Coursera Costs: What Are Your Options?

Catherine Cooke

14 March, 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 a leading elearning platform where you can find thousands of courses from over 200 leading universities (e.g. Duke) and companies (e.g. Google) with hundreds of free courses. Some (paid) courses will award students with accredited certificates upon completion.

Overview Of Coursera Costs

Coursera offers hundreds of free courses. Certificates (and assignments) are only offered to paying users (from $29 to $100 a course). There are bundles of courses (Specializations) available via subscription ($39 to $89 a month). Coursera Plus ($399 yearly) gives access to thousands of courses. Online bachelor degrees and masters cost $15K to $40+K.

Is Coursera Free?

Coursera offers most of its courses for free (with a couple of limitations). There are, however, some courses that you won’t be able to access for free.

As I said, there are a few limitations that may put you off its free courses:

  • 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 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 courses for free

Access Coursera courses for free

Coursera calls this free version the ‘Audit’ option, effectively it means you can just get access to most of the course content (e.g. all the lectures) and follow along without being able to get a certificate once you’ve finished the course.

Be aware that not all the courses are free, some of those that are part of a Specialization bundle will only be accessible for paying students – more on this below.

Paid Individual Courses

All online (individual) Coursera courses offer a premium version (from $29 to $100), typically the paid version of the course comes with the following:

  • After the purchase,  you’ll be able to earn 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.
  • In some cases, students will be allowed to access and submit assignments to practice and follow the course.
  • With the paid version of the course, it’s also possible to get the instructor’s feedback and grades for the submitted assignments.

Coursera Specializations

Coursera Specializations are a collection of about 3 to 10 courses around one same topic. 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 bundle courses or you decide to cancel it – you can cancel at any time. Be aware that you can try at no cost all the specializations for 7 days to check out that the courses match your expectations.

You will get a Specialization Certificate when you pass all the courses of the program.

Tip: Not all of the courses that are part of a Coursera Specialization are offered as individual resources (e.g. pay-per-course module). However, you can just pay for the bundle (Specialization) for as long as you need, and cancel when you’ve completed the course you needed.

Coursera Plus

When you purchase Coursera Plus you are granted access to over 3,000 courses, with 90% of all Coursera courses are included in this model. To complete them all would be near to impossible, but it is pretty nice to have so much choice.

Coursera Plus Membership

Coursera Plus Membership

It will cost you $399 per year. If we think that the average individual course at Coursera is $79 (my educated guess), we can say that if you are going to enrol 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 certificate for each course that you 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.

Coursera Degrees

It’s also possible to enrol in Coursera Online Master’s and Bachelor’s degree programs. For these programs Coursera partners with leading universities around the world. For example, at this point, you can earn degrees from the University of London, Arizona State University, University of Michigan or HEC Paris among several others.

Available Coursera degrees

Available Coursera degrees

However, be advised that these aren’t cheap as they are fully accredited certificates by reputable universities. A full program can cost you from $15,000 to over $40,000, indeed a lot of money but a fraction of what you would pay for 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.

Business Plans

Similarly to other elearning platforms, Coursera offers a subscription model for businesses. Business owners can buy a Coursera membership account for its employees so they can learn new skills. There are two plans available, the Team plan and the Enterprise tier.

Coursera Business Plans

Coursera Business Plans

Coursera Business Team Plan

At $400 per year (for each employee), you’ll get access to over 3,800 courses, mobile apps, certificates upon completion and graded assignments, quizzes and projects. Student progress tracking is also included in this plan. You can pay for Coursera Business Team plan using PayPal or a credit card (e.g. Visa, MasterCard or AMEX).

Coursera Business Enterprise plan

This package is meant for larger organizations with more employees. The prices aren’t published at 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.

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. 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.

Sadly, Coursera is only available in US dollars. 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 TransferWise 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 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.

Keep in mind 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. From the course page go to ‘Enrollment Options’ and click on ‘Financial Aid Available’ (see image above).
  2. Certify that you will commit to finishing the course and you are sharing accurate information.
  3. Fill in your financial information and write (in at least 300 words) why you need Financial Aid and how the course will help you.
  4. The application will be reviewed by Coursera in up to 15 days. Make sure you submit the application with enough time before the course starts.
  5. Coursera will send you a message confirming whether they granted the aid or not.

Please, be aware that when you apply for a Specialization scholarship, this will only apply for the first course of the Specialization. You will need to reapply for the following courses of the specialization if you’d like your Financial Aid renewed.

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 a way to pay for Coursera. Let me quickly summarize them:

If you are only interested in 1 course, just pay for it (cost is between $29 and $100 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 (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 with university tuition can course a bachelor’s or master’s degree at Coursera. Even if it’s cheaper than regular university fees, it’ll cost you a big chunk of money (from $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.

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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Analí Castro
Analí Castro
27 days 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
1 month 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

Anthony Banks
Anthony Banks
2 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?

4 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?

Last edited 4 months ago by Karl
5 months ago

Lovely, thank you for the info

Douglas Bowers
Douglas Bowers
5 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
5 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.

5 months ago

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

5 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 ❤️

5 months ago

Thank you 😊

5 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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