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Coursera Pricing: How Much Does It Cost?

Coursera's prices and subscription models can be confusing. This is how they work.

Coursera Pricing: How Much Does It Cost?
Pictures: kschneider2991, techphotogal/Pixabay

Coursera initially offered only a handful of free MOOC courses. 

Today, the site is profit-driven and hosts 5,000+ courses for more than 100 million students. Many courses cost less than US$100.

Which of the courses are still free? And how do prices and subscriptions work?

(Check out all of the free Coursera courses in our directory.)

Learn for Free – Pay for Certificates – Subscribe to Course Series

The Coursera model works like this:

  1. Access courses for free if you don't need a certificate.
  2. Enroll in the paid course track if you want to do assignments and get a certificate.
  3. Subscribe to longer course series to get a more extensive online training.

Read on to understand all of the details. Or continue to search the online courses from all providers

Free Courses From Coursera?

First, the good news. Many courses can still be accessed without paying anything.

Coursera calls this the auditing of a course. (Look for the small audit option link during enrollment. Sometimes it's labelled "Full Course, No Certificate".)

What's the difference between auditing a course and a paid enrollment?

  • Graded assignments: Online assignments can help learners to apply their skills. They are usually hidden behind a paywall.
  • Certificates:  To earn a certificate, you have to enroll in the paid course track. ("Are the certificates worth it?")
  • More content: Some courses offer additional content for learners who pay. This can include readings or bonus videos.
  • Motivation: Many online students find it difficult to persevere and complete a free course. Enrolling in the paid certificate track may support your motivation.

You can also start with a free audit and later upgrade to the paid version.

Prices of Individual Online Courses

Some courses that are not part of a course series (Specialization) are available for a one-time fee

To view course prices, you need to register with Coursera and sign in to your account. The registration process is free.

Most individual courses cost approximately US$30-$100For example, the highly popular Machine Learning course (Stanford University) may cost something like US$80, while a Sociology class from Amsterdam University may be available for half this amount. 

The price difference does not reflect the course quality! It is part of a price differentiation strategy agreed between Coursera and its partner universities.

Learners who have made a payment may claim a refund within 2 weeks.

Coursera Pricing: How Much Does It Cost?

Subscription Plans: Specializations

Coursera Specializations are series of 5-6 individual online courses.

For Specializations, Coursera runs a subscription model with monthly payments. These can range from something like US$30 to $80 / month. (For learners in India, subscriptions are called learning passes.) 

Most Specialization subscriptions offer a 7-day trial period. You can cancel your subscription within this trial period.

If you want to take an online class that is part of a Specialization, you need to subscribe to the entire Specialization. But you can simply cancel your subscription once you have completed the course.

Please note: Within a Specialization, you can usually audit the individual courses for free! This can be a good idea to test the Specialization before you commit to a paid subscription.

Professional Certificates and Online University Degrees

There are also Professional Certificate course series. They are similar to Specializations. 

Online degrees that will earn you an accredited university degree are in a different pricing league, starting at around US$15,000.

Access To All Courses

Coursera also offers a subscription to the full course catalogue for around US$60/month. This option is called "Coursera Plus" and it has been rolled out to most user groups. 

Projects and Guided Projects

Coursera has also introduced various Projects and Guided Projects. These are much shorter than online courses (usually just a couple of hours). Most of these short hands-on online trainings are available for less than US$10. 

Price Variations

Coursera has been found to experiment with pricing quite a lot in the past.

Users in different countries may see different prices (and of course different currencies). 

Also, pricing of courses can be dynamic even for individual countries and users, meaning that prices can change according to Courseraʹs algorithms. However, our experience is that price changes are less frequent and less dramatic than on other course platforms (such as Udemy for example).

Some websites claim to offer discounts and coupons for Coursera courses. However, you should be very cautious before making any payments to these third-party sites. Most of them have no official relationship with Coursera and are not authorized to offer any price advantages.

Because changes in pricing may happen any time, please check out the help section if you have specific questions.

Scholarships for Students in Need

Learners who can't afford to pay for a course may apply for financial aid

This requires to fill in an application, describing your specific situation and why you aren't able to afford the course fee. 

We have been told that Coursera can be quite generous with the granting of scholarships. 

For example, a college student from a developing country who plans to take a career-related online course should be likely to be accepted. 

Short guide to the financial aid application (no sound):

Business Rates for Organizations

Special rates apply for companies who use Coursera to train their employees. 

This includes team rates that can start at around US$400 per user per year for smaller organizations. Larger companies can negotiate their individual enterprise plans.  

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