Coursera review  - Is it the right platform for you?
Find out if Coursera is the right online learning platform for you with this in-depth review.
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Last updated on September 26th 2022
Coursera is one of the most well-known & prestigious online learning platforms out there with courses taught by professors from world-renowned universities like Stanford, Yale & Harvard. But can it live up to the high expectations, and is the steeper price tag for their premium products justified?
Let's find out together!
What is Coursera?
Coursera is a U.S.-based online course platform founded in 2012 by the computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. It's one of the biggest and most respected online learning platforms with almost 10,000 available courses and almost 50 million monthly visitors. Coursera offers lots of different programs that help you learn new skills, from free online courses all the way to full online degrees.
Most courses are developed in partnership with more than 200 leading universities worldwide, which means that the quality standards for Coursera courses are much higher than they are on other platforms. The courses are usually also more on the academic side, meaning if you're looking for niche courses for one of your hobbies, you should go with platforms like Udemy or Skillshare.
In total, Coursera offers 6 different types of programs & courses, which can get a bit confusing.
Let's go over the most important differences:
More than 1,800 free courses with the option to pay for a certificate. Typically taught by instructors from well-known universities or big companies. Examples include Machine Learning, First Step Korean and Introduction to Psychology
Average time commitment: 4-12 hours
Price of certificate: $25 - $75 USD
Perfect for getting started learning about a new subject. You can even showcase your new skill using the optional certificate.
Close to 2,500 short & interactive courses taught by experts. You can do everything in your browser and don't need to download additional software to go along with the tutorials. Examples include Getting Started With R, Introduction To Project Management and COVID-19 Data Analysis Using Python.
Average time commitment: 1-2 hours
Price : $9 USD
Perfect for learning a specific job-relevant skill quickly.
A series of related courses that help you work towards a certain career skill, like Excel Skills for Business, Java Programming or Business & Financial Modelling. You can take the entire series of courses, or just the course that interests you. At the end, you have to pass a hands-on project in order to receive a certificate for your newly acquired skills.
Average time commitment: 1-3 months
Price: $39 USD - $79 USD per month
Perfect for mastering a specific skill
Training programs that prepare you for specific in-demand careers. They are taught by instructors from huge companies like Google & Meta and can come with certificate that are recognized by universities and companies. Examples include IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate, Intuit Bookkeeping Professional Certificate or Facebook Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate.
Average time commitment: 1-6 months
Price: $39 USD - $79 USD per month
Get job-ready for your desired career
Online modules of a degree program that can be used as credit to go towards your degree. You be an online student at the university you pick the MasterTrack certificate from. Examples include the UX Design MasterTrack Certificate, the Industrial Internet of Things MasterTrack Certificate or the Instructional Design MasterTrack Certificate.
Average time commitment: 4-7 months
Price: $2,000 USD - $5,000 USD
Earn a university-issued certificate and credit towards a degree
Full online Bachelor's or Master's Degree from top universities worldwide. You go through your entire degree from the comfort of your home and at a much lower cost than on-campus degrees. Examples include the Master of Applied Data Science, the Bachelor of Science in Marketing or the Bachelor of Science in General Business.
Average time commitment: 2-4 years
Price: $9,000 USD - $50,000 USD
Earn your bachelor’s or master’s degree
That variety of different offers is what makes Coursera so unique. There's something for everybody, whether you just want to learn some new skills or get a full-blown Bachelor's or Master's degree.
Pros and Cons
Who is Coursera for?
Since Coursera has so many different programs, there's something here to learn for basically any knowledge worker or student. The clear focus is on academic topics though, so you might not find any courses on hobby topics like cooking, fishing, music, etc.
Overall, I'd say Coursera is best for:
People that want to complete a full online degree (Bachelor's or Master's)
Professionals that want to acquire a specific new skill (Specializations & Professional Certificates)
Students & curious people that want to learn something new, but don't have the budget for a full degree (Courses & Guided Projects)
When it comes to topics, Coursera also has decent range of different offers, like courses on:
Coursera pricing: How much do courses on Coursera cost?
The pricing of programs on Coursera can vary heavily. While Guided projects start at $8 dollars, full online Bachelor's degrees can cost you up to $50,000 USD. Here's a quick overview of the average prices for the different types of programs Coursera offers.
Courses: Free with the option to upgrade to get a certificate (
Guided Projects: $9.99 USD
Specializations: $39 USD - $79 USD per month (subscription fee)
Professional certificates: $39 USD per month (subscription fee)
MasterTrack Certificate: $2,000 USD - $5,000 USD
Full Bachelor's or Master's degree: $9,000 USD - $40,000 USD
If you want access to lots of different courses & certifications at once, you might want to check out Coursera Plus, which is Coursera's subscription model. It gives you unlimited access to 7,000+ courses, projects and certificate programs for a monthly or yearly fee. The monthly fee is $55 USD, while the yearly subscription costs about $350 USD.
There's also a free trial period and a refund policy for the subscriptions offers on Coursera. You have the chance to test out the waters and see if the courses are right for you, when you subscribe to:
A professional certificate
This free trial usually lasts 7 days.
Specializations and courses are also eligible for a 14-day refund period. Professional Certificate, MasterTrack Certificate and online degree refund policies are dependent on the university or company that runs the program, so you would have to contact the university or company directly.
Guided Projects are completely exempt from the refund policy.
Plans for teams, businesses & students
Coursera also has a lot of additional offers that are designed for teams, huge corporations and students. Let's go over them one-by-one:
Coursera for teams
Coursera for teams is the learning plan for startups and small businesses. It's great if you want to give your employees an easy way to level up their skills and can also be a great benefit to attract talent for your company.
The standard plan costs $399 USD/year/user and gives you access to 5,000+ courses, Specializations, and Guided Projects on Coursera. It also comes with management features that help you keep track of your employee's progress and to customize the suggested learning materials your employees see.
Coursera for businesses
If you're part of a big organization, the Coursera for business plan might be better suited for you. It's a custom option for large corporations, governments, etc. that gives you a lot more flexibility about the content you get. It also gives you access to Single-Sign-On features and access to Coursera API, as well as integrations with popular LMS providers.
The pricing is custom, so you will have to contact Coursera directly to get more information.
Coursera for students
If you're a student, you also get a special plan that offers unlimited Guided Projects and 1 free course per year! To access this free offer, you just need to sign up for a Coursera account using your university email address. If Coursera recognizes your college/university, you will get free access to the free student plan, though you will still need to pay if you want to go through more than 1 course per year.
Learning & Customer support
Coursera gives you varying levels of support depending on the learning product that you purchased.
As any good platform should, they have a basic self-serve knowledge base available for all the standard questions around your account, how to sign up for courses, etc.
They also offer communities for the different topics they serve, ranging from Business to Arts & Humanities, where you can ask questions and get help from fellow students.
If you decide to go for a full online degree or one of the MasterTrack certificates, you will also get access to the faculty and the teaching assistants of the university that you're enrolled in. These types of courses often include weekly sessions to connect with fellow students in a virtual classroom.
Overall the level of learning support you will get greatly depends on the type of course you book. If you're going through a free course or a guided project, you might get help in the public forum, but you will not get any personal help directly.
If you want more personal support while learning and you don't want to complete a full degree, you might want to check out platforms like Udacity or Codecademy which offer more personal support when you're stuck at lower prices, depending on the program you choose.
Certification on Coursera is different depending on the program you sign up for. Let's go over the certificates available and what they mean for your professional career.
Free courses give you the option to upgrade to receive a certificate for the skills you learned. Here's what your certificate might look like:
These certificates are nice-to-have, but they are not formally recognized by universities. They might still help you find a job though, if the skills you learned in the course are relevant to your employer. It will just show your name, the course you took and the institution that organized the course.
Guided Projects are just quick 1-2 hour courses. They don't offer you a certificate, as they're meant to help you acquire just a small additional skill in a short period of time.
Specializations offer a series of courses that help you achieve proficiency with a specific skill over a longer period of time. They include a graded assesment, which you have to pass in order to receive the certificate. This certificate is not recognized by universities either, but it's harder to attain than the certificate for free courses.
Professional certificates are pretty similar to the specializations. You have to take a graded assessment in order to receive your certificate of completion. Again, these certificates aren't formally accredited, but they might be recognized by potential employers, as they are usually handed out by big companies like Google, Salesforce, etc. For example: If you want to start a career in social media marketing, the Social Media Marketing Certificate from Meta might very well help you find a job.
The MasterTrack certificates give you the option to earn credit towards actual university degrees. They are usually recognized by the university that offers them, but might also count towards degrees from other universities.
Full online degrees
The full degrees have different accredition based on the university offering them, but many off the programs on Coursera are from globally recognized institutions. They count as full degrees and will definitely help you find a job on your desired career path.
Create a Coursera account
To create a Coursera account, all you need to do is to click the "Sign up" button on the Coursera homepage.
Then you just have to enter in your email address and password to get started. Alternatively, you can sign up with Google or Facebook.
Popular courses on Coursera
Let's go over some of the most popular courses on Coursera, so that you can get a feel for the things you can learn on the platform.
Popular Free courses
A beginner's course on machine learning taught by Coursera co-founder and Stanford professor Andrew Ng. This course has more than 4.6 million learners with an average rating of 4.9/5! You can get started for free or upgrade to receive a certificate for $70 USD.
First step Korean
Start learning Korean with Seung Hae Kang, associate professor of Korean Education as a Foreign Language at Yonsei University in Seoul. With more than 1.1 million learners and an average rating of 4.9/5. You can get started for free or upgrade to receive a certificate for $43 USD.
Introduction to Psychology
Get an introduction to the human mind from Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University. With more than 850 thousand learners and an average rating of 4.8/5. You can get started for free or upgrade to receive a certificate for $43 USD.
Popular Guided Projects
Getting Started with Power BI Desktop
Learn about Power BI Desktop with Amit Yadav, a machine learning engineer and instructor. Join 40,000 students that left an average rating of 4.7/5. Get access to the full Guided Project for $10 USD.
Introduction to Project Management
Get start with project management with Megan Peck, a project manager with experience at companies like Microsoft. Join 34,000 students that left an average rating of 4.6/5. Get access to the full Guided Project for $10 USD.
Introduction to Relational Database and SQL
Learn about relational databases and SQL with Harrison Kong, a seasoned web developer from Los Angeles. Join 27,000 students that left an average rating of 4.6/5. Get access to the full Guided Project for $10 USD.
Excel Skills for Business Specialization
Learn how to use Excel in business with leading instructors from Macquarie University from Australia. Join 375,000 students that left an average rating of 4.9/5. Get access to the Specialization for $49 USD per month.
Business and Financial Modeling Specialization
Learn about Business and Financial Modelling with leading professors from the Wharton School of Business. Join 65,000 students that left an average rating of 4.5/5. Get access to the full Guided Project for $49 USD per month.
Learn all about Robotics with specialists and professors from Penn University. Join 40,000 students that left an average rating of 4.3/5. Get access to the full Guided Project for $49 USD per month.
Popular Professional Certificates
Facebook Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate
Learn social media marketing with professionals from Meta partner companies. Join 90,000 students that left an average rating of 4.9/5. Get access to the full certificate for $49 USD per month.
IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate
Become a cybersecurity analyst and learn from cybersecurity professionals at IBM. Join 58,000 students that left an average rating of 4.6/5. Get access to the full certificate for $49 USD per month.
Google IT Support Professional Certificate
Learn how to become and IT support professional with instructors from Google. Join 840,000 students that left an average rating of 4.8/5. Get access to the full certificate for $49 USD per month.
To sum it up, instructors on Coursera are mostly highly qualified professionals, subject-matter experts or scientists from some of the best universities and companies worldwide. The overall course quality these instructors can provide is significantly higher than you will find on most other online learning platforms.
Frequently asked questions
Is Coursera Legit?
Definitely! Coursera offers thousands of courses developed with 200+ top universities worldwide, their website has almost 50 million visitors a month and great reviews on platforms like G2, which is one of the most trusted authoritities for online platforms and software comparison.
Is Coursera free?
While Coursera itself isn't free, there are around 2000 free courses available on the platform. You just have to register an account with Coursera and then you will be able to take the courses absolutely for free.
Can I use a Coursera certificate on my resume?
Yes, you can definitely do that although it's unclear if your potential employer recognizes regular Coursera courses as valid credentials. If you're enrolled in a full degree through Coursera, than you will definitely want to add that to your resume as it's a fully accredited university degree!
Does Coursera offer scholarships?
Yes, Coursera does offer scholarships to people from underrepresented communities as well as financial aid. To apply, you have to fill out the corresponding form on their financial aid website.
Which languages does Coursera offer?
Most of the courses on Coursera are in English, but there are also a lot of courses in other languages, like Spanish, Arabic, French, Russian, German & Portuguese.
Are Coursera courses recognized & accredited?
This depends on the course you take on Coursera. Free courses, certificates and guided projects are usually not officially accredited, but you can also take full Bachelor's and Master's degrees on Coursera, which are accredited just like regular university degrees. There are also certifications that are recognized by companies as valid proof of your abilities.
Summary: Is Coursera worth it?
In my opinion, Coursera is definitely worth it! It's a fantastic platform with high-quality courses created by experts from universities and large companies. It's one of the most well-known platforms for online degrees, and professional certificates.
If you're in the market for an online degree, you will love Cousera for:
The wide range of courses
High-quality learning materials developed with 200+ top universities
The seamless learning experience with their mobile app
Official recognized degrees and industry-standard certificates
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