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How to Choose the Best CIPD Course Provider for You

So, you’ve chosen the career area you want to focus on — the people profession (ie. Human Resources or Learning & Development).

 You’ve decided on studying an internationally recognised qualification from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) to develop you career and you’ve drawn up a big career plan.

What’s next?

Finding the best CIPD course provider, of course!

To help you get the best experience and value-for-money when it comes to studying, we’ve come up with this guide. Here’s how to choose the best CIPD course provider for you.

1. Think about your priorities in a course

Ask yourself a simple question: what are the key features that you’re looking for in your next course what are the red lines that would influence which provider you choose to study with. 

The answer you come up with is your priorities — the things that are important. 

Thinking about your priorities as a student, and just as a human being, when choosing a CIPD course provider is essential to finding a fit that’s right for your needs. First of all, find out what your priorities are and then find a course provider that meets them!

You basically need to avoid falling into the trap of studying something that you won’t enjoy, for one reason or another. We’re all different people, and we all have different needs, objectives and ways of working, after all. Bear in mind that different providers offer different levels and types of support and features that work for one person might not necessarily work for you.

Here are a few techniques you can use to find out your own priorities and to put them to use when finding a provider:

  • Write down three values that are fundamental to who you are as a person and professional: try to find similar values in providers. Create a list!
  • Write down five things that are important for you when learning
  • Focus on long term aims, breaking them down into short term goals and add these to the list
  • Be prepared to compromise a little
  • Vet potential course providers according to the list of priorities that you’ve just made. Try to find providers that closely align with your own values and priorities.

2. Choose your learning format

One of the key traits that separates different course providers is the way that they offer their learning. This is usually referred to as the ‘learning format’ or ‘learning style’ of a course. There are three different types of learning formats: physical learning; online learning; and hybrid learning. 

The type of learning format you pick should reflect your own study preferences — you don’t want to be stuck studying in a way that isn’t serving what’s best for your needs. Here are the two main learning formats explained in more detail, along with some more information about the other type:

Physical learning

A tried-and tested option, physical study, based in a classroom environment, was one of the most widespread ways of studying a qualification in the years before the pandemic. It’s a good match for people who prefer learning in a physical space alongside others. You’ll be assigned a regular class to attend every couple of weeks, where you’ll take part in a lecture led by a tutor. 


  • Good for people who learn best surrounded by other people
  • A traditional, tried-and-tested option
  • Widely available


  • Can be expensive and difficult to fit around your work/life schedule
  • COVID-19 has significantly disrupted classes

Online learning

Online learning is incredibly popular right now and for good reason — it’s generally cheaper, more flexible and more convenient than classroom-based study. 

Online learning is essentially the next evolution of distance-learning. In this type of learning, your entire course is delivered online and you won’t need to attend weekly or monthly classes in a classroom. All you need is an internet capable device, like a laptop. You’ll work through the course it at your own pace. 


  • Cheaper than traditional classroom-based study
  • You complete the course at your own pace
  • You can complete it anytime, anywhere (so long as there is an internet connection)


  • You need to be motivated to study by yourself

Hybrid learning 

Hybrid learning is a mixture of physical learning and online learning. It aims to combine the best elements of both learning styles. It’s a useful option for people who would like a little more flexibility in their study from online learning but who still like the structure that physical learning provides. 

A male and female professional sat at a coffee table on chairs talking

3. Decide what HR or L&D subject you want to specialise in

Usually, CIPD providers will each specialise in particular areas of Human Resources and Learning & Development. This means that they’ll usually be experts in a few particular areas. 

Sometimes, when it comes to offering elective modules in qualifications (study units that you choose based on your own professional interests), CIPD providers will only offer the modules that their tutors are specialists in. 

By deciding early on what type of HR or L&D subject you want to specialise in, you can identify the providers that offer the elective modules that you’re most interested in. This will allow you to make your course more relevant to your overall career goals and let you get more value for money out of your overall qualification. 

4. Compare! (Don’t just go with the cheapest provider)

A professional qualification is a significant investment to make so you want to be sure that you’re choosing a CIPD provider that you’re truly happy with. 

The key to that is researching providers when you’re in the initial stages of choosing your qualification. You’ve already started the first step of that process by reading this very article, so congratulations!

There are a few important areas to compare when you’re looking at providers.

For many students, cost is the feature that they’re most concerned about — understandably. It’s worth thinking critically and strategically about this though. That’s because choosing a course isn’t the same as choosing petrol for your car — a number of factors mean that it doesn’t necessarily pay to go with the cheapest in the long term.

When you buy a course, you’re buying much more than just the qualification itself. You’re also buying specialist support, individual advice from experienced tutors, as well as more basic things like, admin and logistics from teams at the provider themselves. 

It’s worth bearing in mind that when you’re choosing a course provider, it’s likely that you’re going to have to make some compromises. For example, do you go with the provider who offers the lowest possible cost but the most terrible student support? Maybe you choose the mid-level provider who has reasonable prices but average support? Or perhaps you go with the top-end provider, who has high prices but impeccable support?

Whichever one you choose will involve a level of compromise on your part usually — unless you happen to come across the perfect supplier!

Two professionals passing a clipboard between each other

5. Read their testimonials

Testimonials are one of the most useful tools you have in your kit when it comes to choosing a CIPD provider. They’re basically accounts of a student’s experience of studying with that particular provider. They can be a really useful way to discover what it’s like to study with a particular organisation without having to commit to that provider. 

A lot of people assume that student testimonials are made up by the companies. Surely the provider could just make up loads of positive testimonials? Well, they could. But they would get in a lot of trouble from the Advertising Standards Agency and face a huge fine. Thanks to the marketing rules that are in place, you’ll be able to trust that testimonials from mainstream providers are true accounts and written by actual ex-students.  

There are also a range of independent, third-party student review sites out there on the internet that can help supplement your assessment of what it’s like studying for an organisation. 

6. Find out what support they offer

There’s bound to come a point in your course where you need to call upon the help and advice of your tutor. It could be anything from struggling to get your head around a particular concept in a study module or needing help with an aspect of your assessment. As sure as the sun rises each day, you can be sure that at some point you’ll need to access some type of student support. 

That’s why the level of student support that’s on offer should influence your overall choice of provider. Most providers offer a set period of student support, normally between 2 months to a year, depending on the duration of your course. During this time, you’ll be able to access advice from tutors and a range of resources, free of charge. It’s a good idea to compare this support across providers because it varies between them quite often.

We hope that this blog has given you some good ideas about how to find the right CIPD provider for your career development plan. Remember to think logically, be prepared to compromise, and always keeping your eye on that end goal of a career that your truly love. That should keep you on the right track. 

Develop your HR and L&D career with a 100% online CIPD qualification that you can complete anywhere. Get your free CIPD course guide. 

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