What Is Coursera?

Coursera is a prominent online learning platform offering diverse self-paced guided projects and on-demand courses across various subjects. Collaborating with esteemed universities and industry leaders such as Amazon Web Services, Google, and IBM, Coursera allows users to earn digital certificates, enhancing their resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

Beyond individual courses, Coursera enables users to pursue professional certificates, as well as bachelor’s or master’s degrees, entirely online. The platform also introduces MasterTrack certificates, breaking down sections of master’s degree programs into manageable online modules. For those enrolled in full master’s programs, MasterTrack work seamlessly contributes to their degree progress.

Users can engage in hands-on learning through guided projects, tackling subjects like building a data science web app or creating JavaScript animations. Additionally, users can opt for specializations involving a series of courses and projects focused on specific topics like supply chain management or search engine optimization.

Coursera boasts an extensive catalog featuring over 4,300 courses, 450 specializations, 440 projects, 30 certificates, and 20 degrees, as detailed on its website. Headquartered in Mountain View, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley, Coursera has become a go-to platform for online education.

Cost and Pricing Structure

Coursera offers flexibility in pricing, providing access to materials for over 1,600 free courses, with the option to pay for certificates upon completion. Auditing many courses is also free, though auditors may not submit some assignments or receive grades.

Courses with certificates start at approximately $49, and financial aid is available for users seeking assistance. Guided projects, with certificates included, are priced at $9.99, emphasizing a smaller time commitment of two hours or less.

Specializations and professional certificates begin at about $49 per month, with some available as subscriptions for monthly payments until completion. Coursera’s online degrees follow an all-inclusive pricing model, starting at around $9,000. MasterTrack certificates start at $2,000; both degrees and MasterTrack certificates offer installment payment options.

Coursera introduced Coursera Plus, a subscription service costing $399 annually that provides subscribers unlimited access to most courses on the platform. However, MasterTrack certificates, degrees, and some professional certificates are not included in Coursera Plus.

Coursera for Business offers two business plans: the Team plan, priced at $400 per user per year for smaller organizations, and the custom-priced Enterprise plan for larger organizations.

Refund Policies

Refund terms vary across Coursera’s offerings. Guided projects and month-to-month subscriptions are non-refundable. Full refunds on individual courses are available until 14 days after payment or until the user earns a course certificate.

Users enrolled in a free trial must cancel before its end to avoid charges, with no refunds for post-free trial payments. Coursera offers full refunds for one-time paid enrollments in specializations until 14 days after payment or certificate completion.

Coursera Plus subscribers can request a full refund within 14 days of payment, with any earned certificates during this period revoked upon refund. The respective university partners determine refund policies for degrees and MasterTrack certificates.

Is Coursera Worth It?

Coursera's worth is evident in its convenience for online education and job training. In a world where lifelong learning is crucial, Coursera, with over 18 million users since mid-March, provides instant access to high-quality content in sought-after fields. While course accreditation depends on accepting institutions, completion certificates, such as MasterTrack, can contribute to degree programs.

Coursera Professional Certificates

Coursera offers a range of professional certificates, including:

  • Arizona State University TESOL
  • Cloud Architecture with Google Cloud
  • Cloud Engineering with Google Cloud
  • Data Engineering with Google Cloud
  • DeepLearning.AI TensorFlow Developer

These certificates, costing $49 monthly after a free trial, cater to various skill levels.

Coursera vs. Competitors

Comparatively, Coursera distinguishes itself from Udemy, edX, and Udacity. Coursera’s university affiliation allows users to earn accredited degrees, setting it apart from Udemy’s individual-created courses. EdX and Coursera share university affiliations, while Udacity focuses on tech-centric courses and Nanodegree programs.

Coursera vs. Udemy:

One significant distinction between Coursera and Udemy lies in accreditation. Coursera's courses, affiliated with universities, allow users to earn accredited degrees. In contrast, Udemy courses, though extensive in their library covering diverse topics, are created by individuals and need accreditation. Udemy, through its online community, provides an avenue for individuals to create and teach courses focusing on personal development and skill enhancement.

Coursera vs. edX:

Both Coursera and edX offer courses affiliated with universities, allowing users to earn degrees through their platforms. EdX introduces unique offerings like MicroBachelors programs, providing real, transferable college credit, and MicroMasters programs that can accelerate the degree-earning process. While both platforms cover various subjects, Coursera's extensive catalog includes diverse content from music theory to data science.

Coursera vs. Udacity:

Udacity specializes in skill-based professional training with a focus on science and technology. While Coursera offers a broader spectrum of courses, including arts and humanities, Udacity's courses center on technology and industry-specific skills. Udacity's Nanodegree programs are designed for skill development. While they do not offer degrees, Udacity partnered with Georgia Tech and AT&T to provide an online master’s degree in computer science, showcasing its commitment to tech-centric education.


In conclusion, each platform has unique strengths, catering to different preferences and learning goals. Coursera's affiliation with universities, extensive course catalog, and flexible pricing make it a robust choice for those seeking accredited online education. The diverse array of competitors, each with its niche, ensures learners can find a platform aligned with their specific needs and interests. As the online learning landscape evolves, these platforms play a pivotal role in meeting the growing demand for flexible and accessible education.

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