Udacity vs Coursera: Let’s Battle It Out For A Winner
7 January, 2021
When I started to research learning online I knew I wanted a prestigious and well recognized online learning platform. Two sites that stood out were Udacity and Coursera. However, I wasn’t sure what either of them offered and which one was actually better to learn with.
I realized quickly that both platforms offer a wide selection of courses that are partnered with top Companies or Universities, but I still had many questions like: Which one will help me grow professionally? What are their pricing models? Which Universities are they partnered with?
To answer all these questions and help you to choose the best platform and the right course, I’ve created this in-depth comparison of Udacity and Coursera. I will talk in detail about pricing, course quality, instructors and much more.
So let’s get stuck in!
Table of Content
Udacity Vs Coursera Summary
Udacity offers short degrees (Nanodegrees) that cost $399 monthly, and they’ll take you between 2 and 6 months to complete. Whereas Coursera offers individual courses that range from ($29 to $99) it also offers other learning programs like Online Degrees, Specilizations and Mastertrack programs that can cost around $25,000. Udacity offers a few hundred Nanodegrees whereas Coursera has over 5000 different types of learning programs. Coursera’s focus is on certified courses and learning programs whilst Udacity’s strength is mastering job ready tech skills.
Warm Up Round: Which One Is More Popular?
Popularity is not really a category that should make us pick one product over another or in this case, an elearning platform. But it is a good indication to see where each platform stands in the marketplace.
Google Trends Udacity vs Coursera
As you can see in the graph above, there is a clear winner of this popularity contest, Coursera is clearly more popular than Udacity.
Coursera was founded in 2012 by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng and offers online courses and degrees from 200+ leading Universities and Companies like Yale and Google. It offers a range of learning opportunities where you will receive validated certificates.
Udacity however, was founded in 2011 when two Stanford instructors decided to offer one of its subjects for free to the world. Since then, over a 100,000+ learners have graduated from one of its learning programs.
Round 1: Registration & Interface
If you are anything like me, having an easy way to sign up and navigate around a site makes my life a lot easier. So let’s find out which platform is the most straightforward.
Registering with Udacity is pretty simple and free. All you need to do is add your name, email and password, and you set your birthday, and then you are ready to go. You also have the option to register using your Facebook or your Gmail account if you prefer.
Udacity sign up process
The sign-up process for Coursera is pretty similar, just by adding your name, email and password and clicking Join for Free. The option to sign up via Google, Facebook and Apple is also, available.
Backend & Design
Once you are registered with Udacity you can begin to browse around the platform, you will notice that the interface is easy to navigate around, and in the top-right corner you can select My Classroom(see image below).
Udacity My Classroom
My Classroom is an area where you can find your applications to Nanodegree programs as well as all the free courses being offered. This keeps all your learning programs in one place and organized.
When you land on the homepage you will see the subject categories that Udacity offers; Data Science, Programming, Business, Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous systems and Cloud Computing. Each of these learning programs has a tag of NEW, POPULAR, TOP RATED etc. This makes it easy for a new user to find the learning program for them.
However, Coursera offers a more personalized approach where you can create a learning profile. My learning profile(see image below) will help Coursera give recommendations for courses based on your interests and goals. You can also create learning goals for changing careers or levelling up your skills.
Coursera My learning profile
This personalized approach is seen throughout the platform where your courses are moved into In Progress or Completed sections (see image below) this makes your learning experience organized and structured.
At the moment of writing this Udacity vs Coursera comparison, there aren’t any mobile apps available for Udacity which is a shame as working on the go is an attractive part of learning for many of us.
Winner:Udacity does have a clean and easy design to navigate around, but the fact it doesn’t have a mobile app is a little disappointing. Whereas Coursera’s platform is equally intuitive and the fact it offers such a personalized experience as well as a mobile app means it has an edge over Udacity. So, the first point goes to Coursera.
It’s difficult to say who’s got the best courses, but let’s try to answer a couple of questions to help you choose whether Udacity or Coursera is right for you.
With so many courses and programs available, it’s not always straightforward to find what you are looking for. Luckily, Udacity and Coursera have a few tools in place to make it easier for users to find what they are looking for.
Udacity’s course catalog isn’t as extensive as others, but its focus is on technology and business related learning programs that covers 7 main subjects. Once you select the Program Catalog you can then use the filter system on the left (see image below) where you can select from Type, Skill Level, Estimated Duration. The filter system works effectivity due to the fact it doesn’t have as many courses as platforms like Udemy or LinkedIn Learning
Udacity Filter By
Within each Program syllabus you will find the Top Student Reviews(see image below) which will give you an insight on past students experience using the classic 5-star rating plus a short description to give you a taste of the learning program.
Udacity Student Reviews
Coursera offers over 5,000+ courses along with specializations and degrees. It has 11 categories and dozens of subcategories. Once you have selected your subject you can then use its helpful filtering system to get really specific on what you are looking for.
Coursera Filter by
Coursera offers a slightly more extensive filtering system (see image above) due to the fact it has more courses. Its filters are broken up into Skills, Level, Language, Duration, Type and Creator. This helps learners find a specific course based on their requirements.
Once you have picked your course you will find yourself on the About course page where there is an FAQ section (see image below). This will hopefully answer any queries or doubts you have about taking the course or learning program.
At this moment, Udacity has about 40 programs and around 200 free courses which can’t be compared with the 5000+ courses, specializations and online degree programs that Coursera offers. Keep in mind here that Udacity’s focus is on very subject specific technology and business courses giving you job ready skills and Coursera offers a wider selection of courses that are partnered with top Universities and Institutions.
Winner: It’s a hard one, as Udacity has top quality subject specific courses and Coursera has wider selection of subjects with equally top-notch courses. So for this I will have to give a point for both elearning platforms.
There you go, Coursera is leading with a 2-1 score.
Popular Udacity And Coursera Courses
Design of Computer Programs – This course taught by Peter Norvig will take you, more or less, 2 months to complete, and it’s an advanced course for Python developers.
Software Testing (How to Make Software Fail) – Another development course at Udacity that will teach you how to test software and catch bugs. It is going to take 1 month to complete, and it’s aimed for intermediate students.
Interactive 3D Graphics – This is a course organized by Autodesk (a reference in the 3D design). It’s aimed at intermediate users, and it’ll take about 2 months to complete.
Product Manager Interview Preparation – This is a course taught by several product managers professionals that will prepare you for a product manager interview. It’s aimed at beginners and takes about 1 week to complete.
The Science of Well-Being – This course brought to you by Yale University and taught by Laurie Santos will take you through a series of challenges designed to increase your happiness and build more productive habits.
Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) – Coursera brings you this course by University of Michigan and should take you 19 hours to complete. You will learn to install Python and write your first program.
Machine Learning – This course is taught by Andrew Ng, one of the founders of Coursera. It takes approximately 60 hours to complete and the course is offered by Stanford University.
Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects – This is a course taught by Dr Barbara Oakley and offered by McMaster University (University of California San Diego) you will learn about how the brain uses two different learning modes.
Round 3: Free Courses At Udacity & Coursera
Something I get asked often is: Where can I find top quality free online courses?
The honest answer is, What are you actually looking for? Once we know your specifications it is easier to direct you. For example, If you are looking for a wide pool of courses that is very different from learning a specific skill without the need of a completion certificate.
Udacity Free Courses
Udacity offers a little under 200 free courses. The filtering system gives you a nice easy way to identify its free courses (see image below) and although it’s not as many free courses as other learning platforms like Udemy or LinkedIn Learning this is to be expected as overall, it has less learning programs.
Coursera offers its free courses in a slightly different way. You have the option to Audit for free(see image below), which means you will study for free but won’t receive a certificate on completion. If your main goal is to study a high-quality course without the acknowledged accreditation then Coursera’s free courses are a great option.
Coursera Audit for free
Winner: Since Coursera offers a much wider selection of courses on 11 subjects in total where you can learn for free from top partnered Universities and Institutions means this point will have to go to Coursera.
That means Coursera is creeping ahead with 3 – 1 score.
Round 4: Available Languages At Udacity & Coursera
I am going to keep this round, short and sweet.
Udacity does allow you to set up its learning programming with subtitles in other languages like Chinese and Portuguese, but this isn’t guaranteed across all its courses. It really is the best if learners are fluent or have a high level of English to get the best experience out of learning with Udacity.
Coursera Languages available
Coursera however offers a wide range of languages including the following; English, German, Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Chinese, Chinese (Traditional) and many more. The majority of the video lessons have an interactive transcript (also available on the mobile app).
This leaves the score at 4-1, Coursera is leading this one.
Round 5: Certificates & Career Advice At Udacity & Coursera
If a completion certificate is what you are looking for then Udacity and Coursera both offer these, there are some differences between the two. Let me explain in more detail below.
Udacity does offer completion certificates when you complete the full Nanodegree, however you won’t receive it after completing one of the individual courses that collectively make up a Nanodegree. Its certificates are not accredited by a top University or Institutions, but they are partnered and recognized by Industry companies like (e.g. Mercedes, Google or Nvidia).
Moreover, Udacity also offers career advice, interview preparation, coaching and help writing a CV, this can be highly beneficial to develop professionally.
Udacity’s career advice
With Coursera you will receive a validated certificate that includes: The course name, The instructor’s signature, The logo of the partner institution as well as a verification URL that allows others to check the Certificate’s authenticity.
Coursera verified certificate example
You will be able to download, print and share your certificates(see image above). Coursera is partnered with top institutions like Duke and Imperial College which are recognized by future employees.
Winner: This is a hard one, but I think both Platforms deserve a point here.
That means Coursera is still leading the way with 5-2.
Round 6: Teachers & Community At Udacity & Coursera
We all remember that one inspiring teacher at School or University who helped to inspire us to reach our full potential. Well, that is no different to learning online, if you have an instructor with experience and in-depth subject knowledge it is going to help you reach your maximum potential.
To become an instructor with Udacity you’ll need to be able to prove that you have a lot of professional experience in your field. Additionally, Udacity curates its content partnering with big organizations such as Amazon, Uber or Google – which gives you the reassurance that course content is of the highest quality.
At Udacity, you’ll be able to interact with other students and the course mentors, who are there to help you with any question you may have. I can’t of course vouch for every program mentor and student at Udacity, but I have the feeling that their community is more active.
Every course at Coursera is created, taught and partnered by Universities and Institutions like Stanford, Duke, Google and IBM which guarantees the course is top quality. Before the courses are open to the public they will use Beta testers (experts and enthusiasts) to review and give feedback to ensure it is of the highest quality.
Coursera has an interactive community where you can ask questions, interact with other members. My impression is that the community is engaged and responsive and can be particularly useful for new users.
Winner: This again is another tough round as both Udacity and Coursera are exceeding themselves, So a point for each.
Udacity’s support system is well organized and easy to navigate. It also provided help articles about any question I had about the elearning community. Contacting the support team is really straightforward. You only need to head over to its help section and click on the help chatbot button, after you type in your question, you’ll be able to reach out to a (human) support agent for help – it may take longer to get an answer if you are a free user.
Coursera offers a similar support system to Udacity with the typical help articles and popular topics like Account Setup, Payments, Enrollment etc.
Coursera also offers a live chat as long as you are logged in. I have to be honest it isn’t the easiest to find, and they may take some time to respond.
Winner: Although both have a similar help center, due to the fact Udacity chatbot is easier to navigate around this point goes to them.
Many businesses and organizations are now looking at online learning to upskill their employees and develop their existing skills. Both Udacity and Coursera offer this.
Udacity for Enterprise is to help transform your workforce with the right tech skills for the future. They don’t give any indication of price as you need to request a consultation which I imagine will give you a personalized quote depending on of number of employees and Organization.
Udacity for Enterprise
Whereas Coursera offers a couple of business packages – Team and Enterprise. The Team package is for teams and small organizations and is $400 a year for each user in a team or small organization giving them access to over 3,800 courses. The second option is the Custom Pricing that is larger organizations.
Coursera for Business
Winner: Both platforms offer customized plans. Due to the fact, Coursera has some transparency with pricing, the point goes to them.
Udacity final price, really boils down to how long it takes you to complete. To enrol on one of their programs you’ll need to pay $399 a month (you can get the price down to $339 a month if you pre-pay for the entire program duration in advance). Since Udacity Nanodegrees take between 2 to 6 months to complete, you’ll be looking to spend $700 to $2,000 to complete a program.
Coursera offers a few options – either paying for an individual course or subscribing to Coursera Plus where you pay an annual subscription to access the majority of the courses on Coursera. There is no limit to the courses you can enrol on and you will earn a Course Certificate for every course you complete. It costs $339 for the annual subscription, but does not include degrees or Mastertrack certificates which can be around $25,000.
Winner: It is already clear that both Udacity and Coursera offer high-quality courses which you will need to commit to both financially and time wise. So, a point will be awarded to both.
That then means Coursera wins this comparison with the final score at 8-4.
Bonus Round: Udacity & Coursera Alternatives
You may have come to the end of this comparison and realized that neither Udacity or Coursera are for you. If that is the case I thought I would highlight some alternatives for you to consider.
Like Coursera, edX offers courses organized by world-class universities like MIT, Berkeley or Harvard. And since it’s an accredited organization, you’ll be able to earn official degrees from edX.
edX can be a good alternative to Udemy or Udacity
You’ll find many free courses on its platform, however, you’ll need to pay for the course (between $50 to $300) to be able to earn an edX completion certificate.
If you want a cheaper alternative to both Udacity and Coursera that works under a subscription model, you can check Skillshare. This elearning platform for creatives and entrepreneurs has over 25,000 courses with its paid plan.
Skillshare a cheaper alternative to Udemy and Udacity
Be aware that Skillshare doesn’t issue completion certificates, but some of its courses are created by top industry professionals and big companies like MailChimp, Google or Moz.
Hopefully, this extensive Udacity vs Coursera comparison has answered most of the questions you may have had and highlighted which elearning platform is for you. But let me summarize when to use each platform:
Udacity is for You if:
You’d like to become an expert in a specific technology field (e.g. data analysis)
You have some budget for the program (from $700 to $2,000)
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 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.