Top 3 Online MLO NMLS Courses in California in 2023

If you want to work in the real estate industry, helping people obtain financing for a house is one of the best ways to do it. You can make as much money as a real estate agent without having to step outside of the office.

You will need to obtain a Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) license (or what they call an endorsement if you have a real estate license) by completing the 20 hours of coursework required by California and passing the National Exam.

Doing a quick internet search to find an NMLS-approved course provider will give you a plethora of results and every school seems to be offering the same thing. We’ve simplified things and evaluated the top schools that will help you successfully get a mortgage license in California. 

Similarities Between Schools

The first thing you need to know is that not anybody can be a school. They have to be approved by the NMLS and their courses have to follow strict guidelines. This means there are things that every school will have to do the same. Here are some examples:

  • When you login to your account, you have to go through a sophisticated biometric password system called BioSig-ID. 
  • If you take an online course, you will have to spend a minimum number of hours logged in online. If you are idle for too long, it will automatically log you out.
  • Every course has to be “instructor-led.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that a live person has to teach the class. It just means that you will be put in a group (or what they call a cohort) and has an instructor assigned to you. The instructor will check in with you and try to interact with you on assignments. This is usually done via messaging or discussion forum.

What Makes A School Different From The Rest?

Although every approved NMLS course provider has to abide by certain regulations, what sets a school apart from the others is their price, quality, and course availability.

  • Quality: Every school develops their own courses and content. They have their own staff of instructors that teach in a certain way and with a certain style. For example, do you want an instructor who talks in a monotone voice or someone who is full of energy and gets you excited?
  • Course availability: Every school has their own start dates and course schedule. This will vary widely. Some programs are only 2 days long while others can last for 2 weeks. Some schools require you to show up at certain times while others do not. Regardless, they will cover the same 20 hours worth of content.
  • Price: Most mortgage programs fall in the range between $300 to $500. However, it is more important to focus on getting the best education than the cheapest price because the average pass rate on the National Exam is 58%. If you don’t pass it on your first try, you have to pay the $110 exam fee again and wait another 30 days to re-attempt it. It literally pays to do things right on the first attempt.

Now that you know the basic similarities and differences between each school, let’s take a look at the best NMLS course providers in California to launch your career as a Mortgage Loan Originator.

NOTE: If you have a California real estate license, you will need to select the DRE version. If you don’t have one, then you will go with the DFPI version. 

Best School for Interactive Learning is arguably the biggest online mortgage school in the nation. They are one of the few schools with courses in all 50 states. Since a lot of loan originators prefer to be licensed in multiple states, this comes in handy because you can get all your courses done at one place.

They have just launched a new pre-license program that is interactive and engaging. Their 20-hour pre-license course is in full video now, and there are live instructors to help you along the way. The best part is that you have the flexibility to start any time and finish any time (up to 14 days). This means if you are in a rush to get licensed, you can start right now and complete the course in as little as 3 days. As you are going through the course, if you feel like you need a few more extra days, you have that flexibility to take longer as well. also just came out with brand new exam prep to help you study for the National Exam. While other schools only offer multiple-choice practice tests to help you prepare, now offers an optional video course designed specifically for the National Exam. This video course is pre-recorded, so you can watch it any time. It covers what to expect on the exam, how you should be studying for the exam, and smart test taking tips.

Approved Course Provider NMLS #: 1400051

Best School for Knowledge Seekers

The CE Shop has had a long established presence in the real estate industry. They have recently expanded their offerings to include mortgage courses using their tried-and-true formula for developing world class courses. They cover all the pre-licensing, exam prep, and continuing education courses for all 50 states.
Their program is built on their own propriety learning platform called LEAP 2.0. This is a 100% online course where you read through an eTextbook online and answer multiple choice questions at the end of each section. They incorporate a balanced mix of textual information, videos, and other visual graphics that help reinforce the concepts discussed in the course. If you love reading books, then this is the right program for you.
You can enroll at any time and work on it as fast or slow as you want (up to 13 days). However, no matter how early you finish the course, certificates don’t get released until the 13th day after you’ve started the course.
What makes The CE Shop program different from other schools is how challenging they make their courses. Their goal is to make sure you know the material inside and out. They do this by constantly testing your knowledge on the information you just studied.  This means you will probably take longer to finish their courses compared to other schools, but you will be able to retain the material better. If you want to learn as much as possible, then this is the rigorous course that will push you to do your best.
Approved Course Provider NMLS #: 1405076

Best School for Structured Learning

Allied Schools is one of the most recognizable real estate brands and leading education providers in California for 30 years. Their parent company, the Colibri Group, recently acquired OnCourse Learning, which is a school that specializes in mortgage courses nationwide. They have since consolidated their mortgage program under the OnCourse Learning platform to offer the most robust solution to their students.

You have two main options to choose from to complete the pre-licensing courses: live webinar or pre-recorded video. What makes OnCourse Learning stand out from other schools is that they already have the lesson plan setup for you. Once you enroll into the course, there is a fixed, day-to-day schedule over 7 days or 14 days that will guide you through the course. If you choose the live webinar option, this schedule is hour-by-hour. If you like the flexibility of studying at home but want a more structured learning environment for you to follow along, this program will work great for you.

When you are ready to take the National Exam, OnCourse Learning has their own exam prep course called Prep xL. This comprehensive package contains over 1,200 questions, 8 simulated practice exams, and over 800 interactive flashcards. You can create custom plans tailored to your progress, where you are given more questions on weak areas and fewer questions on topics you’ve already mastered. It is compatible on desktop, mobile and tablets. 
Approved Course Provider NMLS #: 1400013