificate.
  • Click and drag the shape onto the slide.
  • Type in the text that you want to appear on your certificate.
  • Format the text to your liking.
  • Add any other elements that you would like to include on your certificate, such as images or logos.
  • Save your presentation.
  • Print your certificate.

To save you time and effort in the future, simply create a course certificate using the steps above and then save it as a template.


course completion certificate templates by VistaCreate

VistaCreate offers over 100,000 free design templates, whether you want to add custom fonts, images, or animations to your certificates. The free plan also includes 10 GB of online storage. Additionally, you can schedule and post your designs to social media channels right from VistaCreate. Handy!

Google Slides

Google Slides for course certificates

With Google Slides, you can use your current Google account to design, create, and share course certificates for free. The platform also supports real-time editing, commenting, and chat functions if you are collaborating with others to deliver polished certificates. You can also pull a ton of certificate templates from other compatible tools, from Certifier, SlidesGo, and PowerPoint.

Certifier Standard

Certifier certificates maker free

If you are looking for professional templates that you can customize, issue, track, and follow up on in just a few clicks, Certifier is a dedicated certificates maker. Certifier offers a variety of templates to choose from, all of which are easily editable and customizable. The platform also lets you export certificates in a variety of formats, making it an ideal choice for businesses, organizations, and individuals.

Adobe Express Free

Adobe Express free editable course certificate templates

Adobe is a premier hub for creatives, and you can tap its premium online course maker for free. There are more than a dozen certification categories available in Adobe Express, from certificates of completion to certificates of participation. In addition to the dozens of editable free certificate designs, you have the option of upgrading to access over 221 premium certificate templates.


Freepik certificates of completion templates

With Freepik, you get access to a collection of over 10,000 editable online course certificate designs for free. As in Adobe Express, you can use AI to generate some certificates and get tips for building professional, polished certificates. Additionally, you can get inspiration for your own designs from Freepik’s library of even more premium templates.

These tools like Canva aren’t the only tools to help you create beautiful, professional-looking course completion certificates for your students.

Many of the top online course creation platforms also offer this feature as part of the subscription to their service.

If you’re considering getting a course hosting platform, it’s a good idea to choose one that includes an inbuilt feature for course completion certificates.

Teachable offers certificates of completion, as does Kajabi. You can also create online course certificates in LearnWorldsPodia, and Thinkific, to name a few.

This feature not only streamlines your process but also saves you the trouble of manually issuing certificates to every student. Also some of these platforms have automatic course completion tracking, the certificates you issue will hold more value.

So, why not make it easier for yourself and your students by opting for a platform that takes care of certificate delivery automatically?

What are some best practices for issuing course certificates?

Consider implementing the following.

  • Design certificates tailored to the specific course
  • Clearly state the recipient’s name, course title, and the course duration
  • Include the awarding institution’s logo
  • Include a genuine signature from the instructor or organization representative.
  • Use a secure digital signature
  • Maintain a record of issued certificates
  • Offer the certificate in multiple formats (PDF, JPEG, etc.)
  • Include a QR code for easy verification
  • Use a professional template that reflects the quality of the course.
  • Include contact information or a website URL for quick reference.
  • Ensure that the certificate is easy to download and printable.
  • Make sure the certificate is issued in a timely manner.

Wrapping up

Here’s the thing. Certificates are a great way to motivate your students to finish a course. The more students complete a course, the more likely they are to rate it well, refer other learners to your course, and become repeat customers.

Fortunately, there is a good variety of options for creating free online course certificates. For example, Certifier offers customizable templates that you can issue, track, and follow up on in a few clicks.

Canva and Adobe Express offer professional-level, editable free templates from a variety of certification categories (with the option to upgrade to access premium templates).

Or you can also use PowerPoint and Google Slides if you just need to create simple custom certificates for your course.