Last year, Coursera announced the first of its Degrees, fully accredited programs that give people more opportunities to pursue a postsecondary education. In this post, we'll look at what they offer and whether they're right for you.
The difference between Coursera's Degrees and other online degrees
Online degree programs have existed for well over a decade now, but until recently, the idea of getting your degree online had a level of stigma attached to it (thanks in part to for-profit diploma mills). Although most employers now accept online diplomas, employers' opinions about them still vary.
Perceptions are changing for the better as more prestigious institutions—including Coursera's partners—join the online education space. In the meantime, however, Coursera hopes to dispel concerns students have about its online degrees by striking the word "online" from its degrees altogether. In fact, degrees rewarded from these programs will come from the universities themselves. In some cases, these degrees may even be identical to the ones residential students receive.
All programs in Degrees deliver part of their materials, lectures, projects, and assignments online through the Coursera platform. This is the same platform that has proved so effective for helping students learn at scale and it's one that's been tested and improved with millions of students over the years.
Flexible and affordable
Because MOOCs, online courses, and Degrees share much of the same online "DNA," Degrees also offer two features not ordinarily found in traditional degree programs: flexibility and affordability.
In fact, the level of flexibility offered here is unprecedented. Not only can you work on your degree anywhere in the world (so long as you have an Internet connection) and do so on your own time, but you can also determine the length of your program up to as long as five years. You can finish your degree in a few months if you're in a hurry or take the full five years if you're busy, say, with work or parenting. There are no additional costs associated with taking your time.*
And speaking of costs, programs in Coursera's Degrees are considerable more affordable than those offered in a traditional setting. That's especially true for programs that are not subsidized by government funds or grants. For example, CollegeCalc calculates that four-year Computer Science degrees cost on average $162,888 for out-of-state students in the US, but the same degree from Universty of London offered through Coursera will only cost between $13,500 and $24,000.
Coursera and its university partners promise that these degrees will meet the same standards of quality and rigor of their on-campus counterparts. We'll only know for sure whether they do next year when the first Degrees students graduate, but given our experiences with online education we're optimistic.
Requesting information and applying
All programs in Degrees deliver at least part of their materials, lectures, and/or assignments through the Coursera platform. Beyond that, the educational experience is unique to each program. Some, like HEC Paris' Online Master's in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OMIE), emphasize networking events and coaching from business experts in an online setting. Others, like University of Illinois iMBA program offer optional immersion and networking programs that involve physical travel (at additional cost).
While you'll find broad details about these programs in the links we've provided below, we encourage you to request more information (found in the "Request Info" buttons of each program page) to see if these programs are a fit for you.
Certain programs will allow you to "sample" certain online courses (by paying standard fees through Coursera) and earn credit towards a degree while others will not count credits earned in online courses. Carefully review the guidelines and requirements before applying if you have, or plan on, taking online courses in addition to degree courses.
Degrees available now
At present, there are ten Degrees programs listed on Coursera. Five of these programs are in the field of Computer Science, three in Business, and two in Public Health. Among these, only one of these programs (in Computer Science) is offered at the Bachelor level—the rest are Masters programs. We've listed all available Degrees below with their total tuition cost.*
These options are narrow, but Coursera is working with its partners to add more programs in the near future with the aim of doubling its catalog in the near future.
We'll update this post new Degrees come online. Be sure to bookmark this page for future reference.
Computer Science Degrees
- Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from University of London (£9,600-£17,000)
- Master of Computer Science from University of Illinois ($19,200 plus fees of ~$2,000)
- Master of Computer Science from Arizona State University ($15,000)
- Master of Computer Science Data Science from University of Illinois ($19,200 plus fees)
- Master of Applied Data Science from University of Michigan (TBD - Request Info)
- Master of Business Administration (iMBA) from University of Illinois ($22,000, approx.)
- Master of Science in Accountancy (iMSA) from University of Illinois ($30,000, approx.)
- Online Master's in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from HEC Paris (€20,000)
Public Health Degrees
- Master of Public Health from University of Michigan (TBD - Request Info)
- Global Master of Public Health from Imperial College of London (TBD - Request Info)
* - refer to information provided by Coursera and its partners to determine your exact costs