Udacity has quickly become one of the world’s leading online learning platforms. Partnered with industry leaders like Google and Amazon, Udacity has over 14 million learners and is considered a breakthrough provider when it comes to digi-tech learning.
But, just how good is Udacity? And what are the best courses it has to offer? Can I get Udacity for free? And if I’m not happy with my course, can I get a refund?
I tried out Udacity for myself to answer these questions and more in this balanced Udacity review.
Firstly, here’s a quick overview:
- 200+ free courses taught by leading experts
- 80+ “Nanodegree” programs
- Personal, academic, and business solutions
- Talent Transformation Suite for tailored learning
- Support Forum to get answers and discuss ideas
- Expert mentors with real-world experience
- Programs designed for businesses, government, and individuals
- Extensive course catalog to build your skillset
- Career services to complement tech courses
- Quality content co-created with leading partners
- Focused on “harder” tech skills like data science
- More detailed than other platforms
Best for: Business and individuals in the tech industry as well as for government hiring. With Udacity, you can learn a range of tech skills (with certificates) such as C++, product management, digital marketing, and data science.
Overall: A tech-oriented mega learning platform that appeals to governments and businesses alike, as well as individuals. This platform is a worthy investment for anyone looking to optimize their business and/or take practical steps in data science or programming.
So, now for the detail. In this Udacity review, I’ll cover:
- What is Udacity and who are its instructors?
- How does Udacity work and how much does it cost?
- Udacity free trial
- What a Udacity course is like
- Best Udacity courses and offers
- How I reviewed Udacity
- What I liked and disliked
- Alternatives to Udacity
- What others have said about Udacity
- Is Udacity worth it?
That being said, let’s get started.
What is Udacity?
Udacity is an American educational site striving to offer the best online courses for governments, businesses, and individuals in tech.
First launched in 2011 by Stanford teachers Sebastian Thrun and David Stavens, Udacity equips you with the skills you’ll need in “jobs of the future.”
Reaching a milestone of 14 million users in 2020 and 170,000 Nanodegree certificates awarded, Udacity has more than made its mark in the world of e-learning platforms.
Also, with over 200 free courses, there really is no reason not to head over and see what all the hype is about.
Who are the instructors?
Partnering with leading third parties like Google and Amazon, it’s no wonder Udacity also boasts expert mentors. With instructors from Fortune 500 and Global 2000 companies, Udacity’s teaching caliber means you can be assured you’re receiving high quality tutelage from experts in their fields.
Teachers also include:
- Security engineers
- Published authors
- College professors
How does Udacity work?
There are several ways to make the most of Udacity depending on your own goals. Overall, Udacity is best known for its Nanodegree programs. These are 3-4-month skills-based programs that help you to learn and grasp a set of skills through a series of lessons and projects.
For each project, you receive personal feedback from a mentor, and, at the end of the Nanodegree, you get a certificate.
So, for Udacity’s Nanodegree programs, you can either:
- Pay as you go (monthly access)
- Pay upfront for multi-month access
Udacity does offer some shorter courses as well as Nanodegrees. However, because these are mostly free, they lack the end-of-course certification and depth that comes with their best-known Nanodegree programs.
If you’re new to Udacity, signing up is easy (and free). All you need to do is link your Google/Facebook account or provide your email address. Then, select “Get started for free.”
After this, you can explore Udacity’s programs and resources. You can also answer a 2-step assessment to see if you’re eligible for a personalized discount.
If you’re using Udacity for business, you can sign up for a free consultation to find the best learning solutions for your team. Namely, Udacity operates a 3-step Talent Transformation Suite to optimize your business and deliver measurable results.
The great thing about the Talent Transformation Suite is that Udacity builds a personalized plan to assess talent gaps and develop core competencies. Udacity also ensures your results are measurable and impactful so you can gain advantage in your market.
|Pay as you go||Monthly access||Pay per month||Full Nanodegree access, learning resource, Udacity’s career services, mentor help, cancel anytime|
|Pay upfront||4/5-month access||Pay upfront for 4/5 months||Full Nanodegree access, learning resource, Udacity’s career services, mentor help, cancel anytime, save 15% vs. monthly billing|
|Udacity for government/business||Various||Various||Tailored content/pricing based on your government/business needs|
How much does Udacity cost?
Because Udacity is such a complex platform and offers so many different schemes, costs vary greatly. For government and enterprise, Udacity works out a plan based on your budget and needs, so it really can’t be generalized.
But, in terms of its Nanodegree programs, Udacity offers two pricing options:
Pay-as-you go purchase
Udacity’s Nanodegree prices start at $399/month. In general, most Nanodegree programs take around 2-6 months to complete – if you put in the hours. With pay-as-you-go, you pay to access the Nanodegree each month until you earn your certificate.
Pay upfront (all access purchase)
By paying upfront, you save around 15% compared to the pay-as-you-go option. This way, you have the recommended enrollment period to complete the course and can switch to pay-as-you-go if you need longer.
That being said, the most cost-effective option depends on the hours you can commit. If you know you can commit more time to your program than Udacity estimates, the pay-as-you-go option might be better for you.
But, for most people, the multi-month option is likely to save you money in the long-run.
Udacity free trial
Unlike other learning platforms reviewed, Udacity doesn’t have a “free trial.” Rather, you create an account and browse free-of-charge, paying only for the courses you enroll on.
That being said, Udacity offers over 200 courses you can access free of charge. These vary between 1 week and 1 month in length and tend to be “crash courses” in certain subjects.
However, these courses are never as extensive as Udacity’s Nanodegrees – nor do they come with the extra benefits of mentor support and career resources. They also lack the end-of-course certificate that makes Nanodegrees so esteemed.
But, if you’re new to the platform and want to get a feel for how Udacity’s courses work, the free classes are worth checking out.
One of Udacity’s standout features is its scholarship programs. If you don’t have the financial resources to pay for a Nanodegree, you can apply for a scholarship program (for US residents only).
To date, Udacity has launched 10 scholarship programs and awarded 22,000 students with certificates. All scholarship programs are sponsored by third-party organizations like Google and Amazon.
Sadly, there are no federal/state aid programs accepted at Udacity. But, to help break down costs, PayPal credit and Affirm loan options are available.
What a Udacity lesson is like
In contrast to lecture-based programs, Udacity focuses on real-world practical solutions and teaching methods. So, in terms of course structure, a Nanodegree program will typically include:
- Course syllabus with program overview, project requirements and learning objectives
- Course units with video content and additional learning resources
- Technical mentor support with human feedback
- Career services so you can optimize your resume
- Personalized services including timely project feedback
Best Udacity classes
Some of the most popular and highly rated Udacity courses are:
- C++: C++ Nanodegree | David Silver, Stephen Welch & Andreas Haja
- Product Management: Data Product Manager | JJ Miclat, Vaishali Agarwal & Anne Rynearson
- Digital Marketing: Digital Marketing | Anke Audernaert, Daniel Kob & Julia Aspinal
- Data Science: Business Analytics | Josh Bernhard, Dana Sheahan, Mat Leonard, Derek Steer & Sam Nelson
Of course, the best Udacity courses depend on your own business areas and required skills.
But, to give you an idea of what Udacity has to offer, I’ve reviewed the top programs in a handful of categories:
Top C++ Courses
C++ | David Silver, Stephen Welch & Andreas Haja | Rating: 4.5
Instructors: David Silver, Stephen Welch, and Andreas Haja. Silver, head of curriculum for Udacity, was a research engineer at Ford and a Stanford graduate. Instructor Welch is a Udacity content developer and former math teacher. Haja, too, is an educator and engineer developing vehicle prototypes using C++.
Learn: The industry-standard programming language, C++ and how to prepare for a career using it. You will gain hands-on experience using C++ by coding five real-world projects.
Includes: 4-month program (10 hours/week), 13-page course syllabus, flexible learning, mentor feedback, course certificate.
Best for: Anyone looking to learn and develop their C++ skills for business.
Robotics Software Engineer | Sebastian Thrun, David Silver, Karim Chamaa & Julia Chernushevich | Rating: 4.5
Instructors: Sebastian Thrun, David Silver, Karim Chamaa, and Julia Chernushevich. You’ll probably recognize Thrun as Udacity’s founder and president. But, he’s also the founder of Google X where he led the Google Glass project. Silver and Chamaa are both engineers and course developers. Chernushevich is also a robotics specialist and experienced educator.
Learn: In-demand robotics skills including C++, ROS, and robotics algorithms. You’ll work toward completing five hands-on robotics projects, which can serve as portfolio pieces to show recruiters.
Includes: 4-month program with 6 courses and 5 projects, 14-page courses syllabus, flexible learning, mentor feedback, and course certificate.
Best for: Anyone looking to equip themselves or their team with competitive robotics skills. Also ideal for those looking for career advancement.
Top Product Management Courses
Data Product Manager | JJ Miclat, Vaishali Agarwal & Anne Rynearson | Rating: 4.3
Instructors: JJ Miclat, Vaishali Agarwal, and Anne Rynearson. All three instructors are experienced leaders in data product management. Miclat, in particular, is renowned for his work with Apple and VSCO.
Learn: How to leverage market data to amplify product development, apply data science processes to enhance user experience and gain competitive advantage in the market.
Includes: 3-month program with flexible learning, mentor feedback, 16-page syllabus, and course certificate.
Best for: Those looking to gain skills in product management to improve employability or to maximize business impact. This course is perfect for existing product managers, data science professionals, and engineers looking to improve their skill set.
Product Manager | Anastasia Root, Alex King, Yuva Murugan | Rating: 4.8
Instructors: Anastasia Root, Alex King, Yuva Murugan. Root is a Growth Product Manager at Google and King undertakes the same role for Uber. Murugan is a product consultant leading various-stage startups and Fortune 10 companies.
Learn: How to lead product strategy, understand the foundations of product management, and set yourself up for success in a product management career.
Includes: 4-month program with 15-page syllabus, real-world projects, mentor feedback, flexible learning, and course certificate.
Best for: Anyone looking to pursue a career in one of the most in-demand roles for enterprises and startups. This course is designed for students who want to assume key leadership roles in product development.
Top Digital Marketing Courses
Digital Marketing | Anke Audernaert, Daniel Kob & Julia Aspinal | Rating: 4.8
Instructors: Anke Audernaert, Daniel Kob & Julia Aspinal. Audernaert personally led the development of digital marketing programs at Udacity and her fellow instructors, Kob and Aspinal, are both digital marketing experts.
Learn: Introductory skills to succeed in digital marketing. As a result, this program ensures you leave with a valuable understanding of how digital marketing works and why it’s so important.
Includes: 3-month program with 22-page course syllabus, mentor feedback, flexible learning, and course certificate.
Best for: Anyone looking to embark on a career as a digital marketer. Ideal for businesses looking to better analyze and optimize their results.
Marketing Analytics | Brad Batesole, Josh Bernhard, Dana Sheahen, Mat Leonard & Anke Audernaert | Rating: 4.7
Instructors: Brad Batesole, Josh Bernhard, Dana Sheahen, Mat Leonard, and Anke Audernaert. All instructors are industry experts, including marketing executives, data scientists, and content developers.
Learn: Basic data skills and an in-depth understanding of marketing/Google Analytics. For instance, you’ll learn to analyze data, build models, and create data visualizations.
Includes: 3-month program, 12-page course syllabus, mentor feedback, flexible learning, and course certificate.
Best for: Students new to marketing and data analysis. This program offers an introduction to data and equips you with the tools necessary to advance your career.
Top Data Science Courses
Business Analytics | Josh Bernhard, Dana Sheahan, Mat Leonard, Derek Steer & Sam Nelson | Rating: 4.8
Instructors: Josh Bernhard, Dana Sheahan, Mat Leonard, Derek Steer & Sam Nelson. All instructors are renowned in their fields – data scientists, content developers, CEOs, and product leads.
Learn: Data analysis skills and tools that will help you to make better data-based decisions. You’ll learn to use industry-standard programs to analyze data and make informed choices.
Includes: 3-month program, 12-page course syllabus, mentor feedback, flexible learning, and course certificate.
Best for: Those who are less tech-savvy and are looking to better comprehend data. Udacity recognizes that data is a mandatory skill, so this course is great for beginners and as a stepping stone to more advanced programs.
Data Analyst | Josh Bernhard, Sebastian Thrun, Derek Steer, Juno Lee, Mike Yi, David Venturi & Sam Nelson | Rating: 4.6
Instructors: Josh Bernhard, Sebastian Thrun, Derek Steer, Juno Lee, Mike Yi, David Venturi & Sam Nelson. All instructors are leading experts in data science, and some are even published authors.
Learn: The skills to prepare for a career in data, including how to draw meaningful conclusions and communicate critical findings. You’ll develop proficiency in Python and SQL, and will build a portfolio to show to employers.
Includes: 4-month program, 16-page course syllabus, mentor feedback, flexible learning, and course certificate.
Best for: Anyone wanting to work with data (prerequisites in Python and SQL required). This course will prepare you for roles as a Data Analyst or Analytics Consultant.
Free Udacity Courses
Unlike other platforms that have a small portion dedicated to sample courses, Udacity has an impressive range of free classes available. Although they’re shorter in length (around 1 week – 1 month), they’re worth checking out if you’re on the fence about Nanodegrees.
Here are a few standouts:
- Problem Solving with Advanced Analytics
- Product Design
- App Marketing
- C++ for Programmers
Udacity for Business
As a “MOOC” platform (massive open online course), Udacity targets governments and businesses as well as individuals. Like LinkedIn Learning, Udacity also realizes its potential as an aid for employers.
So, if you’re interested in Udacity for business, you can sign up for a free consultation by providing basic statistics and objectives for your company. From here, a consultant will be in touch to assess and set out a plan for your business needs.
In fact, Udacity’s Digital Competency Platform is solely focused on ensuring workplace relevance with in-demand technologies. So, by working with Udacity's talent transformation team, you can assess your talent gaps and get a clear road map for developing your business.
How I reviewed Udacity
With over 15,000 hours of catalog content, Udacity is a hefty platform to explore. So, I tried my best to analyze the platform from a range of perspectives – considering its value for both individuals and businesses.
I also made sure to take into account different learning styles, skill levels, and budgets. So, I covered a range of topics and levels to give me a more rounded view of the platform.
What I liked
Expert mentors with professional experience
Joining with the likes of Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, it’s no surprise that Udacity’s instructors are leading experts in their fields. So, with Udacity, you’re not just learning from teachers – you’re gaining real-world skills from instructors who have achieved the career you want.
All of Udacity’s professors have a proven track record of success. Pair that with Udacity’s mission to instill practical learning, you can be assured that you’re spending your time and effort wisely.
Programs designed for business, government, and individuals
What sets Udacity apart from other e-learning platforms is that it’s not just targeted to individuals. In fact, Udacity is trusted by governments and organizations around the world to maximize results and amplify job talent.
For instance, in Egypt, Udacity fuelled talent in software development. This resulted in a 12x ROI for the government. Along with this, over 7000 Saudi Arabians have landed jobs/promotions with Udacity alone.
So, while Udacity has unprecedented value for individuals pursuing a career in tech, it definitely isn’t limited to personal learning.
Extensive course catalog to optimize your skill set
With 9 main subject areas ranging from AI to Cybersecurity, Udacity offers hundreds of courses for anyone looking to drive their own or their team’s tech careers. Currently boasting over 270 courses, Udacity is an impressively extensive platform despite its business/tech niche.
So, with that in mind, Udacity is invaluable when it comes to equipping you or your employees with in-demand skills.
Career services to complement tech courses
If you enroll in a Nanodegree program, you also gain access to Udacity’s career resource center. Here, you can gain valuable insight into resume-building skills, 1-1 mentor feedback, interview advice, and how to negotiate your salary.
What I like about this is that it takes into account the practical side of the market. So, with Udacity, you not only learn the hard skills employers are looking for – you also learn how to showcase those skills and land your dream job.
In my opinion, this puts Udacity above other video-based learning platforms that teach you the skills but leave you in the dark about real-life applications.
Quality content co-created with industry-leading partners
Udacity co-creates its curricula with industry leaders like Amazon, BMW, and GitHub. This also includes its scholarship programs.
So, with this in mind, you’re learning pragmatic material designed with the help of the experts who are looking for talent. This way, you’re learning the skills that employers are actually looking for.
What could be improved
Focused on “harder” tech skills like data science
Of course, Udacity’s focus is on driving tech careers. So, you’ll find plenty of content relating to programming, business, and even cloud computing. But, if none of these topics relate to your field, it might not be worth your time.
Luckily, you’re not short on options if you’re keen to develop in other fields. In fact, there are countless platforms out there, such as Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, or The Great Courses.
More convoluted than other platforms
While Udacity’s expert network and trademarked features are impressive, it can be difficult to know where to start. Helpfully, Udacity does its best to break down its content into business/government/individual categories.
This way, you can start from your own objectives and even sign up for a consultation to see which learning options are best for you or your enterprise. But, at the same time, Udacity can be an overwhelming platform if you’re not used to it.
Who Udacity is for
As mentioned earlier, Udacity is unique in its offerings for businesses, governments, and individuals. So, there are many user profiles that are drawn to the platform. But, to put it simply, Udacity is ideal for:
- Companies looking to bolster their talent and optimize results
- Governments wanting to close talent gaps and equip citizens with in-demand skills
- Individuals pursuing a career in tech or seeking to advance in their field
- Students or casual learners who want to invest in skills for the future
Can I buy Udacity as a gift?
In general, Udacity doesn’t offer any ongoing gift deals or accept other gift cards. But, Udacity does offer promotions every so often, which includes the “Buy One, Gift One Free” offer.
If you pay upfront for a Nanodegree program during this time, you’ll get a “100% off” coupon that you can use for a different program, or gift to someone else. For any current promotions or gifting options, see here.
Finding best courses on Udacity
As you’d expect from a platform that prides hands-on learning, Udacity’s website has a number of ways you can find the best courses for you. Here’s how to do it:
- Check out Udacity’s Program Catalog
- Search for keywords/courses that interest you
- Filter your searches by topic/field/difficulty/duration
- Look for the highest rated Udacity courses
- View recommended/similar courses from a program page
Is Udacity legit?
In a word, yes. Udacity is trusted by governments and businesses all over the world. And, although their course certificates aren’t official accreditations, they’re well-respected within data/tech industries.
Coupled with the fact that Udacity has partnered with leading companies like Shell to upskill employees, it’s no surprise people are flocking to Udacity for business and personal career help.
Udacity’s refund policy is fairly straightforward. Whether you opt for the pay-as-you-go or pay upfront option, you have 2 days to cancel your enrollment to be entitled to a full refund.
While this might not seem like a lot of time, Udacity provides you with an in-depth course overview so you can avoid enrolling on courses that don’t meet your expectations.
Also, with the pay upfront option, you can cancel anytime within the month to avoid being billed for the next month.
Of course, Udacity is one of many online learning options out there. So, if Udacity doesn’t seem like the best fit for you, there are countless alternatives. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll name just a few:
Udacity vs. Udemy
The most obvious alternative to Udacity is Udemy. Like Udacity, Udemy is a massive open online course provider that focuses largely on in-demand skills in IT, programming, and data science.
Similarly, it also has a “for businesses” option, where you can request a free demo for your team. Udemy’s courses are significantly cheaper, but they also have an average course viewing time of around 14 hours – which, compared to Udacity’s 120-hour average, doesn’t seem like that much.
With Udemy, I also felt like the extra resources were less personal than with Udacity – especially with Udemy Business. While Udemy offers webinars and events for business customers, this doesn’t have the same impact as a 1-1 talent workshop.
But, of course, the best alternative to Udacity is the one that fits you personally. Udemy is definitely more affordable and covers far more course categories than Udacity.
What others have said
My aim here is to present the most fair Udacity review out there. So, I’ve searched for reviews both on and outside of Udacity, checking out other forums like Reddit to get people’s honest opinion.
In fact, I was surprised to see that a lot of reviews were negative. These were largely aimed at the cost and the idea that quality has reduced in recent years. And, with most tech-based programs, they can become outdated pretty quickly:
“Honestly the quality control at Udacity has gone down significantly over the last few years. What started as a fantastic service is devolving into yet another commodity MOOC site” - Comment from Reddit
“Several years ago when they just started, Udacity’s founders like Sebastian Thrun, truly had a vision to democratize education through MOOC. [...] Now the price has gone up at least 2x to 3x. I think they are trying to make a profit in a hurry. But unfortunately in my opinion, the quality has actually dropped” - Comment from Reddit
It’s a shame to hear that some users were dissatisfied with their experiences – especially when it came with such a hefty price tag. I agree that in the tech industry it is a challenge to keep abreast of constant changes and updates.
But, it’s not all bad news. For those who can afford Udacity (or make the most of their discounts/promotions), the platform has its merits:
“I have a business background and already had a job as a Business Analyst consultant, but I completed the data analyst Nanodegree and it changed the way I think about data. I’ve taken those skills and applied them at work. I’ve impressed my clients and coworkers with work products that were heavily influenced by the Nanodegree projects” - Comment from Reddit
“Udacity is a great experience but an expensive one as well. Definitely helpful mentors and community members when you ask questions on [the] forum. Modules are well developed/supported. Never regretted Udacity training or certificate” - Comment from Reddit
“I’ve gone through a couple courses there. It probably depends on the specific course, but I think it’s a good resource. I like how they break up concepts into short sections and give quizzes and small projects. It keeps me engaged. Right now I’m going through the Data Wrangling with MongoDB course and it’s pretty good” - Comment from Reddit
So, in general, users have mixed reviews about Udacity’s content quality and pricing system. But, if you already have some basic knowledge or are a junior within the field, I think Udacity has great value.
For businesses and governments, too, Udacity clearly dedicates a lot of time and resources to ensuring they deliver outstanding results. So, it all boils down to what you’re looking to get out of Udacity and whether its value exceeds the price.
Features: 270+ Nanodegrees, 200+ free courses, expert mentors, course certificates, extra resources, and project feedback.
Content quality: Multi-level content including videos, quizzes, projects, and teacher seminars.
Content breadth: 9 main categories with extensive subcategories. Courses take around 3-4 months to complete and are intermediate.
Teachers: Heavily-vetted expert network including CEOs, published authors, and industry leaders.
Supporting material: Real-life projects to go toward your portfolio, course syllabus, and class forum.
Payment and refunds: Starting price of $399/month. If you cancel within 2 days, you’re eligible for a full refund. You can also cancel anytime to avoid being billed for the next month.
Support: 24/7 Udacity support.
How to open a Udacity account
Opening a Udacity account is easy and free. All you need to do is:
- Select the “Sign In” button in the top right corner
- Choose the “Sign Up” tab
- Provide your name, email and password (or sign up with Google/Facebook)
- Click “Sign Up” to confirm
Now you can head to “My Classroom,” where you can see your current programs and explore the Course Catalog. This also includes Udacity’s 200+ free courses.
Is Udacity worth it?
All in all, Udacity’s value is subjective. It’s true that it’s pricey and is less suited to new starters. But, if you’re already familiar with some of the course concepts, Udacity’s learning programs can really transform the way you think about your field.
If you’re more of a beginner, a platform like Udemy could be more useful (and cheaper). But, it really does depend on your own budget, interests, and learning goals. If you’re an employer looking to transform talent in digital technologies, Udacity is a great choice.
Overall, the only way to really know if Udacity is right for you is by checking out the platform for yourself and getting a feel for the way its Nanodegree programs work.
Frequently asked questions
Udacity pricing starts at $399/month but it works out around 15% cheaper to pay upfront.
Yes. If you decide within 2 days that Udacity isn’t for you, you’re entitled to a full refund. If you pay upfront, you can also cancel anytime to avoid being billed for the next month.
At the time of writing, there are 270+ Nanodegree courses and 200+ free courses.
No, but there are hundreds of shorter courses you can access free of charge.
Yes. Although they aren’t official accreditations, Udacity does offer courses upon program graduation.
Currently, Udacity is primarily in English.
Rebecca graduated from King's College university with a first class honours in English Language, followed by a Masters' Degree in Eighteenth Century Studies.