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What is Coursera? Everything You Need to Know

By Kayla Korzekwinski

Kayla Korzekwinski is a Scholarships360 content writer. She earned her BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied Advertising/PR, Rhetorical Communication, and Anthropology. Kayla has worked on communications for non-profits and student organizations. She loves to write and come up with new ways to express ideas.

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Updated: March 22nd, 2022
What is Coursera? Everything You Need to Know

Coursera is a website that has over 4,000 classes for students to choose from. Taking their classes can earn you a professional certificate, or even a degree! Interested in learning about the website and what it has to offer? Continue reading to learn what Coursera is and the important things to know.

Related: Top alternatives to four-year universities

What is Coursera?

Coursera is a website that provides educational classes in a variety of styles. As a user, you can choose between Courses, Specializations, Professional Certificates, MasterTrack, and Degrees (more on each type of class later). Classes on the platform are pre-recorded video lectures that can be watched on a schedule or at your convenience. Other materials include discussion forums, assignments, hands-on projects, and quizzes.

Coursera partners with companies such as Google, IBM, and Meta and universities to bring students classes on academic and skill-related subjects. Some well-known participating universities include Michigan State University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of London. In fact, Coursera classes are taught by over 200 companies and universities. Taking classes on the platform can earn students a degree, credits, or certifications from these companies and universities.

The website offers 4,300+ courses, 450+ specializations, 440+ projects, 30+ certificates, and 20 degrees to over 92 million learners. Most Coursera content that offers a certification or degree has a cost, but there are hundreds of free classes that can be accessed by Coursera users.

How are Coursera classes designed?

Coursera partners with over 200 companies and universities to provide its classes and programs. So, you’ll be able to choose from a wide variety of academic programs and fields of study.

Are certificates available?

Yes, Coursera offers a variety of programs that provide professional certificates and degrees. Additionally, some universities accept Coursera classes as credit toward a degree. These certifications and degrees are widely recognized and can be added to your resume and educational experience. Examples of professional certificate topics include IT Support, Social Media, Business, Data Engineering, and Bookkeeping. Degrees are offered in both undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

Related: Top certificates to earn

How can I use Coursera to benefit my professional life?

Since Coursera offers professional certificates and degrees, it can benefit your professional life by showing that you have necessary skills and experience for a career. Free classes don’t typically offer a certification, but there are certificates of completion that can be used to show that you’re educated on the topic. Either way, Coursera offers education on industry-specific skills that can increase your knowledge and abilities in the workplace.

The American Dream Academy

In March 2022, Coursera partnered with the Milken Center to launch the American Dream Academy. The Academy consists of a suite of free courses for students hosted on Coursera. They help students land a wide variety of jobs, focusing on high-growth digital positions. The courses last around six months, but the timing is extremely flexible.

Students in these courses earn certificates and valuable training to help land a job. The course designers have focused on versatile, high-impact skills which apply across a wide range of profitable industries. Check out the American Dream Academy today to get your career moving!

What kinds of classes are available?

There are 6 types of classes that are offered on Coursera. Each type has different time commitments and subjects.

Guided Projects

Coursera’s Guided Projects are typically a 1-2 hour time commitment. They are useful for sharpening your job skills and knowledge of industry tools. Examples of Guided Project subjects are Project Management, R, Microsoft Excel, and Photoshop.


Coursera’s Courses are a 4-12 hour time commitment. They’re ideal for learning about educational concepts and subjects such as Psychology, Design, and Health and Wellness.


Coursera’s Specialization classes last 1-3 months. They’re ideal for mastering specific job-related skills. Examples of Specialization subjects are Python, Digital Marketing Strategy and Planning, Robotics, and Epidemiology.

Professional Certificates

Coursera’s Professional Certificate classes are a 1-6 month commitment. These classes are ideal for learning career-related skills. They are created by companies like Google and IBM, so they’re especially useful if you’re looking to have a job at one of the companies that offer Professional Certificate classes. Topics include Cybersecurity, Social Media Marketing, and IT.


MasterTrack is a degree program offered by Coursera. Classes consist of a 4-7 month commitment. Completion of a MasterTrack course can earn you a university-issued degree and/or credits toward a degree. Programs include Social Work, Entrepreneurship, and Construction Engineering from universities such as Arizona State University, Rutgers University, University of Michigan, and Yale University.


Coursera also has classes that will earn students a university-issued degree. The Degree programs are a 2-4 year time commitment. Students can earn a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree on Coursera. 

Don’t miss: How to pay for a certificate program

How much does Coursera cost?

The cost of Coursera depends on which type of class you choose. Overall, the prices range from free to $9,000. Coursera also has financial aid and scholarships for students who are interested. Most classes can be viewed for free in audit mode. Auditing a class won’t earn you a certificate,  and you won’t be able to complete assignments or have coursework graded.

Coursera Plus is also an option. For $399 per year, Coursera Plus subscribers have unlimited access to over 7,000 predetermined Courses, Guided Projects, Specializations, and Professional Certificates.

Guided Projects

Coursera’s Guided Projects start at $9.99.


Coursera’s Courses start at no charge.


Coursera’s Specialization classes last 1-3 months and are $39 per month.

Professional Certificates

Coursera’s Professional Certificate classes last 1-6 months and cost $39 per month.


Coursera’s MasterTrack programs start at $2,000.


Coursera Degree programs start at $9,000.

Alternatives to Coursera

Coursera boasts nearly 5,000 classes that can result in professional certifications and degrees. However, it is not the only option out there. There are many online platforms offering classes, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s go over a few platforms that offer similar benefits to Coursera:


Unlike Coursera, MasterClass does not offer any certificates for their classes. Another difference between MasterClass and Coursera is that MasterClass courses average 10 minutes per lesson. This is quite a contrast to the year-long programs that Coursera offers.

A similarity between MasterClass and Coursera is that the classes are designed with experts in the field, so classes are produced with institutional support. Like most options on Coursera, MasterClass classes are based on interaction with pre-prepared materials.


One main difference between Coursera and Udemy is that Udemy’s classes are designed by users of the website. The classes are vetted by the website, but they are not designed by companies or universities. This makes Udemy a less expensive option, with classes not exceeding $190. However, Udemy classes carry less impact on a resume, and they do not offer professional certificates or degrees. Udemy is more ideal for students who want to take a one-off course on a particular subject for their own knowledge.


Like Coursera, EdX classes are taught by universities. EdX also offers degree programs, boot camps, and professional certificates. Their courses that provide certifications range in price from $50 – $300. EdX classes are made up of weekly, pre-recorded content that can be completed at your own pace.

Don’t miss: Top scholarships for online students

Coursera summary

In summary, Coursera is a website that offers classes that range from guided projects to Master’s degrees. Coursera awards professional certifications upon completion of many of their classes, which can give you a leg up in your job search. Give Coursera a try if you think it’s right for your career and/or education!

Also see: Google Certificate Progam: All you need to know

Frequently asked questions about Coursera

Is a Coursera certificate useful?

Yes! Coursera classes are taught by companies that offer and recognize professional certificates. For a price, completion of a Coursera class can earn you a certificate that could be useful in your job search. 

Does Coursera have a monthly fee?

Students who enroll in a Specialization or Professional Certificate program pay $39 per month while completing the class. Coursera Plus has an annual fee of $399. Other than that, each class is a one-time cost.

Can I put Coursera courses on my resume?

Yes, Coursera courses come with certificates or degrees that are recognized by most employers. Therefore, you should share your Coursera history on your resume and LinkedIn.

Do Coursera courses help you find a job?

Coursera classes can help you become a stronger candidate for a job. They offer certifications and degree credits that can be cited on a resume or in an interview. Additionally, Coursera classes usually include a hands-on project. This project can be cited as experience and familiarity with the skills needed for the job you seek.

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