edX review  - Is is the right platform for you?
Find out if edX is the right online learning platform for you with this in-depth review.
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Last updated on September 26th 2022
Online learning has become omnipresent in the last years following the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, millions of learners have looked for online platforms to get educated or to advance their careers. One of these platforms is edX, and in this post, I want to share my review of edX with you based on hours of research.
Let's dive right in!
What is edX?
edX is an online learning platform that was founded by Harvard and MIT in 2012. They focus on university-level courses, developed in collaboration with their countless university partners (like Harvard and Berkeley University), and other education providers worldwide. From regular online courses to full online degrees, edX has a broad variety of offerings in 30+ categories, taught by academics from the world's best universities, many of whom have won prestigious academic awards like Nobel prizes, etc.
In total, edX offers more than 3,500 courses and 400 programs. With more than 12 million monthly visitors and 35 million learners in total, the platform is one of the most popular places to learn career-relevant skills online.
Let's take a closer look at the different programs they offer!
edX's main offering is their library of more than 3,000 online courses. These are developed by universities or edX's other partners. The goal of the short courses is to help students learn something new from a broad catalog of topics & interests.
Most courses take about 2-10 hours per week to complete for a duration of 6-8 weeks. Some of the courses are self-paced, while others are instructor-led.
By default, courses are free for a limited amount of time, but paid upgrades are available, which include lifetime access, graded assessments and a certificate of completion.
Price: From $99 USD
edX XSeries are learning tracks that consist of multiple courses. They are designed to help you dive deep into a specific that interests you. The typical duration for these series is 8+ weeks, with a time commitment of about 2-8 hours per week.
Again, these are free to try, but you will have to upgrade to get permanent access, as well as your certificate for the course.
Price: From $135 USD
Professional Certificate Programs
edx also offers Professional Certificate programs, which are programs designed to help you build skills for your job and to accelerate your career. They usually consist of multiple individual courses, like the XSeries programs do as well. Just as the other programs, they are free to try, but if you want the full experience with certificates and everything, you'll have to upgrade.
On average Professional Certificate programs take about 5-8 hours peer week, for a duration of 3-4 months to complete.
Price: From $299 USD
edX boot camps
edX boot camps are designed to help you learn the skills to start a career in tech within just a couple of months. In addition to a concise and results-oriented curriculum, you get a flexible learning experience designed to help you fit the boot camp into your schedule. You also get support with landing a job, which can be invaluable especially if you're trying to break into a new industry.
The boot camps are held by university partners of edX, and typically take between 12-24 weeks.
Prices highly depend on the university that offers the boot camp, so you will have to request information from them to get accurate price information. Expect to pay between $5,000 - 15,000 USD.
The Executive Education programs offered by edX are cohort-based courses targeted at business leaders. These courses come with extensive support by dedicated "Success Advisors" and expert tutors. They are held by getsmarter, an online learning platform that is owned by the same company that owns edX.
The typical duration is 6-8 weeks.
MicroBachelors® and MicroMasters® Programs
If you want to earn actual academic credit, you can get started with edX's MicroBachelors and MicroMasters programs. These programs are meant to be a more flexible way of getting educated, while still honoring your work with academic credit that you can use to complete a full degree, whether it's a Bachelors or a Masters degree.
MicroBachelors are designed for undergraduates that want to get career-ready faster, while also receiving academic credit along the way. The idea is to learn essential skills to excel in a specific career, while still having the option to pursue a full degree later on.
These programs typically take 4-10 hours of effort per week, for a time span of 3-8 months. Most programs are self-paced, so you can go through the individual courses in your pace. Again, they are free to try, but you will need to upgrade in order to receive credit for taking the courses.
Prices start from $499 USD.
MicroMasters are similar to MicroBachelors in their idea, but they are more intense. Usually, programs take 10-15 hours per week, for a 6-12 month period. They typically contain 3+ individual courses can be both instructor-led or self-paced. Again, they're free to try, but you will have to pay to get credit.
Prices start from $600 USD.
Bachelor's and Master's Degrees
Lastly, edX also offers full online degrees through their partner universities. You can transform your career both with a full Bachelors as well as a full Master's degree with an internationally renowned university.
Full Bachelors degree
Complete a full Bachelors degree through one of edX's university partners. The programs are held by edX's partner universities, like the London School of Economics.
Pricing information and details can vary from university to university, so it's best to contact them directly for all the details.
Full Masters degree
Earn a full Master's degree with a renowned university. These courses usually take 10-20 hours of commitment per week, over a period of 1-3 years.
When you're done, you will have earned an actual Master's degree, just like you would have for in-person Master's degrees.
Prices start from $10,000 USD.
edX mobile app
edX also offers a mobile app for iOS and Android that allows you to access courses from whereever you are.
Pro & Cons
Who is edX for?
Since edX has such a broad portfolio of different learning products, there's something for almost anyone trying to learn a new skill. Most offerings are targeted at professionals or students that want to become professionals, so you won't find courses on "hobby topics".
That said, if you're trying to advance your career, or earn your degree, chances are that edX has a product that fits your needs.
For learning products like edX courses, XSeries and Professional Certificates, edX offers a so-called "Audit track", which allows learners to take the courses completely for free for a limited amount of time (typically a couple of weeks).
If you want access to additional benefits, you will have to upgrade to a "Verified track" though. This will give you:
Full access to all course materials
Access to graded assignments & test
Option to receive your certificate of completion
Here's an overview of the price range for these different learning products:
Courses: $100 - $350 USD
XSeries: $135 to $1,100 USD
Professional Certificate Programs: $300 - $1,000 USD
edX also offers other learning products, where you don't have the option to participate for free. These programs include the MicroBachelors and MicroMasters, the full online degrees, Executive Education as well as the boot camps.
Pricing for these products can vary substantially based on the organization that offers them, but here are some estimates:
MicroMasters: $600 - $1,500 USD
MicroBachelors Programs: $500 - $1,500 USD
Bachelor's Degree: $20,000 - $30,000 USD
Master’s Degree: $10,000 - $25,000 USD
Boot camps: $5,000 - 15,000 USD
Executive Education: Only upon request
For regular courses, edX offers a 14-day refund policy if you've not received a certificate for the course already. You can read more about how this works in edX's refund policy.
Since most other programs aren't managed by edX themselves, you will have to contact the university that's hosting the course to get information about a potential refund policy.
edX for businesses
edX also has a dedicated offering for businesses called edX for Business. Plans start at $349 USD/user/year and can go up depending on the features your organization needs.
There are 3 business subscription tiers available, that offer increasing levels of service for your business, like analytics, custom integrations, services to close employee skill gaps and more. As with most plans targeted at businesses, you might want to contact their sales team directly to get more information about the best plan for your exact needs.
edX for students
edX doesn't have a dedicated plan for students, but they offer financial assistance for everybody who can't afford to pay the full price, through their financial aid program. When you're eligible, this can give you up to 90% discount on verified certificates. In total, you can be approved for up to 5 certificates every year.
edX also offers subscriptions for universities, so you might want to check if your university offers this.
Learning & Customer support
edX offers a self-service helpcenter for any questions about your account, payments and anything related to the edX platform as a whole. If that's not enough, you can also contact edX directly through their chatbot, or by filling out their support form.
When you have a question about the contents of a course you're taking, you can use the "Discussion" tab that you will find in every regular course you take on edX.
For other programs like the MicroBachelors, MicroMaster, full degrees, Executive Education as well as boot camps, there's additional support available that varies based on the specific program.
When you complete a course, you have the option to receive a certificate. These certificates require you to upgrade your course to the "Verified" version. You can also get program certificates for completing a series of associated courses. In order to get the certificate, you will have to pass a graded assignment associated with the course and if you have a passing score, this is what your certificate might look like:
Now, these regular certificates aren't typically accredited, so their main purpose is to serve as a certificate of completion, that you can show your employer to "verify" that you have learned a certain skill.
This is a different story for MicroDegrees, as well as full degrees on edX. For MicroBachelors and MicroMasters, you will receive academic credit alongside your certificate. For full degrees, you receive a proper degree like you would expect from any regular university.
Create a edX account
To create an edX account, simply click on the "Register for free" button in the top-right corner.
After that, you'll have to enter in your personal details and login credentials. Then you're good to go!
Popular courses on edX
Machine Learning with Python: A Practical Introduction
Get to know all the tools you need to get started with supervised and unsupervised learning. This course is held by IBM, self-paced and takes about 5 weeks to complete at 4–6 hours of effort per week. You can upgrade to the verified certificate for $99 USD.
Receive a thorough grounding in basic medical terminology through a study of root words, prefixes and suffixes. The course is credit eligible through Doane University's Open Learning Academy and takes about 8 weeks at 5–10 hours of time commitment per week. You can upgrade to a verified certificate for $99 USD.
Remote Work Revolution for Everyone
In this course createtd by the Harvard University, you'll learn how to excel in the virtual-work landscape. You will learn how to build trust, increase productivity, use digital tools intelligently, and remain fully aligned with your remote team. The course takes about 3 weeks at 2–3 hours of effort per week. You can upgrade to a verified certificate for $99 USD.
Managing Conflicts on Projects with Cultural and Emotional Intelligence
Learn how to heal bad communication habits and conflicts that arise within project teams by leveraging emotional and cultural intelligence using the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM). This course takes an estimated 5 weeks at 3–5 hours per week. You can upgrade to a verified certificate for $199 USD.
Whatever discipline you’re interested in, it’s always ideal to learn from the best. This is something edX prides itself on and why it has partnered with such prestigious universities and institutions of higher learning. In total, edX has 15,000 instructors from more than 160 partner institutions. You can get a feel for the types of partnerships that edX has when looking at the partner page. It's nothing but prestigious universities and institutions from around the world.
These instructors are leaders in their field who know exactly what they are talking about and also have years of experience in actually delivering their content, which is just as important. It isn't rare to see these instructors winning highly sought-after academic prizes as well.
Overall, I think it's fair to say that edX has some of the most highly-qualified instructors of all the available online learning platforms.
Frequently asked questions
Is edX legit?
Yes, definitely! The edX platform developed by Harvard and MIT has more than 3,500 courses and 400 programs. With more than 12 million monthly visitors and 35 million learners in total, it's one of the most popular places to learn career-relevant skills online.
Is edX free?
No, edX isn't free, but they do give you the option to take a lot of their courses for free through their "Audit Track". This means you get free access to the course for a limited amount of time, but in order to take assessments and earn certificates, you would have to upgrade your course.
Does edX offer scholarships?
Yes, edX offers scholarships. These scholarships are offered together with partners, which means the application as well as the terms of the scholarship can vary. You can learn more on the edX's scholarship page.
In addition to scholarships, edX also offers financial aid for students that can't afford to pay the full price for verified certificates. If you are eligible, you can get up to 90% discount on the price of certificates. To apply for financial aid, fill out the corresponding form on the edX website.
Which languages does edX offer?
The vast majority of edX's courses are taught in English, but there are courses in other languages as well. You can use the language filter on the course search page to filter for a language of your liking. Courses in other languages than English will typically have English subtitles available.
Are edX courses accredited & recognized?
edX offers both regular & accredited courses. Their accredited learning products are the MicroBachelors, MicroMaster, Bachelors and Masters degrees. Their regular courses offer certificates of completion, but no academic credit.
Summary: Is edX worth it?
Yes, in my opinion, edX is definitely worth it for most learners looking to accelerate their career through courses, certificates or degrees. It's one of the most popular and recognized online learning platforms for a reason. You'll love the platform for their:
Broad variety of learning products
World-class partners & instructors
Free, temporary access to 3,000+ high-quality courses
Intuitive learning experience
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