Udacity vs Coursera: Key Features and Differences

Udacity and Coursera have been around for a while now, and they’ve made a pretty good name for themselves as some of the best online course providers available today. Don’t think that you can substitute one for the other, though. These two platforms are geared toward very different needs.

Many things can make a MOOC (massive open online course) provider great, such as the number of courses it offers, the quality of its lessons, the degree of instruction you’ll receive from professors, peer support, and, of course, the practical value of learning a course in the first place. If you’re studying at a university, a couple of extra credits will really go a long way.

In this article, we’ll review both Udacity and Coursera’s main features to see exactly how unique they are from one another, and help you pick the better option based on your interests, schedule and budget. If you want to know more about Nanodegrees and bleeding-edge I.T., or how to get digital certificates from Stanford or John Hopkins, you’ll want to read to the end of this guide.

Course Selection

Coursera’s larger library of courses is designed by top universities. Leading experts in I.T. produce Udacity’s trending tech classes.

In terms of the lessons they offer, Udacity and Coursera already stand out from one another. That’s because Coursera is the generalist type of learning platform, offering a wide variety of courses for every kind of learner. On the other hand, Udacity is a specialized MOOC platform – its coverage is strictly related to tech-related topics.

As far as other platforms are concerned, both Coursera and Udacity can boast of very high levels of production and quality in their online classes.

Coursera is an excellent choice if you’re interested in learning academic topics, with lessons adapted directly from the curricula of its prestigious partnering institutions. They have more than 6,000 courses, supported by 200 renowned universities, under their belt.

On the platform, you can learn more about business from Wharton, data science from John Hopkins University, music theory from Edinburgh, or chemistry from Duke. As an added bonus, courses in Coursera are generally available for free.

When it comes to sharpening your skills in the tech industry, however, Udacity is the clear champion. They’ve got a smaller selection of courses, at roughly 200 classes right now, but that’s due to them spending time with I.T. professionals producing, teaching and polishing each of their courses.

As a result, the library on Udacity has the most updated coverage on artificial intelligence, cloud computing, data science and all sorts of programming languages. Like Coursera, Udacity also releases many of its courses for free.

Learning Experience

Coursera is like a library – a place for scholarly, and often quiet, learning. Udacity is a trade school buzzing with projects and activities.

Some features are universal whenever you’re taking a course on an online learning platforms, such as having the bulk of your classes be taught through video lessons. To augment this, courses also provide resources you can download, as well as multiple types of assessments.

Learning management systems (LMSs) also typically feature a discussion forum and messaging client for students to interact with one another, as well as seek advice and feedback from their instructors. This is most useful if your course has project requirements, or encourages peer-to-peer learning, such as in music, arts, and app development.

In these regards, Coursera and Udacity are a little alike, but their learning environments can appeal to different types of students.

You can expect an amazing level of quality with the video instruction and course content on Coursera. However, it’s likely that you’ll be devouring all that information without much presence from your instructor. Coursera’s community is active, but a little quiet for the most part.

Depending on your course, your classmates may also be around to chat. This might not be a problem if you’re intent on studying by yourself, and you can always find a few study partners in many cases.

Udacity is heavily focused on projects and practical learning, which is a logical approach for teaching skills in the tech industry. Expect to tinker with code in every class if it’s part of your subject.

One of Udacity’s core strengths is its collaborative atmosphere. Many tech professionals are on-call to provide feedback and support, and you stand to gain a lot from their practical experience. You’ll also be engaging with your classmates often as you slave on building and debugging projects. There’s also a chance that you’ll work on a practical project for Udacity’s tech sponsors as part of your final requirements.

Subscription Plans

The Nanodegree program has a pricey fee, but has tremendous value for tech careers. On Coursera, you can earn credits and full certificates from prestigious schools.

To preface this section, let’s get the best news out of the way first. Udacity has a lot of free courses, and Coursera does as well. Don’t be afraid to try them out before making a purchase. With some patience, you can learn quite a bit from these free lessons.

However, if you’re looking to get accredited certificates, such as from Udacity’s flagship Nanodegree programs, or any of Coursera’s highly-esteemed university sponsors, you’ll need to pay a subscription fee. Luckily, there are multiple options.

First off, the Nanodegree. It’s not an actual degree, but it grants credits, and you’ll earn highly valuable experience in the tech field, and not just from the courses, but from the quality connections you’ll make with their I.T. experts. For approximately $399 a month, you can earn a Nanodegree for a course that takes 2-3 months to finish. And you get a reduced price of around $700 to $1,100 if you pay for the whole program.

Coursera offers a digital certificate of completion alongside its subscription offer, which also opens up useful features in a course, like graded assessments and certain resources. The credits and certificate you’ll acquire will look pretty good in a resume, as it comes with the brand of your course’s university partner.

  • The main courses cost $29-99 per month, and you can likely finish them in 4-6 weeks.

  • For deepening your insight on a particular field, you can purchase specialization courses for $39-79/monthly.

  • Professional degrees are available on Coursera, and you can even take a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree on the platform for $15,000 to $30,000 for the entire program.

If you’re interested in studying a lot of topics, consider getting Coursera Plus. It’s a Premium plan that unlocks access to nearly 4,000 paid courses as well as the certificates you gain from completing them. The Plus subscription currently costs around $399.

Scholarships & Financial Aid

Both platforms offer aid to make their courses more affordable. Tech giants provide aid for Udacity courses, while Coursera’s aid comes from universities.

Udacity funds its scholarships and financial assistance programs alongside its partners in the tech industry, such as Google and AT&T. Over 22,000 students have earned scholarships through the platform’s various programs.

Active scholarship programs include a Microsoft-backed course on machine learning, an AI program with Amazon, and tech scholarships paid for by Bertelsmann.

If you’re looking to apply, you can check Udacity’s scholarship page here.

Coursera allows you to view most of a course’s contents through its audit mode. To lend a little hand with paying for a certificate, courses provide a link in their landing page for learners who want to apply for financial aid or a scholarship. Once accepted, a student can view and access all paid features of a course.

Your application may take up to two weeks to process. Check this guide to learn more about applying for financial aid on Coursera.


If you’re an IT professional and want to crush your competition in the tech industry, Udacity has your back. For academic studies and loads of choices, you can’t go wrong with Coursera.

Now that we’ve compared Udacity and Coursera together, you’ll know that the platforms couldn’t be further apart as online learning platforms in terms of their niche.

The main difference is that Coursera is a versatile platform that caters to a larger pool of learners, especially students trying to get ahead in university. Coursera has excellent coverage

In sharp contrast, Udacity is a platform built for people who are firmly committed to pursuing a career in the tech industry. Upon enrolling, you can be confident that Udacity’s classes will equip you with the latest, most valuable knowledge and skills to take your I.T. profession to the next level.

When it comes to budget, Coursera has far cheaper options and more free content. Imagine getting a genuine certificate of completion from Michigan, Yale, or even Stanford, for the cost of $70 over two months. On the other hand, while pricey, Udacity’s Nanodegrees are some of the best I.T. online courses.

To lend a little boost in getting credits and certification, Udacity and Coursera both offer great aid programs.

In terms of the quality of learning, it’s safe to say both platforms are equally remarkable. For people interested in I.T. as well as in developing their teamwork and communication skills, Udacity’s collaborative environment is exactly what you’re looking for. But if you don’t mind studying alone, or you’re okay with a little less chatter while you learn, Coursera is a wonderful choice.

We hope this article can be useful in helping you choose between Udacity and Coursera as the better learning platform for you. Enjoy studying!