What to Know About Coursera


Coursera is an online learning platform offering self-paced guided projects and on-demand courses on a variety of subjects. The platform partners with universities and companies, including Amazon Web Services, Google and IBM, to provide courses. Users can earn digital certificates to share on their resumes or with their LinkedIn networks.

In addition to completing individual courses, users can receive professional certificates and bachelor’s or master’s degrees online through the platform. Coursera also offers MasterTrack certificates, which split portions of master’s degree programs into online modules. If a user is accepted into a full master’s program, MasterTrack work can count toward his or her degree.

Users can enroll in guided projects to gain hands-on experience in a subject, such as building a data science web app or creating JavaScript animations. Another option for Coursera users is signing up for a specialization, in which they complete a series of courses and projects on a topic, such as supply chain management or search engine optimization.

The company offers more than 4,300 courses, more than 450 specializations, more than 440 projects, more than 30 certificates and 20 degrees, according to its website.

Coursera is based in Mountain View, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Users can access materials for more than 1,600 free Coursera courses and opt to pay for certificates upon completion. Many courses also can be audited for free, but auditors may not be able to submit some assignments or receive grades for their work.

Prices for courses with certificates start at about $49. Coursera users can apply for financial aid if they need help paying for certificates.

Guided projects, which include a certificate upon completion, are priced starting at $9.99. They are advertised as a smaller time commitment, taking two hours or less.

Specializations and professional certificates each start at about $49 per month. Some specializations are available as subscriptions, allowing users to pay monthly until they finish all the courses in the specialization instead of making a one-time upfront payment.

Coursera’s online degrees use all-in pricing, which means the price includes all the courses or credit hours required to complete the degree, and they begin at about $9,000. Prices for MasterTrack certificates start at $2,000. Degrees and MasterTrack certificates can be paid for in installments.

In February 2020, the platform began rolling out a subscription service called Coursera Plus. A $399 annual fee gives Coursera Plus subscribers unlimited access to most courses on the site, which could be valuable to users who plan to take several courses during the year.

MasterTrack certificates, degrees and some professional certificates are not part of Coursera Plus. See what’s included in a Coursera Plus subscription here.

Coursera for Business, which is designed for workforce training and development, provides two plan options: The Team plan, priced at $400 per user, per year, “for teams and smaller organizations,” and the custom-priced Enterprise plan for larger organizations.

Through the Coursera Together initiative, all users through the end of 2020 can access a collection of free courses, some which include certificates.

Refund terms differ among the platform’s offerings. Coursera does not issue refunds on guided projects or payments made on month-to-month subscriptions, according to the website’s terms of use.

Full refunds are available on individual courses until 14 days after payment or until the user earns a course certificate, whichever happens first. If you preenroll and pay for a course, you are eligible for a refund until you earn a course certificate or until 14 days after the course begins, whichever happens first.

If you signed up for a free trial of Coursera, you will need to cancel before the trial period ends to avoid a charge. Coursera will not issue refunds for payments made after the free trial.

If you complete a course during your free trial, the company may charge you for a one-month subscription to get your certificate.

Coursera offers a full refund on a one-time, paid enrollment in a specialization until 14 days after your payment or until you earn a certificate, whichever happens first. If you preenroll and pay for a specialization, you can receive a full refund until 14 days after the first course in the specialization begins or until you’ve earned your first certificate for a course in the specialization, whichever happens first. Users who earn their first course certificate in a specialization within 14 days are ineligible for a refund.

Shorter refund periods may apply to certain courses and specializations.

Coursera Plus subscribers can request a full refund within 14 days of paying for the service. Any certificates earned during that 14-day period will be revoked if you request a refund during that time, though.

Refund policies for degrees and MasterTrack certificates are established by the university partners offering the programs, not by Coursera.

It could be worth it if you need the convenience of online education or job training.

“We live in a world where lifelong learning has become a necessity,” says Betty Vandenbosch, chief content officer at Coursera. “To adapt to the ever-changing landscape, people will need to continually up or reskill to thrive in their careers, and online learning provides instant access to top-quality content in high-demand fields.”

Since mid-March, more than 18 million people have joined Coursera – a 388% increase from the same period last year, according to Vandenbosch.

Whether courses offered through Coursera are accredited is determined by the college or university accepting the credit, not by Coursera. But just as a MasterTrack certificate can count toward a degree should a user be accepted into a full master’s program, some Coursera courses can help users gain admission to schools or count toward degrees.

Before you enroll, checking out some reputable third-party reviews could be a good idea. Coursera has a D- grade from the Better Business Bureau, which cited the company’s failure to respond to a number of complaints as the reason for the grade. Based on customer reviews, Coursera received an overall Trustpilot rating of 2 stars out of 5.

A major distinction between Coursera and Udemy is that some Coursera courses are affiliated with universities and users can earn degrees through the platform, but Udemy courses are not accredited and are created by individuals. Through its online community, Udemy offers people the chance to earn money by developing and teaching courses.

Udemy has an extensive library of courses covering a range of topics. Users can purchase individual courses to meet their needs and interests, but Udemy does not offer subscriptions or study tracks similar to Coursera’s specializations.

Like Coursera, edX provides courses affiliated with colleges and universities, and edX users can earn degrees through the platform.

In addition to professional certificates, edX offers MicroBachelors programs, which come with “real, transferable college credit from one of edX’s university credit partners,” according to the platform’s website, as well as MicroMasters programs, which edX says can help users earn degrees faster should a university accept their MicroMasters certificates for credit.

Both Coursera and edX connect users with subjects ranging from music theory to the history of ancient civilizations to data science.

The variety of Udacity’s course offerings is narrower than Coursera’s, as the former focuses on skill-based professional training without arts and humanities courses.

Many Udacity courses center on science and technology. The platform partners with “leading technology companies to learn how technology is transforming industries and teach the critical tech skills that companies are looking for in their workforce,” according to its website.

Udacity offers Nanodegree programs, in which students complete courses and projects to develop job-relevant skills. Users who earn a Nanodegree can show employers their resulting portfolio demonstrating these skills, but Udacity is not accredited and doesn’t award degrees, according to its website. However, Udacity partnered with Georgia Tech and AT&T to offer an online master’s degree in computer science.


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