Udemy vs Coursera: Side By Side Comparison & Review - Online Course How

Udemy vs Coursera: Side By Side Comparison & Review

Are you trying to decide between Udemy and Coursera when it comes to taking an online course?

This post is an in-depth comparison and review of these two​ popular elearning platforms, and I'll also point out some​ of the best alternatives to each one one, based on exactly what kind of learning you're looking for.

So, what are the main differences between Udemy and Coursera? 

Udemy courses take a more "laid back" approach and tend to focus on practical life skills, while Coursera is more academic in nature. Udemy courses tend to be cheaper and require less of a time commitment, but they don't offer the certifications and accreditation that Coursera does.

In this post, I'll discuss each platform, their cost, what types of courses each offers, their pros and cons, and more. 

Overview – Udemy vs. Coursera 

Udemy and Coursera are both popular online learning platforms. 

However, they offer quite different types of online education. 

That means there isn't necessarily a clear winner from the two. It will really depend on your own circumstances and what you're looking to gain from online course providers. 

Online Course plarform Udemy

Udemy focuses more on short-term courses that students can use to learn specific skills like photography or basic computer skills. Anyone can create a Udemy course.

Coursera takes a more academic approach, and the majority of their programs are offered by professors from actual colleges and universities

Both Udemy and Coursera have their own merits, depending on what type of information you're looking for.

By the way, I reviewed 10 online learning platforms, so you should have enough information to compare them all and decide which is the best fit for you.

1. Costs

Udemy Topics

Udemy's bestselling courses tend to be "on sale" almost permanently. Most list a regular price of $199 but are typically marked down by about 95% to about $10 per course.

So while there are more expensive courses on the platform, you can almost always find a bestselling course on the topic you're interested in for $10 - $15 (see here for more info on how to get ​Udemy courses on sale).

When you purchase a course through Udemy, you get lifetime access to the material.

Coursera is free to sign up for, and the platform offers over 1,000 courses that you can audit for free. However, you'll need to pay to get access to specific features such as graded assignments, mentorship, and certificates. 

However, if you're just looking to access course readings, video lectures, and discussion forums and aren't necessarily looking to gain certificates that you can list on your resume or CV, then the platform offers a lot of free value. 

Individual courses and specialization on Coursera have varying costs. You won't be able to see pricing information unless you're logged into Coursera, and even then you need to click the blue Enroll button before the amount appears.  

Specializations typically contain multiple courses and operate on a subscription basis.

They typically cost between $40 and $80 per month. Individual courses typically charge a one-time payment that gives you access for 180 days. 

Coursera also offers the ability to apply for financial aid if you can't afford the fee for a course.

Which platform is the winner when it comes to cost? 

I think it depends how much you're looking to learn, and also how much time you've got to devote to online courses each month. 

Udemy is likely cheaper if you're taking a small number of courses or want to work through at a slower pace.

But if you're looking to learn a large amount of material which is more academic in nature, then Coursera could be more cost-effective for you.

2. Subjects and Topics Taught

Udemy has courses available on almost anything you could want to learn.

That includes things like:

  • The Arts
  • Business
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Health & Fitness
  • Language
  • Games
  • Music
  • Photography
  • Technology
  • Yoga

Udemy courses tend to focus on more practical, hands-on applications of the topics covered. If you're looking to learn a specific skill, its courses are great at providing you with step-by-step instructions to accomplish a goal.

Coursera has more of an academic focus to their subjects and courses. 

Here are some of their offerings:

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Business
  • Computer Science
  • Data Science
  • Life Sciences
  • Social Sciences

3. Course Examples

You have a basic idea of the kinds of subjects and topics that each of these online course websites offers. But here are some specific course examples to give you a better idea.

Coursera

Cloud Computing - Coursera
  • Cloud Computing - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • English for Career Development – University of Pennsylvania
  • Organizational Design and Management – HEC Paris
  • The Science of Well-being – Yale University
  • Buddhism and Modern Psychology – Princeton University 
  • Epidemiology for Public Health – Imperial College London
  • Data Structures and Algorithms – University of California San Diego
  • Optical Engineering – University of Colorado Boulder
  • Graphic Design – California Institute of the Arts

Udemy 

Microsoft Excel – From Beginner to Advanced - Udemy
  • Microsoft Excel – From Beginner to Advanced
  • The Complete Digital Marketing Course – 12 Courses in 1
  • Illustrator CC 2019 Masterclass 
  • The Complete SQL Bootcamp
  • Complete Blender Creator: Learn 3D Modelling for Beginners 
  • Learn Linux Administration and Supercharge Your Career
  • Mindfulness Practitioner Course 
  • The Complete Copywriting Course: How To Sell In 2019
  • iPhone Photography- Take Professional Photos on Your iPhone

4. Who Are The Instructors?

Web Developer, Designer, and Teacher _ Udemy

While some Udemy courses are delivered by experts and come highly recommended, anyone can create a Udemy course.

That means there's a lot of variation in course quality, and you really need to do your research to make sure you're signing up for a reputable course.

Creating a Udemy course simply requires creating an account and watching an orientation video on their basic course guidelines. 

You might end up taking a course offered by an author, chef, entrepreneur, public speaker, or some other kind of expert or professional. But you may also see courses offered by people who simply collect information from the Internet and put together a basic course of their own. 

It's important to do some due diligence before taking a Udemy course.

Coursera instructors

Look up the name of the course instructor before you pay for it.

If they have a LinkedIn profile showing their professional experience or they've got a Lynda courses, that's a good sign of a quality course.

In contrast, Coursera works closely with colleges and universities. Their courses are thoroughly vetted and taught by experienced academics.

That means you're getting access to professors from the top universities and colleges from around the world.

If you pick a random Udemy and Coursera instructor, the Coursera one is more likely to have credentials such as a PhD which give them more authority. 

However, if you're just looking to learn a basic skill like how to use Excel, you may not care about the qualifications of your instructor, as long as they can provide the information that you need.

In that case, a Udemy instructor is perfectly capable of fulfilling your needs.

5. Accreditation & Certificates (How Does It Look On Your Resume or CV?)

certificates or degrees Coursera

If getting accreditation or certificates is the main reason why you're using online learning sites, then Coursera is the clear winner over Udemy. 

While Udemy does offer some courses on more academic topics, they aren't able to offer any kind of accreditation from academic institutions like universities that Coursera is able to offer.  

Udemy courses can offer certification for completing a course. But whether a future employer will give it any weight is another question.

Coursera programs are more structured with graded assignments, access to instructors, and a more legitimate backing from a real college or university.

As a result, a certificate from Coursera will look much better on your resume or CV than one from Udemy.

The main reason from that it comes with the name of an institution like Princeton, Yale, or Cambridge that will ensure any future interviewers that your credentials are legitimate.

Coursera's course and specialization certificates come in a digitally sharable format. Not only can you print copies to put in your portfolio, but you can put them straight on to your LinkedIn profiles as well.

So if you're looking to enhance your CV or resume, Coursera is unquestionably the better choice.

That's not to say that Udemy courses don't also offer great value. But it's better to take them for the practical skills that you'll learn from the courses, as opposed to a way of padding your CV or resume.

6. Time Commitment

When you purchase a course through Udemy, you get lifetime access to that material. That means you can really work through it at whatever pace you like. The courses are very self-guided and it's up to you to complete them in your own time. 

Some Udemy courses are more in-depth. But some only have a few hours worth of video lectures and written content to read, and can be completed in a single afternoon if you're eager to learn. 

Coursera is more like what you'd expect from an online class that you would take from a university or formal institution. 

Courses start and finish on specific dates. There's a timeline that you will need to follow.

You watch videos, and then there are auto-graded and peer-reviewed assignments to be completed. There are also discussion forums for you to speak with your coursemates and professor. 

Which one will work best for you depends on what you want to learn, and what your personal learning style is.

If you need some pressure and accountability to get the lessons done, then taking a course through Coursera is a good choice. But if you're a self-motivated learner, then taking a course through Udemy should be just fine. 

If you just want to learn a specific skill quickly, Udemy is a good choice. But if you really want to master a topic and go in-depth, that's where Coursera excels.

7. Summary – Pros & Cons of Each

Udemy Pros

1

You can buy all courses individually

When you buy courses through Udemy, you only pay for each individual course one time to gain lifetime access. There's no monthly subscriptions or other fees. That gives you more freedom to pick and choose the topics that most appeal to you. You also aren't stuck in a specialization with required courses that you can't opt out of. Since your course access never expires, it's very flexible and low-commitment, allowing you to work through it at your own pace.

2

Inexpensive

Udemy courses are inexpensive to begin with, but they're almost always further discounted as well. For any popular topic, there's normally a $200 course that has been discounted to $10 - $15. That means you can purchase courses even if you think you might be interested in completing them in the future. It's not a huge loss if you never get around to the course material.

3

The huge number of courses

Since Udemy is open for anyone to create courses, there are a huge number of programs available. There are currently more than 50,000 different courses and 15 million students who use Udemy. Plus a good proportion of those courses are free. Whether you want to learn about graphic design, music, computer programming, or any other wide range of topics, there's probably a Udemy course on the topic.

Udemy Cons

1

Not accredited

Udemy courses offer you completion certificates. But chances are, any future employers won't give much weight to them compared to those from universities and more official institutions. Udemy courses are best for learning a specific skill for yourself, not to add to your resume.

2

Quality varies

Since Udemy is open to anyone, the quality of courses can vary immensely. Some are not very thorough and in-depth, and you might be left feeling ripped off even for the $10 price tag of some courses. That's why it's important to do some research into the course instructor and look at reviews. While the platform does offer some free courses, more often than not, these basically act as advertisements or upsells for paid products.  

Coursera _ Online Courses & Credentials by Top Educators

Coursera Pros

1

A more curated experience

Coursera's courses are taught by some of the most well-respected professors in the world from universities like Stanford, MIT, and Yale. So there's no question as to the quality of education that you'll receive through the platform.

2

Accredited

Certificates gained through Coursera will actually look impressive on your resume when you go for an interview, as opposed to a course that you take through other platforms like Udemy. Coursera courses are more academic in nature compared to many other online course platforms.

3

More structured

If you need deadlines and set tasks to do each week, Coursera is a good choice for you. Being part of a structured online course will provide more accountability. Although some people may see this as a drawback, depending on their personal learning style.

Coursera Cons

1

More commitment

Coursera's specialization programs typically require 4 to 5 months of study to complete. If you want to do a degree program through the site, you could be looking at years worth of online courses. Even individual courses take 4 to 6 weeks to complete. There is more of a requirement in terms of graded assignments and participation as well.

2

More expensive

Individual courses through Coursera are more expensive than those offered through Udemy in most cases. But things get particularly costly when you need to pay for a specialization subscription for several months.

3

Wide language selection

Coursera offers courses from universities and organizations around the world. So whether you speak English, Spanish, French Chinese, Russian, or a bunch of other languages, there's probably a course specifically created in your language. If not, a large number of courses offer transcriptions in other languages.

Summary

Udemy is a great platform to pick and choose inexpensive courses from a large catalog. If you just want to learn a new skill like Photoshop or Microsoft Excel, it can be a great choice.

However, Coursera is a better choice if you're looking for a more curated course experience from an accredited institution.

8. Udemy and Coursera Alternatives 

edX Online Courses

If you're looking for alternative sites for online education which are similar to Coursera, there aren't currently too many similar platforms available.

The one that I'd definitely look into is ​edX, which offers accredited courses from prestigious institutions like MIT, Harvard, Australian National University, and many others.

-> Read my comparison of Coursera vs edX here for a full guide on these excellent online learning platforms.

You may also be interested in courses from Udacity, who offer a series of nanodegree programs on various tech related topics, as well as Pluralsight who focus on tech and IT topics.

-> Check out my comparison of Udacity and Coursera here

​-> Or my guide to the differences between Udemy and Pluralsight here

​-> Or see how Udemy stacks up compared to Udacity here

When it comes to less formal e learning websites like Udemy, there are a lot more alternatives available.

Two that I'd recommend looking into are Skillshare and Lynda.

Skillshare is interesting since for a monthly fee, you get unlimited access to more than 28,000 courses.

Lynda has been recently taken over by LinkedIn and offers a range of career focused courses in the fields of business, software development and design.

-> ​For more info on how Udemy compares to Lynda read this

So if you're someone obsessed with constantly learning, you can really get your money's worth in terms of value.

-> If you're still unsure which is the right online learning website for you, then check out my Complete Guide To Online Learning Platforms, or see this post on the top alternatives to Udemy.

Conclusion

When choosing between Udemy and Coursera, it really depends on what you're looking to get out of an online learning platform. 

Coursera is more academic in nature. It's more like taking a formal university or college program online. If you're looking to get a certificate from an accredited institution that you can put on your resume or CV, then Coursera is the obvious choice.

However, it takes more commitment since each course has specific start and end dates. As well as graded assignments and participation required in between. 

Udemy is a great choice if you are brand new to a particular subject and just want to get a feel for it, or you just need to pick up a particular skill.

For example, if you want to learn yoga, a musical instrument, how to run Facebook advertisements, or to get started with computer programming.

-> Check out my list of the Best Udemy ​Courses here

Both platforms are effective for learning and offer a wide variety of different courses.

Udemy is better for someone with a more relaxed learning style that wants to go through the course at their own pace. While Coursera is more of a traditional course format and timeline.

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