What to Know About edX


EdX is a global nonprofit and online learning platform founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It partners with universities and companies around the world to offer interactive and self-paced courses.

(courtesy of edX)

With more than 3,000 classes available, edX has programs for learners of all stages. The Global Freshman Academy is a partnership with Arizona State University that allows users to take the same courses as on-campus undergraduate students and earn transferable credit, paying tuition after receiving a passing grade. In addition, edX offers traditional online master’s degree programs, such as the MBA program from Boston University or the master’s in mechanical engineering program from Purdue University.

EdX also offers stackable options. The MicroBachelors program, designed for adult learners, lets users study at their own pace while earning transferable college credit. The MicroMasters program lets users build toward an advanced degree.

EdX also has professional certificate programs and executive education courses for users interested in career development. In a professional certificate program, students pick a subject and study at their own pace to earn a credential. Executive education courses are designed for managers, leaders or those with decision-making power. Options include Business Analytics Fundamentals for Leaders from Babson College and Corporate Entrepreneurship from Columbia University.

Finally, XSeries is designed for those who want to immerse themselves in a topic. For example, users can take three Columbia University courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction or four anatomy courses from the University of Michigan.

EdX has courses in more than 34 languages, and the platform has more than 45 million learners in more than 70 countries. Jordan, Saudi Arabia, France, Russia, Israel and China use the Open edX open-source platform to host regional platforms.

Learn more about edX here.

Users can audit almost any course on edX for free; however, to access exams or complete a verified certificate, they will need to pay a fee. For many courses, this fee is between $50 and $100. Other courses may cost more, depending on the subject. Harvard University’s 18th-Century Opera: Handel & Mozart course, for example, costs $139 with a certificate.

EdX estimates that it costs between $10,000 and $25,000 to earn a master’s degree through the platform. If a user decides to enroll in the MicroBachelors or MicroMasters programs, the cost would range from $500 to $1,500.

Companies wanting to provide their employees with training and professional development opportunities can subscribe to edX for Business. Teams can access an array of courses starting at $349 per learner, per year.

Individuals who enroll in executive education courses may pay between $1,499 and $2,500.

Professional certificates and XSeries programs vary in price. A professional certificate in retail and omnichannel management from Dartmouth College costs $198, but a risk management professional certificate from the New York Institute of Finance costs $1,895. Similarly, the XSeries program Fundamentals of Computer Science from IIT Bombay costs $745, while Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology from the Smithsonian Institution costs $120.

EdX offers financial assistance. Users must enroll in a course as an audit learner, then complete a financial assistance application. If the application is approved, which may take two to four business days, the user receives a code for a 90% discount. However, not all courses are eligible, and users will need to complete the financial aid application on a per-course basis.

Users in a verified track course can receive a refund if they unenroll within 14 days of the purchase or 14 days after the course starts, whichever is later. If users are enrolled in a certificate course, they cannot receive a refund after earning their certificate. Once a user has unenrolled, the funds are returned to their payment account. Refunds are typically processed within five to 10 days.

If you buy courses through a program bundle, you can choose to unenroll, change to another session, or leave a session and wait for another one. You can receive a refund within 14 days of enrolling in the course or up to six months after payment, whichever occurs first.

To receive a refund for professional education courses, users will need to contact edX customer support within two days of the start of the course.

EdX might be worthwhile if you plan to pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree, develop your professional skills, enhance your leadership abilities, or learn something new.

Johannes Heinlein, chief commercial officer and senior vice president of strategic partnerships at edX, says 89% of people who completed a MicroMasters program and 81% who completed a professional certificate program reported a positive career outcome, such as “increased confidence at work, earning a raise or getting a promotion.” Depending on the course and how active the learner is, edX also boasts completion rates of up to 80%.

Part of the edX learning philosophy is that classrooms that blend online learning with traditional on-campus approaches can improve efficiency and quality.

“The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated our vision for the future of education, centered on blended learning, stackable learning, and set in place the beginning of a new model for the way that education will be delivered,” Heinlein says.

Before enrolling, consider researching edX on third-party websites. Trustpilot, for example, rates the platform with 4.1 stars out of 5 based on user reviews. Close to a third of users gave edX the top rating. Those unhappy with the site reported technical issues, such as with ID verification and password recoveries, or dissatisfaction with course content.

Like edX, Coursera partners with universities and companies to provide a broad selection of online courses and degree programs. Learners can earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees in business, computer science and engineering, data science, and public health. Users can also take individual courses or specialize in a certain topic.

Coursera offers professional certificates for users who want to boost their careers. Users can also enroll in guided projects, where they learn a job-relevant skill with a smaller time commitment than enrolling in a course.

Coursera’s MasterTrack program is similar to edX’s MicroMasters; MasterTrack breaks down parts of master’s programs into online modules, and users can earn credit toward a degree.

Costs vary by program, but joining Coursera is free and many courses can be audited for free. Paid individual courses with certificates start at $39.

While edX partners with academic institutions and companies, Udemy links individual instructors with students. Udemy doesn’t offer degree programs, but it does have 130,000 video-based courses available, with new courses added monthly.

Udemy organizes courses within such topics as business, design, marketing, personal development, photography and video, and IT and software. In addition, the platform offers Udemy for Business; organizations that enroll can access more than 5,000 courses, create custom content and monitor engagement.

Individual Udemy users pay per course, and instructors earn money when students purchase their course.


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