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

Udemy vs. Udacity: Side By Side Comparison & Review

Looking to find the right online ​learning platform for you? Today we're comparing Udemy and Udacity.

What are the major differences between Udemy and Udacity? Udemy offers shorter, less expensive courses on a wide range of topics that anyone can produce. Udacity provides more extended nanodegree programs in partnership with leading industry partners, and tends to focus on technology-related topics.

In this post I'll discuss Udemy and Udacity, how much they cost, what kinds of courses each one offers, and the pros and cons associated with them.

1. Overview – Udemy vs. Udacity

Udemy is what you'd probably think of when you imagine online course websites. It's a platform where any person can sign up to be an instructor and release their own course for purchase. Their courses aren't accredited.

So while you get a completion certificate when you finish a Udemy course, it doesn't necessarily look very impressive on a resume to future employers.

Since anyone can sign up and create a Udemy course, quality can vary significantly between different instructors and classes. Courses on the platform also tend to be relatively short.

The minimum length for a Udemy course is 30 minutes. Most can be measured in terms of hours to complete, as opposed to weeks or months.

Udacity is something quite different when it comes to online education. They're best described as a MOOC (massive open online course) provider.

They have partnerships with universities, industry partners, and other institutions, and are able to offer something that they call Nanodegrees. 

These are certifications that show you've completed specific courses and that you're proficient in a specific area. As a platform, Udacity offers a more limited number of courses, mainly focused around technology and computer science.  

Overview – Udemy vs. Udacity

In addition to their more structured Nanodegree programs, Udacity also offers almost 200 free courses that learners can work through at their own pace.

Their nanodegree programs offer a similar online course experience to what you'd expect from a university, including video lectures, online assignments, and discussion forums.

Some nanodegrees can be completed in under a month, while some may take three months or more.

Generally, Udemy is better for self-directed learning where there's a particular skill or lesson that you're looking to take away from a course. It's about the end result, not necessarily obtaining credentials.

Udacity provides a more all-encompassing course curriculum that allows you to really master a particular subject.

Learn more about How Does An Online Course Actually Work?

2. Costs

Both Udemy and Udacity have free courses available. However, the quality of free courses between the platforms is drastically different.

Free courses on Udemy tend to be upsells for paid courses more than anything else, and generally don't offer much value.

In contrast, Udacity's free courses are very in-depth and tend to cover much of the same industry-relevant material covered in their Nanodegree programs. The main difference is that the free courses don't offer project reviews, mentorship, or certification.

For example, even Udacity's free Intro to Computer Science course takes approximately 3 months to complete. Compare that to a "Foundations of Computer Science: Theory and Practice" course on Udemy which is only 4.5 hours long.

When it comes to paid courses, those offered by Udemy can cost anywhere from $10 to $200 or more. Courses on the Udemy platform frequently go on sale for around 90% off.

So at any given time, you can likely find a well-rated course on a particular subject which has a regular price of $199 on sale for $10. To find out how to pick up a Udemy course you want on sale read my article: How often does Udemy have sales?

Nanodegree programs on Udacity seem to cost a flat rate of $399 each. Perhaps there are some more premium courses which cost more, but in my research that was the cost that came up regardless of course length or whether it was a beginner, intermediate, or advanced class.

3. Subjects/Topics Taught

Udemy has thousands of courses which cover an extremely wide range of topics. Some course subjects covered include business, health and fitness, marketing, personal development, design, and more.

On Udemy, you can pick and choose shorter individual courses that you're interested in.

They don't necessarily tie in together into a larger program in the way that Udacity's nanodegree courses do.

Udacity has a much more focused and niche curriculum. Most of their courses center around programming and development, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, data science, business, and autonomous systems. Generally only tech-related stuff. In total,

Udacity only currently offers about 35 nanodegree programs. However, the few courses they do offer are industry-leading programs which are recognized and built by top companies like Google, AT&T, and IBM.

Udacity also has around 200 completely free courses available, although these don't offer any kind of certificate upon completion.

Courses that Udacity offer are self-paced to some extent, but it's expected that most students will have a workload of between six and ten hours per week.

Each nanodegree course is made up of lessons, which consist of exercises and instructional videos. At the end of each course there's a final project.   

4. Course examples

Here are some examples of courses that are offered on each platform:

Udacity

  • Introduction To Machine Learning
  • Marketing Analytics
  • Data Engineering
  • Data Structures and Algorithms
  • C++ Engineer
  • Business Analytics
  • Artificial Intelligence for Trading
  • Programming for Data Science
  • Blockchain Developer
  • Deep Reinforcement Learning
  • Data Scientist
  • Natural Language Processing
  • AI programming with Python
  • Intro to Self-Driving Cars
  • Android Basics
  • Predictive Analytics for Business
  • Front-End Web Developer

Udemy

  • Wedding Photography: Complete Guide to Wedding Photography
  • Portrait Photography and Posing For Photographers
  • Google Analytics Certification: Become Certified & Earn More
  • Complete SEO Training With Top SEO Expert Peter Kent!
  • Copywriting secrets - How to write copy that sells
  • Successful Negotiation: Master Your Negotiating Skills
  • Body Language for Entrepreneurs
  • Become a SpeedDemon: Productivity Tricks to Have More Time
  • Six Sigma Green Belt
  • The Complete Financial Analyst Training & Investing Course
  • Character Art School: Complete Coloring and Painting Course

5. Who Are The Instructors?

Web Developer, Designer, and Teacher _ Udemy

On Udemy, anyone can sign up and become a course instructor. As previously mentioned, this can create some inconsistency when it comes to quality from course to course.

Some courses are presented by field experts and have thousands of reviews, while others seem hastily put together just to make a quick sale.

Before taking a course on Udemy, it's important to take a look at who the course instructor is and what their background is. As well as taking the course rating and reviews into consideration as well before you  make your purchase.

Instructors on the Udacity platform

Instructors on the Udacity platform are much more curated, and you don't need to worry about their ability to deliver an excellent course. Instructors on Udacity include former teachers, graduates, content developers, CEOs of companies, and more.

There are even courses where the Udacity founder and president himself is a course lead!

Some smaller Udacity courses may only have a single course lead, while others may have as many as ten experts contributing to the course material.

6. Accreditation & Certificates (How Do They Look On Your Resume or CV?)

While Udemy offers completion certificates for any course you finish on the platform, they aren't accredited like a university or other educational institution. That means their certificates likely have limited value in the eyes of interviewers when you're applying for a job.

Courses on the Udemy platform are best for self-learning a new skill. Either as a hobby or a new skill to use in your own business as an entrepreneur. It's not the best choice if you're looking for credentials to add to your resume or CV.

Accreditation & Certificates (How Do They Look On Your Resume or CV?)

Udacity is also not an accredited university, and they don't confer traditional degrees.

However, their nanodegree programs represent unique collaborations with leading industry partners. These industry partners help develop their content, and may even hire many of Udacity's program graduates.

While a nanodegree certification from Udacity may not currently look quite as impressive as a university degree on your resume, they definitely are increasing in reputation and value. Specifically when it comes to the tech industry.  

Specific tech companies may highly value Udacity nanodegree programs and value them even higher than a traditional degree, since they know the course material is specifically tailored to jobs they're hiring for.

But other companies may not give the courses as much weight, so it can be a bit hit or miss.

Generally though, if you're applying for a job in the tech industry, it's safe to say that a Udacity nanodegree will look much more impressive on your resume or CV than a course certificate from Udemy.

7. Time Commitment

Udemy courses can be as short as 30 minutes in length. Most fall in the 3 to 5 hour range, with more detailed 20 or 30 hour courses being on the longer end of their offerings.

There aren't really any Udemy courses that should take you weeks or months to complete, unless you're really taking your time working through them.

Udacity is a much larger time commitment. You might be able to complete some of their beginner or introductory courses in a month or less. But most of their courses take 3 or 4 months to complete, and assume you have about 10 hours per week to devote to the course material.

8. Summary of Pros & Cons For Each

Here are some benefits and drawbacks to each platform that you should consider when deciding which to sign up with.

Udemy homepage screenshot

Udemy Pros

1

Huge variety of courses

Udemy currently has tens of thousands of courses available on topics ranging from music to design or software development. If there's a particular skill that you're looking to learn, there's most likely a Udemy course based around it already.

2

Low cost

Almost all Udemy courses are priced under $200. Even higher priced courses frequently go on sale on sale for as little as $10. About 10% of the courses offered on the platform are also free. Plus if you enroll in a course and change your mind, Udemy offers a 30 day refund policy.

3

Low time commitment

Udemy courses tend to just focus on the critical information and skills that you want to learn about a particular topic. They take something complicated and cut out most of the fluff, condensing it down into only a few hours of video lessons. Since you have lifetime access to any course you purchase, you can work through courses at your own pace.

Udemy Cons

1

Not generally recognized academically

Listing a Udemy certificate on your resume or CV is not impressive to most employers when you're interviewing for a job, compared to accredited university degrees or diplomas. Udemy courses are more about transferring practical knowledge, as opposed to academic credit.

2

Course quality can vary

Since anybody can upload a course to Udemy, the quality of course materials can vary drastically from one video to the next. Some courses may just be an instructor speaking into a webcam, while others may feature slideshow presentations, screen captures, and other presentation methods. Generally interaction between instructors and pupils is quite limited.

3

Less value for money

If there is a comparable course topic available on both Udemy and Udacity, the Udemy one will likely offer less value, more often than not. Particularly if you're paying full price for a course and not taking advantage of a sale price. This is because Udemy courses are typically only a few hours long, while a Udacity course typically includes months worth of content.

Udacity Pros

1

Great quality courses

Udacity has partnered with leading industry experts to deliver courses that provide exceptional value. That's true even of their free courses. If you're looking to learn about computer science just as a hobby and don't necessarily care about credentials, their free courses offer a level of quality that you'd expect from a university course. Some of their content is provided directly by companies like Google.

2

Good course design

Courses don't have any unnecessary information. Content is dynamic and high-quality. It's the caliber you'd expect from an online course offered by a university or similar institution.

3

Cutting edge course material

If you take a course on Udacity, you're learning the most up-to-date information available. Their courses cover topics like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and self-driving vehicles which will only see an increase in demand in the future. Whereas in a more traditional university course, you may be learning concepts that are already a few years out of date.

4

1-on-1 technical mentors

Most Udacity nanodegree programs include pairing you up with an individual mentor that guides you through your learning. They can answer any questions you have, keep you on track, and make sure that you stay motivated.

Udacity Cons

1

Can be expensive

At $399 per nanodegree, taking courses on Udacity may be more costly than some other online learning sites out there.

2

Limited course subjects

Udacity is very focused around a technology-centered curriculum. While that may be great if that's specifically what you're looking for, their offerings are limited if you're interested in any other fields of expertise.

3

Credentials are unproven

Udacity's nanodegree program is nontraditional and not accredited like degrees you'd get from a university. While having a nanodegree on your resume is much preferred to a Udemy certificate, it's still unproven. It's hard to say how employers will interpret Udacity credentials on your resume or CV. They may not know enough about the programs enough to trust them, and may not be interested in researching to find out.

4

Can feel isolating

Udacity's discussion forums need work. The feedback that you receive on submitted projects often isn't meaningful. Their classes can feel solitary, particularly the free ones. Udacity also offers fairly limited language support compared to other online course platforms.

9. Udemy and Udacity Alternatives

Online Classes by Skillshare

If you're looking for an alternative to Udemy, I'd highly recommend checking out Skillshare.

Skillshare works on a subscription model. You pay $15 per month and you can take as many courses on their platform as you want. That means you aren't locked in to purchasing individual courses, and you can freely jump around between courses to see what you're most interested in.

Like Udemy, Skillshare offers a wide catalogue including thousands of different courses on a wide range of topics, so you'll almost certainly be able to find a course on what you want to learn about.

-> If this interests you then check out my guide to Udemy vs Skillshare

Also offering a subscription system and the ability to take multiple courses is Lynda, also known as LinkedIn Learning after it was taken over by the LinkedIn platform recently. 

​Lynda offers a wide range of courses, though they tend to have a greater focus on career type topics such as business, software and web development or design.

-> You can read more about how Udemy compares to Lynda here

​If you're specifically interested in IT or tech based skills, then you may also be interested in Pluralsight.

-> ​Read my guide com​paring Udemy vs Pluralsight here

If you prefer the more academic nature of Udacity over Udemy, then you may want to look into more structured online courses such as those offered by Coursera or edX.

If you're concerned about how a particular certificate will look on your resume or CV, then platforms like Coursera are a great choice. Courses offered on Coursera have a legitimate backing by a real college or university such as Princeton, Yale, or MIT.

-> You can read more on how Udacity compares to Coursera here

-> Or the differences between Udemy vs Coursera here

Conclusion

Udemy is a great online course platform if you're just looking to take some shorter, more casual courses.

-> Check out our list of the top 10 best Udemy courses for some ideas and inspiration

The lessons offered on Udemy focus more on transferring practical skills, as opposed to getting bogged down in technical details and academic material. Udemy offers thousands of different courses on a wide variety of topics.

Udacity offers a more specialized learning opportunity for those looking to learn about technology and computer science topics. They partner with industry-leading companies to offer unique nanodegree courses.

If you're looking for an education in cutting-edge technology topics, then Udacity might be the right choice for you.

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