When creating a membership course in WordPress, you will find there are often several paths to the desired destination.

WordPress is the perfect tool for creating and selling online courses because it is flexible and it you own the platform. Combined with LearnDash, it’s the most flexible LMS on the market, because users can combine our course management tools with any of the plugins in the WordPress ecosystem to get exactly the results they need. However, the downside to this is that, with so many plugins available, it can sometimes be a little overwhelming.

One situation that can cause a lot of confusion for learners is around the use of membership plugins, with or without an LMS. You may want to host an online course, but aren’t sure if you need a membership plugin to protect the content. Or maybe you want to build a learning community based around a forum, but don’t need the quiz-building functions or lesson structures of an LMS. What should you choose?

If you are currently in this situation for your own online course and you are not sure how to proceed, we’re here to help you out. Assuming you are going to self-host your WordPress site, you will ultimately face the following decision for your courses:

  1. Use an LMS without a membership plugin
  2. Use a membership plugin without an LMS
  3. Use LearnDash’s advanced Groups capabilities to sell memberships
  4. Combine LearnDash with a 3rd party membership plugin

The solution to this problem really depends on the specifics of your project, so unfortunately there are no hard-set rules as to when to use each. However, to dig into this question further, let’s start with the most obvious question: Do you need a membership plugin?

1. Use an LMS without a membership plugin

First off, you should begin by asking if a membership plugin is really necessary for your course. If your main concern is content protection, you actually do not need a membership plugin at all. Our LMS will protect your content without the need of a membership plugin using our Access Settings.

For example, let’s say that you want to sell three different courses. The content of the courses (lessons, quizzes, etc.) cannot be viewed by people who are not yet enrolled. Only people who are registered for the course can view the content. If someone purchases one course, they don’t get access to the others. They only have access to the one.

If your course is not free then you may be wondering how to add a pay-gate to your courses. LearnDash integrates with the following popular shopping carts:

  • WooCommerce
  • Easy Digital Downloads
  • SamCart
  • ThriveCart (beta)

The WordPress shopping carts (1 and 2 above) integrate with hundreds of payment gateways. LearnDash comes with the following three payment gateways if you prefer to not use a shopping cart:

  • ​PayPal
  • Stripe
  • 2Checkout

You can very easily use one of these methods to accept payment. LearnDash will protect your course content without the need of a membership plugin. People who choose this approach appreciate the streamlined process for creating their course offering as it cuts back on having to learn another solution.

2. Use a membership plugin without an LMS

It is important to note that there are some situations when using an LMS plugin like LearnDash isn’t necessary.

If your project just requires that you protect a couple pages, posts, or assets on your WordPress site, then a membership plugin is all you really need. Using a learning management plugin in this case would be overkill.

One example would be if you have a site that includes a community forum and perhaps some valuable downloads for the members. In this case, you don’t need an a plugin like LearnDash because there isn’t a need for course enrollments, quizzing, certificates, badges, points, and learner reporting.

3. Use LearnDash’s advanced Groups capabilities to sell memberships

Over the years, we’ve had so many questions about membership courses that we finally built this functionality into our LMS! You can now use LearnDash as a membership plugin without needing another outside option.

Here’s how it works. Using the group function, you can create groups that have access to certain courses. (Think of it like membership levels.) When a learner buys access to that group, they also get access to the courses associated with it.

Combine this with subscription pricing, and you get Netflix for e-learning!

Group membership also makes it possible to refine who has access to certain pages or resources. Want to create one group for beginners and another for professionals? No problem. Want to sell access to an advanced webinar, but only to members of a certain group? You can do that, too.

LearnDash even offers subgroups, so that you can add hierarchy to your group management. And, because group leaders can now create courses for their groups, you can expand your team to include managers within your office, or teachers at your school.

4. Combine LearnDash with a 3rd party membership plugin

For most of our users, our expanded groups capabilities make a 3rd party membership plugin unnecessary. However, we’re wise enough to know that we can’t plan for every use-case! There can be advantages to using LearnDash with a 3rd party membership plugin depending on your requirements, and the beauty of working in WordPress is that you can use both plugins together.

For instance, if you want to have additional metrics on your members then using a membership plugin is a nice value-add. Many membership platforms come with their own reporting capabilities. Used in conjunction with LearnDash this gives you more insight into your users.

Another common scenario for using both is if you have a membership site already and just want to add some course capabilities in a more formal, organized fashion. Inserting LearnDash makes it easy to add value to your membership site by creating courses for your members to take. You don’t have to change the way you manage your members either since in this case you continue using your membership plugin.

LearnDash has a direct integration with the following membership solutions:

  • MemberPress
  • PaidMembershipsPro
  • Restrict Content Pro
  • Memberful
  • Wishlist Member
  • Memberium
  • UltimateMember
  • ActiveMember360
  • iMember360

As a word of caution: avoid vendor lock-in!

Learning programs can vary in requirements and sometimes those requirements change. With LearnDash you can start your program with any of the options above and freely switch as needed.

One thing I know after over a decade in the e-learning industry is that learning programs and online courses are not one-size-fits all. Learning evolves, and so do requirements.

Whether you use LearnDash or not, I strongly encourage you to avoid any solution that advocates using a single e-commerce platform or method for content protection. In the same vein, be cautious of any solution that is billed as “all-in-one.” Rarely is this even true, but assuming it is then that means you’re locked-in as well. You don’t want to take on this kind of risk. I have seen this cause people major headaches over the years.

If you are not sure the best approach for your project then write us with some more details and we will happily help! 🙂

Still confused? Watch this webinar!

In this webinar we discuss common use-cases where using a membership plugin and LearnDash together may make sense.

Justin Ferriman photo

About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter


121 responses

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Is LD compatible with Woo-Commerce ?

Juan M ColomeReply

Hi Juan-
Yes it is – you can read more about our integration here.

Hi Justin,
Helpful advice, thank you. If I’d consider using the ‘LMS plugin-only mode’, does LearnDash provide course content protection on URL and URI level?

Hi Sönke-
Thanks for the comment. I suppose we would need a bit more context. By default, any lesson/topic/quiz URL associated with your course is going to be access protected. If you send us a note with more details I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for it and provide a more pointed response relevant to what you had in mind.

To help others, can a WP content page be restricted to LD3 students of a given course?

Say there are two courses, Cats and Dogs. There are three resource pages (created in WP): one for Cats Student, one for Dogs Students, one for all students.

Can LD3 restrict the resource pages correctly? Or, does it require a membership plugin?

Lucas PerrettiReply

It does not. it restricts only the course content. you need a membership plugin to do that.

Does Learndash integrate with Infusionsoft and wishlist? I am already using these two platforms for our business so changing is not an option. I would very much like to see and IS integration for the e-mail automation and tagging functionality.


Hi Dave-
Yes and yes. Infusionsoft integrations can be found with the Memberium extension as well as Zapier. Wishlist Member can protect custom post types which means it can be used to protect LearnDash content. Just activate protection under “SETTINGS > CUSTOM POST TYPES” in WLM.

Great tnx that was just what I needed. Just one question. How can I add a Learndash page to the WLM level. Or do I have to make a normal startpage and add a course to that startpage. I hope you know what I am saying.


Hi Francis-
To use WLM with LearnDash you just need to activate custom post type protection in WLM. Then you can protect LearnDash created content.

I’ve been a user of DAP (Digital Access Pass) for over 5 years and know how it works very well. However, I just purchased LearnDash and I’m curious as to why there are no comments about DAP. Can I use or integrate DAP with LearnDash successfully? I also have DAP working successfully with Infusionsoft. So will they both work or play well with LearnDash.

Hi Voss-
I believe there are DAP users also using LearnDash. DAP can protect custom post types and therefore can protect LearnDash content. The DAP support team will be able to speak to any additional integration that may exist.

Hello! LearnDash is compatible with Memberpress and with Optimizepress?


There is no direct integration as of yet with those solutions but they can be used to protect LearnDash contest.

If I am using Optimizepress/member to protect the LearnDash content only, is there an automated way for new registrants to be registered to certain courses?


We have a beta integration with OptimizeMember that will enroll users into courses upon membership purchase.

Looking forward to that Optimize Member integration — right now I just mark courses as OPEN and protect them using OP2Member

True! Or set them to ‘free’ and only protect the ‘course’ page (which would limit the number of pages you need to protect)

Could you please pass the integration link?
Well I was almost buying another LMS plugin, to strengthen my project!
Because I have 4 members area plugins!
I do not like my developer, and other people who work with me on my project. Look how much I sold on courses.
This is the problem with plugins, which you recommend here!

Thank you so much!

Hello! I wanted to ask about Squarespace. Does LearnDash work with that platform?


Hi Jonathan-

It does not. You need a self-hosted instance of WordPress to run LearnDash.

Hi Justin, thanks for your article. I’m still a little confused about my options with LearnDash. I can see how LearnDash can help me to track members’ experiences, drip content to them and deliver emails that are responsive to where they’re at in my program. So that’s all good.

I also want to to offer folks who complete my program the next offering in my product suite. So it seems LearnDash might help me with that.

How would a product like Memberium add to this mix? I’m not quite sure I understand how it would fit in.

Currently I’m using Wishlist and am looking at other options that provides what LearnDash does.

Thanks for your help!

hello, are videos on both membership pro or learndash completely safe when self hosted or one needs to buy additional hosting services from amazon, vimeo pro or wistia?

You can host videos on your WP site and modify the .htaccess file for additional security, or use a third party service as you mentioned.

Hi Justin, not being the most technically minded person, how does Learndash work with a website. If I have a section on my website that sells my programmes, once someone has purchased one of them, does a link simply take them through to the course? If my website isn’t WordPress compatible, is it still possible to use Learndash?
Thank you.

Hi Tony-
It kind of depends on how you have everything configured. Selling a course with a shopping cart will have a different process than selling with the built in PayPal integration (for example). Feel free to shoot us an email if you wish to discuss in more detail.

does Learndash support s2member?


We don’t have a direct integration with S2Member. If it can protect custom post types then it can protect LD created content.

Hi Justin,
1) Will LearnDash be compatible with SamCart in the near future?
2) Does LearnDash have a Zapier app?
Thanks in advance.


Hi Grace, yes we have a samcart integration as well as a Zapier integration. More details can be found here.

can you import scorm or tin can packages which have been built with Articulate storyline?


Yes, using GrassBlade xAPI launcher (add-on). Please do write us if you have additional questions.

I know you have an addon to integrate WooCommerce with LearnDash, but will it work with the Membership component of WooCommerce, as well?


It depends on what you’re trying to do specifically. LD doesn’t directly integrate with that membership plugin but you could have that plugin and LD both installed on the same site.

Is there a way to create an additional layer of user in between us and the student? We currently use Moodle with amember pro and WordPress.. Our clients are companies that typically buy multiple courses, then assign those courses to their employees. In addition to purchasing and assigning courses, they can review their employees’ exams and earned certificates. Is all of this functionality something that can be replicated on LearnDash?

Jack GordonReply

Hi Justin,

I have installed S2 member and have changed the course to closed and put a custom page with a membership purchase button. After the customer goes through the transaction, they are not added to the course. How do I get them added to the course when they buy the membership?

Price type must be ‘open’ or ‘free’ with S2Member. Closed can only be an option with a membership plugin that we directly integrate with.

Thanks for the reply Justin.

If price type is set to open or free they will be automatically enrolled once they are registered as a user? or after they have gone through the S2 payment forms?

The issue is that I need to redirect the user to a landing page for them to pay for the course. Closed had a redirection link but open or free doesn’t – what would the customer flow look like?

In this case MemberPress or PMPro would need to be used. S2Member doesn’t directly integrate wit LD so the price type can’t be closed. Or, you don’t have to use a membership plugin and could just use a shopping cart as detailed here.

I would like to have the option like Digital Marketer Labs. Where I can sell individual access to trainings, and I can also give access to all my trainings if they are in my monthly subscription.

Is this possible with only LearnDash?

Thanks you

This is possible with LearnDash + any shopping cart we integrate with.

Hi. I have integrated course access with Learndash to set up a membership (Register) page. I was wondering if there was a sign up form for Course Access. I didn’t see when I tested. There was just a simple log in page but not a register form so that a person can enter their details to log in. Thanks



You can use Theme My Login for this purpose.

The current reviews for https://wordpress.org/support/plugin/theme-my-login/reviews/ not good as well advice all to look elsewhere for a login system.

Kindly advice a good substitute for this


UncannyOwl Toolkit is good option.

Id like to buy this plugin, but I’m afraid.

Hi Vander-
Don’t be afraid 🙂 – if you purchase and within 30 days you decide it’s not a good fit for your project then you can get a refund.

wow…this is what I was looking for…did not see it anywhere on the website…and thought there are no refunds in case it does not fit our case…


I have annual subscribers for other (group) features on my wordpress site. Is there a way to recognize that they have already paid and therefore gain access to LD courses (which requires the same paid annual membership to access)??

If you’re using MemberPress, you can just add the course to the MemberPress membership level and anyone with that level will get course access.

Hey Justin
Thank you for sharing this article.
I am currently trying to decide between LearnDash and one of your competitors.
I have a buddypress site with a membership plugin, I am yet to launch the membership offering.
What I want to do is offer my members access to courses as part of their membership, they will pay a monthly or annual membership.
Am I best to use just LD for this or am I best to use the membership plugin? Or both?

You could use a membership plugin, or just use a shopping art to create ‘bundles’ with different payment options.

Does LearnDash allow for affiliates? Can others sell my courses and receive a commission? Thanks!


Yes, if you sell with a shopping cart (like WooCommerce) then you can use a platform like AffiliateWP for managing your affiliate program. SamCart has an affiliate program built-in. This video describes how to do this.

I currently have a course using WP Courseware. I would like to use LearnDash for a new course but if I purchase the Plus Package is it possible to transfer the original course to LearnDash?

Hi Abi, thanks for the note. You can potentially use this plugin to switch your current lesson custom post types to LearnDash content.

Is there an option to accept payment manually ( through bank transfers/cheques) for paid courses?
Thank you,

Yes, but enrollment does not happen automatically in this case. You have to then go and enroll the user.

We are currently keeping a roster of enrolled students. Is there an option for us to upload the member roster from a (CVS or tab-delimited) file?

Mel GreenReply

Yes you can upload users into WP with CSV and autoenroll them into LD courses.

We provide one single course to our clients and currently use Moodle, which is heavy overkill.

Each course topic consist of a page of text with one embedded video from YouTube. At the end of a course is a simple exam.

Is it possible to (easily) import the course from Moodle?

Hi Andrew, unfortunately we don’t have a Moodle import (yet).

Hi Justin.
Is LD can protect the videos from downloading?
Also can it set the duration to how long the course will be available to the student?


Hi Justin,

The pluginn sounds like a fit to me. I have one large customer for my courses and i sell the courses to others as well. The large customer pays anually for full acces of all their employees. Can learndash support enrollment automatically based for example on the domain name of the e-mail adress? In this way I do not have to give acces to every personel member seperately?

Thanks for your feedback.



Hi Jacob-
That isn’t a supported feature. You can mass enroll users via a CSV file though.

Hi Justin

Can I request this feature too? It would be great to be able to sell courses to companies such that anyone can register & start a course immediately without additional payment – if their email address matches a subscribed company’s domain.

Trying to maintain CSV’s of employees of large companies is a legal & administrative nightmare.

Kind regards


Hello! Excuse my English, I am using a translator.
I need to generate a course that contains 10 lessons and that the mode of payment is as follows:
1) When the user pays the registration, the first lesson is accessed.
2) Each week a new lesson is uploaded.
3) In lesson 5 the user must pay a second fee to continue seeing the new content

It’s possible? Thank you!

Santiago RubioReply

Numbers 1 & 2 are possible, but not 3.

the plugin has some control panel to know the activity of the users? I have to buy some special plan for this?

Santiago RubioReply

LearnDash membership it is stand alone membership or I need to use another membership to support LearnDash membership

We have content protection built-in so courses are protected.

Is it possible to have a monthly plan for the students? They need to pay each month like a membership site, to have access to the online course. Not a unique payment. A recurring payment. Does LearDash suppor it?
Or in that situation we need LearnDash + membership plugin? In this case, Which one Do you recommend?


Hello Justin ,

I have 12 course and three subsciption plan- 1 month , 6 month and 12 months .

I want when someone purchase 1 month – they will get only course 1 . If he continues – he will get 2nd course in 2nd month .

For 6 month subscription – they will get course 1 in first month , 2nd month – 2nd course .

Is it possible ?

Kamrul Hasan

May I ask if Learn Dash can support affiliation plugins?


Yes, affiliatewp is quite popular if selling with WooCommerce or EDD. See this video for more detail.

I’m interested in building a membership site where a new course or content is released each month. Subscribers only have access to the course/content from the months in which they were actively subscribed, but not previous months. I would be interested also in offering the option to buy previous months.


This wouldn’t be possible with just LearnDash. You’ll want to leverage advanced view access permissions provided by a membership plugin.

Can I Integrate Learndash with Clickbank as my plattform to receive payments?


No, we don’t have a Clickbank integration.

How does LearnDash integrate with ThriveCart (beta) as mentioned in this article?

You can map Thrivecart products to LearnDash courses. When the product is purchased, an account is created and user gets enrolled into mapped courses.

Hey Justin, you mean, a wordpress user is created with that user roll and buyers can autologin after purchase?

Thanks in advance!

Hi there,
Can you explain how this is done? Currently I’m only seeing this possibility if you add in an additional plugin to connect ThriveCart + LearnDash and hoping to understand if there’s a way to just use yours.

Emilia FarraceReply

How difficult is it to migrate lessons and courses from Sensei (Woo)? I have over 300 lessons and 12 courses. Your product looks great, but the task seems daunting unless there is some migration tool I’m not aware of.

You could use this plugin to “switch” the post types for everything but quizzes.

Hi. I’ve created a series of membership with Yith Membership and now want to add some courses built with LearnDash into the memberships I’ve already got. Is it possible please to integrate LearnDash-built courses into Yith memberships?

Thank you.


Hello, I am researching two major WP plugins Divi Extra Theme and Elementor. I am not discounting either but it seems I can use Elementor a bit easier than Divi Extra as it would require the Divi Learn Dash Kit. (an extra plugin with yet another annual renewal fee).
I also see Astra Themes for Elementor integrates seemlessly with LD and Elementor, but has a higher annual renewal fee. Generate Press and Elementor may be the fastest loading and best way to go? With all the plugins and options it gets very confusing. I am just looking for a fairly straight forward path to a paid membership site with weekly content pages and optional paid courses for members. Can you help me cut thru some clutter? Thanks.

Hi Justin! I’m looking at LearnDash for my work as our training portal. My perfect solution would integrate with our Saas platform user credentials, assign users to courses based on their role, and send some notification if users did not complete the training by a specified date range. I would think some of your corporate clients do this. Can you help me understand what is possible with LD?

^– I also want this functionality.

Can your Quiz module randomise questions?

Barry MeyReply

Hello Justin,
I would like to create a similar website, like bz. udemy.com. On this portal, users can sign up, set their own courses, which are then sold, is this possible with LearnDash and if so, what add-ons do I need for this?
Is there a package price for additional add-ons required?

Thank you Toni

You guys do a great job fielding all these involved questions! Here’s my situation:

Using Wishlist Member, I have 50 different Modules (all part of the same course) each with about 10 individual child pages of video training (about 550 pages in all.) There’s Q&A comments/replies on most pages, so I’m pretty locked into that format because I wouldn’t want to lose the existing Q&A. I’m also locked in to my own video player format.

LearnDash has features that I’d love to be able to have integrated with my existing setup, but I’m unclear if I’d have to tear the whole thing down and start from scratch rebuilding the entire members area and pages/child pages to be in a specific LearnDash format, or whether LearnDash elements can be applied to my existing page structure.

Thanks for any specifics you can provide! -Tim


Actually, WLM is about to come out with a LearnDash integration 🙂 so I’d recommend just holding off at the moment so you don’t have to stress about changing your configuration since enrollment can still go through WLM. At which point you can decide if you want to “switch” over the pages to LearnDash lessons using a plugin like https://wordpress.org/plugins/post-type-switcher/

Hi. Can the same course be sold as a stand alone product, as part of a boundle of products AND as part of a subscription plan?

Hi Justin,
I have an upcoming project for an online course website I will be customizing. I have a couple of questions:

1. I will require customers to create a login before being able to purchase a course, is this available?
2. Is there automation that tells customers they need to finish their course once started?
3. If I purchase a website template (Edubin Education ) are all the features included with Learn Dash?
4. I will also require customers to upload forms and completed content for review would this be possible through this plugin?

Thank you!

Does learndash work with Ultimate Membership pro?
I cant choose between Ultimate Membership and Ultimate member


I also would like to know this please…


Learndash fonctionne-t-il avec Ultimate Membership Pro?

I too would like to know if Ultimate Membership Pro will be compatible with LearnDash.


How do I block course video downloads? thanks


Hi Justin,

Does Woo-Subscriptions do the same as memberpress?

If I’m just starting out, do I need any other plugins or can my students or members pay through LearnDash?


Could you make a basic English online Course for me to sell online? How can I make sure that was only made for me, and my clientes can use it and pay safely?
There can be a flexibility to use also local payments from ATMs from Angola?

Best Regards,


I have a membership page in WPLMS Learning using the membership woocommerce plugin and I want to change the theme compatible with learndash (buddyboss) and I want to know if the membership in woocommerce membership could have access to all courses.


well, I tried to create a login and register for your free demo class. What a joke. It takes me to page to send a messsage to confirm my domain and has an addition question that no matter what i answer fails. So FAIL Learndash. If I can’t even watch a demo and it takes this much just to register, students will never get through. Sorry but all the glitz in the world doesn’t make up for actually working.

Linda EasthouseReply

Hey Linda, it looks like some recent security settings we configured were interfering with registration on the demo site. You can create an account now. Thanks for letting us know!


Let’s say there are 15 courses. 5 courses are free and the rest of the entire website contents( here it is 10 courses) can be accessed only with a subscription.

I want to let the learner/student of my website to choose from two options.

1. Free courses (To access the user needs to be registered).
2. Yearly subscription for the rest of the entire website courses (To access the user needs to be registered).

I want to use Cashfree payment gateway (https://dev.cashfree.com/payment-gateway/integrations/plugins/woo-commerce)

Which plugins do I need, whether WooCommerce plugin or WooCommerce subscription plugin or Paid Membership Pro plugin or both the WooCommerece and PM Pro plugins to pursue the above requirement?

Please guide me. I am a bit confused about these plugins while the subscription option is concerned.

Thanks & Regards


Hi, in the first option “Use an LMS without a membership plugin” can I use Zoho Subscription in order to get payment? Is there a direct integration or I need to use Zapier?
I Also have installed WishList Membership (but there aren’t any courses available now). What is the best choice to start properly?


Hi Luigi, LearnDash doesn’t have a Zoho Subscriptions integration, but Zoho Subscriptions does integrate with WordPress, and there is also the Zapier integration you mentioned.

Laura LynchReply

Hi Justin, I am using learndash without a third party membership plugin and I am getting a lot of spammers registering as a new user. They don’t continue to enrol on the course. I have to manually delete them from the users list each day. Is there a membership plug-in that will prevent someone registering as a new user , only allowing them in when they enrol on the course?


👂 tumbleweed ?
Can anyone answer my question?


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