Udemy vs. Coursera

Coursera features elite instructors and degree programs

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E-learning allows you to study virtually any topic from anywhere you can get an internet signal. To meet the increasing demand for e-learning solutions, many companies have launched platforms for students. When you weigh your educational options, be sure to consider classes available, instructor expertise, platform reputation, cost, and other factors that are important to you.

Both Udemy and Coursera offer a vast library of online learning opportunities that can help you learn more about a topic or advance in your profession. But, if you want to learn from instructors from prestigious institutions or pursue your degree, Coursera is a better e-learning option.

Udemy vs. Coursera: Which Should You Choose?

Udemy


Udemy

Udemy

Pros
  • Lifetime access to courses

  • Courses are short

  • Classes for professional and personal skills available

Cons
  • No affiliations with corporations or universities

  • No refunds for subscriptions

  • No live instruction option

Coursera


Coursera

Coursera

Pros
  • Free trial and money-back guarantee available

  • Offers lifetime access to courses

  • Live instruction available with some courses

Cons
  • Some courses are expensive

  • Courses primarily focused career development

  • Complaints about billing and customer service

At a Glance

  Udemy Coursera 
Price Varies Varies
Payment Schedule  One-time payment (subscription method being piloted) One-time payment or subscription
Free Courses  Yes Yes
Course Lengths  At least 30 minutes 4-12 hours
Number of Users  40 million 82 million
Certificate of Completion  Yes, with paid courses Yes
Number of Courses  155,000+ 5,100+
Formats Available  Web-based videos Web-based videos
Lifetime Course Access Available  Yes No

Udemy vs. Coursera: Costs

Both Udemy and Coursera offer free courses. With Udemy, you’ll most likely pay for each course or learning path individually. As of this writing, the company is piloting a subscription model with a limited number of users, so you may be able to purchase a Udemy subscription in the future. 

Course price varies widely on Udemy, as instructors can set their own rates. However, the platform runs periodic promotions, so you may be able to catch a price break when you’re ready to register. 

Udemy offers lifetime access to all courses that you buy so that you can revisit the material at any time. If you’re ever unhappy with an individual class, you can request a refund within 30 days of purchase. The company doesn’t issue refunds on monthly subscriptions, but you can cancel them at any time.

Coursera offers several different ways to learn, each with its own price point:

Learning Method Price 
Courses Starting at $0
Guided Projects  (experiential, hands-on learning)  Starting at $9.99 
Specializations  (collections of courses focused on specific skills) Starting at $39/month 
Professional Certifications  Starting at $39/month 
MasterTrack Certifications (portions of master’s programs where credits earned can be applied to degree requirements) Starting at $2,000 
Degree Programs (bachelor's or master's)  Starting at $9,000

You can purchase Coursera classes individually or buy a subscription to Coursera Plus for $59 per month or $399 per year. Through the subscription, you’ll have unlimited access to more than 3,000 courses, specializations, professional certifications, and Guided Projects. You can also buy a subscription to individual learning programs for $49-$79 per month.

To see if the platform is a good fit for your learning needs, Coursera offers a seven-day free trial if you choose the monthly subscription and a 14-day money-back guarantee if you opt for the annual subscription. You can cancel Coursera Plus at any time. 

Coursera offers financial aid and scholarships for most learning opportunities, so if you need help paying for your studies, check the specific course page for your options.

If you’re unhappy with an individual learning product purchase, you may request a refund within 14 days. Generally, Coursera doesn’t offer refunds on its subscriptions nor does it offer lifetime access to paid courses. Once your payment expires, you’ll only be able to access the free material. 

Udemy vs. Coursera: Certificate Options

Both Udemy and Coursera provide certificates of completion for finishing paid courses. Generally, Coursera certificates will look more impressive on your resume because the company partners with prestigious universities and companies to offer the classes. 

However, the knowledge you gain from either e-learning platform could help you secure a raise or a promotion at work. In fact, based on an internal survey of learners, Coursera reports that 87% of those who used the service for career development achieved their desired career milestone.

Udemy vs. Coursera: Instructors

With Udemy, anyone can host a course on the site. That means it may be tough to tell if the instructor is legitimately a subject matter expert, and quality may vary widely from one class to the next. However, while there are no educational or professional requirements to meet, instructors do have to verify their identity and confirm they have the legal right to publish the content. 

On the other hand, only universities, businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies can currently partner with Coursera to create educational content. Since the platform only features classes from well-regarded entities, it may be easier to trust the quality and accuracy of the information you receive.

Udemy vs. Coursera: Affiliations

Udemy doesn’t seem to have any affiliations with large universities or institutions. However, Coursera partners with household names like Duke University, Stanford University, Google, and IBM.

Udemy vs. Coursera: Available Courses


Both e-learning platforms let you search by subject matter to find the right course of study for you. On Udemy, you can learn both professional and personal skills. Some of the top categories include design, marketing, IT/software, business, music, and personal development.

With Coursera, classes are primarily geared toward furthering your career. Topics include data science, business, computer science, health, engineering, social science, math, and more.

If you’re interested in personal development or want to take lifestyle courses about subjects like gaming, home improvement, and travel, Udemy has a lot to offer. But if your learning needs are more academic or professional, you should check Coursera first.

Udemy vs. Coursera: Course Formats

If you’re into self-study options, Udemy has you covered. But if you want interaction and support, you’ll need to check out Coursera.

All of Udemy’s courses are on-demand, self-paced video lectures. However, if your instructor allows for it, you may be able to send them a direct message. To supplement your learning, the instructor could also include quizzes and notes.

While much of Coursera’s educational content is also pre-recorded and on-demand, the company’s MasterTrack Certifications feature live instruction and team-based learning. Plus, Coursera offers all instructors the option of integrating live Zoom calls into their classes via the Live2Coursera program. Depending on the course of study, other class features may include quizzes, projects, and instructor feedback.

Both online course marketplaces let you learn via your computer or mobile device. Each company offers a mobile app on iOS and Android so that you can learn on the go.

Udemy vs. Coursera: Customer Experience

Many users are pleased with Udemy’s wide selection of affordable courses. However, the company has gotten numerous complaints about users having difficulty accessing their accounts and receiving poor, unresponsive customer service. On the other hand, while many learners are happy with their Coursera experience, the platform has received several complaints about its billing and customer service departments.

Final Verdict

Udemy and Coursera are both well-known online course marketplaces. Each platform allows you to find, purchase, and take classes at your own pace from your computer or mobile device. However, Coursera is a better choice if you’d like to study under experts from elite universities and businesses, dive deep into particular skills via Specializations, or pursue your bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Udemy or Coursera Course Certificates Valuable? 

Udemy and Coursera course certificates can be valuable. While Udemy is not an accredited institution, some employers might like to see position- or industry-relevant classes listed on your resume. 

Some Coursera courses are part of industry certification or college degree programs, and some offer continuing education credits. Because of this, a certificate from Coursera will likely carry more weight with educational institutions and employers.

Is It Worth Paying for Courses on Udemy and Coursera?  

Paying for courses on Udemy and Coursera may be worth it if you get a master’s degree that equals or exceeds the cost. That value could come in the form of a raise or promotion at work or it could come from a sense of personal fulfillment.

How Do MOOCs Work? 

A Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, is a free internet-based class that anyone can take. You can enroll in a MOOC for personal enrichment, to enhance your collegiate studies, or to further your career. Both Udemy and Coursera offer MOOCs to learners.

Methodology

We thoroughly researched Udemy and Coursera, comparing them on course offerings, cost, instructors, affiliations, reputation, and more. After careful review, we determined that Udemy is a better fit if you’re a casual learner seeking to better yourself or fulfill your curiosity. On the other hand, Coursera is the superior choice if you want to earn a degree or industry certification and advance your career.

Article Sources

  1. Trustpilot. "Udemy." Accessed August 6, 2021.

  2. Better Business Bureau. "Udemy." Accessed August 6, 2021.

  3. Better Business Bureau. "Coursera." Accessed August 6, 2021.

  4. Trustpilot. "Coursera." Accessed August 6, 2021.

  5. MOOC.org. "About MOOCs." Accessed August 6, 2021.