Are edX Certificates Worth it? - Online Course How

Are edX Certificates Worth it?

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There are so many different online platforms that can help you to learn a new subject. This concept is often called “e-learning,” and it has witnessed a huge boom in popularity over the last few years.

However, the market is saturated with so many different companies, that it can be overwhelming and time-consuming to find the right one for you. 

EdX is a strong choice, as it’s the most popular e-learning platform out there. It was created by quite the super-group- MIT and Harvard and offers over 300 courses from 140 different institutions.

Not only is EdX the spawn of geniuses, but it’s not-for-profit, too. It’s easy to see why over 25 million people worldwide have chosen EdX as their e-learning platform.

So, is an edX certificate worth it?

There are a few things that you will need to consider before purchasing access to edX courses. In this article, we’ll take a look at edX in detail and evaluate how it measures up compared to other platforms.

By delving into the pros and cons of edX, you can make an informed decision before making a hasty purchase.

Cost and Value for Money

Unlike many other e-learning platforms, EdX does not offer a subscription service. Some online course platforms allow you to pay an annual fee, which grants you free and unlimited access to lots of different courses and resources that you can make use of as much as you want for a whole year.

However, this annual fee is usually a hefty lump-sum that you have to fork out before you even know whether or not you like the service. 

EdX eliminates this potential wasting of money, by offering users a completely free option. That’s right- it costs zero. Zilch. Using EdX solely as an educational tool won’t cost you a thing, as users who register get free access to many online courses.

However, there is a catch- if you want a certificate to prove to future employers and institutions that you actually did complete the EdX course, you’ll have to pay for it.

So, if you’re just looking to gain more knowledge, EdX is the perfect platform to give different courses and subjects a whirl. However, Verification Certificates can range from between 20-300 USD, depending entirely on what course you choose and which institution is providing it. 

While Verification Certificates are fairly affordable, EdX courses can get pretty pricey- which is to be expected from a platform that is founded by two of the most prestigious schools in the world. EdX’s MicroBatchelors programs are their most popular. These tend to cost more than regular courses, as they’re more in-depth and usually instructor-led.

Typically, EdX MicroBatchelors programs range from 300 – 700+ USD. They also offer a specific X-Series range of programs, and these usually cost a few hundred dollars. However, the price of these programs can vary dramatically depending on subject choice and institution. 

The most expensive kind of course you’ll find on EdX is their Master’s Degree program. This allows you to work towards a real, recognized Master’s Degree online. There are only a few limited subjects on offer with this program, and the price can vary anywhere from 9,000 – 25,000 USD, depending on subject choice and institution.

Although this may seem like a lot of money, it’s far more affordable than obtaining an on-campus master’s degree, which can often range from 40,000 – 60, 000 USD per course. If EdX doesn’t offer a master’s degree in the subject you’re looking for, you can complete a request form on their website, and they may add that subject in the future.

Can I apply for financial assistance to pay for EdX?

If you can’t afford to pay the full price of your chosen course, you may be eligible for financial aid. To apply, you just need to enroll in the audit track of the course and complete the financial aid application on the EdX website. We glanced over it, it looks pretty straightforward.

Your application will be reviewed within 4 days, and you’ll receive an email letting you know whether or not you qualify for financial assistance.

If you do, you’ll be sent a financial aid code that you will need to apply to the payment form. Most EdX courses and programs are eligible for financial aid up to 90% of the total cost, and you can get approved for assistance up to 5 times each year!

About EdX – How Does it Work?

In a nutshell, EdX is an online education provider that offers online courses, commonly known as MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses, from top universities and institutions all around the world. 

EdX Courses

Their courses consist of pre-recorded video lectures that you can watch on a weekly schedule, usually just a couple of hours every week.

Alternatively, if you have other responsibilities such as a job or a family, you can work on these courses whenever it’s convenient for you. EdX courses consist of online classes and readings, student discussion forums, homework/weekly assignments, and online quizzes and exams. These courses are considered entry-level and they provide great core knowledge for beginners in any subject.

They can last anywhere from just a few weeks to a few months, to even over a year. With EdX courses, you’re in control of the pace of your learning. At the end of a course, you’ll be given the opportunity to purchase a verified certificate, which needs to be purchased. 


EdX currently offers access to 59 different MicroMasters programs. These range from graduate-level courses which enable you to reach your specific career goals through in-depth learning.

Most of the MicroMasters programs will take between 1 – 2 years to complete, and afterward, you’ll be eligible to apply for a full Master’s program.

If you manage to get accepted into an online program, you’ll be able to use your MicroMasters credit toward your degree. Please note that usually credit is only granted by the university that offers the MicroMasters program you are undertaking. 


EdX MicroBachelors programs are a new concept, and they only become available this year. This is why they’re pretty limited at the moment, with only five different MicroBachelors programs available: Marketing Essentials, Computer Science Fundamentals, Information Technology Career Framework, Elements of Data Science, and Professional Writing.

These MicroBachelors programs can take anywhere from 3 – 6 months to complete. At the end of the program, you’ll receive transferable college credits. Fortunately, there is no application system for EdX MicroBachelors programs, so anyone can enroll.

These programs are self-paced and you can take your time. However, there is around-the-clock personal coaching available to help you stay on track. 

Professional Certificate 

These are made for those who are already working in their desired field but wish to enhance their skills and improve their subject knowledge in order to grow their careers.

Once again, these programs can be completed at your own pace, when you feel like you can squeeze in the time to study.

They usually last between 3 – 6 months, depending on your subject choice. Prices of professional certifications can vary dramatically. 


These programs are curated by the leading universities worldwide and offer in-depth exploration of specific topics. You’ll earn a certificate by enrolling in the verified track and by passing each of these courses.

These are also self-paced programs, so there’s no pressure to get it completed in a certain amount of time. XSeries courses are led by professors from MIT and Harvard. 

Master’s Degree

Possibly the most appealing aspect of using EdX is the fact that you can earn a legitimate Master’s degree from a top university, without even leaving the comfort of your home.

These Master’s degrees are not ‘online alternatives’ but are just as recognized as regular on-campus Master’s degrees. Because of this, each program will have its own application requirements. If you’re curious, these are all listed on the EdX website.

They’re typically much cheaper than on-campus degrees, and they can be completed while working full-time or completing other higher education courses. EdX currently only offers Master’s degrees in 12 different subjects, but there are rumors of more subjects being added in the near future.

A Master’s Degree will typically take 1 ½ – 3 years to complete, depending on subject choice and institution. 

The benefits of an EdX Certificate 

When completing a course on EdX, you’ll need to consider whether or not you intend to purchase a verified certificate at the end of your course. There are many different benefits of buying this EdX certificate, some of which include:

  • The most obvious benefit of an EdX certificate is that upon completion, you will have a lifelong asset that shows any future employers that you have acquired a particular skill or knowledge set. 
  • Not only does this show potential employers that you have a lot of knowledge, but it also demonstrates that you are a self-directed learner who is intrinsically motivated.
  • The value of your certificate will often depend on how prestigious the university is and how difficult it is to get accepted. Certificates obtained from prestigious institutions will be very eye-catching to future employers, providing that the subject is relevant to the role. 
  • A verified certificate is truly good for one’s esteem. But it’s important to remember the real joy comes whenever one has completed the course, paid or not.
  • If you complete an EdX course and choose not to purchase the verified certificate,  you might know that you’ve learned something, others don’t. If you’re keen on sharing your accomplishments with prospective employers, college admissions staff, or others who are in a role to judge you based on your qualifications and merits, linking to or printing out a certificate might be the easiest way to do so.

Who should get an EdX certificate?

EdX is a great e-learning tool for anyone who is looking to study something new or advance their knowledge and skillset in a specific field of study.

If you know what sort of career path you plan to go down, EdX is a great way to prepare yourself for the world of work in this chosen subject. Knowledge is power, and EdX can provide you with a vast amount of it, from the comfort of your own home. 

Those who have busy lives with full-time jobs or children to look after really reap the benefits of an EdX course. Most EdX certificates and courses are self-paced, so the user can choose to only work towards it during evenings, weekends, or whenever they please. 

What’re the alternatives?

If you’re only interested in taking a course in one or two particular subjects, then EdX is a strong choice, as you simply pay for what you use.

However, if you want to explore lots of different courses in a wild range of subjects, you’ll probably be better off exploring e-learning platforms that offer complete access to all courses for a fixed fee.

Coursera Plus is a great alternative. It enhances your resume as it is a well-organized and regarded online learning platform.

You can also include sections from education, courses, and certifications in your resume after searching for what hiring managers must be looking for. If this sounds more up your street, Coursera Plus is a great choice. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do employers care about edX certificates?

Certificates by edX are, as a general rule, held in great esteem and value by employers.

This is because it is the most popular e-learning platform, with partnered universities and prestigious institutions that give credibility to the skill sets developed and taught by the courses on this platform.

Upon completion of an edX course, you get the option to pay for a verified certificate of the course, and this is what is recommended if you want possible employers to care about the course in any way.

This verified certificate can add a lot of value to the skills and qualifications you are claiming to have for the possible job in question, and they are verified by prestigious institutions that make it official and recognized. 

So essentially, the answer is yes. Employers do care about edX certificates, and purchasing a verified certificate at the end of your edX course is well worth it so that you have the official accreditation and recognition. 

Do edX certificates look good on resumes?

When it comes to your resume, making it look good is all about catering to the job you are applying for, and showcasing all of the significant qualifications, skills, and experience.

It is recommended that you include as much information as you can, so long as it is relevant and so long as it helps your chances of getting hired. 

The edX certificates that you have, and that are relevant to the skills and qualifications required for the job you have in mind, should absolutely be included in your resume.

They will look good not only as proof of having a certain level of expertise in the desired area but also because they show that you have taken the time to develop those skills and qualifications. 

An edX certificate will also show your possible employer that you have had the drive to develop those skills independently and that you have managed to organize yourself in a way that has allowed you to complete the course remotely and achieve the final certificate.

Essentially, it shows that you don’t just sit around and wait for jobs to fall from the sky, you go out and you actively improve yourself and your resume to increase your chances of getting hired, and this is something that employers value very heavily. 

Is HarvardX the same as Harvard?

The edX online learning platform was created by Harvard and MIT, and within the platform, there is a branch of specific courses, which pertain specifically to Harvard. This is what is known as HarvardX. 

Technically, HarvardX is not the same as Harvard, but it is a branch within edX that essentially represents Harvard, and that offers courses that will then be officially accredited by Harvard University.

So it is slightly different from the university itself, but the end result will provide you with an official certificate that is approved and sealed by Harvard University, which is pretty significant! 

All of the courses on HarvardX are completely free of charge, and upon completion, you have the option to purchase a verified certificate in order to have official proof of the skills or qualifications acquired. 

There is also HarvardX Plus, which is a program within HarvardX that does require a fee of enrollment, unlike the rest. 

Do universities accept edX certificates?

Most edX certificates that the online platform offers, do not actually award any academic credit that might be accepted by universities.

Instead, most of the online courses are aimed towards professional skill sets that will help increase your chances to get hired by employers, and they help develop certain levels of qualification or areas of expertise. 

However, there are some edX courses that will award certificates with a certain amount of academic credit, which could possibly be transferable and accepted within a university. 

Harvard University, which is the founder of edX courses, will almost always accept any edX certificates with academic credit, especially as Harvard has its own branch of officially Harvard accredited courses within the platform. 

However, other universities might accept, or might not accept edX courses. It depends on the university, and on whether they consider the academic credits awarded in the edX course to be of value regarding the actual University degree.

You will have to check for each University policy and ask them directly. 

Do edX certificates expire?

Once you have completed an edX course, and you have downloaded or purchased your certificate, it will last forever. None of the edX certificates have an expiry date, and they will continue to be valid in the foreseeable future, without any issues whatsoever. 

This is because the certificate is essentially just proof that you have completed a course, and therefore developed those skills or qualifications in some way. It is proof of completion, and nothing can take that away from you. 

However, it is sometimes worth keeping in touch with edX, even years down the road, just in case there are any significant changes to the course or to the accreditation so that you can remain informed and know exactly what significance the certificate that you have holds. 

Is edX a Chinese company?

The answer to this is no, edX is not a Chinese company. And although edX can be used in China, a lot of the courses and content are actually blocked in most Chinese provinces, making the online platform pretty inaccessible. 

Instead, edX is actually American. It was created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (the MIT), and Harvard University, back in 2012. It is a non-profit organization, and as of 2021, the company has been bought by 2U, which is the current owner. 

However, despite being American, the company operates mostly on a worldwide basis, with instructors and teachers from over 196 different countries, and with the platform being multilingual and full of diverse courses and institutions. 

Can I pay for the edX certificate later?

Almost all of the courses on edX are completely free of charge, and the only cost is the purchase of a verified certificate if you desire to obtain it. 

It is completely possible to begin the course for free and to switch to the verified certificate later on, as well as having the option of purchasing the verified certificate after completing the course.

However, every course will have its own deadline before which the verification has to be purchased, or else you will no longer be able to obtain an official and verified certificate. You can check this date by looking up the Verification Upgrade Deadline for each course.

Does the edX certificate show a grade?

The answer to this is no. All of the edX certificates are proof of having completed the course in question with a passing grade, but they do not showcase or indicate what your exact grade or mark for the course is. 

If you need to check your grade, you can find this within the progress tab, online. But your edX certificate, even if verified, will not include the grade achieved. After all, the certificate is just there to prove that the course has been completed successfully. 


While an EdX course can help you to expand your knowledge of a specific subject, only an EdX verified certificate can prove to future employers, and yourself, that you have completed the course.

EdX is probably the best e-learning platform for those who already have a job in their chosen field, and want to expand their knowledge and gain role-specific skills in order to bag their dream profession.

Overall, we highly recommend checking out EdX courses and certificates if you already have an idea of what you want to learn about.

If you can afford to, always consider purchasing a verified certificate after you complete an online course, as they’re becoming more and more popular and recognized in the working world. 

About the Author Jacob M.

Jacob has a background in finance and engineering. Outside of his day job, he is a lifelong learner, who enjoys reading, taking online courses, and writing about what he's learned.

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