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Coursera Review: How Popular Is It?

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Catherine Cooke

Catherine Cooke

Upskillwise Advisor

I'm Catherine, originally from London, now living in Spain. My professional journey led me from being a certified teacher to a yoga instructor and then a freelancer designer. These changes were made possible by online learning platforms like Skillshare and Coursera. It wasn't always easy, but so worth it and inspired me to start Upskillwise.

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Can you really earn a full University degree online? The answer is YES! Not only that, Coursera is partnered with some of the leading Universities and Organizations from around the world. So whether you’re interested in individual courses, specialized programs, or even full-fledged degrees, Coursera has you covered. Its wide range of categories from Business, Computer Science, Health and much more will leave you with plenty to choose from.

Catherine Cooke author of the post and education and freelance expert

To ensure this Coursera review is both informative and helpful, I’ve dedicated time thoroughly researching Coursera’s courses and learning programs, instructors, pricing model, refund policy, and analyzed feedback from Coursera users. Additionally, my Master’s degree in Teaching and Education, coupled with years of experience in using online learning platforms, has enabled me to create this comprehensive review.

Catherine CookeUpskillwise Advisor

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 Summary

Coursera is one of the leading online learning platforms on the market, providing a vast variety of courses and learning programs. It ranges from individual courses, Guided Projects, Professional Certificates, MasterTrack and Degree programs. Coursera collaborates with world-class Universities and Companies to develop its course offerings and learning programs.

Coursera offers various payment plans, from completely free courses, to paid programs, and even monthly or annual subscriptions. Its courses stand out for their flexibility, affordability and career focus. Coursera Plus includes a free trial to get you started, and refunds can be requested within two weeks of payment for either individual courses or Coursera Plus.

Visit Coursera

Pros & Cons

Pros

Partners

Coursera has partnered with 300+ top Universities and Organizations like Imperial College, Stanford University, Google and IBM to create its learning programs.

Affordable

Its course prices are affordable and is degrees programs are significantly lower than on campus-based degrees.

Free Courses

Coursera offers more than 6,000+ courses for free on a wide variety of subjects for learners of all skill levels. Be mindful that you won’t receive a certificate with a free course, but you do have the option to upgrade at anytime.

Learn Offline

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.

Flexibility

The majority of Coursera’s courses are learning at your own pace, on a schedule that suits you.

Cons

Confusing Pricing

Coursera offers a variety of courses and learning programs that all differently priced, it may be a little confusing and overwhelming at first to figure out which is best.

Prior Knowledge

Some courses may require prior knowledge due to the nature of the course material. It’s not always beginner-friendly.

Heavy Workload

Some of Coursera’s MasterTrack and Degree programs can be quite challenging. Before committing to a program, ensure that you are prepared for the time and effort you must commit to it.

Limited Feedback

Depending on which course or learning program you choose, you may find that teachers aren’t available to give you personalized feedback.

Take Our Quiz: Find Out Which Coursera Course Is Best?

What Does Coursera Offer?

You may be asking yourself, is Coursera right for me?

That really does depend on what you are looking for, but the fact Coursera offers such a wide range of affordable courses and different learning programs, that there is a high chance you may find it. Coursera partners with top Universities and Companies to create the following course types.

Courses

Coursera offers over 7,700+ courses for free, with the option to upgrade if you decide you want to receive a certificate and access to additional course features. All its courses are built in partnership with world-class Universities and Companies and taught by top instructors.

Coursera free courses
Coursera free courses

Its wide range of free courses cover an extensive list of categories. It’s the ideal opportunity for learners to delve into new areas of interest, improve existing skills, or prepare for a specific career path.

Check Free Courses

Guided Projects

Learn job-relevant skills in under 2 hours. A short interactive course that is taught by subject-matter experts, with 760+ to choose from, starting at $9.99 USD.

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. It offers 2,250+ specializations that start at $49 USD per month.

Coursera Specializations

Professional Certificates

Training programs which prepare you for a job or a particular industry. Some professional certificates are recognized by an organization or school. You can pick from 90+ Professional Certificates which start at $49 USD per month. All of which come with a 7-day free trial and can be completed in less than 6 months.

Coursera Professional Certificates
Coursera Professional Certificate

MasterTrack Certificate

Online modules of a Master’s degree program that can be used as credit to go towards a degree. Currently, Coursera offers 25+ MasterTrack Certificates which start at $2,000 USD.

More Information

Degrees

Coursera has partnered with top Universities like Princeton and Yale to provide learners with affordable Master’s and Bachelor’s Degrees. Its pool of 35+ Bachelor, Master’s degree’s and Postgraduate Programs start at $9,000 USD.

Coursera Collaborate Universities and Companies
Coursera Partners

Note: Coursera collaborates with 300+ 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; Data Science, Business, Computer Science, Personal Development, Information Technology, Language Learning, Health, Math and Logic, Social Sciences, 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.

Coursera for business
Coursera for Business
Coursera for Business

Coursera for teams

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 teams
Coursera for Teams
Coursera for Teams

Coursera for Campus

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
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 by world-class universities and companies like Yale and Google.

Coursera for Campus

How Much Does Coursera Cost?

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 USD and its online degrees go up to $50,000 USD. As well as offering one-time payments, you have the option of monthly or annual subscription plans with Coursera Plus.

Coursera Purchase Course
Coursera Purchase Course

Free Courses

Coursera offers a wide variety of over 7,000+ free courses, covering topics from Arts and Humanities, Business and Computer Science (see image below). The platform’s filter system lets you narrow down your choices by several criteria like; Language, Level, Duration, Subject, Skills, Partner and Learning Product, making it easier to find a course that fits your needs. If you decide you’d like to earn a certificate for successfully completing the course, there is an option to upgrade to the paid version of the course (see image above), you can upgrade at any time. Opting for the paid version, you’ll also get a few extra features like assessments, exams and feedback from the instructor.

Coursera free courses
Coursera free courses

Guided Projects

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 760+ Guided Projects to choose from.

Coursera Guided Projects
Coursera Guided Projects

Specializations

Its Specializations focus on mastering a specific skill. Its starting price is $49 USD per month and can take between 1–3 months to complete. A day 7-day free trial is available for all Specializations and will give you full access.

Professional Certificates

Its Professional Certificates are for getting you job-ready and to earn a career credential. Its starting price is $49 USD per month and can take between 1–6 months to complete. Like Specializations, a 7-day free trial is available and Financial aid is available.

MasterTrack Certificates

The MasterTrack Certificates start at $2,000 and can take between 4–7 months. Its focus is to earn a university-issued certificate and credit towards a degree.

Degrees

Coursera’s bachelor or master degrees start at $9,000 and take between 2–4 years to complete. Its degrees are from leading universities like Penn and the University of London. You will need to apply and complete an application form.

Coursera Plus

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.

Coursera Plus Subscription
Coursera Plus Subscription

You can choose to pay for the Coursera Plus either Monthly or Annually:

  • Coursera Plus Monthly$59 USD/ month (includes a 7-day free trial)
  • Coursera Plus Annual$399 USD/ year (includes a 14-day money-back guarantee)
Coursera Plus Pricing
Coursera Plus Pricing

If you compare it to the cost of a single learning program ($49-$79 USD) and have the intention of taking multiple courses, then Coursera Plus will definitely save you money. Plus, the monthly and annual plan include a free trial and a money-back guarantee if you change your mind.

Try Coursera Plus

In summary, Coursera’s pricing options can be summarized as follows; you can access individual courses for free, its Guided projects start at an affordable $9.99 USD. Specializations and Professional Certificates are available from just $39.99 USD per month, while MasterTrack Programs start at $2,000 USD. Its Degree Programs, begin at $9,000 USD. Additionally, Coursera Plus, a subscription plan, is priced at $59 USD per month or $399 USD annually.

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 USD a user each year with a 14-day refund guarantee.

Coursera for teams
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 L’Oréal, Danone and P&G.

Financial Assistance

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.

Coursera in Detail

Criteria

Comment

Ease of Use ?

5

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.

Convenience ?

4

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.

Available Platforms

5

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 both the IOS and Google Play store Apps.

Certifications ?

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.

Categories ?

4

Coursera currenty offers more than 5,800+ courses, professional certificates, degrees and more. Its programs are broken down into 6 types; Courses, Guided Projects, Specializations, Professional Certificates, Mastertrack Certificates and Online Degrees which are taught by top instructors from renowned Universities and Organizations.

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 5,400+ courses from top institutions, access to guided projects, assessments, quizzes and verified certificates.

Free Courses

4

When you land on the Coursera homepage and click on Explore, you can find ‘Take a free course’ where you will be taken to more than 7,000+ free courses. There is also the option to find a course and choose to Audit the course, which 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, specializations and degrees don’t offer the Audit option.

Content Quality ?

5

Since Coursera’s content is built in collaboration with leading universities and companies, you can be rest assured of the quality of its courses and programs.

On top of that, it has Beta testers who are experts and enthusiasts to review and give feedback on its courses to ensure the quality is of the highest standard, this is all done before its courses are published.

Languages ?

5

Coursera courses have a wide range of languages available which include the following: English, German, Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Arabic.

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.

Instructors ?

5

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.

Course Requirements ?

4

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.

Course Structure ?

4

Every Coursera course is created by a partnered University or Organization, which follows a specific curriculum and syllabus.

Its courses are based around video lessons, graded assessments, quizzes, forum participation and, at times, final exams.

Quizzes and Tests ?

4

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 and Refunds

5

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.

The cost of Coursera courses varies widely depending on which type of course you choose.

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.

Support ?

4

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 page which should help to answer any doubts or questions you have.

Overall Rating ?

4.8

Coursera is one of the most popular online learning platforms on the market. Its diverse range of courses and learning programs make it a standout platform. It’s an ideal choice for someone looking for a career change, study a degree online or simple learn a new skill. Its courses and programs are designed in partnership with top Universities and Organizations, means you are learning from the very best. It is an inexpensive and convenient way to learn and if you aren’t ready to commit, you can get started with one of its free courses.

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:

  1. Open a browser and visit www.coursera.org
  2. Click Join for Free in the top-right corner
  3. Add your Full Name, Email and Create a Password (or use Google or Facebook)
  4. 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
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.

Coursera Customer Reviews

To offer a well-rounded perspective on this Coursera review, I opted to explore two of the most popular customer review platforms. That way, we can gather insights from a large pool of customers to get a better understanding of what they have to say about the Coursera platform.

The first customer review site was collected from 491 users, below you’ll find a breakdown of ratings ranging from 1 to 5 star. Surprisingly, only 13% of those users rated the platform with 5 stars and 70% left a 1-star rating. At the other customer review site we looked at, the feedback was taken from 158 users, with only 8% leaving a 5-star rating, while 57% were unhappy, leaving a 1-star rating.

Rating Customer Review Site Customer Review Site
5-star 13% 8%
4-star 5% 16%
3-star 4% 10%
2-star 8% 10%
1-star 70% 57%
Overall 1.8 out of 5 stars 2.1 out of 5 stars

Data gathered on 02/21/2024

As I delved further into the 1-star ratings, I discovered that many complained about bad customer support, billing and subscription issues and technical problems. “Horrible customer service and there’s no way to make an official complaint. Very disappointed as the content is fine” an unhappy one-star reviewer said.

On the upside, many of the 5-star ratings praise the quality of courses, value for money and financial aid. “Amazing platform with many financial aid opportunities. The variety of courses and specialties makes it suitable for everyone” a satisfied five-star reviewer said.

Overall, Coursera doesn’t have the most positive feedback left by its learners. Saying that, when you consider that Coursera has had more than 113+ million learners using the platform, the total of customer reviews we are looking at is less than 1,000. I do hope though that Coursera takes some of its customer feedback seriously and makes necessary changes.

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 the Professional Certificate in Google Data Analytics, offered by Google. It was a program that quickly piqued my interest, as I have some basic knowledge of Google Data Analytics, but I was looking to develop my skills and was impressed by its 4.8 rating from previous learners, so I thought let’s give it a go.

Coursera Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate
Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate

Course Structure

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

In the first part of this course, you’ll be explained the key concepts of data analytics, you’ll analyze and interpret data within ecosystems using tools like spreadsheets, query languages, and visualization software. Then you’ll reflect on your analytical thinking experiences, and consider the data analyst’s role, which focuses on transforming raw data into actionable insights for organizational decision-making.

Course 2 – Ask Questions to Make Data-Driven Decisions

In the second part of the course, the problem-solving roadmap guides you from defining the problem to implementing solutions, ensuring thorough analysis. Data is vital in decision-making, providing evidence-based insights. Using spreadsheets, a data analyst can efficiently enter and organize data, a fundamental step in analysis. Structured thinking, involving logical breakdown of problems, is key to effective analysis and decision-making.

Course 3 – Prepare Data for Exploration

Then in the third part of the course, you have to consider factors like data relevance, accuracy, cost, and privacy concerns. Unbiased data is collected and presented impartially, unlike biased data which is influenced by preconceptions. Databases, consisting of structured data storage, retrieval systems, and management tools, are integral for organizing and accessing data. Best practices for data organization include maintaining consistency, categorizing data logically, and ensuring data quality and security.

Course 4 – Process Data from Dirty to Clean

In the fourth part of the course, Data integrity encompasses various types, and it’s crucial to recognize potential risks. Basic SQL functions can be employed to tidy up string variables in a database. Additionally, one should learn to create fundamental SQL queries for database operations and understand the process of validating the outcomes of data cleansing efforts.

Course 5 – Analyze Data to Answer Questions

In the fifth part of the course, you’ll analysis the data, by organizing it through by sorting and filtering, which is vital. It’s essential to convert and format data appropriately. In SQL, one can utilize functions and syntax to merge data from multiple database tables efficiently. Additionally, functions play a crucial role in performing basic calculations on spreadsheet data, enhancing analytical capabilities.

Course 6 – Share Data Through the Art of Visualization

In the sixth part of the course, you’ll use data visualizations to communicate the data and analysis results effectively. Tableau stands out as a prominent data visualization tool with various applications. Data-driven stories, which are essential for conveying insights, combine data with narrative elements for clear and impactful communication. Effective presentations in data analysis involve principles and practices that ensure clarity, engagement, and understanding among the audience.

Course 7 – Data Analysis with R Programming

In the seventh course, you’ll use the R programming language, which is best known for its statistical and data analysis capabilities, operates in an interactive programming environment. Fundamental concepts in R include functions, variables, data types, pipes for data manipulation, and vectors for storage. R offers various options for generating visualizations, with packages like ggplot2 for creating diverse plots. In R Markdown, basic formatting is employed to structure and highlight content, making it a versatile tool for creating reports and documents.

Course 8 – Google Data Analytics Capstone: Complete a Case Study

The final part of the professional certificate is to complete the capstone project, a case study. It involves analyzing a specific real-world situation, while a portfolio showcases a person’s skills and achievements. Key features of a case study include problem identification, data analysis, and recommendations. These tools are valuable when communicating with recruiters and potential employers as they offer evidence of practical skills and accomplishments, making jobseekers more appealing to prospective employers.

To Summarize

The Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate is a hands-on program, that teaches you all the skills you needed for a career in data analytics. I really liked the flexible learning style, which meant I could complete each of the courses at a time that worked for me. The fact that I have come away with a portfolio of projects that I could show to potential employers, made my learning experience even more valuable. I’ve highlighted below just some of the reasons you should try out this program:

  • Gain hands-on experience with tools like Google Sheets and Tableau
  • Solve real-world business projects and case studies
  • Develop a solid understanding of data analytics 
  • Flexible learning, at a time that works for you
  • Build a portfolio of projects to showcase to potential clients

Check Out Course

7 Tips To Find The Perfect Coursera Course

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
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
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.

Coursera syllabus
Coursera syllabus

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.

Coursera reviews
Coursera reviews

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
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
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
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
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.

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, it’s 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.

Coursera Partnerships

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.

Like the Institutions who partner with Coursera, there is also the option for an individual to collaborate with them and become a Project Instructor. In this role you will create guided projects.

Some of the perks include:

  • Growth: Developing your career and reputation by sharing your expertise through hands-on projects.
  • Resources: Become part of the instructor community and get the support and tools to create high-quality projects.
  • Income: Earn your income remotely on a per-project basis once your project is reviewed and approved.
  • Impact: Use your expertise to help learners around the world gain valuable career skills.

Coursera Alternatives

edX

Best for Verified Certificates

4.2

Udacity

Best For Career Services

4.6

MasterClass

Learn From VIP Instructors

4.7

edX

Similar to Coursera, edX provides courses curated by renowned universities such as MIT, Berkeley, or Harvard. As an accredited institution, edX enables you to attain official degrees through its programs.

edX can be a good alternative to Coursera
edX can be a good alternative to Coursera

It offers over 4,000+ courses, with many you can access for free using its audit option. edX courses are either self-paced or instructor-paced to suit all learning types. You can earn an edX completion certificate when you successfully complete a course or learning program, but you will need to pay for this (between $50 to $300).

Visit edX.org Read edX review

Udacity

Udacity stands out as an alternative platform to Coursera as it specializes in technology subjects, that are geared towards helping learners find a job in the technology industry. It collaborates with leading technology companies such as Google and Microsoft.

Udacity Alternative To Datacamp Vs Codecademy
Udacity is a technology focused platform alternative to Coursera

Udacity provides two subscriptions plans, the monthly and the four monthly plan, which gives you full access to its platform and over 80 Nanodegree programs. It typically takes learners anywhere from 2 to 6 months to complete a Nanodegree program.

Visit Udacity.com Read Udacity Review

MasterClass

MasterClass is an alternative platform to Coursera offering a diverse range of courses spanning categories like Food, Design & Style, Business, Home & Lifestyle, and beyond. Its 200+ MasterClasses are taught by famous faces like Annie Leibovitz, Gordon Ramsay and Aaron Sorkin. When you subscribe to MasterClass you can choose from 3 different subscription plans, starting from the Individual plan costing $10 a month (billed annually).

MasterClass is an alternative to Coursera
MasterClass is an alternative to Coursera

Every MasterClass subscription plan includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. This means that if you’re not satisfied with your selected plan, you can request a refund within the initial 30 days of purchase.

Visit MasterClass.com Read MasterClass review

Coursera Conclusion

Ok, so let’s summarize why Coursera is worth it.

Coursera isn’t just an e-learning platform; it’s a gateway to a world of opportunities for both academic advancement and professional development. Its collaboration with top-tier universities and industry leaders ensures access to a broad spectrum of courses and learning programs. So whether you want to dive into the complexities of Data Science, explore Social Sciences, or anything in between, Coursera has you covered.

For individuals looking to enhance their CVs or LinkedIn profiles, Coursera offers accredited certificates from prestigious partner institutions, that are recognized by future employers. On top of that, Coursera’s specialization programs are best for career development, they are carefully curated courses designed to equip you with the skills needed to excel in your current job role or pivot to a new career all together.

However, you may be left a little confused when trying to decide on which course or learning program to take, so it’s important you do your research beforehand to determine if learning a new skill is what you are looking for, or you’re ready to commit to a professional certificate or an online degree program. Also, it’s important to note here that on many of the learning programs you won’t get teacher feedback, if you are looking for this, it maybe best to check out another online learning platform.

To sum up, Coursera is the right choice for those seeking to enhance their academic knowledge or career prospects through its high-quality learning programs taught by top instructors and industry experts. However, if your interests lean more towards picking up a new hobby or skill without the need for accredited certification, platforms like Udemy and Skillshare might be more up your alley.

Here are some of the reasons you’ll love Coursera:

  • Accredited Certificates
  • Top Instructors and Experts
  • Networking Opportunities
  • High-quality courses
  • Variety of learning programs

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

Coursera FAQs

After paying for either an individual course or a Coursera Plus subscription, you can request a refund within 2 weeks of your payment.

To request a refund follow these easy steps:

  1. Open your My Purchases page
  2. Find the course or Coursera Plus subscription that you want to refund
  3. Below the Refund deadline column, click Get Refund

If you have purchased another type of learning program, like a Specialization, sadly these aren’t refundable. The only other option is that if you have a subscription payment on another learning program, you can cancel it to end future payments.

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.

Anyways, Coursera is legit and it’s safe to use, you won’t be scammed.

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
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.