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Through e-learning, you can take classes on the internet when and where it's convenient for you. And, since the industry is booming, you’ve got a lot of online course marketplace options. As you evaluate your choices, be sure to consider each platform’s course library, reputation, special features, and price.
We took a close look at edX and Coursera, two popular e-learning marketplaces. The platforms are evenly matched in terms of learning options, instructor quality, affordability, and other features. Both companies can help you achieve your learning goals, but Coursera has a slight edge with its reputation and library of courses.
EdX vs. Coursera
At a Glance
|Price||Prices start at $50||Prices vary widely depending on course, Specialization, certificate, or degree program|
|Payment Schedule||One-time payment||One-time payment and subscription|
|Course Lengths||Generally 8-12 weeks||Varies from hours to years|
|Number of Users||35+ million||82 million|
|Certificate of Completion||With paid courses||With paid and some free courses|
|Number of Courses||3,000+||4,800+|
|Formats Available||Pre-recorded videos accessible on desktop or mobile||Pre-recorded videos accessible on desktop or mobile|
|Lifetime Course Access Available||Yes, with the verified track||No|
EdX vs. Coursera: Costs
EdX lets you audit some of its courses for free but, if you want to earn a certificate (known as the verified track), you’ll have to pay a fee (typically between $50-$300). If you take a course on a verified track, you’ll also have lifetime access to the archived course material.
In addition, edX offers packages of graduate-level courses through its MicroMasters program. Each package in the program targets a specific skill that can help you advance in your career. Since universities teach the classes, you may be able to apply the credits you earn to a Master’s degree program. The cost of each package varies. And if you haven’t finished your undergraduate degree yet, you can check out the similar MicroBachelor’s program.
EdX’s offerings require a one-time payment. If you can’t afford to enroll, you can apply for financial aid to defray the cost.
If you’re not satisfied with a verified track purchase, you can request a refund within 14 days of the sale or 14 days after the course starts—whichever comes later. You’re ineligible for a refund after you’ve earned a certificate.
Coursera offers several learning options at varying price points:
Coursera also offers a subscription-based program called Coursera Plus. You can choose one of three options:
- Access to a single course or Specialization for $49-$79 per month
- Monthly access to a broader course catalog for $59 per month
- Annual access to a broader course catalog for $399 per year
Like edX, you can view some course material at no cost. Plus, some free courses include certificates of completion.
If you can’t afford to register for a paid learning experience, you may be able to get financial aid to help cover your tuition. In addition, you may be eligible for promotional discounts. You can check for cost-saving opportunities by logging into your Coursera account and navigating to “Promotions” (under “My Purchases”) from the drop-down menu next to your picture.
It’s unclear whether Coursera offers lifetime access to individually-purchased courses. However, the company states that you can only access material within a Specialization subscription while your subscription is active.
Coursera’s refund policy varies depending on what learning product you buy. But, in many cases, you can request your money back within two weeks of purchase. However, the company won’t refund Guided Project purchases or give partial refunds for canceled subscriptions. Therefore, it’s a good idea to review the specific refund policy details of the product you’re interested in before buying it.
EdX vs. Coursera: Certificate Options
EdX offers two different kinds of certificates:
- Verified certificate when you complete an individual course
- Program certificate when you finish a series of related courses
Both types of certificates could enhance your marketability and help you land a promotion or a higher-paying job at a new company. Which one you select depends on how in-depth you’d like to go into a particular subject.
Coursera also offers certificates of completion for individual courses. Plus, you can earn professional certificates for finishing a cluster of classes designed to help you enter a new field. Some professional certificate programs can also help you earn industry-recognized credentials.
EdX vs. Coursera: Instructors
Some edX instructors are from a member university and generally have an advanced degree. Others are organizational leaders.
Similarly, Coursera lecturers could be college professors or industry experts. Since both platforms feature instructors with deep expertise, any certificate you earn will likely carry more weight than one you receive from a marketplace where anyone can teach.
EdX vs. Coursera: Affiliations
EdX is affiliated with more than 160 member universities including MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, the University of Texas, Boston University, Georgetown, and Hong Kong Polytechnic.
In addition to the courses and programs already mentioned, you can also earn a Master’s degree through edX. Areas of study include IT, accounting, cybersecurity, engineering, and more. Prices for these programs start at $9,920.
Coursera is affiliated with 200+ universities and organizations such as Yale, Duke University, IBM, and Google. On top of the other learning experiences discussed, you can also earn your bachelor’s or master’s degree through the platform. Degree programs start at $9,000 and focus on disciplines such as data science, computer science, business, public health, and more.
EdX vs. Coursera: Available Courses
Both edX and Coursera offer several different learning options. You can take an individual class or commit to a longer course of study—all the way up to earning a new degree.
Each platform also features a robust course catalog. You can learn about nearly any academic or career-related subject. Through Coursera, you can study business, data science, language, health, social science, engineering, math, art, and more. EdX offers courses in architecture, art, business, science, design, finance, history, literature, medicine, and other disciplines.
Plus, both platforms offer some general personal development classes about topics like parenting. You can even take classes about beer and wine through edX.
EdX vs. Coursera: Course Formats
All edX courses consist of pre-recorded videos, which means you can study when it’s convenient for you. You can access course content on your desktop or mobile device.
While you can digest the material at your leisure, many edX classes are instructor-paced and must get completed within a specific timeframe, often 8-12 weeks. You can also expect due dates for assignments and tests. To interact with your instructor, you’ll need to post a message within the course’s discussion forum.
Like edX, Coursera’s classes are comprised of on-demand video lectures. You can consume the content on your schedule from your desktop or mobile device. But, while your learning will be self-paced, you’ll still have to submit assignments and take assessments.
Plus, some courses may include assignment peer reviews from your classmates. If you need more feedback on your work or want to interact with other learners, you can create a post on the course’s discussion board.
EdX vs. Coursera: Customer Experience
EdX has a largely favorable reputation, with many customers praising its engaging classes and professional customer service. However, some users have complained about a lack of academic rigor in the coursework and getting spammed with promotional content.
Coursera also boasts many satisfied learners. Customers have praised the e-learning marketplace for its fair prices, extensive course library, and positive impact on their careers. However, some users have complained about poor course material, difficulty contacting customer service, and other issues.
Are EdX or Coursera Course Certificates Valuable?
Both edX and Coursera course certificates can be valuable. Many courses are affiliated with a major university, so certificates are worth listing on your resume. Plus, some paths of study lead to college degrees or an industry-respected credential. The classes can also help you learn new skills which could help you earn more money or advance in your career.
Are EdX and Coursera Certificates Worth the Cost?
EdX and Coursera certificates may be worth the cost if earning one helps you secure a promotion, land a higher-paying job, or feel a sense of fulfillment. But, ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself if the investment of time and money was a smart move.
Do EdX or Coursera Offer Financial Aid?
Both edX and Coursera offer financial aid if you can’t afford to pursue a course of study. To obtain financial aid through edX, you must apply and prove economic hardship. If your application gets approved, the company will reduce your verified track fee by 90%. Please note, however, that not all edX MicroMasters programs qualify for this assistance.
Coursera also requires you to fill out an application to receive financial aid. You’ll have to provide information about your career aspirations, educational history, and financial situation. If your application gets approved, Coursera will automatically enroll you in your course of choice.
EdX and Coursera are two of the top e-learning marketplaces in the industry. After a thorough review, we concluded that both platforms are evenly matched across all points of comparison. That means taking a course from either option could help you achieve your learning and professional objectives. To find the best match for your specific goals, we encourage you to review the classes offered on both websites before committing to one.
We carefully compared e-learning platforms edX and Coursera on courses offered, instructor quality, price, reputation, and other criteria. We reviewed each company’s website, including the fine print, to ensure no detail was missed. We also read through many third-party and student reviews looking for trends in customer experience and opinion.