Offers Coursera free certificates

Are Coursera and edX really free?

The short answer in advance: Yes, in many cases you can use the MOOCs from Coursera and edX learn for free.

However, if you want to receive a course certificate, you have to buy it.

In this article we will explain exactly what that means.

(Jump to all MOOCs in our directory here.)

(More about the user experiences with Coursera and edX.)

The model: Learn for free, certificates are optional

With the advent of MOOCs (massive open online courses) modern online learning became possible. Universities such as Harvard, Stanford or the Technical University of Munich offer openly accessible learning content in modern video format on the platforms (see also: "This is how a MOOC works").

In general, the MOOC model is as follows:

  • The Learning content most MOOCs are free. You have access to the video lessons and discussion forums and can learn independently and flexibly.
  • However, who one certificate for his online course, this must be paid for separately fee acquire. Online exams are also taken for this purpose. However, certificates can only be acquired if required (no obligation to buy).

In the practice of the providers, different "tracks" are taken depending on the learning objective. Who only learn free of charge and does not need a certificate, the Audit-Variant choose. Otherwise you have to go for the Verified Certificate-Variant enroll.

The certificates finance the operation of the MOOC platforms

At the beginning of the MOOC development, the complete courses including the certificate were often free of charge.

Since the providers have to finance their educational offerings for learners around the world themselves in the long term, the paid certificates were introduced later.

That's how you try that Educational mission with a sustainable business model connect to. This freemium model is also common in other industries.

50 EUR for an optional MOOC certificate

The paid certificates are often chosen by participants for two reasons:

  1. The own motivation is increased to also complete the entire online course.
  2. One receives a document that is for applications and looks good on your résumé. After all, the courses come from top international universities and the certificates attest to successful participation. ("What do the certificates bring?")

A certificate for one multi-week MOOC often costs then around 50-100 EUR. For particularly needy learners there are even financial relief (Financial Aid with Coursera and Financial Assistance with edX).

In many courses, however, the majority of participants often learn for free, despite the relatively low prices, without buying an additional certificate.