Is 2022 the year you finally take action on your dreams and launch a freelancing career?
Taking an online course is one of the best ways to upskill if you want to change your life. And when it comes to online education, one of the top places to look is Coursera.
The best Coursera courses are by professionals from well-respected universities worldwide. And they offer you the chance to work at your own pace from home on any particular topic you choose.
- What IS Coursera?
- The Best Coursera Courses Based on Student Reviews
- 1. Financial Markets with Robert Shiller, Yale University
- 2. The Science of Well-Being with Laurie Santos, Yale University
- 3. Psychological First Aid with George Everly, Jr., John Hopkins University
- 4. De-mystifying Mindfulness with Chris Goto-Jones, Leiden University
- 5. Machine Learning with Andrew Ng, Stanford University
- 6. Write Your First Novel with David Wheeler, Michigan State University
- 7. Writing in the Sciences with Dr. Kristin Sainani, Stanford University
- 8. Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills with George Siedel, University of Michigan
- 9. What is Data Science with Rav Ahuja and Alex Aklson, IBM
- 10. Brand Management: Aligning Business, Brand and Behaviour with Nader Tavassoli, London Business School
- The Best Coursera Courses to Improve Your Job Prospects
- 11. Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate
- 12. Google Project Management: Professional Certificate
- 13. Google UX Design Professional Certificate
- 14. Google IT Support Professional Certificate
- 15. Behavioral Finance with Emma Rasiel, Duke University
- 16. Customer Service Fundamentals with Keith Gibson, Knowledge Accelerators
- 17. Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) with Charles Severance, Michigan University
- 18. Cryptography 1 with Dan Boneh, Stanford University
- 19. Introduction to Data Analytics with Rav Ahuja, UVA Darden
- 20. Marketing in a Digital World with Aric Rindfleisch, Illinois University
- The Best Coursera Specializations
- Coursera Plus
- While You’re Here
What IS Coursera?
Coursera is an online learning company that currently offers 7000+ courses to adults hungry to learn online.
Their training programs range widely, from data analysis and computer science to customer service, writing, music production and health. Most courses offer a mix of video lectures and readings. They include the new learning and practical skills you need to launch a successful career.
Many courses can be done entirely free of charge. Still, if you want to prove your skills to potential employers with a professional certificate, you’ll need to pay a fee at the end of your 7-day free trial.
Our comprehensive Coursera review tells you all you need to know, including a detailed explanation of the various fee structures.
Coursera programs cover the full range of options. You can choose from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) or in-depth subject specializations. Some even lead towards online degrees.
We know you’re interested in furthering your education and career. So we’ve searched through the platform’s current offerings to bring you the best Coursera courses available to you in 2022.
The Best Coursera Courses Based on Student Reviews
Judging by thousands of glowing reviews, these are some of the top popular courses available in Coursera today.
We’ve selected them for their valuable information, variety and usefulness to freelancers. These courses are engaging, informative, and helpful to your career and life, no matter what niche you work in.
1. Financial Markets with Robert Shiller, Yale University
4.8 stars 20,411 ratings 4,625 reviews
Over one million students have gone through this highly-rated course which gives an overview of many finance-based principles and practices.
As one reviewer puts it, “This course is easy to follow and interesting. Professor Shiller is very motivating. It is not teaching about finance but more importantly how finance can build a better life for all.”
2. The Science of Well-Being with Laurie Santos, Yale University
4.9 stars 31,344 ratings 11,209 reviews
Top-rated instructor Professor Santos reveals misconceptions about happiness, taking you through a series of challenges designed to build more productive habits and a happier mindset.
One 5-star reviewer commented that they found this beneficial course a “great, fun way of learning about personal thought processing, attitudes and well-being.”
It’s worth noting that 92% of this course’s ratings give it 5-stars, and only 0.48% rated it one or two stars.
3. Psychological First Aid with George Everly, Jr., John Hopkins University
4.8 stars 16,616 ratings 4,017 reviews
This public health course teaches its students how to use the RAPID model when providing psychological first aid to people in an emergency. RAPID is effective in many public health settings, including workplace, military, faith-based, mass disaster. It’s also useful in the aftermath of accidents and violent crimes and promotes personal and community resilience.
Reviewers mention the excellent structure and clear explanations and case scenarios, with one saying that they “felt like I learned a lot more than I anticipated when going in.”
4. De-mystifying Mindfulness with Chris Goto-Jones, Leiden University
4.8 stars 1,434 ratings 558 reviews
Mindfulness has become the basis for many modern therapeutic interventions, becoming big business and a lifestyle choice. Through this course, 200k people have already explored questions such as, ‘What is mindfulness?’ ‘What does it feel like to be mindful? Is it really good for you? Can anyone learn it?’ And, “how can you recognize genuine practitioners and charlatans?’
One 2020 reviewer says, “It is such a useful and practical course. The contents, discussions, assignments and quizzes are extremely insightful. I truly enjoyed the course.”
5. Machine Learning with Andrew Ng, Stanford University
4.9 stars 166,924 ratings 42,733 reviews
Machine learning — the science of teaching computers to act without being explicitly programmed — and artificial intelligence are so pervasive that we use them every day without knowing it. So, here, top-rated instructor Andrew Ng gives us a broad introduction to the most effective machine learning techniques and practical instruction in implementing them yourself.
We should note that this is a beginner course, which may disappoint if you already understand AI. One reviewer panned it as “extremely basic.” At the same time, another applauded it, saying they learned “exciting new techniques” from the “simple and understandable teaching method.”
6. Write Your First Novel with David Wheeler, Michigan State University
4.2 stars165 ratings 71 reviews
Although this University of Michigan course has fewer 5-star ratings, I included it because many people dream of writing their first novel but don’t know where to start. The lectures are short and designed as a step-by-step guide to producing and completing a 50,000-word book. If you stick with it, you’ll complete your novel by the end of this course.
LG’s review says: “An excellent course for the fledgling writer. Broken down into manageable weekly targets and teaches that focus and organisation really help towards achieving that dream.”
7. Writing in the Sciences with Dr. Kristin Sainani, Stanford University
4.9 stars 5,810 ratings 1,965 reviews
Writing in the Sciences teaches scientists today’s best practices in scientific writing. It could also be an interesting course for freelance writers who want to get into the academic writing niche. You’ll learn information and complete practical exercises about the format of a scientific manuscript, peer reviews, grant writing, ethical issues in scientific publication and more.
Reviewers speak of “improving significantly” and “understanding how making things clear…can help in spreading scientific knowledge across the world.”
8. Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills with George Siedel, University of Michigan
4.8 stars 15,680 ratings 3,754 reviews
This is one of Coursera’s most popular courses, and deservedly so. After all, we all negotiate at work and home daily in the real world. It follows, then, that everyone can benefit from knowing about the four steps to a successful negotiation.
You’ll learn through a series of short, interactive videos and get the chance to test your negotiation skills in Module 6, working with a friend or with another course member.
“Probably the best course videos I’ve come across. Professor George I believe is an amazing teacher…the way he gets the concept across to students by simple and constant examples is worth mentioning.”
9. What is Data Science with Rav Ahuja and Alex Aklson, IBM
4.7 stars 5,119 ratings 1,921 reviews
This IBM data science course is part of two more extensive Business Specializations. It introduces the age-old field of gathering data and uncovering insights and trends. Data science is more important than ever in the modern world. Rav and Alex introduce you to some current data scientists, their work, and the tools they use to gather & interpret data in science and business.
“Excellent quality content! It’s a great introductory course that really gets you interested in Data Science. “
10. Brand Management: Aligning Business, Brand and Behaviour with Nader Tavassoli, London Business School
4.9 stars 5,119 ratings 1,921 reviews
Professor Tavassoli offers a “workout for your own brand” and guest videos from leading brand professionals in this popular course. He aims to change the conception of brands as visual identities (i.e., logo, image, etc.) to becoming an “experience along moments that matter,” and a “customer journey delivered across the entire organization.”
A 2021 reviewer remarked: “Professor Tavassoli did a wonderful job of breaking down the business, brand & behaviour alignment process. Very insightful. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot.”
The Best Coursera Courses to Improve Your Job Prospects
If you’re planning to work from home in the future or a current freelancer, these courses should help you upskill in tech, customer service, business, and marketing.
Whether you’re going directly into these areas or want to understand them from a freelance writing or entrepreneurial standpoint, these courses could add value to your career. Four are from the Google Professional Certificate series. Others are either standalone courses or could lead you into further study.
What are Coursera Professional Certificates?
All Coursera professional certificate courses are designed to help you become job-ready. Each certificate has a set of short courses around a theme and includes hands-on projects designed to build your portfolio and prove that you’re work-ready.
4.8 stars, 38,544 ratings
If you want to start a career in data analysis, this popular course from Google is an excellent place to start. The certificate is beginner-level and will take approximately six months if you work 10 hours per week. You’ll learn:
- Key analytical skills
- How to use data visualization tools
- How to clean and organize data for analysis
- To visualize and present data findings in commonly-used platforms.
4.8 stars 25,893 ratings
Project managers start with a list of goals and deliverables and guide the project to a successful conclusion. They need excellent organizational skills, strategic thinking and change management strategies. This Google course gives participants the practices and skills they need to succeed as entry-level project managers.
4.8 stars 21,328 ratings
UX or User Experience is a high-growth field for remote workers and freelancers. UX designers focus on people’s interaction and experiences when using a website or app. This professional certificate will teach you about the design process, planning and research, and concepts such as user-centered design and accessibility issues.
4.8 stars 113,739 ratings
This first course in the IT support field gives you the skills you need for an entry-level IT job and leads into the more advanced Google IT Automation Professional Certificate. You’ll learn IT support tasks such as computer assembly, wireless networking, installing programs, and customer service. Skills include debugging, encryption, cloud computing, binary code, Linux and more.
15. Behavioral Finance with Emma Rasiel, Duke University
4.4 stars 3,025 ratings 813 reviews
We make thousands of decisions daily using mental shortcuts called “heuristics.” These usually serve us well but can sometimes lead to errors — unless we know what to look for. Behavioral finance is the study of financial decision-making errors that we could avoid if we understood the biases that cause them.
This course is for people who want to learn how to make better choices around their spending, saving and investments.
16. Customer Service Fundamentals with Keith Gibson, Knowledge Accelerators
4.8 stars 905 ratings
Customer Service is one of Upwork’s top ten skills in 2022 and is also a perfect entry point to start a career in IT and other industries. The four modules of this course are Communication Skills, Personality Profiles, Problem Solving and Process Control.
17. Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) with Charles Severance, Michigan University
4.8 Stars 203,557 ratings 48,374 reviews
This beginner computer science course teaches the basics of Python computer programming. You’ll learn about the Python programming language from the interactive videos and quizzes, including variables, conditional code, functions, loops, and iteration.
Programming for Everybody is part of the five-course “Python for Everybody Specialization.”
18. Cryptography 1 with Dan Boneh, Stanford University
4.8 stars 3,723 ratings 782 reviews
Cryptography is invaluable in protecting information in computer systems. You’ll get an overview of what cryptography is about and learn about in-demand skills like block ciphers, public-key cryptography and symmetric-key algorithms. The course is relatively compact but provides a comprehensive introduction to cryptography and modern attacker techniques.
19. Introduction to Data Analytics with Rav Ahuja, UVA Darden
4.8 stars 4,741 ratings 1,007 reviews
If you’ve ever wondered if data analysis is the right freelance job for you, this introductory course might interest you. By the end of it, you will be able to visualize the daily life of a Data Analyst and understand the different career paths you could take. As well as learning about analysis, you will also learn the soft skills needed to communicate it to the people who need it.
20. Marketing in a Digital World with Aric Rindfleisch, Illinois University
4.7 stars 16,179 ratings 5,225 reviews
Among all Coursera’s popular courses offered, this rates as one of the top 50 Massive Open Online Courses of all time. It covers how digital tools are changing products, promotion, placement and price in business marketing. If you’re interested in freelancing as a marketer, this course, part of the Digital Marketing Specialization, could be helpful.
The Best Coursera Specializations
Specializations are a series of courses designed to help you master a skill.
Each specialization includes a hands-on project which you must complete before receiving your shareable certificate of completion.
21. Deep Learning
This recently-updated deep learning specialization is another offering from top instructor Andrew Ng. It aims to help you master the fundamentals and break into AI.
Deep Learning teaches computers to learn by example and is increasingly used in modern life. You see it in voice control in smart technology, driverless cars, facial recognition and more.
In this specialization, you’ll build and train neural networks and learn how to improve them with various strategies and applications.
NLP is a mixture of computer science, artificial intelligence, and linguistics broadly applied in machine learning. This specialization teaches the machine learning basics and deep learning techniques you’ll need if you’re interested in freelancing or working remotely in this cutting-edge field. If you worked approximately eight hours per week, you’d expect to finish these four courses in four to five months.
4.7 stars 16,167 ratings
If you didn’t go to business school but want to work in the business sector, this specialization aims to give you a good grounding in the basics. It covers topics like:
- Understanding branding and market strategies,
- Income statements, balance sheets and cash flows
- Management through motivation and reward systems
- Analyzing and improving business process
If you work just two hours a week, you could complete these courses and receive your certificate in seven months. That timeline should make this study easy to fit into your current timetable.
4.8 stars 1703 ratings
Amazon Web Services is currently the world’s leading cloud platform and provides servers, storage, networking, email, security etc., to millions of customers. As such, if you’re looking to up your game in the tech industry, it makes sense to master the skills of designing and building cloud-native applications on AWS.
Studying three hours per week, you should be able to finish this Amazon Web Services specialization in five months.
4.5 stars 1,275 ratings
Offered by UCI, these courses take you through the best practices for online instruction, student engagement and virtual community building. You’ll learn about the many technologies used in online teaching and learning. It teaches how to analyze and measure student data and performance to tailor your programs to suit students’ individual needs.
If this enticing array of courses has excited you to learn, Coursera Plus is an unlimited subscription model that offers a worthwhile alternative to paying for each course you take.
The annual subscription costs $399. Although you pay that in one lump sum, it works out at just under $34/month, which is undoubtedly worth it if you plan to study a lot.
However, if you can’t quite stretch that in one hit, there’s also a monthly payment option of $59, and with that, you can cancel any time.
Coursera Plus gives you unlimited access to more than 90% of the available Courses, Guided Projects, Specializations and Professional Certificates. It allows for flexible learning and would certainly save you money if you’re sure to gobble up multiple courses in one year.
I’ve completed a couple of audited Coursera courses in the past. Now, I’m hankering after many of the popular ideas on this list and can’t wait to sign up. My only problem is which one shall I choose first?
Millions of people have already benefited from Coursera’s online learning platform.
You can learn real-world skills at your own pace without stepping outside your door, and you get to study at hallowed institutions like Stanford University or Duke.
A course in neural networks, say, or data visualization from the University of Michigan would be a physical impossibility for most people, yet Coursera makes that available to all.
What’s not to love about that?
While You’re Here
Once you’ve taken your courses and are ready to start looking for jobs, we’ve got many articles to help in your search.
If you’re starting slowly by taking a side job first, our guide to the 52 Best Online Side Jobs in 2022 offers plenty of possibilities.
However, if you want to go all-in on a new career, we’ve got that covered too. Remote workers, head to 125 Legit Companies that Hire Home Workers in 2022 or read our article on the 25 Best Remote Job Boards for inspiration.
Finally, what if you’re ready to take the plunge into freelancing, but you don’t know where to start?
Well then, we suggest our very own Freelance Kickstarter Course, which takes you step-by-step through everything you need to know to launch your freelancing career.
Lyn is the author of Culture Smart NZ (2022). A freelance writer and blogger from New Zealand, she specialises in content for lifestyle magazines, blogs, podcasts and virtual summits. You’ll find her blog on writing, farm life & talented New Zealanders at lynmcnamee.com