Are you looking for a more formal online education that will look good on your resume or CV as well?
Both Udacity and Coursera are good options, but you're probably wondering what's the difference between them and which one is the best for you?
In this guide, I'll answer that question and give you the low down on all the key details to help you make your choice.
What are the main differences between Udacity vs Coursera?
Coursera offers a slightly more broad range of topics to choose from, while Udacity is more focused on technology-related topics. Coursera offers individual courses, specializations, and degree programs. While Udacity focuses on individual courses and nanodegrees.
Below, I will carry out a side-by-side comparison and review of both of these online course providers based on cost, time commitment, instructors, and other criteria to see which one comes out on top.
Nanodegree programs starts at $399 each
Out of these two sites for online education, Coursera definitely has the largest variety of courses available, but Udacity's courses have a greater focus on learning specific skills.
Coursera works closely with several well-known universities to deliver high-quality courses. It offers individual courses, as well as specializations.
A specialization is a group of courses designed to help you improve on a particular skill. It also offers some full accredited degree programs.
If you're looking for free or low-cost courses, Coursera is a great choice. For their more expensive programs, they even offer financial aid in some cases.
Coursera really covers the whole spectrum of online learning. Some of their courses are self-paced or on-demand, while others are timed courses with a specific start and end date.
Individual courses typically range between four and twelve weeks, and a specialization track will usually take several months to complete.
Most Coursera courses can be audited for free, and you'll only need to pay if you want to receive a certificate of completion at the end, or in some cases to take part in-class projects and quizzes.
Something unique that Coursera offers are peer assessments. It has been shown that having your work reviewed by peers can often be more insightful than simply completing computer-scored tests.
Udacity's course selection is also decent, although it tends to specialize more in the areas of computer science and programming.
Many of their courses are free, but they also offer some paid courses that include verified certificates, as well as instructor feedback and coaching.
Some of their programs are created by partnering with universities, but they also have their own set of programs called nanodegrees.
For Udacity's paid courses, the cost typically is higher than what you'd pay on Coursera or similar platforms like edX. Free course offerings are more likely to be self-paced and lack a sense of community.
Where Coursera is a bit more academic, Udacity tends to be more skills-based.
It offers professionals the hands-on knowledge and technical skills they need for things like computer programming, self-driving cars, and web development.
2. Udacity vs Coursera Costs
Coursera and Udacity both offer a lot of great value for free.
So it's worth signing up on both platforms just to see what they offer when it comes to the subject that you're interested in learning about.
On Coursera, individual courses typically range from being free to around $100 if you're wanting to pay for a verified certificate.
One big downside to Coursera is that pricing isn't immediately available.
To see what a course will cost, you'll need to make an account and click the "enroll" button on a course to see the associated fees.
This makes it a bit annoying to compare prices against courses on other platforms.
You can also take specializations through Coursera, which are groups of individual more in-depth courses.
Expect to pay between $40 and $80 per month to take part in a specialization program, and to spend about 4 to 6 months of time to complete it.
Finally, Coursera offers university-recognized online degrees which cost anywhere between $15,000 and $25,000, depending on the program.
Some of their most popular degrees include computer science, data science, and business.
Admission is required to register for these degree programs, although some financial aid is also available in some cases to help cover part of the costs.
Udacity offers nanodegree programs, which typically consist of between 5 and 6 courses, and take 6 to 12 months to complete.
These nanodegrees have increased dramatically in price since they were first created. It used to be that $199 per month was the norm.
But nowadays, expect to pay $499 per month for most of Udacity's nanodegree programs.
Nanodegrees come with a lot of perks including a personal coach, feedback and review of your work, and a verified certificate at the end. Some nanodegrees also offer a job guarantee and tuition reimbursement.
Doing a side-by-side comparison of Udacity's nanodegrees and Coursera's specializations paths, it's a bit hard to justify paying $499 per month instead of $40.
Both platforms offer fairly similar in terms of course content and depth. You certainly aren't getting 10x the value from Udacity.
3. Subjects/Topics Taught
While Udacity has a wide range of topics available, they're best known for their focus on technology. Some of their most popular programs include:
Coursera has a more broad range of topics. Courses typically follow more of a university or college style structure than Udacity, since they are developed by professors and other professionals from academic institutions.
Some major topics covered on Coursera include:
So outside of tech-related topics, Coursera generally seems like it has the best selection and coverage in terms of courses.
4. Course Examples
Above we listed some broad categories. But perhaps you're more interested in specific examples of courses from each platform?
Here are a handful of courses from each to give you some ideas.
5. Who Are The Instructors?
Your average instructor on either Coursera or Udacity is likely to have some pretty impressive credentials.
Udacity focuses more on experienced professionals from big companies like Amazon, Facebook, YouTube, and Google.
Your instructor may be a data scientist who works at IBM, or the president of a company if you're learning about business
On Coursera, instructors appear to be chosen a lot more based on their academic credentials, rather than work experience.
Many Coursera instructors are also professors at world-famous universities or have a Ph.D. in their field of expertise.
This is a lot different than some smaller and more casual learning platforms, where sometimes you don't really have a clear idea of who your instructor is or what their credentials are.
On either Coursera or Udacity, you know you're getting instructors that are experts in their field and can deliver high-quality information to you.
6. Accreditation & Certificates (How Do Udacity or Coursera Look On Your Resume?)
In terms of accreditation, Coursera's degree programs offer the best-looking credentials for your resume by far.
But at a cost of $15,000 to $25,000 for a Coursera degree, it's questionable whether it wouldn't be better to just attend university in person full-time instead.
Both specializations from Coursera and nanodegrees from Udacity would likely look similar to your resume or CV.
Udacity's nanodegrees look a bit better on your resume if you're in the tech industry.
Specifically, some major silicon valley companies look to hire Udacity nanodegree graduates.
Particularly the partner companies that Udacity works with like AT&T, Facebook, and Google.
Most of Udacity's nanodegree programs are not accredited. However, it's worth noting some that are.
Specifically the Master's Degree in Computer Science, which they offer in partnership with Georgia Tech.
In other fields such as business, it's more difficult to say how a prospective employer would view either Coursera or Udacity certificates on your resume.
However, they are likely to look more impressive than certifications from other online learning platforms like Udemy or Skillshare, since they are backed by partnerships with universities and other educational institutions.
7. Time Commitment
Udacity nanodegrees take months to complete. They might take hundreds of hours to complete in some cases.
The study material is quite in-depth, so expect an academic education similar to what you'd get from a university.
For a beginner, some course material on Udacity may be difficult to understand without any existing background in some cases.
You may need specific requirements or skills before starting a course, or you could run into difficulty.
Even if you're experienced in your field, some of the more deep concepts may still be challenging.
Coursera courses also take a significant amount of time to finish. But they typically aren't nearly as long as those offered on Udacity.
You can finish most Coursera courses within a few weeks or months. Specializations typically take months. And degree programs go quite deep into details and will take one to three years to complete.
Coursera courses are typically a bit easier to understand in terms of course material, so they may be a bit better suited for the complete beginner in a particular topic.
The course plan is well laid out and usually includes step by step instructions.
8. Summary of Pros & Cons For Each Platform
Here are some pros and cons to consider when deciding between Udacity or Coursera.
Udacity offers nanodegrees which give you access to a specific set of courses, as well as coaching and project reviews for a set monthly fee. Some nanodegrees offer guaranteed job placement at the completion of your degree.
Most Udacity courses are self-paced, so you can work through them at your own pace. There aren't specific deadlines when a course starts or ends, and you don't have to wait for a specific course to begin to start learning. You can take your time going through the course material or complete it as quickly as you'd like.
All Udacity courses are taught by industry professionals. So that's a good indication that you're getting up-to-date high-quality information in your field of study.
You get actual feedback on course projects, which is especially useful for coding assignments. Getting feedback about best practices and industry standards will help show where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
Nanodegrees are quite expensive. With most costing around $499 per month, Udacity's nanodegrees are more costly than most other online courses. If you have a full-time job and a limited amount of time to dedicate to your coursework, your courses can really start to stretch out over several months and become expensive.
Udacity really excels at technology-related subjects. But if you want to study anything in other areas of expertise, you might not be able to find the courses that you're looking for.
The nanodegree program is relatively new and quite nontraditional. So it's hard to say exactly how it will stack up on your resume or CV compared to a degree from a well-known university. Employers may not know what to think of it.
Courses on Coursera are created and run by professors from prestigious universities like Princeton and Stanford. You're getting the same quality of course material that you could expect to receive if you were in an actual university course.
Coursera offers courses in various languages. Either directly, or through the use of transcriptions. Some languages that courses are taught include English, Spanish, French, Russian, and Chinese, among others.
Coursera offers well over 1,000 courses on a wide variety of topics. You can learn about things like computer programming and engineering, but also softer subjects like arts and the humanities.
Compared to a nanodegree from Udacity, getting a verification certificate from Coursera is quite cheap. It can vary, but usually its between $50 and $60. You can audit courses for free, so the only time you really need to pay is when you complete a course.
Coursera is one of the easier course platforms to navigate. It's easy to access videos, discussion forums, reading materials, and tests. Some other platforms make it a bit tricky to find everything.
Coursera's programs run more like a traditional university, in that they have set dates that they start and stop. You might not be able to access the material of some courses if they aren't currently running, which means it can take a while to be able to take the course you want. More popular courses are running almost constantly, but the more niche ones may be on a less frequent schedule.
Course prices aren’t clear
When you look at a course listing on Coursera, it isn't immediately clear how much it will cost to take the course. To view prices, you have to register on the site and then click to enroll in the course. Only then will you be shown the price.
9. Alternatives (e.g. Coursera and Udacity Alternatives)
If you're looking for another MooC on par with Coursera and Udacity, I'd recommend checking out edX.
It's a similar type of course platform that has many agreements with existing universities, and also a lot of course material that's available for free.
-> You can read my comparison of Coursera vs edX here
If you like the idea of a nanodegree but you aren't crazy about the price, perhaps you'd be interested in a course platform like Skillshare or Lynda.
These sites give you unlimited access to their full course library for a single monthly fee.
They are more casual and less academic in nature, but they're a great way to learn new skills or improve upon what you already know in a given field.
Lynda is better suited for professionals, while Skillshare has lots of options relating to the arts as well.
If you're looking for something lower costs and with a more informal learning style then Udemy might be a better platform for you. You can pick up courses regularly for just $10 and they cover a huge range of topics.
-> Check out my guide comparing Udemy vs Udacity here
-> Or my comparison between Udemy vs Coursera here
So which course platform seems better overall, Udacity or Coursera?
With the rise of MooCs, the entire way that people are accessing education is changing. Today all you need is a computer and internet connection to get a world-class education.
You can make your courses fit your schedule, which makes it easier than ever to upgrade your skills or transition into a new career.
But there are many online course providers out there. If you want to understand the differences between them all and work out which is the most suitable for you, then check out my Complete Guide To Online Learning Platforms for an in-depth guide.
There's no denying that both Udacity vs Coursera offer high-quality course content. However, Coursera seems to be a bit better value than Udacity in my opinion.
Udacity suffers from having fewer courses overall, and also having less of a broad range of subjects.
Their offerings are quite focused on technology related subjects. At $499 per month for most nanodegrees, it's also hard to see the value over less expensive options.
However, both have free courses available. So perhaps the best approach is to try a course on both and see which you prefer.
If you're a self motivated learner, then both learning platforms offer an incredible opportunity for you.