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Is Coursera as good as all the hype it gets?
Well, let’s get started. It is one of the most prestigious online educational platforms out there offering courses on Data Science, Business, Health and much more. Coursera offers different learning programs from courses to specializations and degrees.
Sounds pretty good right?
On the other hand, it doesn’t mean that the learning programs that Coursera is offering are right for you. So let’s delve in a little deeper and find out more in this in-depth Coursera review.
Coursera has partnered with 200+ top Universities and Organizations like Imperial College, Stanford University, Google and IBM to create its learning programs.
Affordable Courses & Degrees
Its course prices are affordable and is degrees programs are significantly lower than on campus-based degrees.
Coursera offers close to 2,500+ courses for free, this will mean you won’t receive a certificate. But if you do decide to upgrade you will have that option.
Coursera’s app allows you to download course material for when you are offline. Allowing you to learn and study on the go, perfect for a plane trip.
Quality Of Courses
Courses taught by top experts in their field from world-class Universities and Organizations. Plus its Beta Testers are a way to keep the course content to the highest standard and up to date.
There are many different pricing subscriptions which can make the exact price of the course seem confusing and unclear for many users.
Some courses may require prior knowledge due to the nature of the course material. It’s not always beginner-friendly.
Coursera Review Verdict
Coursera is an online learning platform offering thousands of learning programs from courses to specializations and degrees. It works with top Universities and Organizations to facilitate its online courses. Coursera offers a variety of payment plans, from completely free to paying for an individual course or via a monthly or annual subscription. Its courses are flexible, affordable, job relevant and recognized by future employers.
Who Is Coursera For?
You may be asking yourself, is Coursera right for me? Well, there is no better time like the present to find out why it just might be.
Coursera’s Learning Programs
If you are looking for an affordable learning program that is partnered with top Universities or Companies, then you are considering the right online learning platform. Coursera offers the following course types;
Courses: Coursera offers over 2,600+ courses for free with the option to upgrade by paying for the certificate. They are taught by top instructors from world-class Universities and Companies.
Guided Projects: Learn job-relevant skills in under 2 hours. A short interactive course that is taught by subject-matter experts and a choice of 3,200+ to pick from.
Specializations: A series of related courses ideal for someone wanting to master a career skill. You could decide to take only the one course related to that career skill or the series of courses which would cover all aspects of that skill. There are 790+ specializations to choose from.
Professional Certificate: Training programs which are preparing you for a job or a particular industry. Some professional certificates are recognized by an organization or school. There are 90+ Professional Certificates to choose from.
MasterTrack Certificate:Online modules of a Master’s degree program that can be used as credit to go towards a degree. There are 25+ Professional Certificates to choose from.
Degrees: Coursera has partnered with top Universities like Princeton and Yale to provide learners with affordable Master’s and Bachelor Degrees. There are 35+ Professional Certificates to choose from.
Note: Coursera collaborates with 275+ leading Universities and Companies. So, when you receive your completion certificate it is verified by the collaborating partner, which often are recognized by future employers.
Coursera offers a range of 11 different topic areas, you can pick from the following;
Math and Logic
Physical Science & Engineering
Art and Humanities
Each one of these topics has a variety of subtopics to explore. If you are looking to learn a skill in one of the topics mentioned, Coursera maybe the right platform for you. But if after reading this you know Coursera isn’t the platform for you, check out our article on the Best Online Learning Platform.
Coursera for business
As well as individual learning, Coursera for Businesses offers an Enterprise plan for larger organizations. You will get unlimited access to the platform’s courses, skill metrics, user analytics and integration to drive success. Coursera works with businesses as big as 15000+. If you are wanting to find out more, you will need to contact them directly for a quote.
Like Coursera for Business, is the option for teams, which is aimed at a smaller workforce. Its plan is designed to provide your team with access to 5,000+ courses, specializations and Guided Projects. This plan is designed to pay per user for 1 year and a 14-day refund policy is guaranteed.
Coursera for Campus focus is to empower any University to offer job-relevant (credit ready) online education to students, faculty and staff. As well as that Coursera offers this plan for free to a student looking to learn job-ready skills for free. The plan gives you access to unlimited Guided Projects and 1 free course per year. To get started, you just need to enter your school email.
Coursera for Campus
The Coursera for Campus Student Plan is available to full-time, part-time, community college and university students from all over the world. Its courses are accredited with world-class universities and companies like Yale and Google.
Coursera offers a pretty diverse range of pricing due to the fact it has so many different learning programs. Its Courses and Guided Projects start as low as $9.99 and its online degrees go up to $50,000. As well as offering one-time payments, you have the option of monthly or annual subscription plans with Coursera Plus.
Coursera offers close to 2,600+ courses for free(see image below) on a wide selection of subjects from Social Science to Math and Logic. Its helpful filter system means you can get pretty specific about what you are looking for, choosing between Language, Level, Duration, Subject, Skills, Partner and Learning Product. Coursera does a great job of making its free courses easy to find, along with the filter means you can find your chosen course in no time. With all of Coursera’s free courses, you have the option to Purchase the Course, meaning you will earn a certificate when you successfully complete the course (see image above).
Its Guided Projects start at $9.99 and are designed to quickly learn a job skill or industry tool. The purchase of the Guided Project includes all learning materials, free download of what you create, split screen video step by step and instant access to necessary packages. Coursera currently offers 650+ Guided Projects to choose from.
Coursera Plus is a subscription plan, giving you unlimited access to 7,000+ courses, Projects, Specializations and Professional Certificates. There is no limit to courses you can enroll in or Course Certificates you can earn. The only thing that it doesn’t include is degrees and MasterTrack Certificate programs.
You can choose to pay for the Coursera Plus either Monthly or Annually:
Coursera Plus Monthly – $59/ month(includes a 7-day free trial)
Coursera Plus Annual – $399/ year(includes a 14-day money-back guarantee)
If you are planning on taking multiple courses, then Coursera Plus will definitely save you money, it includes the option of cancelling at anytime.
> Try out the Coursera Plus here. You are entitled to a full refund within 14 days of purchasing.
Coursera Business & Teams
Coursera offers two different plans for organizations: Coursera for business and Coursera for teams. The main difference is Coursera for business is for larger organizations and has a custom pricing. Whereas Coursera for Teams is for a smaller workforce organizations and costs $399 a user each year with a 14-day refund guarantee.
Coursera for teams
Each of these plans focus on integrating learning into the team’s workflow, so you can set your own deadlines and certifications awarded on each course completion. Coursera has worked with top companies like Loreal, Danone and P&G.
If you can’t afford to pay for a course or certificate, you can apply for Financial Aid or a Scholarship. You can find the link to apply next to the homepage of the course. You will need to fill out an application that includes information about your educational background, career goals and financial circumstances. Most courses offer Financial Aid or Scholarships.
We have a detailed pricing guide for Coursera that talks in more detail about this topic, you can check it out here.
How To Open A Coursera Account?
The registration process for Coursera is really straightforward. Just in case you are unsure I have broken down the registration process which looks like this:
Add your Full Name, Email and Create a Password (or use Google or Facebook)
You will be sent a confirmation email
Once you are signed up, you can click on Explore and begin browsing the different courses on offer.
Coursera explore courses
After you have selected a subject or learning program, you can choose one of the subcategories, which will take you to all the relevant courses.
Most Popular Coursera Courses
I thought it would be interesting to highlight the most popular courses based on each learning programs. The most popular courses are based on previous students ratings and opinions.
Machine Learning – A free course to learn the science of getting computers to act without being programmed. It has had more than 4,000,000 students enrolled on the course and a 4.9 (out of 5) rating from student feedback. The course instructor is Andrew Ng the Co-founder of Coursera. You have the option to upgrade and purchase the course, where you will earn the certificate for$49.
The Science of Well-Being – A free course designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits. It has had more than 3,500,000 students enrolled on the course and a 4.9 (out of 5) rating from student feedback. The course instructor, Laurie Santos, is a Professor of Psychology at Yale University. You have the option to upgrade and purchase the course, where you will earn the certificate for$79.
Getting Started with Power BI Desktop – A 2-hour long project-based course, where you will learn the basics of using Power BI Desktop software. It’s offered by Coursera project network for beginners, with over 30,000 already enrolled and a 4.7 (out of 5) rating from student feedback. It costs$9.99 to take this guided project.
Spreadsheets for Beginners using Google Sheets – A 2-hour long project-based course is an introduction to spreadsheets. It’s offered by Coursera project network for beginners, with close to 40,000 already enrolled and a 4.7 (out of 5) rating from student feedback. It costs$9.99 to take this guided project.
Python for Everybody Specialization – A Specialization to learn to program and analyze data with Python. It has had more than 1,000,000 students enrolled in this specialization and a 4.8 (out of 5) rating from student feedback. The course instructor is Charles Russell Severance and partnered with University of Michigan. It will take approximately 8 months to complete, and costs $49 a month, with a 7-day free trial available.
Business English Communication Skills Specialization – A Specialization to build English skills for Business to improve your ability to speak, write and understand English in professional settings. It has had more than 90,000 students enrolled in this specialization and a 4.8 (out of 5) rating from student feedback. The course instructor is Richard Moore and partnered with University of Washington. It will take approximately 6 months to complete, and costs $49 a month, with a 7-day free trial available.
Facebook Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate – A Professional Certificate to launch your career in social media marketing to build job-ready skills and credentials. It has had more than 50,000 students enrolled in this professional certificate and a 4.9 (out of 5) rating from student feedback. The course instructor is Anke Audenaert and partnered with Facebook. It will take approximately 7 months to complete, and costs $49 a month, with a 7-day free trial available.
IBM Data Analyst Professional Certificate – A Professional Certificate to unlock your potential in data analytics and build job-ready skills as a data analyst. It has had close to 30,000 students enrolled in this professional certificate and a 4.7 (out of 5) rating from student feedback. The course instructor is Rav Ahuja and partnered with IBM. It will take approximately 11 months to complete, and costs $39 a month, with a 7-day free trial available.
Machine Learning for Analytics – In this 4-course program, you’ll develop skills in statistics and machine learning to advance your career as a data science professional. The certificate is partnered with The University of Chicago and will take you 5 months to complete. You can either do a 1 off payment for$3,900 or 4 payments for $1,000 monthly.
Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research – In this 6-course program, you’ll build skills you’ll need as a social worker to empower individuals, families and communities. The certificate is partnered with The University of Michigan and will take you 4-6 months to complete. You can either do a 1 off payment for$1,900 or 4 payments for $500 monthly.
BSc Computer Science – Earn a Bachelors Degree with University of London to give you a strong foundation in Computer Science and specialized knowledge of topics such as Data Science, Artificial Intelligence and Web Development. The Bachelors degree should take you 3-6 years and will cost you between £11,229 – £16,790 ($15,230 – $22,872). You will need to apply for the Bachelors Degree.
Master of Science in Management – Earn a Master’s Degree with University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Management to build a strong foundation of fundamental business skills. The Master’s degree should take 1 year and will cost you $11,052. You will need to apply for the Master’s Degree.
My Coursera Experience
The best way for me to get a real insight into the Coursera platform is by taking a course myself. I decided on Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate, a program offered by Google. It’s a course that quickly piqued my interest, as not only does it have a 4.8 rating, but no prior knowledge is needed.
Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate
The Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate is made up of 8 courses, that will help prepare you for a job in Google Data Analytics. From working just 10 hours a week, you can complete the certificate in less than 6 months. The 8 courses are broken up into the following;
Course 1 – Foundations: Data, Data, Everywhere
Course 2 – Ask Questions to Make Data-Driven Decisions
Course 3 – Prepare Data for Exploration
Course 4 – Process Data from Dirty to Clean
Course 5 – Analyze Data to Answer Questions
Course 6 – Share Data Through the Art of Visualization
Course 7 – Data Analysis with R Programming
Course 8 – Google Data Analytics Capstone: Complete a Case Study
If you are undecided between which course is right for you. I have put together 7 tips to help you to choose the perfect course.
Use the filter feature
A very useful feature to use is the Filter by feature (see image above) which will help to narrow down your search. For example, if I were to select a category like ‘Nutrition’, I could then select from the various filters (e.g. Skills, Job Title, Level, Language, etc) and click ‘apply’ which would then show the relevant courses related to these filters – see image below.
Coursera filter feature
About this course
You are able to read the description of the course, the topics which are included and the different areas the course will focus on.
Coursera about this course section
In the About this Course section, you will find the Skills you will gain (see image below). If your objective is to get specific knowledge from your chosen course, this can be a quick way to check out a course and determine if it will meet your needs.
Coursera skills you will gain
Syllabus of the course
By reading the syllabus for each of the courses you can see how each week is broken down and how long it will take you to complete it. This includes the videos, reading material and quizzes.
Read reviews at Coursera
Every Coursera course has reviews and ratings from past students which can be a really helpful way to get a comprehensive feel for the course and what have others gained from it.
Within the reviews, you have the option to Filter by with All Learners, All Stars and Sort by. Allowing you to focus on reading the reviews that are relevant to what you are searching for and filter out anything you don’t want to read.
Coursera reviews filter
Check out the instructor
An instructor rating is included in the course description. You can then click to read his or her bio along with prior experience. They also include their websites and social media handles and other courses they teach (if any). This is an ideal way to find more about who will be teaching the course.
Coursera instructor bio
Try for free
Anyone enrolling for a paid course or a Specialization will get access to a 7-day full access free trial period. It really is the perfect way for you to try a course and see if it is for you before you commit to pay. If you are unhappy with the course or the instructor, simply refund it.
Coursera try for free
Audit the course
The Coursera interface can be a little confusing and will lead you to pay for the course, but if you are looking to take a course and click Audit the course it will mean you can take the course for free, but you will not receive a certificate at the end of it. The link to Audit the course can be found on individual course pages (see image below).
Coursera Audit the course
The Audit option is not available on Specialization, Mastertrack or Professional Certificates so you need to navigate to the individual course page first.
Ease of use
Opening an account is really straightforward, you just need to add your name, email and create a password.
The design and layout of its platform is easy to navigate around thanks to its minimalistic design. My favourite part is the professionalism of the site and the fact you feel like you are on an established educational platform.
The majority of courses you can take at any time and learn at your own pace, there are some courses which have a start and end date.
If you have enrolled on a paid course or specialization you will be able to take the 7-day free trial and if you decide to cancel before the 8th day you won’t need to pay anything.
Courses are available to watch offline on its app which can be pretty handy if you are learning on the go or have a plane trip to take.
Coursera courses are 100% online which you can access from a desktop, laptop or via the Coursera app with a smartphone (for Android and iOS).
The Coursera app has a 4.8 rating with Apple and a 4.3 rating with Android.
Coursera provides accredited certificates that are recognised by employers. Coursera doesn’t create its own learning material. However, it works alongside educational institutions, government agencies and top universities to facilitate its online courses.
So you’ll be able to earn a certificate from Coursera backed up by the university that organizes the course.
At the moment, Coursera offers over 3,900+ courses, specializations and degrees. Its programs are broken down into 6 types; Courses, Guided Projects, Specializations, Professional Certificate, Mastertrack Certificate and Online Degrees which are taught by top instructors from renowned universities.
As well as individual learning is Coursera for Business. It offers two plans Coursera for Enterprise and Coursera for Teams. Both of these plans give access to 3,800 courses from top institutions, access to guided projects, assessments, quizzes and verified certificates.
Technically Coursera offers 1000’s of courses for free, which at first look may not seem the case. When you go for the free Audit the course option, that means you will have access to the course for free but won’t receive a certificate at the end of it.
Be aware that some courses and specializations don’t offer the Audit this course option.
Since Coursera’s content is produced alongside top institutions, you can be sure that the quality of its courses is the very best.
Before the courses are open to the public they use what is known as Beta testers who are experts and enthusiasts to review and give feedback ensuring the quality is of the highest standard before the courses are published.
Coursera courses have a wide range of languages available which include the following: English, German, Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Chinese, Chinese (Traditional).
The majority of the video lessons have an interactive transcript (also available on the mobile app) which you can follow along with during the class.
Every course on Coursera is taught by well-recognised instructors from top universities and companies including instructors from Stanford and Duke University, and experts from Google and IBM.
As Coursera offers many different types of courses, its requirements all vary.
Coursera courses normally are 4-6 weeks. Each course includes several hours of video lessons every week, graded assessments, quizzes and forum participation with peers. Some of these courses have final exams.
Coursera Specializations can combine 4-5 courses into a group. Some of the shorter specializations have only 3 combined courses and can take 4-6 months to complete. Whereas the longer specializations can combine 10 courses and take a year to complete.
If you take a degree program with Coursera who are partnered with a top University it will usually take 1-3 years of study.
Every Coursera course is created by its partnered educational institution, so a lot of planning goes into the syllabus.
Its courses are based around video lessons, graded assessments, quizzes, forum participation and, at times, final exams.
Quizzes & tests
Quizzes are normally auto-graded. Peer-reviewed papers are evaluated by a subject matter expert and feedback is given within 3 days.
Some courses also have teaching assistants to help assist with your learning.
Payments & refunds
You can make payments on Coursera with the following Credit and Debit Cards Visa, Mastercard, Discover, JCB, American Express (only for courses priced in $USD) and Paypal.
Depending on the subscription you have chosen, the refund policy differs. For example, the month-to-month subscription does not offer refunds.
The Coursera Plus, One-time Course, Specialization and Coursera for Team all offer a 14-day refund. The Degree and Mastertrack Certificate Programs vary as the refund policies are established and administered by the University.
Coursera also offers Financial Aid and Scholarships to those needing financial assistance.
Coursera offers a Help Center with covers many topics and you can find the answers for. It also offers a support via chat, which allows you to send them an query or issue you may have. Lastly they have a Contact Us which should help to answer any doubts or questions you have.
Coursera offers a diverse range of courses. It is ideal for someone who has a full-time job and wants to study an online degree or someone wanting to pursue a career change or looking to learn a new skill. It is an inexpensive and convenient way to learn.
Will Coursera Help Me With My Career?
Coursera courses are ideal for someone wanting to further their higher education or career skills by studying an online degree or taking a specialization learning program. The fact that it is partnered with so many well-established universities and businesses means that the final certificate accreditation is recognized worldwide and something definitely worth adding to your Curriculum Vitae or LinkedIn profile and recognized by future employees.
Coursera certificate example
If you already have a full or part job, then studying with Coursera could be an ideal option for you. Many of its learning programs have flexible hours and the cost is just a fraction of what a traditional university course would cost.
Is Coursera Recognized & Accredited?
You won’t be the first one asking if Coursera is recognized and accredited? It’s a valid question, and something that leaves many of us (including myself) a little confused about.
What’s does accreditation mean?
So to give you a bit of background, for a course or learning program to be accredited, the College or University offering that course or learning program has to be approved by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the Department of Education. The CHEA is a US Organization that accredits Colleges and Universities in the US, accreditation can look different depending on the Country you are in, so it’s important you are aware of this before deciding on the purpose of the course or learning program you are wanting to take.
As for Global Organizations like Apple and Microsoft, they must partner with training institutions who are accredited to teach a course or learning program. Which means on behalf of the tech company they have the right to teach, test and certify the student learning on its course or program.
Therefore, when the student successfully completes a course, program or degree they will receive a certification that is officially recognized.
Is Coursera accredited?
The platform Coursera is not accredited by CHEA or the Department of Education, but the majority of courses and learning programs that Coursera offers are.
Its really important that before you decide on which type of Coursera course or learning program you want to take, you understand what each of them mean. It offers 6 different types of learning programs.
Individual Courses: Enrolling in an individual course with Coursera can mean two things. You can choose to audit the course (learn for free) or decide to pay for a Coursera certificate, which you will receive when you successfully complete it. The certificate will display your name, course title and logo of the University providing the course. The course may go towards a credit or a degree program, but this is something you would need to check in the course FAQ. This certificate is not an official qualification or transcript from the University.
Guided Projects: These projects are a quick (normally under 2 hours) and cheap way to fill the gap on a topic area that you are lacking. You will receive a shareable certificate to showcase what you have learned, but it isn’t accredited, and the purpose is for your own individual learning.
Specializations: Are where you combine related classes together on a specific subject area, and they work in a similar way to the individual course. You will either pay for a one-off payment or it is included in your monthly subscription. When you successfully complete the Specialization, you will receive a certificate with your name, course name and University logo. The same applies as the individual course, if you are looking for it to go towards a credit or degree program, you will need to inquire in the course FAQ. This certificate is not an official qualification or transcript from the University.
Professional Certificate: These are Coursera’s version of industry recognized certification, that are closely aligned with the Company’s certification syllabus like Microsoft, Google and IBM. The certificate you will receive is similar to the individual courses and Specializations, including your name, the course title and the company logo.
MasterTrack Certificate: These programs can count towards a University degree and like Specializations they are a collection of classes, but the difference is they have a set start and end date. The points you collect from these programs can be credit towards a degree program. You will receive a certificate from the University, which is an official document from the accredited University.
Degree Programs: Online degree programs at Coursera are accredited by the University and when you successfully complete it, you will receive an official transcript with your final grade from the University, as well as your official degree certificate.
In short, its important that:
You enrol on the right course or learning program for your needs
If applying to a University, contact them first to know what you require to apply
Know that a certificate isn’t always official
Read Course FAQ’s before committing
Finally, Coursera courses and learning programs are cost-effective and will benefit you in terms of your knowledge base, and adding another skill to your CV or Resume can only benefit you.
Something which many of you ask when considering elearning communities is: Is this course legit?
It is completely normal to have these doubts, especially if you are considering one of the more expensive Specializations programs or Online degrees at Coursera.
Coursera was founded in 2012 by two Stanford professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller with their headquarters located in California. It has had well over 150 million course enrollments and collaborates with 275+ partners.
Coursera is part of the growing Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) movement and their elearning platform focuses on their partnerships with universities and corporations. It also attracts instructors from top universities and businesses who are experts in their field and who teach top-quality courses.
Coursera partners with a mix of Universities, Businesses, Governments and Non-profits. In many cases, Coursera personally reaches out to these Institutions to partner with them. Coursera hasn’t made its conditions and contracts clear when working with an Institution, but I would imagine it varies from one to another. If you are interested you can complete the University or Industry Partnership Inquiry Form which will ask you a series of questions.
If you want to further your academic knowledge by studying a degree or Masters, or develop your career opportunities by studying on a specialization program, then Coursera is definitely the right elearning platform for you. It has such a wide range of learning programs from Data Science to Health that are taught by top instructors and experts from prestigious Universities and Businesses.
On the other hand, if you are wanting to learn a new skill or hobby and not wanting to gain an accredited certification then platforms like Udemy and Skillshare are probably a better fit.
You will love Coursera for its:
Top Instructors and Experts
Variety of learning programs
Please, leave a comment below if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help you out.
Hey. I am Catherine and I have been working as a freelancer for many years now. In 2005, I graduated from a BA honours in Art & Design from BCU and then went onto complete a Master’s Degree in Teaching from UEL. The skills I gained from learning and teaching have led me to create Upskillwise, a place for learners like myself to find the best possible resources and courses to train and upskill themselves, either personally or professionally. If you have a question, please feel free to ask me anything or leave me a comment.
edX:offers over 3,000 online elearning courses that are partnered with established universities and companies. It offers both self-paced or instructor-paced learning programs.
Udacity: comes with a smaller number of courses around 200. Its courses are focused on gaining skills for careers in the tech and business industry. Although its courses aren’t accredited it is still highly recognized by Industry experts.
LinkedIn Learning: has over 16,000 courses in business, technology and creative skills. Even though it’s not an accredited institution you will receive certificates on completion.