Coursera Review

by Liz Hurley

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Coursera was formed in 2012 to transform lives through open access to world class education. Today, with 92 million learners and 7,000+ courses from top institutions such as Yale, Stanford and Google, Coursera has come to symbolize the very best in eLearning.

But is Coursera worth it? What are the best Coursera courses? Can I get Coursera for free? Can I get a refund if I don’t like Coursera?

I’ve spent several weeks delving deep into Coursera to answer these questions and more in this in-depth Coursera review.

First, a quick overview.

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Quick summary

Features:

  • 7,000+ courses and degrees
  • 250+ prestigious partner institutions
  • 11 Categories
  • Teaching from leading academics, Nobel prize winners, c-suite executives and leaders in their respective fields
  • Various subscriptions as well as the ability to buy single courses

Pros

  • The chance to earn a certificate from the world’s top organisations
  • Lots of free content to sample risk free
  • Well structured and resourced courses and excellent teaching
  • Huge catalog of courses
  • Prestigious education at affordable prices
  • Learn offline
  • 81% of learners give its courses a 5* rating

Cons

  • Confusing pricing
  • Courses vary in quality

Best for: Anyone who is intellectually curious or is looking for promotion, a new job, a career change or just wants to open new doors into the future.

Cost: Check Coursera for latest prices

Overall: Coursera offers the opportunity to learn from the world's most respected institutions and universities. Institutions that students take on mountains of debt to attend on campus. Coursera brings this education to you for a fraction of the price. If you're serious about investing in yourself, you’ll find it difficult to find a better platform than Coursera. And with lots of ways to sample Coursera for free, you have nothing to lose by checking it out.

In this detailed Coursera review I’ll be covering:

  • What is Coursera and who are their instructors?
  • How does Coursera work and how much does it cost?
  • Coursera free trial
  • What a Coursera lesson is like
  • Best Coursera courses and offerings
  • How I reviewed Coursera
  • What I liked and thought could be improved
  • Who Coursera is for and whether you can buy it as a gift
  • How to find the best courses on Coursera
  • Alternatives to Coursera
  • What others have said about Coursera
  • Is Coursera worth it?
  • FAQs

So, let’s get started

What is Coursera?

What is Coursera?

Coursera is one of the largest learning platforms in the world. 

It was started in 2012 by two Stanford professors with a mission to provide universal access to world-class learning. 

Just seven years later Coursera achieved unicorn status (a valuation of $1bn+).

In 2020 alone, it attracted as many learners as its closest competitor did in its entire existence.

Today, Cousera has 92 million registered users and is partnered with 250+ leading universities and industry educators to offer over 7,000 courses and degree programs. Much of its content can be accessed completely free.

In addition, over 100 Fortune 500 companies, and more than 6,000 businesses, campuses and governments use Coursera to upscale or reskill their employees, students and citizens. 

Currently, Coursera is offering a $100 discount on Coursera Plus membership – to access this check out our article Coursera Plus discount.

Who are Coursera’s instructors?

Coursera Instructors

Coursera’s aim to provide access to world class learning is reflected in the quality of its instructors.

These include:

  • Nobel prize winners
  • Best selling authors
  • Academics from prestigious universities such as Princeton and Yale
  • C-suite executives from the world’s leading companies 
  • Practising experts in their respective fields

How does Coursera work?

There are many different ways to learn on Coursera. Basically you can:

  • Buy individual courses and certifications outright
  • Take some content for free (without certification)
  • Subscribe on a monthly or annual basis

The first thing to do is sign in. This is easy and free. Just provide an email address and password (or use your existing Facebook or Google details):

Coursera Sign in

You can then explore the platform to find the option that best suits you. I’ve summarized them here along with what to expect from each one:

OptionGoalLength BillingIncludes
CoursesGain knowledge4-12 hoursFree with option to buy certificateHigh quality video content, transcripts and supporting resources 
Guided ProjectsLearn a practical skill1-2 hoursPer courseA split screen workspace to complete a project with step-by-step video guidance. Certificate
SpecializationsMaster a Skill1-3 monthsMonthly
or per unit
Several course units, hands-on projects, assignments and Certificate.
Professional CertificatesGet job ready for an in demand career4-7 monthsMonthlySeveral course units, projects & assignments, recognized professional certificate & access to job search resources. 
Coursera Plus SubscriptionAccess 90%+of Coursera contentvariousMonthly
or
annually
Unlimited access to Courses, Guided Projects, Specializations and most Professional Certificates
MasterTrack CertificatesLearn at Master’s level and earn credit towards a full degree4-7 monthsPer course orMonthlyLive teaching, office hours, video content, feedback, team-based learning and real world projects. The certificate counts towards the full Master’s should you choose to progress 
DegreesEarn a Degree2-4 yearsPay as you goOnline lectures, direct live interaction with peers and tutors, access to a dedicated online student support team and full certification

Signing in gives you access to the Coursera community where you can start a conversation with other students, ask questions, showcase your work, etc.

Subjects covered by Coursera include:

  • Data Science
  • Computer Science
  • Information Technology
  • Physical Science and Engineering
  • Business
  • Social Sciences
  • Health
  • Personal Development
  • Math and Logic
  • Language Learning
  • Arts and Humanities

Once you’ve made a choice, you’ll be able to find everything you need to know before committing yourself. And, of course, you can ask questions of the Community if you need any additional information.

Coursera course summaries

The average course rating for content on Coursera is 4.7/5 with 81% of learners rating Coursera content as 5*

Coursera costs, refunds and free trials

In summary, Coursera Courses can be accessed for free, Guided Projects start at $9.99 and  Specializations and Professional Certificates from $39.99 a month. A Coursera Plus subscription is $399 per year and Full degrees start at $9,000.

We go into more detail below about the costs of each of the following offerings:

  • Coursera Plus Subscription
  • Courses
  • Guided Projects
  • Specializations
  • Professional Certificates
  • MasterTrack
  • Degrees
  • Business

Coursera Plus Subscription

Coursera Plus

CourseraPlus gives you unlimited access to Courses, Guided Projects, Specializations and some Professional Certificates for as long as your subscription is active.

The cost for Coursera Plus is either $59 monthly, or $399 up front for the year (an annual saving of $309 over the monthly cost). 

This works out to just over $1 a day to be taught by the world’s best and brightest which is amazing value and a sound investment in you and your future.

Read our article Coursera Plus discount to find out how to get $100 off the price of a Coursera Plus subscription.

Courses

Coursera Courses

Coursera’s 1,800+ Courses can be taken for free. If you wish to receive a certificate you can purchase the course. Coursera Courses start at $49.

Coursera Guided Projects

Coursera Guided Projects

These short (2 hour) projects are designed to teach a specific skill and start at $9.99 each.

They are intended to help learners develop in-demand skills in a meaningful context and mimic one to one tutoring sessions. 

Coursera Specializations and Professional Certificates

Both these options start at $39 per month.

Specialializations teach career relevant skills and are designed to build mastery. They take up to three months (sometimes more) to complete. You can audit individual course units in most Specializations for free.

Professional Certificates are designed to get you job ready for an in-demand career and can take up to six months to complete.

Coursera MasterTrack

Coursera MasterTrack

A Master Track is a comprehensive online module taken from a full Master’s program. They take between 4-7 months to complete and count towards the full Master’s degree if you want to take things further. MasterTracks start at $2,000 for the full program.

Coursera Degrees

Coursera Degrees are full online bachelor’s degree and master’s programs from leading universities that take between 2-4 years to complete.

Tuition fees for a Coursera degree start at $9000 for the full program. They can be as much as $40,000, but this is a fraction of what it would cost to complete that degree in-person. 

You pay as you go for the courses you are enrolled in each term. 

Coursera refund

Coursera refund and money back policies vary depending on whether you have made a one-time payment or are subscribing on a monthly or annual basis.

The table below explains how these work:

Monthly subscriptionsCancel before the 7 day free trial ends and pay nothing. Cancelling an active subscription takes effect just before the next renewal date
Coursera PlusTo get a refund for a full annual payment of Coursera Plus,  submit a request within 14 days of purchase. Refunds are not available after this period
One time courseClaim a complete refund for up to 14 days after payment or within 14 days of the course launching if you have pre-enrolled.
Guided ProjectsNo refund available
Degree & MasterTrack programsRefunds are set up and run by the content provider offering the program and communicated to students by them.

If you make a purchase through a third party, their own refund policies apply.

For more detail on this you can check out our Coursera Refund guide.

Coursera free trial

There are lots of ways to experience Coursera for free. So you can sample much of what’s on offer without spending a cent. 

There are:

  • 1,800+ Coursera free courses that you can take in full without certification 
  • Individual Specialization units that can be audited for free
  • Seven day free trials with:
  • Coursera Plus monthly subscription 
  • Specializations
  • Professional Certificates

As well as this, Coursera offers 14 day money back guarantees on most of its products.

Can I buy Coursera as a gift?

No, Coursera doesn't offer gift cards or any way of making payments for another user. A Coursera account is always automatically linked to the name of the payee.

What a Coursera lesson is like

Given the number of different course types and partner institutions on Coursera, I’ll have to generalize a little here. 

But overall, at the course start you will get a basic outline of the syllabus and topics to be covered by the course. Then, in a typical lesson you can expect:

  • High quality video lectures that build in difficulty and link to prior learning
  • Accompanying transcripts  
  • Quizzes, questions, projects and assignments to check and reinforce understanding
  • Opportunities to connect with other students to discuss problems and share experiences
  • Access to a wide range of supporting resources such as podcasts, pdf files, e books, readings, Ted talks, case studies and examples, etc.

Best Coursera courses 

Some of the most popular and highly rated courses from each of Coursera’s offerings are:

  • Course: Machine Learning | Stanford University 
  • Guided Project: Google Ads for Beginners | Paid Media
  • Specialization: Excel Skills for Business | MacQuarie University
  • Professional Certificate: IBM Cyber Security Analyst | IBM
  • MasterTrack: Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research | Michigan University
  • Coursera Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Computer Science | University of London

Of course, the best course for you depends on what you’re interested in!

But to give you a clearer idea of what to expect from Coursera’s different learning paths, I’ve reviewed the top classes in each category below:

Top Coursera Courses

Top Coursera Course

Machine Learning | Stanford University | Rating: 4.9/5 

Instructor: Andrew Ng. Ng’s many achievements include founding DeepLearning.AI, and the Google BrainTeam. Given this, and the fact he’s an adjunct professor at Stanford and author of 100+ papers on machine learning, he’s more than qualified to deliver this course.

Learn: What learning is, how machines do it without explicit programming, the most effective machine learning techniques, how to implement them for yourself and how to practically apply the techniques to new problems.

Includes: 45 Video lessons divided into 4 sections (totalling 7 hours), 40+ readings, 9 quizzes and a certificate if the course is purchased.

Best for: Anyone who is curious about how a car can drive itself and what the future looks will find this course fascinating and will be made to feel comfortable with the technical language thanks to plenty of examples and case studies. 

The Science of Well Being | Yale University | Rating 4.9/5 

Instructor: Laurie Santos is a Professor of Psychology, host of the Happiness Lab podcast and director of the Comparative Cognition Laboratory and the Canine Cognition Center at Yale. 

Learn: Why our ideas about what will make us happy often turn out to be wrong, how to overcome annoying aspects of the mind that misdirect us, and the practical steps you can take to make a positive change and be happier and more productive.

Includes: 26 video lessons divided into 4 sections (totalling 4 hours), 18 readings and 3 quizzes, and a certificate if you purchase the course.

Best for: Given that this course is delivered by a Yale Professor of Psychology and can be taken for free, I can’t see anyone losing out by giving it a go. 

Top Coursera Guided Projects

How Guided Projects Work

Instructor: Ishita Sinha is Marketing Manager for paid media at Coursera. She has many years of experience of paid media campaigns, growth and product marketing, consumer research, brand strategy, positioning/messaging, and lifecycle marketing.

Learn: Everything you need to know to create a Google Ads account, do effective keyword research, navigate the Google Ad dashboard and create a successful, tracked and optimized campaign.

Includes: A split screen workspace and step-by-step video guidance for doing everything from setting up a Google Ad account to campaign optimization. A certificate

Best for: A complete Google Ad Novice will get everything they need to get up and running. Many students with more experience felt it explained a few tricky things they had been wrestling with.

Build a Full Website using WordPress | Freedom Learning Group | Rating:4.5/5

Instructor: Stacey Shanklin-Langford is a tutor from Coursera Project Network, teaching 20 online courses on Coursera, such as Create and Design Digital Products, Using WordPress to Create a Blog for your Business and Basic Game Development.

Learn: How to create an attractive and user friendly full website from scratch, utilize themes and plugins, update your homepage, edit content and add links and social media buttons.

Includes: A split screen workspace and step-by-step video guidance for doing everything from setting up a new website through editing and using links. A certificate

Best for: A complete WordPress novice as this is basic introductory course

Coursera Specializations

Top Coursera Specialization

Excel Skills for Business | MacQuarie University | Rating: 4.9/5

This course features in our review of the Best Online Excel Courses 2022. 

Instructor: Four tutors led by Nicky Bull, a corporate trainer, consultant and lecturer with over a decade of experience designing and delivering educational programs. She has also received the Coursera Outstanding Educator Award for Student Transformation in 2018. 

Learn: How to apply Excel skills and techniques to solve a range of business problems, design sophisticated spreadsheets, perform complex calculations and operations, and use advanced Excel features and techniques confidently.

Includes: Four courses that start with the essentials and incrementally build in stretch and challenge. A hands-on project that needs to be successfully completed to earn the certificate.

Best for: Students with a working understanding of Excel will get the best value as although the course begins with Excel essentials, three of the course units focus on developing advanced Excel Skills.

Python for Everybody | University of Michigan | 4.8/5 

Instructor: Clinical Professor Dr Charles Severance, who teaches technology related courses including programming, database design, and Web development at the University of Michigan. 

Learn: The basics of how to program using Python, how to use Python’s built-in data structures such as lists and dictionaries to perform data analysis, how to use Python to access data from the web and how to use databases in Python.

Includes: Four course units that start with the basics and slowly build in difficulty. A hands-on project that needs to be successfully completed to earn the certificate.

Best for: Anyone with computer experience who is new to coding will get huge value from this Specialization as It starts at ground level and builds gradually to cover more complex techniques.

Coursera Professional Certificates

Top Coursera Professional Certificate

IBM Cyber Security Analyst | IBM | Rating 4.6/5 

Instructor: Tutors at IBM Security Learning Services

Learn: All the content you need to get job ready for a role in the Cybersecurity industry. Including basic Cybersecurity concepts and terms, key processes and frameworks, basic network security, vulnerabilities, incident response protocol and defence tactics.

Includes: 7 course units, assessments, a real-world security breach hands-on collaborative project, access to virtual labs, sites and industry tools. Completion also means you are eligible to earn the Introduction to Cybersecurity Tools & Cyber Attacks IBM digital badge.  

Best for: Anyone considering a role in Cybersecurity who is comfortable working with computers and willing to learn new technical skills. Also those who want to understand Cybersecurity from the bottom up and enjoy collaborative problem solving.

Facebook Social Media Marketing | Meta | Rating 4.9

Instructors: Anke Audenaert, CEO & Co-Founder of online education production company Aptly and adjunct Professor at UCLA, and Daniel Kob, Chief Marketing Officer at Meta.

Learn: How to build an online presence, create and manage advertising campaigns, attract a following, manage your social media accounts and evaluate your efforts.

Includes: Six linked courses, hands on collaborative projects that help you apply new skills practically and (on successful completion) a Coursera and Facebook Digital Marketing Associate Certificate – plus exclusive access to the new Facebook Network job search platform.

Best for: Anyone interested in preparing for an entry level role in social media marketing, whether they are total beginners or have some informal experience.

Coursera MasterTrack

Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research | Michigan University

Instructor: Tutors from the #1 school for social work in the US.

Learn how:

  • Social workers effect positive change with individuals, families and communities
  • Key research, knowledge, policy and frameworks guide social work practice
  • Social work policy has evolved over the last century
  • To understand the connection between social work and social justice and how to use a social justice lens
  • To appreciate the different roles of social workers in a range of settings

Includes: Six rigorous and linked courses, live sessions with instructors and peers, flexible and personalized learning, quizzes, assignments, collaborative projects and case studies. Passing this MasterTrack successfully results in a University of Michigan Certificate and allows you to complete the full Masters for 45 instead of 60 credits.

Best for: Anyone with a strong interest in pursuing a career in social services. If you wish to take the full Master of Social Work degree, previous human service experience at post degree level is preferred.

Coursera Degrees

Top Coursera Degrees

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science | University of London

Instructor: tutors from Goldsmiths (University of London)

Learn how to:

  • Master in-demand computing skills
  • Solve complex problems
  • Sharpen your innovation and creativity
  • Develop technical and transferable skills
  • Shine in one of 7 specialist fields (for example AI, Machine Learning, Games Development, etc.)

Includes:  A range of resources on computers, tablets and other mobile devices through a Virtual Learning Environment. 16 compulsory modules, 6 elective modules, two projects resulting in a portfolio of work and exams. Fully online tuition with academic support and feedback from the University of London as well as access to student forums. The option to attend classes in-person.  A full degree certificate from the University of London.

Best for: Anyone aged 17+ with relevant high school qualifications and/or work experience wanting to pursue a career in computer science. A performance based admission route is available if you don’t meet the requirements for direct entry. 

Coursera for business

Coursera for Business

There are two membership accounts for businesses who want to offer their employees world class continuing professional development. 

Coursera for Business includes access to 5,000+ courses, 100+ SkillSets, and 1,900+ Guided Projects from top universities and companies. With Enterprise you also receive access to other benefits including job-based learning programs, private authoring tools to create your own courses, an account manager, skill metrics and user analytics.

Coursera for Teams is suitable for small/medium companies and teams at $399 per user per annum and Enterprise for larger companies which has custom pricing.

How I reviewed Coursera

I've spent a lot of time navigating every corner of Courser’s platform to investigate the range, quality and cost of what’s on offer.

I also sampled several specific courses. This included topics I felt confident in which helped me gauge the quality of the teaching. And courses I knew little or nothing about to see if claims that no prior experience was necessary were backed up by good introductory content and incremental teaching that kept me engaged and learning.

What I liked about Coursera

The chance to earn a certificate from the world’s top organisations

Coursera is partnered with 250+ of the world’s most prestigious institutions and universities.

To have the chance to receive a certificate from one of these organisations could really make you stand out from the crowd if you are in the market for a promotion, a new job or a career change.

Given the cost, and the fact that you can sample much of this content for free, this is a real benefit of Coursera.

Lots of free content for you to sample risk free

Coursera offers almost 2,000 courses for free, and the opportunity to audit course units from its more complex programs for free. 

This gives you the chance to get all the information you need to know about the quality of the teaching and the suitability of the course to make an informed decision before making any financial commitment.

You don’t receive a certificate for free content, but you will have the option to upgrade at any point.

Well structured and resourced courses and excellent teaching

Coursera Course Structure

A key element of good teaching is the structuring of tasks to incrementally build skills or the understanding of key concepts. 

Coursera does this well and provides opportunities to apply new skills and ideas practically with assignments, projects and challenges. 

Learning is supported with a variety of resources including podcasts, YouTube videos (such as TED talks), graphics, animations, e-books, etc. Key takeaways are emphasized and there is an easy option for capturing screens and making notes.

The courses I experienced were so much more than just ‘talking head’ video lecturers. That said, when they do take this format, the instructors are high calibre and include renowned experts in their fields, academics from universities such as Yale and C-suite executives from the world’s leading companies.

Huge catalogue of courses

Coursera has the largest catalogue of courses of any learning platform and, though there is a strong emphasis on career relevant topics and skills, there are courses in every subject imaginable.

The choice within each subject is wide ranging, from introductions, overviews and very specific deep dives. There is also a wide range of learning paths, from short 2 hour guided projects through to full blown bachelors’ and masters’ degrees. 

The keyword here is choice. 

Prestigious courses at affordable prices

Course costs are affordable and, for the quality, excellent value.

Degree courses are, of course, in the thousands of dollars. But even so fees are significantly lower than taking exactly the same degree on campus. Especially bearing in mind accommodation costs.

And financial aid is available to students who are unable to meet the full cost of a Coursera course or progam.

Learn offline

You can download materials to learn offline using the Coursera App. This gives you real control over when and where you learn and allows you to slot sessions into your schedule wherever you are.

What could be improved

Confusing pricing

Coursera offers so many different options for learning that its pricing structure can seem confusing. 

You won’t find out the exact cost of any particular option until you are signed in. And in some cases, only by clicking on enroll can you be sure. You can navigate away at that stage, but it is a little off putting that costs are not more transparent on the site.

That said, the reason for so many offerings is to enable Coursera to reach as many people as possible, whatever their needs, circumstances or budget. So having a tricky pricing structure is partly due to them trying to fulfil their aim of changing the world through learning!

If you want a detailed and granular breakdown of Coursera’s pricing, check out our article How much does Coursera Cost?

Courses vary in quality

Inevitably, with over 7,000 courses on the platform, there will be some variation in teaching styles and course quality. 

The courses I viewed differed quite a bit in terms of their approach. One had very little ‘talking heads’ teaching and lots of screen graphics and animations to support learning. Another focussed far more on a lecture style delivery. Though in that instance, the speaker had a lot of charisma and was very engaging!

Both approaches worked for me but we all learn in different ways and what works for me might not suit your learning style.

The good thing is that, in many cases you can audit courses or parts of courses for free, and you can always read the reviews to get a sense of what others thought of it. Plus you can also ask the Coursera community any specific questions you have about course delivery.

So this is just something to bear in mind, rather than an overall con. 

Who Coursera is for

Coursera has so much on offer it really does suit a broad audience. But in general I would say Coursera is for:

  • Anyone who is intellectually curious and loves learning new things
  • Busy people looking to fit in some high quality learning whenever and wherever they can 
  • Anyone looking for promotion, a new job or a career change
  • Those looking to open new doors into the world of tech or computer science 
  • Business teams and business leaders looking to invest in the continuing professional development of their teams 
  • Students who would value certification from world-class universities 
  • Learners looking for open source but high-quality channels of education

How to find great courses on Coursera

There are quite a few ways to navigate the Coursera platform to find courses. The two most straightforward in my view are using:

  • Search if you know the subjects and topics that most interest you
  • What we Offer if you want to explore the different learning paths on Coursera

What we Offer

I found this the most helpful way to explore the different options on Coursera. It meant I knew in advance the approximate cost, length of course and goal of each option before taking a closer look.

Just scroll the very bottom of any screen and click on the What We Offer option:

Coursera What We Offer

You’ll then see the following, allowing you to explore all the different options according to your goal, time commitment and budget:

Coursera Summary

You can also use the search function and filter your searches. 

Find Courses on Coursera

Whether you use Search or What do We Offer to explore, results will be listed with the most popular and highly rated courses at the top.

When you find a course you like, click on Enroll to find out more details and read student reviews. 

If it’s not for you, just navigate away with the back button.

Is Coursera legit?

Is Coursera Legit?

Coursera is 100% legit. Now in its tenth year of operating, it is one of the world’s leading educational platforms.

In February 2021 Coursera became a Certified B Corporation – meaning it is formally designated as a business meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on a range of factors. One month later it became a public company and its shares are now listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Coursera alternatives

Online Learning is big business and there is stiff competition between different platforms. Which is good news for you. If anything, you’re spoilt for choice.

Closest to Coursera is edX. It was founded in the same year and has Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, and other world class learning partners on board. Offerings and pricing are broadly similar. The main difference is in the number of courses available. The course library for Coursera is much larger and Coursera has nearly three times as many learners.

Other, less academic e-learning platforms that come to mind are Udemy and Skillshare. Like Coursera, both of these platforms offer courses in a wide range of subjects. However, anyone can sell their course on these platforms so the quality is much more variable. Check out our article Udemy vs Coursera for more detail.

Also, neither Udemy or Skillshare offers free content. That said, both are significantly cheaper than either Coursera or edX. Courses are purchased individually on Udemy and Skillshare offers a monthly subscription to access all of its learning content, which may work better for some learners.

MasterClass offers classes hosted by celebrities and legends in their fields of expertise. They include cooking with Gordon Ramsay, creative writing with Margaret Atwood and Jazz with Herbie Hancock. The focus is on the experience here, rather than academic learning, and the platform is famed for its incredibly high-quality production values. 

Finally, if you're looking for a platform dedicated to data science skills then Datacamp might be for you. They offer over 350 courses including coding with Python and R, skills and career tracks where you can hone in on your learning priorities and workspace areas where you can practice writing code. 

Other well established sites for courses on the latest technologies are Udacity and Pluralsight.

For a detailed comparison, check out our article Coursera Alternatives.

Coursera: What others have said

My aim here is to write a balanced review. So, I’ve scoured forums like Reddit for comments for Coursera users to identify a broad consensus as to how learners feel about the site. 

Overall, feelings are positive. People seem to appreciate the quality of the courses and teaching and feel that Coursera certificates are valuable.  

But there are comments that online Coursera courses are not as good as in person classes and that question the value of a paid certificate. 

This comment sums up that perspective: 

No one … is going to take coursera certificates seriously, especially considering coursera classes are like watered down easier versions of the actual material (compare Andrew Ng's coursera Machine Learning class to the class he teaches at Stanford) Reddit 

I have some sympathy for this view. In person classes allow for learner input, spontaneity and constant updates and changes. That said, as an online platform Coursera is available to anyone, anywhere. And even if you live in the US, you may not be able to afford, or access, Stanford.

That’s the point of Coursera – it makes high quality learning available and accessible to everyone regardless of geography, circumstances or wealth. And this learner voiced the exact opposite opinion to that of the previous commenter:

I find no discernible difference in the quality of instruction and materials than in my brick and mortar and online graduate-level courses. In some cases, the instruction is better. Reddit

The most common comments center around what taking Coursera courses say about you as a person and how this is likely to open new doors.

I took a bunch of programming classes on Coursera, and I think having those helped me get into grad school. One person mentioned in my interview that he seeks out people who can teach themselves, so he actually valued the Coursera stuff especially. He saw my study on Coursera as a "self-masters." Reddit
I have a job right now, 90% thanks to Coursera. What my employer cared about was that I had done a project of my own after Coursera, using that knowledge. Reddit

And I think my own feelings were best summed up by this comment:

I started with the free courses, but ended up buying the verifications because I liked the content ... PLUS I looked at my cost per hour of learning / studying and decided it was worth it.

Honestly, if you look at the cost of taking a Coursera course from a prestigious institution on an hourly basis as this commenter did, it's incredible value.

Evaluating Coursera

Features: 7,000 courses and degrees from over 250 respected, prestigious partner institutions. Many of which can be taken or audited for free with a chance to upgrade and receive a paid certificate. Option to buy courses individually or subscribe to the platform.

Content quality: Lessons consist of a variety of mediums: high quality video lectures, transcripts, visuals such as graphics and animations and audio such as podcasts.

Content breadth: The full range of disciplines from data science, business, computer science, arts and humanities, personal development, information technology, language learning, math and logic, health, social sciences and physical science and engineering.  

Teachers: Instructors will be from Coursera partnership institutions like Yale, Google and IBM. So they know what they are doing when it comes to both content and delivery. 

Supporting materials: Aside from video and textual lesson content there are assignments and projects, e-books, readings, podcasts and additional vidoes such as Ted Talks.  

Payments & refunds: Coursera Courses can be accessed for free, Guided Projects start at $9.99 and  Specializations and Professional Certificates from $39.99 a month. A Coursera Plus subscription is $399 per year and Full degrees start at $9,000. Refunds vary depending on whether you are subscribing or paying for a course individually.

Support: Available through the Coursera Help Centre.

How to open a Coursera account

Opening an account in Coursera is simple. All you need is an email address and password. Or you can use your existing Facebook or Google details.

Then, just sign in. This can be done from the home page or by clicking the Join for Free button which appears in the top right hand corner of most pages:

Join Coursera

Is Coursera worth it?

In my view yes.

Coursera offers the opportunity to learn from the world's most prestigious universities and institutions. Students accrue mountains of debt to physically attend these universities but Coursera makes it possible for a mere fraction of the price.

And in some cases, for free.

There’s a huge catalog of options and courses are carefully structured, educationally sound and fully resourced. Teaching is delivered by recognized experts in their respective fields. And bear in mind that Coursera courses are not gimmicky YouTube videos – they are academic, educational courses that focus on results.

However, Coursera is a big platform with lots of choices. You will need to be prepared to take time to find the courses that best fit for your needs and circumstances.

Once you have found a course you are interested in, whether or not it will be worth it partly depends on you! Online learning only works to the extent that you put the work in.

That said, if you’re serious about investing in the best thing you can ever invest in – yourself- then you will be hard pressed to find a better platform than Coursera.

And with so much content that can be taken or sampled for free, or with a 14 day money back guarantee, you really have nothing to lose by checking it out.

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Frequently asked questions

How much does Coursera cost?

Coursera Courses can be accessed for free, Guided Projects start at $9.99 and  Specializations and Professional Certificates from $39.99 a month. A Coursera Plus subscription is $399 per year and Full degrees start at $9,000.

Does Coursera have a refund policy?

Coursera’s refund and money back policies vary depending on whether you have made a one-time payment or are subscribing on a monthly or annual basis. Generally, one time payments have a 14 day money back guarantee, monthly subscriptions can be cancelled at any time. 

How many courses are there on Coursera?

There are over 7,000 courses available on Coursera.

Does Coursera have a free trial?

Seven day free trials are available with Coursera Plus, Specializations and Professional Certificates and nearly 2,000 courses can be completed (without certification) for free.

Does Coursera give certificates?

Yes, all Coursera paid for options are fully certified if you complete the course(s) successfully.

What languages is Coursera available in?

Coursera offers courses in over 50 languages, the top ten are English, Spanish, Russian, French, Portuguese, Arabic, German, Vietnamese, Italian and Chinese.

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