Coursera is one of the largest online learning platforms, with thousands of courses available. Founded in 2012 by Stanford computer science professors, it was originally one of the most popular platforms for learning a new topic or gaining a certification.
However, over the years, Coursera has amassed a lot of negative reviews. Keep reading to discover our honest Coursera review of this massive open online course (MOOC) provider so you can make an informed decision before signing up for one of their programs.
Is Coursera Legit?
Coursera seems legit, with over 40 million enrollees around the globe and more than150 partner universities. Many of the courses are created by these universities, meaning the content is of a pretty high standard.
Coursera offers “Free Enrollment” to students, seemingly giving them an opportunity to try the course for free. However, Coursera has faced many complaints about hidden extra costs, and a lack of customer service support to help students who are seeking reimbursement. All of these factors combined make it difficult to tell whether Coursera is a reliable education choice.
Top Universities That Offer Courses on Coursera
Some of the top colleges and companies that work with Coursera are Google, Stanford, Duke University, University of Michigan, and Imperial College London. These high-profile companies and colleges lend to its legitimacy, with renowned educators teaching some of these programs.
Many Coursera courses are accredited, though the provider itself is not. The classes are taught online in an easily digestible format that features videos, a transcript, and course materials and a Coursera certificate at the end for paying students.
Coursera offers a wide range of certification programs. However, it is frequently asked whether Coursera is free, and if it provides free certificates.
The website says it offers a free, seven-day trial. However, there are reports online of students having difficulty terminating a trial, although some may have merely forgotten to cancel on time.
Browse our list below of the types of certificates and degrees offered by Coursera.
- Verified Certificates. These are the individual courses that Coursera offers. They usually require a one-time payment of about $49. Some are included in the seven-day free trial, but once those seven days are over, the course will switch to a monthly subscription plan of an average of $49 per month until the course finishes. Lastly, you will then pay an extra fee for your certification should you choose to receive one.
- Specializations. This is the term used to describe a group of four to nine courses. They are part of the subscription payment of $49-$79 a month and also come with a seven-day free trial. They typically include group projects.
Remember that the faster you finish your courses, the less money it will cost you. One risk with these specialization courses is that if the site has any bugs that stop you from moving to the next lesson, you may end up paying more than you had hoped for, due to their lack of customer service.
- Professional Certificates. The good thing to be said about Coursera’s professional certificates is that some of them are transferable as university credits. However, they are also offered in groups of courses, like the specializations, so they usually cost a lot more than a verified certificate course.
- Master’s Degrees. The master’s degrees offered on the website are somewhat cheaper than a college degree, usually costing around $22,000. These are not subscription-based but are more of a typical college payment method instead.
- Mastertrack Certificates. Some of these certificates can also count toward a master’s degree. However, it is more like taking one module within a master’s degree program. The certificate course costs between $2,000 and $5,000, not including textbooks and possible surprise fees.
- Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences. These are Coursera’s bachelor’s degree options. They cost between $15,000 and $43,000 and can be paid in full or in increments.
Coursera Courses Review
The platform itself is user-friendly, and the courses are typical of a MOOC. Students learn through professors’ video lessons, usually followed by a quiz. In some courses, students must complete projects to demonstrate their skills. When a student has finished the class, they can pay for and complete an exam to earn their certification.
However, the course teachers and structures vary. Some are extremely in-depth and others less so, depending on the course provider. We would usually recommend testing the free version to see if the course is what you are expecting, but the poor Coursera reviews regarding enrollment make us hesitant to do so. Instead, research a particular course thoroughly to be sure that it will be worth your time and money.
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Coursera Course Materials
Coursera provides many types of course materials. For the most part, you will find everything you need on the platform. Students can also get the Coursera App if they want to watch videos and read transcripts offline.
That said, some of Coursera’s more extensive courses require specific textbooks that are not provided. Regardless of which class you are taking, you should always assume it will cost more than is stated in the price of the course. So before signing up, consider if you would still be happy paying more to take the course.
There are lots of arguments for and against online learning platforms. They are affordable and flexible, so they’re a good choice if you have other commitments. But you also need to be self-motivated, and remember that some courses may not meet expectations. Furthermore, although there are discussion forums on Coursera, it doesn’t compare to a lively class debate.
Coursera Free Courses
Many reviews bring up issues regarding the lack of support and materials for Coursera’s free courses. There are also an abundance of reviews discussing hidden fees and problems with the subscription format. It is possible that a lack of customer service support has led to Coursera’s recent decline.
Coursera for Business
Coursera offers business training opportunities for companies looking to train their employees. This is great for companies who don’t have the time or budget to hold in-house training. Employees can earn a certificate in anything from leadership to business analytics efficiently and from a respected institution.
The total cost for the “Coursera for Business” program is around $400 per employee per year. This is relatively cheap compared to the price of creating the content from scratch and then providing the training to each employee.
Coursera Job Placements
There is no doubt that certifications look great on a resume or LinkedIn account. However, due to the increase in online learning platforms, employers will focus more on whether an individual has skills rather than a certificate. That is why taking an online course that involves a project is seen as far more valuable than just a certificate.
However, this also depends on what you are personally looking for at your career or education level. The best way to look at Coursera is as a potential opportunity to learn a new skill at a much lower price (even despite extra costs).
So, Is Coursera Good?
This depends entirely on your own judgment. The Coursera website itself has received customer reviews ranging from 4 to 4.8 out of 5 stars. On ratings sites, it has received an abysmal 1.7 out of 5. It’s difficult to judge whether Coursera is good based on ratings alone. It is certain that Coursera is not for those looking for a free online course.
The best thing to do is to save money by trying one of their shorter, verified certificate courses. This way, you can get an idea of what their standards are like, and if it will work for you. Keep in mind that only 40 percent of the MOOC provider’s paying students finish the courses they enroll in.
Lastly, get your extra cash ready just in case, do more research on your desired course, and get ready to self-motivate. We at hope you have found our Coursera review helpful and that you will find the online learning institution and course that match your aspirations. If you want to continue exploring free online education and online community colleges, then keep reading.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.