Both Udemy and Coursera have topped the list of the best online platforms out there. But, it’s important for you to understand that you will find a few key differences and using them depends on your needs.
Udemy vs. Coursera: Quick Summary and Comparison
Both companies are well-known for online courses. Coursera offers a more formal approach, with relationships to well-known universities that range from individual courses to degree programs.
Udemy has numerous instructors who offer courses based on their expertise and often don’t offer a course as part of an academic institution.
Both sites will provide the chance to learn from experts, but it is essential to consider what stage of your career you’re in when selecting a course. Do you need formal accreditation? If so, Coursera might provide a better avenue for that.
Do you require a one-off course to upskill in a certain area? Then, you can search through both Udemy and Coursera while on this approach. Udemy might have a slight advantage here, with lower prices available to learners.
Coursera has been in the online course game since the beginning of online learning platforms. As one of the first learning platforms to gain prominence, it has grown to a global leader in education. It has become a portal with courses and partnerships available with some of the best universities in the world. After signing up for an account, which is free, you will have courses available on the site across a seemingly infinite range of topics.
The course price is $399 for a year and $59 for one month, which is a much lower cost compared to a traditional course you might take at a university.¹
It is important to note that the various degree programs require a specific sign-up process and separate pay scheme. In some cases, you need to submit specific paperwork to be accepted, and the courses also will be extended over a longer period and won’t be self-paced.
Coursera does offer refunds on their various course options.² Let’s take a look at the policies in the table below:
|Type of Refund||Time to refund|
|Refunds are free trials||No payments to be refunded, since you are not charged until after the free trial ends.|
|Course certificates||You can request a refund within 2 weeks (14 days) of your course payment.|
|Specializations||Coursera applies their refund polices to each course payment you make.If you have pre-paid for a specialization, you can request a full refund up to 2 weeks after your payment. If you enrolled in a course before it began, you can then request a refund up to 2 weeks after the course starts.Coursera doesn’t grant refunds for a Specialization pre-payment if you’ve already earned a certificate for the course, even if you finished the course before the end of the 2-week refund period.|
|Coursera Plus Subscriptions||You must request a refund within 2 weeks after payment.|
|Guided Projects||No refunds are available.|
|Third-party Marketplace (Example: Apple’s app store)||The student must adhere to the refund rules of the third-party marketplace.|
Coursera Pros and Cons
Coursera is a leader in online education, but it has its benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a look below.
Auditing option – if you’re a geek, you’ll love this feature. You can audit any individual course, which means that if you find a course in marketing, you don’t have to pay to view the videos and read the learning materials. Instead of paying, you can click the audit button (which is rather small and sometimes difficult to see) and enroll in the course for free.
- A quick note: You will have to create a Coursera account before auditing a course. You also cannot get a specialization or a degree by only auditing the courses. Coursera requires you to pay for these, but you can take courses within a specialization individually.
- With auditing, you also don’t get a certificate. Despite this, it’s a cool option that can allow you to try almost any subject out for free.
University Partnerships – Academic institutions and large companies partner with Coursera. These partnerships deliver a higher level of trust than you might get from other competitors. This is not to imply that regular people can’t teach you what you need to know. But, universities do have more strict standards around instruction. These standards do provide a higher chance that your instructor will know the basics of teaching.
Certificates, Degrees, and Specializations – Coursera courses come with certificates, degrees, and even specializations. What makes them better than other online programs is that they are often given out by well-known institutions. For this reason, you can feel a little more confident that your credentials will be trusted if you want to share them on LinkedIn after you finish your course.
Languages and Global Courses – Coursera has done a fantastic job of providing courses in other languages. Individuals, who speak other languages, such as Spanish, Italian, Russian, etc., can find many courses in their native language. Users can also find courses offered by universities in many countries, giving you access to knowledge outside your region.
Pricing – The benefits of a Coursera Plus membership depends on your situation. If you’re looking to learn new skills consistently and use them to advance professionally, then this would not be a con. However, if you consider yourself to be a curious individual, looking to dabble in various subjects, then paying this type of fee may not be for you.
Interface – The user experience can be a little clumsy. In particular, the initial course page can be confusing, with users not easily drawn to the course video. Transcripts can be hard to work with and download as well. This factor is especially relevant for anybody using English as a second language.
Udemy gives you access to countless courses at a fair price. The platform is straightforward, with courses marketed individually. You can also watch an introductory video that can help you judge the course content for yourself.
The most informative feature is the list of course ratings and the number of people who have enrolled in the course in the past. This feature will give you an idea of how popular the course is and help you avoid any potentially bad courses.
Courses vary in length, and you can get a good idea of what the course is about with the list of subjects posted on the page.
Because instructors differ in their approach, it could be hard to find the same level of quality on each course. For this reason, it may be important to take a detailed look at the available reviews.
Course content spans a wide array of options from marketing, business, programming to crystal healing (if you are so inclined).
Udemy offers prices across currencies and in various price ranges. They allow course instructors to choose the price of their materials, but they must stay without Udemy’s global tiered priced system.
For US customers, prices are between $19.99 and $199.99. Potential customers will find that prices vary, as Udemy runs sales and limited-time offers on their website.³
Is Udemy free? Or are there any free courses?
Yes, you can access free courses on Udemy. Since instructors set the price, some see it as a useful way to get some teaching experience and also test the demand of their expertise on Udemy’s platform.
You can find free courses at this link: https://www.udemy.com/courses/free/
It’s important to note that free courses don’t provide a certificate of completion.
Udemy’s Refund Policy
Udemy offers a 30-day refund, as long as the request meets their refund policy.
Here are some reasons you might miss out on a refund:⁴
- The student went through and downloaded a significant portion of the course before asking for a refund.
- The student requested a refund multiple times on the same course.
- The student made excessive refund requests.
- The student was reported, banned, or lost access to a course due to violating Udemy’s terms of service.
At times, the Udemy only grants course credit as a refund. This response happens in cases where the customer paid through iOS (Apple), Bank and cash transfers, Udemy credits, and more.
Udemy Pros and Cons
Now, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Udemy. It’s a great platform with thousands of courses available in countless disciplines. The courses do have overlap with Coursera, but you’ll see that they are much more individual and dependent on the specific instructor you have than Coursera. Nonetheless, you have access to information and certificates at a decent price.
Practitioners – One of the coolest parts of Udemy is that the courses are produced by individuals who are passionate about their topic of interest. It’s not some droning professor who has taught this course forever, building resentment towards their students for decades.
Instead, you get an individual who knows about a topic and has demonstrated competence in the field. Instructors might even have a few new tricks up their sleeves that an academic wouldn’t know about or consider important.
Price – Courses at Udemy are as low as $15, which will be the cost of a nice cheeseburger nowadays. So, you won’t have to worry about any courses breaking the bank. They go about as a high as $200, which still isn’t bad if the information you need the information in the course.³
Course materials – You get lifetime access to the course materials, which means that you won’t have to worry about completing your course hastily or losing everything if something pops up!
Free courses – You get access to free courses on Udemy without the ability to get a certificate
Certificate – You get a certificate for your course completion
Course Quality – With instructors that are coming to you from everywhere, it is difficult to judge exactly what the quality of the courses are.
What do they know about teaching or their topic specifically? How old is the knowledge that they have? This fact can be challenging when selecting a course.
As you can see, both course platforms have benefits and drawbacks that you should consider. Yet, both provide good options for learning the skills you need.
Coursera vs. Udemy: Alternatives
The online education market has many options. There are broad online platforms that cover many disciplines and skill sets. Then, there are more specific websites that focus on more specific sets of skills that you can get within a discipline. The sites below offer a broad selection of courses.
Let’s look over a few alternatives:
Skillshare is an online learning platform that provides courses and workshops in various creative fields, including design, illustration, photography, writing, and more. The platform was founded in 2010 and has since grown to offer thousands of classes taught by industry professionals and experts.⁵
Skillshare’s courses are project-based and feature a combination of video lessons, community feedback, and peer collaboration to help users develop their skills and build their portfolios. The platform also offers a mobile app for on-the-go learning and an affordable subscription service that provides unlimited access to all courses.
Udacity is an online learning platform that provides courses and nanodegrees in various fields, including artificial intelligence, programming, data science, digital marketing, and more. The platform was founded in 2011 by Stanford University professors and has since expanded to offer hundreds of courses and programs with industry partners such as Google, IBM, and Amazon.⁶
Udacity’s courses feature interactive video lessons, hands-on projects, and personalized feedback from coaches and mentors. The nanodegrees are more intensive and provide a more comprehensive learning experience that includes real-world projects and career services. Udacity also offers a free trial for many courses and programs, as well as flexible payment options.
MasterClass is an online learning platform that provides video-based courses taught by celebrity experts in various fields. The platform was founded in 2014 and has since grown to offer courses in areas such as cooking, writing, film, music, sports, and more.
Each course features high-quality video lessons, interactive exercises, and downloadable materials designed to help users learn new skills and techniques. The instructors are well-known figures in their respective industries, including Gordon Ramsay, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Shonda Rhimes, and Serena Williams, among others. MasterClass also offers a mobile app for on-the-go learning, as well as an annual subscription service that provides access to all courses.⁷
Edx is a provider of MOOCs (massive open online courses). They’ve also taken the route of attracting universities and top companies to their platform since they launched their first experimental online courses in 2012. ⁸
Similar to Coursera, they offer certificates for individual courses, professional certificates, and even degree programs. When it comes to pricing, you’ll find that users pay a cost of between $50 and $300 for the verified track, which means that you receive a certificate at the end. Similar to Coursera, you can also audit courses. Of course, auditing on Edx comes with similar drawbacks: 1) You can’t get graded assignments 2) You don’t receive a certificate.⁹
Users can learn at their pace, with access to a vast library of content and the ability to track their progress and earn badges for completed courses. Codecademy also offers a paid subscription service that includes personalized learning plans, access to real-world projects, and a community of fellow learners and mentors.
LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com)
Lynda.com was an online learning platform offering a vast library of high-quality video courses taught by industry experts. Founded in 1995, the platform was acquired by LinkedIn in 2015, and its courses were integrated into LinkedIn Learning.¹²
LinkedIn Learning courses on a wide range of topics, from software development to photography, design, marketing, and more. You get a one-month free trial of LinkedIn learning. Users can learn at their pace, with access to course materials and exercise files that could be downloaded and saved for later use. The platform also offered certificates of completion for each course, which could be shared on LinkedIn to showcase new skills and knowledge to potential employers.¹³
About Upskill Buzz
There are too many courses and too little time. With this in mind, we are determined to provide a thoughtful and nuanced perspective that helps you choose the right courses, online platforms, and even degree pathways for you. Let’s keep getting better!
At the time of publishing this article, Upskill Buzz was not in any affiliate partnerships with the websites/companies mentioned.