Coursera is one of the most popular course platforms, together with Udemy, edX, DataCamp, Codecademy, and others. But this one advertises as a place to get not only a full-fledged diploma. A bunch of universities are offering courses there, and it looks like an education supermarket. So should I skip the traditional classes and buy some courses there? Will this diploma be legit, or is it an excellent marketing trick?
I’ll explain everything here and answer the main question of whether Coursera is accredited.
Coursera VS traditional education
The concept of traditional education became blurred during the COVID pandemic. If online studies were mainly considered a last resort or the only way for students abroad (and often overlooked as something inferior to classical offline studies), now even the oldest and the most traditional universities have whole online courses. They have to do it to maintain the clientele.
The world has become much more tolerant of online studies, fewer and fewer people make a difference between online and offline diplomas at all. So, if we talk about complete university courses, with proper homework standards and good feedback from the teachers, not just a bunch of videos you purchase – Coursera can be compared with traditional education; moreover, in some aspects, it is formal education. Stanford courses are no-nonsense both in terms of payment and the amount of knowledge they squeeze into you.
This doesn’t apply to the singular Coursera courses, though. Despite being popular and generally helpful, they can’t be compared with traditional uni education simply because they lack the credibility of the major universities. The skills and knowledge may (or may not) be similar, but if you need a pretty paper for your future employer, it might not work.
What does it mean to be accredited?
Let’s start from the basics. What is accreditation at all? It means that something – a course for us – meets the standards and requirements of the accrediting organization. So, simply put, being accredited means just whether your future employeer “believes” you know the subject stated in your certificate or not. Your certificate may be perfectly valid and very valuable in one organization but just a pretty picture in another.
Here comes our main answer about Coursera being accredited or not.
The verdict: Is Coursera accredited?
Coursera is not accredited as a degree-granting institution, but it partners with accredited universities and institutions to offer online courses and degree programs. Coursera itself is a platform that provides access to online courses and programs, and it does not offer degrees directly.
However, the institutions that partner with Coursera to offer online courses and programs are accredited by recognized accreditation agencies. These institutions have undergone rigorous evaluation to ensure that their academic programs meet certain standards.
Before enrolling in any online program or course, it is important to research the accreditation status of the institution offering the program. Coursera provides information about the partner institutions and the accreditation status of their programs on its website, and you can also check the accreditation status of the institutions themselves through relevant accreditation agencies.
Are Coursera courses accredited?
Coursera offers both accredited and non-accredited courses, so it depends on the course and the institution offering it. Coursera has a lot of partners who provide their own courses: Google, IBM, Meta, and other digital monsters create whole chains, from the very basics to specific and complicated tasks.
There are plenty of courses on Coursera that are offered by accredited universities and institutions and may be part of a degree program. In these cases, the course may be accredited and count towards a degree or other academic credential. Additionally, there will be corresponding university signs under your bachelor’s or master’s degree. After successfully finishing the program, you’ll have an actual uni degree. Don’t expect it to be much cheaper or more manageable than an actual university program though.
To find accredited courses on Coursera, you can search for courses offered by accredited universities and institutions. Here is the list of accredited universities and institutions that offer courses on Coursera:
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Michigan
- Duke University
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- University of London
- Johns Hopkins University
- Stanford University
- Yale University
- University of California, Berkeley
- Columbia University
But this list is not complete. To determine whether a specific course on Coursera is accredited, you should check the course description and the institution that is offering the course. Additionally, some courses may offer certificates or credentials that are recognized by industry associations or professional organizations, even if the course itself is not accredited.
Other courses on Coursera are not accredited and are intended for personal or professional development rather than academic credit. These courses may offer a certificate of completion or a digital badge, but these do not carry the same weight as an accredited academic credential. These are private companies and individual instructors.
It’s important to note that even if a course on Coursera is not accredited, it can still be valuable for learning and skill development. Many Coursera courses are taught by experts in their fields and offer high-quality content and interactive learning experiences. It’s up to the learner to determine whether a particular course will meet their needs and goals, whether or not it is accredited.
So, now you know the main answer that Coursera is not accredited directly but provides courses from accredited institutions. Now, let’s touch on some related and important questions about Coursera.
Is Coursera legit?
Coursera Inc. is a legally registered company with a tax number and a long biography. It was founded in 2012, and its partner network has been growing ever since. Starting from Stanford – the founder’s university – it now includes dozens of prestigious American and English colleges and unis. Its revenue is also pretty impressive, more than 100 million US dollars, and steadily grew during COVID times.
The accreditation part has some issues, but the answer to this question is definitely yes. Coursera won’t disappear with your money paid for the courses.
Are Coursera certificates recognized and valid?
The bad news is that Coursera isn’t TOEFL and isn’t recognized worldwide, especially among old-school managers who don’t believe in online education. But the good news is that Coursera, unlike most other course portals, has rigorous requirements when it comes to its courses. While other platforms allow anyone to post their course, Coursera’s teachers must have a rock-solid foundation to be published.
So, even if you don’t buy the course from a particular company or university, the overall credibility of Coursera may work for you. Of course, no one guarantees that the certificate will be instantly recognized, but it may be a neat adornment of your CV. Also, the knowledge base of Coursera’s courses is (on average) pretty decent. If the certificate gets you through the HR department, the actual content of the course may be beneficial during the technical interview or test task.
Will Coursera help me get a job?
The Coursera courses themselves won’t get you any job (except the ones where the top-X students are hunted immediately – some companies provide such an opportunity, training the specialists they need). But it may be helpful, either as a source of skills you need or as a confirmation of skills you have. The first variant is much cheaper (actually, there are enough free courses for almost every field of knowledge), but the second one is more reliable. The big companies love seeing certificates issued by themselves; it looks like brand loyalty for them. So, if you are aiming for Meta or IBM, consider enrolling in their courses.
If you are searching for a full degree, prepare your wallet and a couple of years of your time. Getting a diploma on Coursera isn’t much easier than in the university directly, but having a diploma is definitely a significant boost to your career that opens new opportunities.
Is Coursera worth it?
Depending on what you mean by “worth.” You may take free courses or have an expensive master’s diploma, spend one day (Coursera even has a special section of one-day courses), or several years learning something new. Everything depends on your goal.
But generally speaking – yes, it does. Though you can stumble upon a course unsuitable for you, too challenging, or just too dull to learn further, the best part of Coursera is that you may always find a substitution. The competition is immense, so use all your trials, check everything that catches your eye, and don’t worry that you will not find anything else.
Still, be aware of extremely long courses or serious commitments, like the master’s degree programs I wrote about before. Some of them allow paying only for the courses you enrolled in, one by one, but lots of them ask you to pay in advance. Think twice before starting an especially time-consuming course because you may lose your money and not get the certificate you need.
One-day or one-week courses, free or inexpensive, are the safest way to get accustomed to Coursera, get yourself a bunch of pretty certificates, and understand if you need something more to achieve your goal.