A Guide to Coursera

From Khan Academy to Udemy, there are plenty of online resources for learning. One that should be on your radar is Coursera. It’s a website that offers online courses on a wide range of subjects. Here’s what you can expect when using the tool.

What is Coursera?

Here's some advice to those getting their online masters degree in education

Source: Flickr user usdagov.

Coursera is an online marketplace for virtual courses presented by over 300 universities and companies from around the globe. Currently, there are around 7,000 classes available through the website. Those interested can sign up to earn certifications and degrees right on the website or simply take classes that interest them.

Coursera was founded by computer science professors from Stanford University (Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller) in 2012. Some colleges that currently offer degrees on the site include University of North Texas, University of London, University of Pennsylvania, Northeastern University, and West Virginia University. Certificate programs are also available through world renowned companies such as Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Intuit.

What Will You Learn?

Those interested in using Coursera can earn certificates or even degrees in a wide array of subjects. Students can opt to take a single free course in something that interests them or study towards a more advanced goal.

Some common ones include:

  • Data science
  • Business
  • Computer science
  • Personal development
  • Information technology
  • Language learning
  • Math and logic
  • Physical science and engineering
  • Health
  • Social Sciences
  • Arts and humanities

How Much Does Coursera Cost?

The cost of Coursera depends on how you’re using the site. Professional Certificate programs can range from $39 to $99 per month. MasterTrack Certificate programs can be anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000.

For those interested in taking a variety of different courses on the site, it may be worth it to sign up for the Coursera subscription, Coursera Plus. As of this writing, it is $59 a month with a 7-day free trial or $399 per year. It comes with a 14 day money back guarantee.

Coursera Plus gives you access to the over 7,000 courses, Guided Projects, Specializations, and Professional Certificates – anything marked with a Coursera Plus badge. However, content that grants credits, such as courses for MasterTrack or degrees, is not included in this subscription.

Are There Free Courses Available on Coursera?

Yes, there are actually free courses available through Coursera. These could be offered directly through Coursera or by colleges or companies. For example, at the moment, some free courses on the site include:

  • Introduction to Microsoft Excel by Coursera Project Network
  • Build a free website with WordPress by Coursera Project Network
  • Introduction to Psychology by Yale University
  • Cybersecurity for Everyone by the University of Maryland – College Park
  • First Step Korean by Yonsei University

Many of the free courses are for beginners, but there are plenty of more advanced courses as well if you want to challenge yourself.

Some of the courses are free, but if you want the certificate or to earn credit towards a degree, you probably have to pay money.

It is important to note that many courses actually have financial aid available if you need assistance paying for the classes

What Can I Expect in a Coursera Course?

Coursera courses vary quite a bit. Some may be completed in just a few days while others might last months. Every course’s page, however, breaks down what you can expect. You will be able to see:

  • How long the program will run for
  • The level of difficulty (beginner, intermediate, advanced, or mixed)
  • How many hours you will need to dedicate a week
  • The type of schedule (such as flexible/learn at your own pace)
  • Reviews
  • The modules or subjects the course will cover
  • Whether or not the course includes a certificate or can be put towards degree credit

For example, the First Step Korean course from Yonsei University is a beginner level course that is expected to take 3 weeks (5 hours a week, for 17 hours total). It’s a learn at your own pace class, and the modules cover the Introduction, The Korean Alphabet, Greetings and Introducing, Family, Time and Date, and Daily Life. Participants can choose to earn a career certificate to place on LinkedIn or their resumes.

The Google Digital Marketing & E-Commerce Professional Certificate, however, will take 6 months to complete (10 hours a week). It’s also a learn at your own pace course set at the beginner level, but participants can choose to earn degree credit through the program, too.

Should I Use Coursera?

Whether or not you use Coursera is completely up to you! However, it can be a great way to close the gaps in your education, earn a degree online, or simply learn about something that interests you. You can gain new skills, like marketing, or focus more on personal development, gaining valuable skills like critical thinking and problem solving. You don’t necessarily have to pay – there are plenty of free resources right through the website.

If you’re thinking about using the site or signing up for Coursera Plus, consider your personal goals and start by exploring the many courses the website, companies, and universities offer.

Coursera and tools like it can be great stepping stones for education goals and careers. But knowing what employers are looking for in their employees is essential. Using our Career Finder, you can discover the best majors, skills, and schools for your goals. Use it for free here.

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