Udacity vs Coursera: Features, Best Courses & Pros vs Cons

Udacity and Coursera are currently two of the most popular online course providers, which have risen to prominence to address the need for social distancing among students and course instructors. Distance learning comes with several advantages, namely being able to pursue one’s studies safely at one’s home and at asynchronous, or self-paced, hours. Such platforms may be appealing due to comprehensive course materials, professional instructors, and affordable programs.

Many considerations need to be addressed to find which platform offers the best online courses. For starters, each platform specializes in a particular area of knowledge, which might be more oriented towards academics, a vocation, or a hobby. Students should also consider how often they can study, attend meetings, answer quizzes and homework, and how flexible they can be with the program. While many massive open online courses (MOOCs) are designed to fit asynchronous schedules, others give instructors the options to impose rigid deadlines like actual universities. Additionally, the purpose for taking an online course should also be discussed. Online learning platforms like Udacity and Coursera offer different types of certification upon completing one of their courses, which can be just as valuable at landing a job as physical degrees.

Other platform matchups include ‘Udacity vs Udemy,’ ‘Udemy vs Coursera,’ ‘edX vs Coursera,’ and ‘Udemy vs Udacity.’ When discussing the best online learning platforms, however, Udacity vs Coursera usually dominate the conversation as both offer state-of-the-art, professional courses for all types of students.

Overview – Coursera vs Udacity

Coursera, Udacity and other online course providers are basically learning management systems (LMS), which allow students and teachers to conduct the academic processes of real universities online for convenience. In addition to tracking a student’s progress to completion, Coursera and Udacity produce in-house programs as part of an all-in-one learning package. Most courses have affordable prices and generally cost less than physically attending classes. Each also has a different selection of self-paced free courses, making a great deal of information available for everyone.


Udacity mainly offers online courses in tech-related fields, such as computer science. With a narrower scope, it is able to focus on improving the quality and timeliness of its course material. Its course content emphasizes user interaction and up-to-date competencies. It is well-known for its Nanodegree programs, smaller-scale certifications that are widely recognized by leaders in the tech industry. Udacity is designed with the modularity and rapid change of I.T. trends in mind, considering its courses are created by leading programmers.


Coursera, on the other hand, has a more diverse selection of topics, ranging from business, music, and engineering, to physical science. It functions more closely to real-world universities in terms of scope. In fact, Coursera’s courses are all designed by leading schools such as Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania, and the degrees are cheaper than what they would normally cost.

Feature Comparison – Coursera vs Udacity

As distance learning systems, Udacity and Coursera share general features, although they differ in quality and approach. Both platforms offer exclusive courses with their own learning approach and instructor presence. Subscription models also vary between the two.



Instead of traditional degrees, Udacity courses offer Nanodegree programs focused on technology-related fields. Its courses are categorized into the following schools:

  • Artificial Intelligence,
  • Autonomous Systems,
  • Business,
  • Cloud Computing,
  • Data Science, and
  • Programming & Development.


Partnering with Google, IBM, and top institutions like Duke and Stanford, Coursera has a diverse selection of online courses, with over 6,000 university-designed and accredited courses that are separated into the fields below:

  • Arts & Sciences,
  • Business,
  • Computer Science,
  • Data Science,
  • Information Technology,
  • Health,
  • Math & Logic,
  • Personal Development,
  • Physical Science & Engineering,
  • Social Sciences, and
  • Language Learning

Learning Methods


Udacity’s signature approach to online learning involves customized solutions to a learner’s curriculum, its unique Nanodegree approach to certifying users in rare, high-value, and marketable skills, and experience management on a personal, peer and expert level.

Users also get in-depth preliminary assessments to specifically tailor an individual or team’s curriculum to their needs, hands-on projects, outputs reviewed and validated by industry professionals, and a streamlined dashboard for tracking results and progress over a span of time.

Learners in Udacity can avail in subscription programs, which are self-paced, or Nanodegree programs that have set terms and strict deadlines.


Coursera offers a self-paced learning style that works well for faster learners, allowing users to complete five-year courses in as little as two or three years after finishing all the material and requirements. Conversely, more casual or slower-paced learners are able to take as much time as they need to comply with all the deadlines. It boasts having its course materials (PowerPoint presentations, videos, PDF’s, etc.) produced from top universities such as Stanford, John Hopkins, and Duke, and high-quality support from professors and experts working in prestigious institutions.

Instructors & Other Services


Udacity’s pool of designers and instructors are drawn from tech giants such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon, ensuring that their online courses are always on top of trends in web and software development, data science, online marketing, and related fields.

Users can get direct, personal support from course instructors, with multiple avenues to receive learning support from another human. Learners can enjoy participating in real-world projects with leading companies to expand their skillset and socialization in the field.

Udacity also offers mentorship and career coach programs, allowing subscribers to learn from the trade secrets and lived experiences of professionals.


Coursera has a roster of just above 8,000 instructors in their directory and about 250 expert instructors for premium learners. Its professors are regularly featured on Coursera’s blog, discussing issues, learning philosophies, and career advice to its students.

Most of the human assessment a learner can get from Coursera comes from fellow students and the occasional instructor meeting. While the instructors are enthusiastic and supportive, many courses have no live educator at all. Although Coursera has a discussion forum, it isn’t as lively as those in other platforms.



Nanodegrees are Udacity’s flagship programs, designed and taught in meticulous detail. The price for Nanodegree subscriptions, however, is pretty steep; most are paid on a per-month basis of $399. There is also a single payment option with a reduced fee that can save tens to hundreds of dollars.

Some of the cheapest courses, with a discounted fee of $800 to $1,100 upfront, are:

  • AI Product Management,
  • UX Design,
  • Intro to Machine Learning, and
  • Marketing Analytics.

On the other hand, the most expensive courses, priced at over $2,100, include:

  • Android Development,
  • iOS Development,
  • Artificial Intelligence for Trading, and
  • Self-Driving Car Engineering.

Udacity also offers about 200 free courses on versatile skills. Popular free courses include HTML5 and CSS, statistics, data science, and psychology.


Learning on Coursera comes in the following subscription models. You need to request more information to view the pricing for each subscription.

  • Main courses: Subscriptions can range between $29-99 per month, with most main courses requiring 4-6 weeks of learning. Users will receive an electronic certificate for completing a course.
  • Specialization courses: Running at about $39-79 a month, these are supplemental courses to deepen an insight on a particular subtopic to one’s main course. It involves running projects in real-world scenarios and intensive coursework.
  • Professional degrees. Coursera offers accredited, university-recognized Bachelor’s Degree programs for higher education learners. These long-term investments are as rigorous as regular degrees and range from $15,000 to $30,000.
  • Business. Companies can expand their employees’ skillsets on Coursera for $400/year per individual.

Coursera Plus is a premium membership model. For an annual subscription of $399 upfront, Plus users gain unlimited access to over 3,800 courses, guided projects, specializations, and professional certification. It’s a great deal for users investing in multiple specializations for their career.



Udacity provides several scholarships to support its learners. It has given over 22,000 scholarships with the help of partnered institutions from 48 countries.

Udacity’s Pledge to Equality is a campaign to equip students from marginalized communities with professional education. It currently offers 1,000 Black American learners the opportunity to enroll in any Nanodegree program to produce qualified job candidates with in-demand skills. Their Top 5 best performing graduates will participate in the Udacity 2021 internship program.

Other scholarship programs launched within the last year include a Machine Learning course from Microsoft Azure, a Bertelsmann course on AI, Cloud Computing and Data, and a course on Artificial Intelligence by Intel Edge.


Coursera is offering limited scholarship opportunities on online courses for business, data and technology to 10,000 learners in India and 5,000 in Mexico who can’t afford to pay for a certificate. Different courses will be available, depending on which industry skills are in high demand for each nation. Scholars will be able to access course content and submit assignments for 180 days.

Coursera has multiple resources for learners to find financial aid opportunities from their country’s government. Universities also offer financial support for the courses they provide on the platform. Users can apply for aid in that manner through the course’s homepage.

Best Courses for 2020 – Coursera vs Udacity


  • UX Design.
  • Digital Marketing.
  • Business Analytics.
  • Intro to Programming.
  • Full Stack Web Development.
  • Data Visualization.


  • Machine Learning.
  • Learning How to Learn.
  • The Science of Wellbeing.
  • Data Science.
  • English for Career Development.

Pros vs Cons – Udacity vs Coursera



  • High-quality online courses. Udacity’s courses are crafted by industry professionals, such as programmers and marketing analysts, and the information and insight from each one can be very valuable.
  • Course materials are always calibrated to the current standards for each field. With the help of its tech-giant sposors, Udacity equips its learners with the timeliness to stay relevant and in-demand in such a rapidly-developing sector like Information Technology.
  • Free courses offer introductory training to various skills, as well as flexible learning schedules. Compared to the much stricter, term-based Nanodegree program, Udacity’s free courses allow students to learn at any pace.
  • Direct, personal support with an instructor or expert. Students will feel motivated by how often they may talk and seek advice from peers and career pros. Its instructors are available on chat, call, or teleconference


  • Limited variety in courses. Udacity specializes in the tech industry, first and foremost, and while its quality there is excellent, it simply does not have the wide selection of other online course providers.
  • Subscriptions can be pricey, even for one Nanodegree. Prospecting users should consider the value of a large upfront fee against dealing with a hefty payment per month.



  • Large variety of online courses, with over 6,000 individual programs. Coursera’s programs are designed by professors and experts from leading academic institutions
  • Plenty of free quality courses. Coursera is basically a full-fledged university in its own way, complete with a massive library of information for anyone to use. Users can enroll in as many courses as they want.
  • Industry-standard learning for affordable prices. Getting a certificate on Coursera is far cheaper vs Udacity. Coursera offers online degree programs that fetch about $15,000 to $30,000, but these still weigh less on the wallet than getting a degree normally.
  • Gives users the freedom to pursue their course at their own pace. Deadlines are considered more like guidelines than matters of life-and-death. Poor internet and busy schedules won’t impact your education.
  • Its interface is extremely streamlined and navigating the site is easy. Localization options also exist; as one example, learners from Mexico, Spain, and South American countries might find themselves at home with courses in the Spanish language.


  • Finding advice is a difficult ordeal. Some courses don’t have educators on-call to answer questions, and peer discussion is usually of low quality, bloated and infrequently moderated.
  • While the instructors themselves have valuable information, it can be hard to receive a response from them due to the sheer load of students also asking questions.
  • With such a bounty of programs to choose from, quality can range from excellent to mediocre. Not all of Coursera’s programs are given the same attention; some contain less in-depth information than others and require professional polish.
  • In the same vein, Coursera’s versatility means it is a less effective tool for specialized topics like language learning and computer science, where other providers such as Duolingo and Udacity are far stronger.

Final Verdict

When discussing Coursera vs Udacity, there are different winners, depending on the student’s interests and career plans.

For starters, one should consider the course they wish to take – if it’s in a tech-related, like data science, marketing analytics, or everything that has to do with web and application development, Udacity is the clear winner. If their interests fall under social sciences, psychology, language, business, or holistic learning, they’ll find their interests indulged far better in Coursera.

A student should contemplate on how comfortable they are learning by themselves. Some students need peer support and instruction more than others. Udacity has a hospitable, outgoing climate for seeking motivation and help from professionals and classmates. Coursera, on the other hand, has an environment more geared to self-study, although it still maintains its own discussion forum. Udacity shines in giving students quality personal training.

Both platforms are open to flexible learning schedules, although learners with less time in their day to study will love Coursera. Udacity’s Nanodegree programs, on the other hand, are term-based and require rigid attention to schedules and deadlines. Overall, Coursera is the more accommodating choice for plenty of learners.

When comparing the financial support for education, Coursera also stands out with an abundance of financial aid and scholarship programs for each course, sponsored by top universities and companies. Meanwhile, Udacity runs a few scholarships themselves, albeit at a much smaller scale. Either way, one can expect a decently-high quality of education for the price of the course they’ll take.

Mike Samuels
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