In this post, we would like to give an introduction to and address the many questions surrounding Coursera as an online education platform. What is it? Are their courses free? Can I obtain a certificate? These, among others, will be answered here. Moreover, we will give you some tips and tricks to enjoy the platform to its fullest. Hopefully, it can help you decide whether this is the platform you want to study from.
In a nutshell
Coursera is an online course platform, or MOOC platform, that offers courses in a great variety of different topics from a large number of high-quality universities. All their courses are fully available with a monthly subscription of $43, which includes the acquisition of a certificate and access to their ‘specialization’ tracks that aim to help you master a specific skill. It is also possible to audit some of the courses for free without all the features the course might offer and with no certificate to be earned. The platform was founded in 2012 by Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. Andrew Ng is a former chief scientist at Baidu where he ran the company’s AI Group and adjunct professor at Stanford University. Daphne Koller is a professor in Computer Science at Stanford University. The platform is also starting to offer university-recognized online degrees that span 1-3 years.
As previously mentioned, to obtain a certificate via Coursera you will need to be a member of their subscription program of $43/month. The certificates Coursera provides are mostly of high-quality, depending on the intensity and quality of the course itself.
What can I get for free?
So, this is not as straightforward; it differs per course. Some courses provide a complete audit of the course for free which gives you full access but does not provide grading for the coursework or a certificate of completion. Other courses, only give ‘free’ access via the 7-day trial period that the platform offers. To know for sure what you can get for free you will have to evaluate each course specifically.
Specializations and Online Degrees
Specializations are specifically set up to teach students a specific career skill. In such a track, Coursera presents a series of rigorous courses in which students get confronted with hands-on projects based on real-life situations. The certificate that is received after completing this track, which lasts between 4 and 6 months, is of high-quality and can be a great addition to a CV. The prices for most specializations fall in the $43/month, though some cost $79/month.
Coursera also offers online degrees that provide a high-quality university-recognized degree. These are long-term programs that come closest to a ‘traditional’ university degree in terms of time and energy commitment, as well as recognition (you will receive an accredited master’s degree). They last between 1 to 3 years and are priced between $15,000 and $25,000.
Tips and tricks
It is a good idea to determine for yourself what exactly you are looking for. Are you trying to get into a new topic and want to explore the field? Or are you already acquainted with the field and want to get more serious? The normal courses that Coursera provides can be an amazing starting point but if you already have some background in a particular topic, it might be worth considering one of the specializations. Take a look at the possibility of auditing a course (if you are not concerned about receiving a certificate). For some courses and specializations, if you click enroll, a little pop up will appear with the option to start your 7-day trial. In the left bottom corner, you will find a link that allows you to enter the course material and join the course via the audit option. It is a great way to enjoy some of the best courses on the internet for free.
It can also be that another pop up appears where you can decide to take the course with or without a certificate. This is, of course, also an option to get free access to the course.
Hopefully, this post has helped you understand a bit more about what Coursera does and what it has to offer for you. If you are looking to search through some of the courses on Coursera, you can use Courseroot right here.