Coursera Costs: What Are Your Options?

Catherine Cooke

23 August, 2021

Coursera cost Review

If you’ve checked Coursera out, you may be confused about its costs as Coursera doesn’t have a clear pricing policy. On top of that, a bunch of free courses can be found on its platforms, so when (or why) should you pay?

In this Coursera pricing guide, I’ll try to explain to you how much Coursera is, and what would be the most affordable way to pay for its courses.

What Is Coursera: An Overview

Coursera is one of the most popular online learning platforms out there. It partners with 200+ top Universities (e.g. Duke) and Organizations (e.g. Google). Thousands of its courses are free, and it offers a wide variety of learning programs that come with verified certificates.

Overview Of Coursera Costs

Coursera offers a wide variety of Learning Programs. It offers courses which can either accessed for free or you can upgrade and purchase the course to receive the certificate that start at $29. Its Guided Projects take no more than 2-hours to complete, start at $9.99. Next, we have its Specializations and Professional Certificates that start at $39 a month and can take up to 6 months to complete. The MasterTrack Certificates start around $2,000 and take less than a year to complete. Then there is the online degrees (Bachelor and Masters) that can take up to 4 years to complete and start at $9K and go up to $50+K. Finally, there is Coursera Plus, a subscription plan which you can pay for in monthly installments of $59 or an annual fee of $399.

Is Coursera Free?

Coursera offers thousands of its courses for free (with some limitations). Its other learning programs like Guided Projects, Specializations, Professional Certificates, MasterTrack Certificates and Online Degrees don’t offer a free version, but some do come with a 7-day free trial for you to try. Let’s look in more detail about the pricing of each of Coursera’s learning programs.

Free Courses (Option to Purchase Course)

Coursera offers close to 2,000 of its courses for free, but it’s important to point out here that they do come with some limitations that include:

  • No certificate: With the free version of the course you won’t have a completion certificate, something important if you are after an official recognition.
  • No access to assignments: Another typical limitation of Coursera freebies is that you won’t have access to all the assignments of the course.
  • No instructor feedback: Free students can’t submit assignments and get back grades and feedback, ‘you are on your own’.

Coursera Purchase Course

Coursera Purchase Course

There is however the option to purchase the course starting at $29. The paid version of the course comes with the following:

  • A completion certificate issued by Coursera and the partnered organization behind creating the course (e.g. Duke, Penn or Johns Hopkins). Obviously, assuming you passed the assignments and tests.
  • Ability to access and submit assignments in the course.
  • You will be able to get the instructor’s feedback and grades for the submitted assignments.

Guided Projects

Its Guided Projects are short courses, that are no more than 2 hours long, and are designed for you to quickly learn a job skill. Coursera currently offers just over 2,000 Guided Projects and its starting price is $9.99.

Specializations

Coursera offers close to 1500 Specializations, which are a series of courses (normally around 3 to 10 courses) to master a skill. For example, the ‘Applied Data Science with Python’ bundle organized by the University of Michigan breaks down into 4 courses:

  1. Introduction to Data Science in Python
  2. Applied Plotting, Charting & Data Representation in Python
  3. Applied Machine Learning in Python
  4. Applied Text Mining in Python

Coursera Specialization Pricing

Coursera Specialization Pricing

The subscription for the specialization will continue on a monthly basis until you’ve completed all the bundled courses. A 7-day free trial is included with all Specializations, and you will have the option to cancel at anytime or even before the trial ends.

You will get a Verified Certificate when you successfully pass all the courses in the Specialization.

Tip: Not all the courses that are part of a Coursera Specialization are offered as individual course, where you can just pay per course, if you prefer that option.

Professional Certificates

Coursera’s Professional Certificates are for you to get job-ready in an in-demand career. It is a similar commitment to its Specializations, where you will need to commit for up to 6 months. Its starting price is $39 a month, and you are entitled to a 7-day free trial. The quicker that you work during your Professional Certificate means that you will pay less, as you only pay for the time you are learning.

MasterTrack Certificates

The MasterTrack Certificates are designed, so you can earn a University issued certificate, which is credit that goes towards your degree. The average time commitment is between 4 and 7 months and its starting price is $2,000 and many give you the option to do a 1 time payment or the payment is broken up into monthly payments. You will need to enroll for your chosen MasterTrack Certificate, as spaces are limited.

Coursera Degrees

Coursera’s Online Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs can take anywhere from 2-7 years. All Bachelor and Master Degree programs, partner with leading Universities from around the world. The 200+ list of leading Universities include University of London, Arizona State University, University of Michigan and HEC Paris to name a few.

Available Coursera degrees

Available Coursera degrees

However, be advised that these aren’t cheap, as they are fully verified certificates by reputable Universities. A full program can cost you from $15,000 and go up to $40,000+. Even though this is a financial commitment, it’s a fraction of the cost of an on-campus degree.

Tip: There are several courses and specializations that are part of a degree, so you could try a couple of courses before you commit thousands of dollars to see if you like the topic. The completed courses will count towards your degree.

Coursera Plus

When you purchase Coursera Plus, you are granted access to over 3,000 courses. Its gives you unlimited access to Guided Projects, Specializations and Professional Certificates. To complete them all would be near to impossible, but it’s not a bad thing to have a decent selection to pick from.

Coursera Plus

Coursera Plus Membership

It will cost you $399 per year. If we think that the average individual course at Coursera is $49 (my educated guess), we can say that if you are going to enrol in 5 courses or more in one year, a Coursera Plus account makes sense for you.

And by the way, yes you will be given a verified certificate for each course that you successfully complete. You can potentially earn dozens of certificates if you chain yourself to your desk. The only learning programs that aren’t included in the Coursera Plus subscription are the degrees and MasterTrack Certificates.

You will be eligible to receive a refund of your Coursera Plus payment if you request it within 14 days of your purchase.

Tip: Please, be aware that if you have a current Coursera Specialization and subscribe to Coursera Plus the former won’t be cancelled, so make sure you cancel the Specialization to avoid paying for Coursera twice.

> Try out Coursera Plus here

Business Plans

Similarly to other online learning platforms, Coursera offers plans for teams and businesses. Business owners can buy a Coursera membership account for its employees, so they can master new skills and feel empowered. There are two plans available, the Team plan and the Enterprise.

coursera for business

Coursera Business Plans

Team Plan

At $399 per user (for each year), Coursera Team plan is designed for teams and smaller organizations who want to empower employees to master new skills. It gives you access to 4,000 courses, access to Guided Projects and verified certificates upon course completion. You can pay for Coursera Business Team plan using PayPal or a credit card (e.g. Visa, MasterCard or AMEX).

Enterprise plan

This package is meant for larger organizations with more employees. The prices aren’t published on Coursera’s website, and you’ll need to request a quote from them (I can tell you it won’t be cheap).

Besides the Team plan features, you’ll get some extra perks like:

  • Learning program consultations
  • An account manager helping you implement a learning workflow at your business
  • Advanced analytics such as ROI value of the learned skills

Be aware that you’ll be able to pay for this service via ACH or invoice – no PayPal or credit card payments.

> Try out Coursera for business here

Accepted Payment Methods & Currencies

You can purchase your Coursera courses or subscriptions using a credit card or PayPal. The available credit cards are Visa, MasterCard, Discover, JCB and AMEX (only for courses priced in $USD). Companies that opt-in for the Enterprise plan will have to pay for it via invoice or ACH.

Coursera credit card payment

Coursera credit card payment

Please be aware that PayPal payments aren’t available for all the regions, only students located in Europe, Canada, Hong Kong and the US will be allowed to pay using this popular online payment method.

And for payments in India, you can make payments on Coursera through Razorpay using, local credit/debit cards. As well as Netbanking, eWallet or PayTM, but these do exclude subscriptions, Specializations and MasterTrack products.

Most of Courseras courses are displayed in $USD, while some course prices are shown in the local currency (of where the partnered University is located). If you operate with another currency, you can still pay for it with your credit card – most likely you’ll be charged a little commission by your bank. An alternative could be to use Wise or Revolut to save banking fees when paying in other currencies – I do it all the time.

Strangely, Coursera doesn’t offer gift cards as similar competitors do (e.g. Udemy). So, you won’t be able to buy a course or a subscription for a friend or loved one.

Mobile Payments

Please be aware that if you are using Coursera with your iPhone or iPad and make a payment, this will be processed by Apple. Do keep in mind, though that any refunds that you need when paying via the Apple ecosystem, need to also be handled by Apple.

Financial Aid

Most Coursera courses can be tried for free, but if you need a certificate, and you can’t afford the course, you may be eligible for Financial Aid or a Scholarship. Keep in mind that not all Coursera courses will offer Scholarships or Financial Aid.

Coursera Financial Aid

Coursera financial aid

The process is fairly simple and looks something like this:

  1. Apply by clicking the link on the course homepage (see image above)
  2. Fill out an application that includes information about your educational background, career goals and financial circumstances (needs to be over 150 words)
  3. Wait for application to be reviewed. The review process can take up to 15 days.
  4. You will get an email letting you know whether it’s been it’s been approved or denied.

If your application is denied, you’ll get an email to let you know and explained why. You will then have another opportunity to fix the problem and apply again.

Coursera Refunds

Refunds at Coursera are possible within 2 weeks of your payment, if this time has already passed, your refund will be denied. Note that if you have earned a certificate for a course, you won’t be able to refund it either.

The same principle applies to the Specializations, you’ll be able to refund them if you request it 2 weeks after the last payment. However, if you’ve pre-paid for a whole Specialization, you won’t be able to get a refund, paying course by course may be wiser if you are unsure.

Since all Coursera Specializations and Subscriptions (e.g. Coursera Plus) have a 2-week trial period, you won’t be able to refund them after you’ve paid. You can cancel your subscriptions at any time, though.

Coursera Costs: Last Thoughts

Hopefully, you have a clear idea of what to expect from Coursera’s pricing and plans. You should consider your needs and budget before choosing the right course from Coursera. Let me quickly summarize them:

If you are only interested in 1 course, just pay for it (cost is between $29 and $99 a Course), most of them offer a free version where you’ll be able to access the course’s main content – no certificates, assignments or feedback from the instructor, though.

If you’d like to dive deep into an area, consider a Coursera Specialization or Professional Certificate (between $39 to $89 monthly). You’ll pay monthly for the subscription until you’ve completed all the courses of the Specialization or you decide to cancel.

Coursera Plus is for those looking to get unlimited access to a large portion of Coursera’s huge library. This will cost you $399 per year.

Finally, those looking to save some money from on-campus learning, then either the MasterTrack or Degree programs at Coursera. Even if it’s cheaper than regular university fees, it’ll cost you a big chunk of money (starting at $15.000 per degree).

If a more comprehensive review on Coursera is what you are looking for, then give it a read here. I hope you have a clearer understanding of what the different Coursera costs are and which plan you should choose.

Please leave a comment below if you have any questions, and I’ll do my best to help you out.

Article Updates:

23/08/21 General Update

22/08/21 Overview of Coursera Costs

Catherine Cooke

Hey. I am Catherine and have been working as a freelancer for many years now and I believe that you are in charge of your own destiny. If learning a new skill or having a career change is something you want to do, then there is no better time than the present. If you have a question please feel free to ask me anything or leave me a comment.
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Barbara
Barbara
12 days ago

Great article. Thank you. Answered loads of questions

Philippe MERCIER
Philippe MERCIER
12 days ago

Hello, I am working on a course of specialization called Machine Learning for Production by DeepLearning.ai. It is made of 4 courses. I got already the 2 first certificates during the time I was in the company I just left. So still 2 in order to complete and they will be on my charge. If I finish 1 of them during the 7 free days, will I get the associated certificate. If I finish the 4th one after the 7 free days, what will it cost to me ? If I finish the 3rd and 4th ones after the 7… Read more »

Kirsten
Kirsten
2 months ago

It’s next to impossible to find information on what Coursera will charge you to receive your certificate after completing a program. So, for example, if I do the UI/UX Cert program for 6 months and pay the subscription fee for that period, will I get the certificate at no extra cost or is there a fee at the end to release the certificate, and how much is it? There are some orgs that suddenly charge an arm and a leg to get the cert once you’ve completed the course. Just trying to learn this before committing. Thanks!

Analí Castro
Analí Castro
4 months ago

Thank you Catherine! I have one question: what happens if I suscribe to a specialization and I finish all the courses in just one month? Is that possible, or it is necessary to pay for all the months the specialization is supposed to last? Thank you!

Raktim Drivastava
Raktim Drivastava
4 months ago

Thank you Catherine.
The article was concise and helpful.
I have a free account with Coursera, which I have linked with the account, my organization has provided on Coursera (though it has a capping of 5 number of courses in a year). I plan to go ahead and do a specialisation, which comprises of 8 courses; 5 of which I would be able to do using my organisations account. How can I complete the rest of the 3 courses, in order to get the specialisation certification?

Thank you
Raktim

Anthony Banks
Anthony Banks
5 months ago

Thank you for your article. It answered a lot of questions. This is probably a question for Coursera. I am interested in The GIS, Mapping, and Spatial Analysis Specialization and it requires access to ArcGIS Pro, if one have access because one is taking one of their MOOC course, will this give you access to the software need to complete this class?

Karl
Karl
7 months ago

Hello Catherine,
Thank you for the detailed information. I made a mistake in my subscription to the Google IT support professional certificate. I subscribed only for a single course instead of the full specialization. How do I change this?
Also I’m not clear on the refund policy. Is it possible to cancel and get a refund within 2 weeks after the free trial?

Ricardo
Ricardo
8 months ago

Lovely, thank you for the info

Douglas Bowers
Douglas Bowers
8 months ago

Greetings Catherine,

Thank you for the review I am retired but seeking to update my dated skills for part time work looks like coursera may do the trick.

Doug Bowers

Claudia Brown
Claudia Brown
8 months ago

Dear Catherine, thank you so much for this valuable information. I was very confused but you have clarified my confusion. You wrote this in such organized way that no one should be confused.
Thanks again.

Mamoun
Mamoun
8 months ago

Can I finish and get my certificate if I finish two or three Months earlier out of 6 months courses plan?

Mamoun
Mamoun
8 months ago

I’m doing Google IT support specialist, I’ve been studying almost 3 months now and paying 50$ each month so I need 4 months to finish all courses… I was asking is it possible to finish more early. Thanks in advance ❤️

Mamoun
Mamoun
8 months ago

Thank you 😊

hamed
hamed
8 months ago

Dear Catherine

Thank you so much for sharing such a brief, clear and so beneficial article.
I was confused about Coursera plans and now I’m not. Your explanation is very helpful.
Having studied it, I’ve made up my mind and ready to choose appropriate plan.

Good luck

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