What is Coursera?
Coursera is an online learning provider that offers on-demand courses from best universities and institutions around the globe. It is backed by Stanford professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng. It is 100% online and covers topics across a wide variety of subjects. Coursera catalog consists of more than 4300 courses and specialization programs. Currently Coursera has over 200 top universities as its partners that include the likes of Stanford, Pennsylvania, Harvard, Duke, Michigan, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Yale, Princeton etc. Additionally it has partnered with companies like IBM, Google, Amazon, Intel, PwC etc. to offer specialized industry-relevant courses and certifications on its platform. It has set a gold standard in the online education space with highbrow partnerships with these leading global universities and institutions.
Coursera has seen exponential growth in the recent years, with student enrolments having almost doubled in the last two years. The platform has more than 68 million learners worldwide making it the most popular MOOC provider. Coursera is also the platform of choice for more than 2800 companies who rely on it for workforce training and transforming talent.
Here’re some key highlights about Coursera:
- 68+ million Learners
- 4300+ Courses
- 450+ Specializations
- 440+ Projects
- 30+ Professional Certificates
- 17+ MasterTrack Certificates
- 20+ Online Degrees
How Coursera works – Coursera Learning Options
Coursera provides a very comprehensive online platform for furthering your learning goals. It offers online courses in all subjects from arts and music to mathematics, computer science, software development, business, finance and personal development. These range from short courses (also known as Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs) to specializations in particular topics.
There are 5 learning options on Coursera:
- Individual Courses
- Professional Certificates
- MasterTrack Certificates
- Online Degrees
- Guided Projects
Let’s look at what each of these programs offers.
These are individual auto or peer graded courses that you can take on Coursera. At the time of writing, Coursera catalog consists of over 4300 courses, with new ones being added constantly. All these courses are university-backed or developed in partnership with major global tech companies.
Coursera Courses consist of pre-recorded video lectures, along with quizzes, assignments, supplemental reading materials etc. They also come with student discussion forums and a certificate of completion. All these Coursera courses are free to audit (i.e. watch videos and review all learning material at no cost), but the free option does not include access to peer-graded assignments or course completion certificate. If you want to earn a Coursera Certification, you will need to pay for the course.
Specialization is a micro-credential offered by Coursera and is basically a series of intertwined rigorous courses designed to impart deep knowledge of a specific topic or domain. Most specializations have a capstone project as the last course, which is based on real business challenges. Basically, Specializations are a step up from individual courses and are an excellent option to acquire proficiency in a particular career skill in about 4-6 months time.
Coursera currently offers more than 450 specializations on its platform. To earn a Coursera Specialization Certificate, learners need to complete all courses in that specialization.
Coursera Professional Certificates
Professional Certificates are similar to Specializations in the sense that they also are a bundle of related courses but are even more career-oriented and specially designed to make learners job-ready for an in-demand business or technology career. Coursera Professional Certificate programs include hands-on projects, access to career support resources and a shareable certificate to showcase expertise to potential employers.
Coursera currently offers more than 30 professional certificate programs on its platform. Each Professional Certificate is issued by the institution that created the program.
Coursera MasterTrack Certificates
MasterTrack Certificates are another step up that include master’s degree learning into the curriculum. They are basically portions of Master’s programs that have been split into online modules. These bring highest quality university level learning to the students in a flexible, easily accessible and much economical format. MasterTrack Certificate coursework includes real-world projects with live, expert instruction that make the entire learning experience very engaging. It can generally be completed within a year’s time.
MasterTrack Certificates are issued by the University offering the program. For students accepted to the full Master’s program at the University, the MasterTrack Certificate counts as credits towards the master’s degree. Currently, Coursera offers more than 17 MasterTrack Certificate programs.
Coursera started offering online degrees in the year 2017. Since then, they have been adding online degree programs to their catalog every year. These include both Bachelors and Masters degrees. Currently, there are more than 20 Coursera online degrees on offer. These are similar to getting a bachelor’s or master’s degree on campus and come from accredited world-class universities such as University of Illinois, HEC Paris, University of Michigan, Imperial College London etc.
Coursera’s open degree courses offer flexible online learning at a fraction of the cost of on-campus degree programs. Students also get the benefit of learning from top university professors and graduate with high-value and industry-relevant university credential.
At this time, Coursera offering includes online Master’s degrees in Business, Computer Science and Engineering, Data Science, and Public Health, as well as an online Bachelor’s degree in Applied Arts and Sciences.
Coursera Guided Projects
Guided projects are short video-based courses that impart job-relevant skills and knowledge of industry tools in under 2 hours. They provide an interactive learning experience with step-by-step, visual instruction from subject-matter experts. These are delivered 100% online and require a smaller time commitment on the part of learners. Guided Projects courses are based on real-world scenarios and are excellent to gain hands-on experience in a subject.
At the time of writing, Coursera is offering over 400 free guided projects on various topics from building basic business skills, machine learning for beginners, and software engineering, to learning techniques for transformational algorithms like neural networks and Markowitz models.
Are courses on Coursera free?
In a general sense, Coursera courses are available for free. This means, anyone can go through the course material including the video lectures and mostly the non-graded quizzes included in the course. But several features of the courses will not be available unless you choose to pay for the course. These include:
- Graded assignments
- Coursera certificate of completion
- Some courses may include bonus videos or extra reading material for paid members
When you signup for a course, you can either choose to purchase the course or select “Audit” option for free access to the course material.
Though most courses have assessments and certificates behind a paywall, there are still hundreds of courses that are available completely for free, including the assessments, but minus the certificate. When you signup for one of these courses, you get the option of “Full Course, No Certificate.”, along with option to purchase the course and get a certificate of completion.
Also note that there are some courses on Coursera that are paid only.
How much does Coursera cost? [Coursera Pricing]
The cost of Coursera courses depends on the type of online program you are enrolling for. There are following 6 Coursera pricing options:
- Individual Courses – Prices for courses with certificates start at $39 as one-off payment.
- Specializations and Professional Certificates – These are available on a subscription basis, ranging from $49 to $79 per month.
- MasterTrack Certificates – These cost $2000 and up.
- Degrees – These begin at around $10000.
- Guided Projects – These are priced starting at $9.99 with a certificate of completion.
- Coursera Plus – This is an annual subscription service for unlimited access at $399.
What is Coursera Plus?
In February 2020, Coursera came out with an annual subscription service called Coursera Plus. Coursera Plus costs $399 and gives subscribers unlimited access to Coursera’s massive catalog of more than 3000 courses for 12 months.
Coursera Plus subscription is like an all access pass to most Coursera courses, specializations, professional certificates and guided projects. However MasterTrack certificates and online degrees are not included in this subscription.
With Coursera Plus, users can enrol in as many courses or specializations as they wish to for a single, all-inclusive price. There is no limitation on the number of certificates that they can earn. They earn a Course Certificate for any course that they complete using their Coursera Plus subscription, as long as they successfully pass the course. It is therefore an excellent option for learners who take multiple Coursera online courses throughout the year. You can check all features of Coursera Plus (along with discounts) here.
Although majority of Cousera’s online courses are included in Coursera Plus, there are a few partners whose offerings are excluded, like IBM, PwC, Stanford University etc. Coursera Plus subscribers see a Coursera Plus badge on the course pages that are part of the subscription.
Coursera Plus service comes with a no question asked 14-day money back guarantee. So if you purchase Coursera Plus and then change your mind, you can cancel the service and get a full refund within 14 days of purchase. You can sign up for Coursera Plus here.
Is Coursera Plus worth it?
With Coursera Plus users pay upfront, an annual fee of $399 or a monthly fee of $59 per month and get access to 3000+ courses, specializations and certificate programs. Once subscribed, they can take as many courses and earn as many certificates as they would like. So for anyone who takes multiple Coursera classes per year and pays to earn certificates, there is value in upfront investment in Coursera Plus subscription.
Now whether Coursera Plus is worth it and saves you money really boils down to your learning goals and how many certificates you want to earn in a year. If you are planning on taking multiple paid courses and specializations, Coursera Plus might save you money based on which programs you want to undertake and how much each one costs. If you will be enrolling for Coursera course certificates for more than 8 months of the year, this is a pretty sweet deal for you. But if you are looking at completing just one or two paid courses in a year, it would not be worth the investment.
Let us try and understand the value of Coursera Plus with example of specializations and professional certificate programs.
A specialization or professional certificate program on Coursera typically takes 3 to 6 months to complete. These work on monthly subscription basis costing between $49 and $79 per month depending on the program enrolled.
- Coursera specialization priced at $49/month when completed within 3 months time, will cost you $147
- Coursera specialization priced at $49/month when completed within 6 months time, will cost you $294
- Coursera specialization priced at $79/month when completed within 3 months time, will cost you $237
- Coursera specialization priced at $79/month when completed within 6 months time, will cost you $474
As we can clearly see from these numbers, if you plan to enrol in multiple programs or would take longer to complete your specialization at your own comfortable pace and schedule, Coursera Plus subscription will have you save money. It is therefore best to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of Coursera Plus from a personal standpoint.
There is no doubt that Coursera Plus provides excellent value for engaged and avid learners. For many learners, it works better if they pay a high upfront cost as it motivates them to complete all desired courses in one year to get their money’s worth.
Are Coursera Courses accredited/recognized?
Coursera is one of the biggest MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) platforms. It only offers courses taught by accredited universities and leading global companies.
Students who take a course on Coursera, have an option to obtain a verified certificate from Coursera on successful completion of the course. This certificate is issued by Coursera and bears a logo of the university or institution providing that course. These Coursera Certifications are though not an official university qualification but are increasingly being recognised by employers. They are a good way to showcase your acquired skill set to potential employers. They demonstrate your self-motivation and commitment to learning more which reflects you in better light to recruiters. You can find the best Ivy League Courses with Coursera Plus here.
Coursera degrees and MasterTrack certificates work differently though. Upon completing a MasterTrack certificate course you receive an official certificate from the university and also earn credits towards a degree program. The Online Bachelor and Master degree programs on Coursera are same as their on-campus equivalents. On completing a Coursera degree, you receive an official Degree and transcript from the university.
Top Coursera Courses
Coursera Business Essentials courses cover following skills – Business Analytics, Presentation, Modeling, Microsoft Excel, Language, Writing, Speech.
Coursera Business Strategy courses cover following skills – Strategic Management, Planning, Business Modeling, Operations Management, Analytics.
Coursera Entrepreneurship courses cover following topics – Innovation, Business Modeling, Planning.
Coursera Finance courses cover the fundamentals of Banking, Accounting, Finance Management, Bookkeeping, Corporate Finance, Financial Analysis, Investment, Market (economics), Stock, Financial Modeling. Advanced topics include Financial Engineering, Forensic Accounting, and Asset Pricing.
Coursera Marketing courses cover following topics – Market (economics), Social Media, Marketing Strategy, Brand, Digital Marketing, Marketing Analytics, Planning.
Leadership and Management
Coursera Leadership and Management courses include courses on Leadership, Project Management, Planning, Modeling, Analytics, Human Resources, Decision-making.
Coursera Data Analyst courses include courses on Business Analytics, Big Data, Python Programming, R Programming, Statistical Analysis, Sql, Data Modeling, Data Visualization.
Machine Learning and Deep Learning
Coursera Machine Learning courses cover topics like Python Programming, Tensorflow, Deep Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Neural Networks, Big Data, Statistical Classification, Reinforcement Learning, Algebra.
Probability and Statistics
Coursera Probability and Statistics courses include courses in R Programming, Inference, Linear Regression, Statistical Analysis, Statistical Inference, Regression Analysis, Biostatistics, Bayesian.
Software Development and Programming
Coursera Software Development and Programming courses cover skills such as Programming Languages, Python, Java, C, C++, Scala, Blockchain, Linux, IOT, Application Programming Interfaces, Google Cloud.
Mobile and Web Development
Coursera Algorithms courses cover Data Structures and Algorithms, Cloud Computing, Computer Vision, Bioinformatics.
Computer Security and Networks
Coursera Computer Security and Networks courses cover topics related to Cybersecurity, Cryptography, Network Security, Software Testing, Risk Management.
Design and Product
Coursera Design and Product courses include a range of courses in User Interface, User Experience, Software Testing, Game Design, Agile Software Development, Graphics, Virtual Reality, Design Thinking.
Information Technology (IT)
Coursera Information Technology courses cover Google Cloud Platform, Cybersecurity, Cloud Computing, Data Management, Internet, Linux, Kubernetes, Networking, Support & Operations.
Coursera Math courses cover skills related to Logic, Problem Solving, Mathematical Thinking, Mathematics for Machine Learning, Actuarial Science.
Coursera Language courses include courses for Learning English and Other Languages.
Health and Medicine
Coursera Health and Medicine courses cover topics like Basic Science, Health Informatics, Healthcare Management, Nutrition, Public Health, Animal Health, Patient Care and Research.
Coursera Social Sciences courses cover Economics, Education, Law, Governance & Society.
Science and Engineering
Coursera Science and Engineering courses include courses in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry, Physics & Astronomy, Environmental Science & Sustainability, and Research Methods
Arts, Design, Music and Humanities
Coursera Arts courses include topics in History, Music & Art, Philosophy.