Online learning platforms vary, and it may take some research to decide which one is truly the best fit for someone. Two of the most popular and well-known platforms are Coursera and Udemy. In this article, we are going to take a closer look at Coursera vs. Udemy. We review the pros and cons of Udemy and Coursera for anyone considering signing up for an online course.

What Is Udemy?

First, we will take a closer look at Udemy. Udemy started with its online course platform in 2009 and began course offerings in 2010. It is for adult learners who want to expand their resumes or pick up additional skill sets. It is ideal for students who are unable to attend a traditional university or adult learning center. Udemy is not affiliated with specific Universities or Colleges.

Classes are typically a combination of video lectures, PowerPoint presentations, .pdf, and .zip files that contain all the course materials. Users pay for each class individually and work at their own pace to complete the lessons.

Udemy has a massive number of courses in a variety of subject matter. As of 2020, Udemy lists over 150,000 classes available for review and purchase. Like Coursera, they do offer some free courses as well as those requiring payment. While most of their classes are for professionals working toward specific certifications, Udemy courses do not provide accreditations or professional certification. Most classes teach a particular skill but aren’t part of a full certification path like seen with Coursera.

Udemy offers classes in almost any subject matter imaginable. They work with over 57,000 instructors in over 65 different languages. Udemy courses focus on making material available for professional development and personal enrichment to learn new hobbies and talents. Many of the courses they teach are short-term classes to teach a specific skill, such as computer science, playing the guitar, or basic photography.

However, they also have classes that teach subject matter to help build a resume, improve your current professional skills, and learn new ones. They offer classes teaching necessary coding and website building, digital marketing, and business writing.

Udemy Instructors and Features

Not all instructors work for a university. The quality of different classes can vary widely. Anyone who has a skill can create courses. Udemy is a great place to learn about a variety of subject matters. But some classes will offer much more in terms of materials and study aids.

Udemy courses do not have graded assignments or quizzes. It is up to the participant to ensure that they understand the material. They offer discussion boards to connect with their instructors and other students to ask questions and talk about the course material.

Udemy offers a massive library of courses available to help teach learners new skills in a non-academic sense. They offer classes in yoga, photography, music, karate, acting, among many others. For someone looking for a quick and fun way to learn new skills without a substantial monetary commitment, Udemy courses are excellent alternatives to formal classes. Udemy courses can help you feel for a new skill or subject and decide if you wish to pursue it further.

Udemy Pros and Cons

As with Coursera, the pros and cons of Udemy courses are what actual students have said about the online learning platform. The most common pros and cons are listed below.

Udemy Pros

  • Students can take courses at a time when it is convenient for them.
  • Students can choose to work quickly or slowly, with no time frames required to adhere.
  • Classes are available in almost any imaginable subject matter.
  • Udemy has a range of courses for free.
  • The courses are at reasonable fees and have no significant commitments.
  • Classes are available in over 65 languages.

Udemy Cons

  • No formal assessment process to determine how well students learned the material.
  • The quality of the classes can vary widely, as anyone can create a course.
  • There is no formal accreditation for the vast majority of classes.
  • Classes are mainly individual rather than series. Hard to find a clear learning pathway

As we will see with Coursera, the users of Udemy are mostly positive about their experience. The majority of people who have taken classes with Udemy are confident that they could learn a new skill, improve their resume, or build on their previous knowledge.

What Is Coursera?

Next, we will take a closer look at Coursera. Two professors from Stanford University founded Coursera in 2012. Their focus was to provide high-quality education on a platform that could reach a wider audience. Princeton, Michigan, Stanford, and the University of Pennsylvania were the first universities to offer content and coursework on the Coursera platform. It allowed individuals to learn from top Universities in the United States.

Coursera offers many classes to enhance your life and well-being. A good example is The Science of Well-Being. This is a course originally from Yale University with one of their instructors as a teacher.

Coursera also offers stand-alone certification classes that teach a specific skill, such as Time Management for Personal and Professional Productivity or Successful Negotiation. They also have Guided Projects, which are short classes, typically under 2 hours, that drill down onto a specific skill, such as Spreadsheets for Beginners using Google Sheets. Participants receive certifications for completing Guided Projects as well.

As Coursera continued to evolve and expand its offerings, they developed Specializations. Specializations are a series of courses that focus on creating a particular skill. They typically have between 3 – 6 classes that provide a comprehensive understanding of specific subject matter. They are an excellent choice for someone who may want to add a skill to their resume. Students can increase their knowledge base, get a professional certification in a particular area, and strengthen their overall employability.

Coursera Courses

The University of Michigan sponsors this series of classes. One of their professors teaches the online courses, and in many ways, follows the traditional learning process. The classes include lectures, assigned reading and videos, practice quizzes, graded assignments, quizzes, and graded programming. Participants receive certifications for every Coursera course they complete. By completing all five, the students should have a good understanding of programming using Python.

Specialization courses typically take several months to complete. The students are billed every month, usually between $49 – $60 per month, while completing the classes. Financial support is available if a student can prove need.

In 2018, Coursera began to offer degree programs at both a Master’s and a Bachelor’s level. Currently, Coursera provides a variety of accredited programs through different universities and colleges around the world. Students pay for programs on a course-by-course basis. As with Specializations, financial aid is available for students interested in pursuing a degree program. There are also scholarship programs available for Coursera degree programs as well.

Coursera Pro and Cons

To understand what people like and don’t like about Coursera’s platform, we reviewed feedback from students who have used Coursera. The most commonly listed Pros and Cons are below:

Coursera Pros

  • Coursera partnered with top universities around the world.
  • The classes are all heavily vetted and are high-quality courses.
  • Students have a flexible schedule. They can watch lectures and do classwork on your timeline.
  • Coursera offers programs to suit anyone – single classes, Specializations, and Degree programs.
  • The classwork includes assignments and quizzes to ensure an understanding of the materials.
  • A peer-review process assesses all class assignments through an official rubric.
  • Students can receive certifications for all classes.
  • They offer great Financial Aid.
  • The Coursera courses are relatively low-cost to get started. Several courses are free.

Coursera Cons

  • Some online courses are only available on specific dates/time-frames, so students can miss out if they don’t sign up in time.
  • Due to large class enrollment, assignments are graded by peer review, with some inconsistency in feedback.
  • Free class offerings have diminished significantly and are often used to “sell” the advanced classes requiring payment.
  • Online degrees lean heavily on IT and machine learning. They need more variety in programs available.
  • Coursera has limited support for technical/software issues.

The Coursera student population rates Coursera quite positively. Coursera is an excellent alternative to traditional university programs. The program is perfect for individuals who want to expand their knowledge base, receive professional certifications, learn a new skill, or even complete a degree program.

Coursera vs. Udemy – Which One Is Best for You?

When we look at both platforms and compare Udemy vs. Coursera, there truly is no “winner” for one program being better than the other. It depends on what the learner prefers and what they are trying to accomplish.

For someone willing to make a more significant time commitment, looking for a professional program with a clear learning path, or seeking a professional accreditation, Coursera is the clear winner.

For someone interested in learning about a new subject but does not want to make a substantial financial or time commitment until they are sure they want to progress further, Udemy courses would be the way to go.

In comparing Udemy vs. Coursera online learning styles, for individuals who prefer or need structure and weekly goals to stay focused and engaged, or for those who prefer a more academic approach, Coursera would probably work best.

For people who want to learn at their own pace and don’t want the pressure of assessments or tests, or those who want a more casual or fun learning environment, a Udemy course would be a perfect choice.

When looking at Udemy vs. Coursera, they both have strengths and weaknesses. None of which are expressly good or bad. The purpose of each platform is to meet different goals. What may be relevant to one program may not be as large a concern to the other. Thus, deciding which program is best truly depends on the student’s individual goals.

Udemy Strengths

All courses are affordable to anyone. Udemy does a fantastic job of keeping costs low. Their courses can run between $50-$200 but are often at a discount. It is not unusual to see classes offered at $15 instead of the regular $60 price. Udemy also has a large number of free courses available.

Udemy users like to have the flexibility to study at any time. Once you purchase a Udemy course, it includes lifetime access. There are no specific dates or time commitments. Learners are genuinely working at their own pace in the most fundamental sense. If you can not complete the lesson as planned, you will have the ability to finish the course later.

Udemy has a huge class library. Most likely, for students looking to learn about a specific topic, Udemy will have a class on it. With over 150,000 online classes to pick up a new skill.

Udemy Weaknesses

Udemy lacks accreditation. While many online classes may teach everything a student would need to get the formal certification, Udemy does not provide accreditation. For many courses, this is not a concern. But in some areas and some professions, accreditation is vital.

The quality varies by course. The idea behind Udemy was to have a massive library of classes to choose from. Although Udemy offers a wide range of courses, not all courses are of high quality.  Fifty-seven thousand instructors designed the curses, which are not all qualified for the job as anyone can create a Udemy course. Therefore there will be some classes that are not high quality. It is essential to read specific reviews when deciding on a course.

Coursera Strengths

The courses are very academic and heavily curated for individuals wanting an actual educational experience with top-rate professors. Students learn in an environment that has a degree of structure. They find weekly assignments, as well as exams and assessments.

Students will receive professional accreditations—ideal for learners who want or need specific certifications. Coursera offers a lot. With their Specialization programs, students can gain valuable certification in much less time than with a traditional degree program.

Users find clear learning pathways. With their degree courses, Specialization, and guided projects, Coursera gives learners a complete outline of the process. The steps to take to complete the chosen program are apparent.

Coursera Weaknesses

The time commitment can be a problem for some users. Most of the programs have specific sign-up dates. Although their focus is that students can learn on their own time. There are weekly requirements for the student to complete. For people who want to work faster or slower, Coursera courses may not be the best fit. Most of the classes require a commitment for a specific time frame.

Coursera certainly offers free classes; however, their Specialization programs have a monthly payment requirement (typically $30-$60). Whether required for a degree or stand-alone, the individual courses also require a financial commitment (usually $30-$100 per course).

Summary Coursera vs. Udemy

Market experts estimate that by 2025, learning online will be a $319 billion industry. Most people are familiar with online courses offered by traditional schools, universities, or online course services like iTalki, which provide one-on-one tuitions to learn a language online. As the online education industry expands, we see online course services’ growth with MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). These are individual courses open to anyone over the world. MOOCs are an excellent option for individuals who want to sharpen their skills, learn new skills, or obtain additional training but are not necessarily interested in a 2- or 4-year degree program.

Which one is better, Udemy or Coursera?

In reviewing both Udemy vs. Coursera, both programs have been very successful, as shown by the high approval rates each has from their respective students. Coursera and Udemy are both designed for adult students looking to learn something new, but that is really where their similarity ends. Udemy and Coursera courses each have a specific niche within the marketplace.

Deciding which option is the best between Udemy vs. Coursera depends on the student’s learning style, time and monetary commitment, and ultimate goal. Udemy and Coursera courses have their place in the adult education industry.