Coursera and Udemy are both online learning platforms that we frequently recommend at HomeWorkingClub – but they’re rather different from each other. This article provides a direct Coursera vs Udemy comparison to help you decide which of these online learning platforms is the best fit for helping you develop new skills.
Before we begin, it’s worth pointing out that comparing Coursera vs Udemy isn’t really about picking an outright winner from the two. That being said, I will pick a winner for each of the aspects I review and declare an overall victor based on my personal perspective. Just remember that there are plenty of circumstances where one of the platforms may be a better choice than the other, and each provider definitely has its merits.
So, let’s take a closer look at the services the online learning platforms offer students from around the world and help you choose where to look for your next course. Will it be with Udemy or Coursera?
Overview of Both Online Learning Platforms
It would be a tad unfair to launch into a head-to-head comparison of Udemy vs Coursera without first giving a little background information. After all, these are two rather different e-learning options.
Coursera offers hands-on projects, courses, certificates and degree programs in partnership with leading universities and colleges as well some of the biggest and best businesses. The goal of this online learning platform is to allow students to transform their lives through e-learning, regardless of where they live. We have an in-depth review of the online learning platform here.
Udemy offers a very wide range of courses. Rather than focusing on relationships with educational institutions, Udemy tries to ensure it has a course for any new skill you might be looking to learn. It boasts that it has the largest catalogue of online courses in the world with 130,000 courses taught in the form of video lectures. A detailed review of Udemy is available here.
As you can see, these are very different approaches. This is why comparisons are always going to be subjective at best. Still, I will try to make clear what each platform offers and why I have selected the winner within each category.
Coursera vs Udemy: Cost
Depending on what you choose to study, Coursera prices can range from as low as $29 for an individual course, to a yearly subscription to Coursera Plus at $399, to thousands of dollars for a Master’s Degree. Frequently you will be considering a per month cost rather than a per course cost.
Coursera is for people who are serious about growing their professional skills and (at the top end) those who have the budget to make it a reality.
That being said, studying with Coursera is still far more affordable than many traditional on-campus programs. Coursera can also provide financial aid and scholarship options to students. Many courses have seven-day full access or partial access free trials. There are also completely free courses, but you generally have to pay a token amount to gain an official course certificate.
At first glance it might seem expensive but if you spend some time and check it out properly you will realise that it is incredibly affordable. There’s no point in paying attention to the “full price” of any course, as they are almost always on promotion. If you purchase a course on sale it will normally run for around $12.99, not bad when you consider that for around the price of a decent lunch you can learn a new skill.
In terms of cost, Udemy is our winner. The price you will normally pay for a course is very hard to beat, especially when you consider that you get lifetime access to the material. Still, Coursera offers great value for those looking to study with top universities or follow degree programs.
Coursera vs Udemy: Which Online Learning Platform has a Better Reputation
Simply looking at Udemy and Coursera in terms of cost is really not enough. When it comes to spending money on improving yourself you want to make sure that you get a good return on investment. Sometimes this means looking beyond what you want to learn and considering what others will actually value.
Are Coursera Certificates and Courses worth it?
Coursera does a good job when it comes to building a good reputation for the platform’s courses. Digitally shareable course certificates and specialization certificates that can go straight onto your LinkedIn profile take the pain out of promoting your achievements. Plus, since the courses are typically partnered with well-known universities, they make for respectable CV boosters.
If you would like a more in-depth look at the value of Coursera’s professional certificates, we have an article on that here.
Are courses on Udemy worth it?
Completing a Udemy course isn’t really something you stick on your resumé or boast about (too much!) during a job interview. This doesn’t mean that taking a Udemy course is a waste of time (far from it), but it’s best treated merely as a way to learn a new skill or boost your existing skills.
The Udemy/Coursera debate is very easy when it comes to reputation. Coursera courses are unquestionably better for enhancing your resumé.
Udemy vs Coursera: Course Offerings
Since both platforms are aimed at global audiences you will find many courses on mainstream topics. Udemy and Coursera both offer a significant number of courses in languages other than English. Each of the platforms also offers some free opportunities to learn.
Where Udemy and Coursera are very different is the variety of subjects on offer and course accreditation.
Coursera offers courses in typical academic fields like data science, computer science, and the social sciences. On the Coursera platform you have the option to take individual courses, guided projects, specializations, Professional and MasterTrack Certificates, or even complete a full online degree.
This level of structure on the learning platform can help some students to better achieve their learning goals. On the other hand, if you just want to brush up some skills, you have plenty of free “audit” options.
The number of courses available is one of its biggest selling points. It claims that it is adding new online courses every month to ensure that the courses offer the most up-to-date information.
Students may find, however, that the courses Udemy offers vary greatly in terms of how current they are, not to mention huge discrepancies in quality.
On the plus side, students can take courses on almost anything they can imagine on this platform. Maybe you want to learn how to become a professional clown, perhaps you dream of being an eSports athlete, or you may simply want to up your blogging game by taking a Masterclass.
The beauty of the platform is that you are free to pick and choose from the countless courses offered to meet your individual wants and needs.
In terms of course offerings, I feel the Udemy vs Coursera battle is a draw. Coursera’s courses carry more weight because they are accredited but Udemy has so much variety on offer. You can find some real gems, taught by industry experts on Udemy.
Coursera vs Udemy: Instructor Credibility
Your instructors on Coursera courses are professional instructors from top universities and other educational organizations. They’re often the very same people who would be teaching you if you were studying at a “bricks and mortar” university. When you search for a course through Coursera, you will see where the course is “partnered.” You may see Duke University, the University of Michigan and Princeton University, just to name just a few. These partnerships with universities and colleges should help ensure the high quality of every course but there is no guarantee.
Anyone can create courses and sell them through Udemy. What ensures you’re getting good quality courses is the rating system and reviews from people who have completed each course. Some of the instructors are genuine experts and leaders in their field. Others – well – not so much…
If you want to be guaranteed the best instructors out there, then you’ll find them on Coursera. That’s not to say there aren’t some world-class instructors on Udemy, but you’ll have to hunt them down.
Udemy vs Coursera: Learning Experience
Coursera courses usually work like formalized online classes. You review video lectures, there are peer-reviewed and auto-graded assignments, and there are even community discussion forums. There’s a timetable to follow and an endpoint for when each course completes.
If you are wondering what courses to take, I have an article on The 8 Best Courses on Coursera for Building Your Skills.
Once you purchase a Udemy course, you’re basically on your own. You can complete the courses in your own time and at your own pace. The courses provide you with resources like recorded lectures and articles to read.
Whether you’re best suited to studying on Coursera or Udemy depends a lot on your learning style. If you’re self-motivated, Udemy courses should suit you fine, but if you struggle to stick to things without a “push,” the added accountability and time-pressure of a Coursera course will probably help you. Coursera takes this one by the slimmest of margins.
Online Learning Alternatives:
Before concluding our Udemy/Coursera evaluation, it is worth pointing out that there are plenty of other platforms which offer courses online. If you want to learn more we have a list of the 6 best e-learning websites here.
Which is better Coursera or Udemy or edX?
Many people do not want to limit themselves to just Udemy vs Coursera and edX seems to be the other contender that most frequently gets thrown into the ring. As to which one is better, it will depend on what you are looking for. edX is very similar to Coursera and we do provide a comparison of the two platforms at the end of this edX review.
Conclusion: Which is Better Coursera or Udemy?
Coursera and Udemy both have great online course offerings but each platform caters to different needs. So, let’s take a look at how the results panned out:
As you can see Coursera is clearly our winner. Still, when it comes down to choosing an online learning platform you should go with the one that best matches your needs at the time.
I hope this Coursera vs Udemy comparison has been helpful and wish you luck with your ongoing learning, whichever platform you choose to use.
Coursera Pros and Cons
Coursera is best for those who want to take their learning seriously and get some kind of recognition for it. It is also good for those who need a more structured learning path.
- Good quality courses from top universities and companies.
- A well-organised online learning platform.
- Free courses and low-cost options.
- Good integration to share credentials on LinkedIn.
- Transparency on costs could be better – it is sometimes not clear what constitutes a free course.
- The number of e-learning options can feel overwhelming – even when it does not come close to the sheer volume of courses on Udemy’s platform.
Udemy Pros and Cons
Udemy is best for those who are interested in learning a new skill but are not yet ready to fully commit. It is also a good, budget option for those who are looking to quickly brush up their skills and want answers on a very specific topic.
- Udemy has 130,000 courses available.
- You can learn skills for a small price.
- The Udemy platform is easy to use.
- It’s highly visual and mainly video-based with some downloads.
- Udemy is available on all devices through app or internet.
- Anyone can create Udemy courses – so if you have some particular knowledge, you can get paid to share it without needing a teaching or college degree.
- Course pricing can be misleading – a high price does not mean that an online course is good.
- The discounted price can sometimes change by a few dollars if you search for a class using a new IP address.
- Anyone can create a course on Udemy – so check the course reviews carefully.
If Coursera is the right choice for you, start looking for your next course here.
Or maybe you would rather check out what Udemy has to offer.
While You’re Here:
- Ever wonder why you are not progressing despite all the courses you take? You NEED to read this article.
- Take a look at this list of the best freelance skills before deciding on your next course.
- We also have a guide to the best Udemy courses for freelancers.
Karen Fleming is a writer, translator, and teacher with more than 10 years of freelance experience. When she isn’t reading, writing, or taking yet another online class, she is probably doing some one-on-one tutoring or enjoying a good movie with her husband and two daughters.