FutureLearn review  - Is is the right platform for you?
Find out if FutureLearn is the right online learning platform for you with this in-depth review.
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Last updated on September 26th 2022
According to the National Center of Education Statistics, the average 4-year college degree in the U.S. costs between $9,400 - $36,700 USD, depending on the college you choose. With price going even higher for highly sought-after universities, getting educated becomes an enormous investment.
In order to education more affordable, companies like FutureLearn work with universities to make university education through online and to make it more affordable for a global audience.
But is it worth it? And what's the difference between the various programs FutureLearn offers?
Lets find out in this review!
What is FutureLearn?
FutureLearn is a british online learning platform that offers courses developed by their more than 175 university partners worldwide. The platform was founded in 2012 and has since attracted more than 10 million learners worldwide and gets 4 million monthly visitors.
FutureLearn courses come in various forms, from short courses to full online degrees. Most courses focus on academic subjects like Business, Science, Literature, Language & Creative Arts.
With around 500 available courses, they have a decently sized library to choose from.
Let's find out what makes this platform unique!
FutureLearn's main offering is their library of courses, that is developed together with universities and industry experts. Most courses can be taken completely for free for 3 weeks. If you want continued access to the course, you will have to purchase the course individually or as part of their FutureLearn Unlimited subscription.
Each FutureLearn class is divided into modules of individual weeks . Each week has different activities that you’ll be required to complete that week, each built upon the previous week’s worth of work.
Many courses have short quizzes at the end so that you can test yourself on what you learned.
All courses come with a learning community, where you can ask questions and get feedback from fellow students. Certificates are also, but you'll need to upgrade the course and gain eligibility through completing the course to be able to get it.
Expert tracks are series of courses that are designed to help you gain expertise on a specific topic. They are usually created by FutureLearn or an organization with expert knowledge of the topic taught. The typical duration of these expert tracks is between 7-22 weeks, as they consist of multiple courses and try to teach a lot of knowledge. You can get start with FutureLearn's 7-day free trial, and after that you'll pay $39/month.
Microcredentials are - similar to Expert tracks - programs that are meant to help you gain knowledge in a specialized field. In contrast to Expert tracks, they are created by universities only and can therefore give you actual credit that you might be able to use towards your degree. This obviously depends highly on the type of degree you want to pursue and which of the Microcredentials you plan on doing, but it's nice to know that this option is available.
These Microcredentials are meant to be completed in 1-12 weeks and can cost anywhere between $139 - $1029 USD
Lastly, FutureLearn offers full online degrees that give you the flexibility to learn from whereever you are in the world. They have both Bachelors and Masters, as well as Graduate and Postgraduate certificates. In order to take the degrees, you will have to send your application to the university that teaches the program.
Prices start at around $4200 USD for shorter 1-year degrees and can go up for longer degrees. To request pricing, you will have to contact the individual universities, as not all of them publish the prices on the FutureLearn website.
Pro & Cons
Who is FutureLearn for?
FutureLearn is great for people that want to learn new skills in different academic disciplines or expand their skills to accelerate their career. It's also a great place start your online degree, if you want to be more flexible with your studies and want
Topics that are popular on FutureLearn are:
Psychology and mental health
Politics and society
Nature and environment
IT & computer science
Engineering and Maths
Health care & medicine
Business & management
Creative arts & media
In fact, nearly 20% of all undergraduates are enrolled in business-related majors.
As mentioned before, prices on FutureLearn differ between the various offerings that FutureLearn has. Here's a quick overview of the differences:
Their courses from their main offering, the FutureLearn course library, are available for free to all users for a limited amount of time. After that you have two options, if you want to continue taking the course: Upgrade the individual course or upgrade to FutureLearn unlimited to get access to the full library of courses included.
Buying the course individually will give you access to:
The course materials (lifetime access)
The option to get a certificate once you've completed the course
The price for purchasing courses individually can vary between $59 - $89 USD.
Some courses are considered "Premium courses", which means they are more expensive to purchase individually and they're not part of the FutureLearn Unlimited library. These courses can cost up to $259 USD.
If you'd rather pay a subscription fee than purchase a single course, then FutureLearn Unlimited might be the right offering for you. It gives you access to all courses that are part of the Unlimited catalog, so you don't have to purchase multiple courses individually.
The subscription costs $27.99 USD/month when paid monthly and $23.33 USD/month when paid yearly.
Be aware that FutureLearn Unlimited doesn't included in Expert Track subscriptions, Microdegrees or full online degrees. Check out the list of included courses to see if the courses you want to take are part of the Unlimited subscription.
Expert tracks have their own subscription model, that only gives you access to the individual Expert track that you're subscribed to. You can get started with the 7-day-free trial and after that it's $39 USD/month.
Microcredentials can be purchased through a one-time fee of between $139 - $1029 USD.
Prices for online degrees can vary heavily based on the type of degree, the length of the degree and the university that offers the course. They start at around $4,000 USD and can go up substantially depending on the university.
FutureLearn offers a 14-day refund period for most of its courses, but the details can vary based on the course you took and there can also be requirements that you need to fulfill in order to be elligible for a refund.
If you want to know the details, you can take a look at the FutureLearn refund policy.
FutureLearn for businesses
FutureLearn offers a dedicated plan for businesses that allows organizations to encourage learning of their employees and track their progress accordingly.
In addition to a catalog of courses and learner analytics, FutureLearn also has a dedicated team that helps organizations create custom courses tailored specifically to the organization's needs. To get information about the pricing of FutureLearn for Business, you'll have to contact their sales team.
FutureLearn for students
FutureLearn doesn't have a dedicated plan for students. They seem to have offered a student discount through Student Beans, but at the time of writing this, their student discount seems to be broken.
Learning & Customer support
If you have general questions about your account, you can use the self-service knowledge base that FutureLearn offers. If that's not enough, you can contact the FutureLearn support directly through their contact form.
Whenever you need help with the contents of your courses, you can use the "course conversations" that every course has. There, you can ask your questions and get answers from fellow students and your instructor.
While support here is not guaranteed, it can still be a great way to get help when you have questions.
If you're taking a online degree or a Microcredentials, you will have additional options when it comes to support, like mentorship and access to university support. The exact support you'll get highly depends on your individual degree or Microcredential.
When you upgrade any of your courses, you can receive a certificate of completion for courses you complete. In order to be eligible, you need to complete 90% of the course and pass all test with a minimum score of 70%.
Expert tracks and Microcredentials also get you a certificate of completion, but for these you will have to complete tests & assessments in order to gain access to the course.
Certificates for regular short courses and Expert tracks aren't accredited, while both Microcredentials and online degrees can earn you academic credit that you can use towards a degree your field.
Whether or not the university accepts credits acquired through FutureLearn comes down to university guidelines and partnerships, so it's best to ask your preferred university beforehand.
Create a FutureLearn account
To create a FutureLearn account, click the "Register" button in the top right corner.
After that, you'll have to choose your login credentials and FutureLearn will ask you a couple of questions to get to know your interests. And that's it!
Popular courses on FutureLearn
Good Practice in Autism Education
Learn about autism education in this course created by the University of Bath and learn how to work with autistic children in your professional career.
Digital Skills: Digital Marketing
Learn to use digital marketing to grow your career or business. In about 4 hours, you get a good overview of the available digital marketing channels. This course was developed by Accenture, the global consulting firm, and is accredited by The CPD Accreditation Service.
Fairy Tales: Meanings, Messages, and Morals
Build your skills in literary analysis and creative writing by exploring the meaning of fairy tales with Caroline Webb, an associate professor of English literature at the University of Newcastle, Australia.
The instructors on FutureLearn are typically employees of universities or specialized training companies. Since most of the courses on FutureLearn were developed by or together with universities, the instructors have great knowledge of the topics they're teaching.
This way, FutureLearn makes sure that the quality of all of their courses stays really high. To see the type of universities and professional organizations that develop courses on FutureLearn, you can take a look at their partners page which highlights the institutions they collaborate with.
Frequently asked questions
Is FutureLearn legit?
Yes, definitely! FutureLearn is a trustable platform operated by The Open University, the biggest public universitiy in the U.K. With more than 175 university partners, more than 10 million learners and 4 million monthly visitors, FutureLearn is a popular platform for improving your professional skills and taking online degrees.
Is FutureLearn free?
No, FutureLearn isn't free, but they do give you free 3-week access to their regular courses and a 7-day free trial to their Expert Tracks.
Does FutureLearn offer scholarships?
Yes, FutureLearn offers scholarships, which you can apply to through their scholarship page
As a FutureLearn scholar you’ll get:
£4,000 of free learning from FutureLearn and The Open University
£1,000 that you can use towards home study, specialist learning tools, or equipment
8 hours of world-class mentorship and coaching from leading industry experts
In addition, FutureLearn also offers a free 12-month subscription to FutureLearn Unlimited to 100 runners up that didn't make it into the scholarship.
Which languages does FutureLearn offer?
Most of the courses on FutureLearn are in English, and FutureLearn has stated that they will keep their focus on English courses for now. They also ffer a couple of courses in completetly different languages and some others have subtitles in other languages, but as of now, there's no way to search for courses in specific languages on the platform.
Are FutureLearn courses accredited & recognized?
Whether a course on FutureLearn is accredited, depends on the type of course you take.
Short courses and Expert tracks aren't usually accredited, but many Microcredentials and all of the online degrees are. When looking to complete any of these accredited courses, it's recommended that you check with your university first, to see if they accept the credits you can acquire through FutureLearn.
Summary: Is FutureLearn worth it?
In my opinion, FutureLearn is definitely worth it for professionals that want to learn new skills. It's also great for students that want to earn academic credit or that want to do their degree fully online. If you're considering FutureLearn, you'll probably like the platform for its:
Free temporary access to their course library
Super intuitive user interface
Search through more than 200,000 courses on all the topics you can think of and start learning today!