Is Coursera completely free?

Explore if Coursera is completely free and learn about the options available.
Is Coursera completely free?


Coursera offers both free and paid content. Find out if Coursera is completely free and how to get the most out of this platform.

Coursera offers a mix of free and paid content. While many courses can be audited for free, access to graded assignments, certificates, and certain specializations typically require payment. Financial aid is available to those who qualify, making it possible to access premium features at no cost.

Coursera is an online learning platform leader offering a wide range of courses, specializations and degrees from the best universities and companies around the world. Founded in 2012 by Stanford professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, Coursera has grown exponentially, with more than 77 million students globally as of 2021. The platform aims to provide universal access to the world's best education, making it possible for Anyone, anywhere, can learn and grow.

The platform offers courses in various fields, including computer science, business, arts and humanities, among others. These courses are designed by renowned institutions such as Stanford University, Yale University, and Google, ensuring high-quality content. Coursera's mission is to democratize education by providing affordable and flexible learning opportunities to people from all walks of life.

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However, one of the most common questions prospective students have is whether Coursera is completely free. This article aims to explore this question in depth, examining the availability of free courses, the features of paid options, and the financial aid opportunities offered by Coursera. By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of whether Coursera is worth your time and investment.

Free courses on Coursera

Coursera offers a variety of free courses, making it accessible to those who may not have the financial means to pay for education. These free courses cover a wide range of topics, from data science and machine learning to personal development and language learning. According to Coursera, of its catalog of more than 7.000 courses, 1,600 are available for free, allowing students to access high-quality education at no cost.


One of the key features of these free courses is that they provide access to all course materials, including videos, reading materials, and quizzes. This means that students can gain a comprehensive understanding of the subject without having to pay a single cent. For example, the course «Introduction to Psychology” from Yale University is available for free and includes all the lectures and reading materials that paying students receive.

However, it is important to note that although the course content is free, students do not receive a certificate of completion unless they pay for the course. This can be a disadvantage for those looking to add credentials to their resume or LinkedIn profile. Despite this, free courses on Coursera provide an excellent opportunity for self-learning and skill development.

Paid features and specializations

While Coursera offers a plethora of free courses, it also provides paid options that come with additional features and benefits. One of the most significant advantages of paying for a course is the certificate of completion. These certificates are recognized by employers and can be a valuable addition to your professional portfolio. According to Coursera, 87% of people who learn for professional development report career benefits, such as promotions, salary increases, or starting a new career.

Paid courses also offer graded assignments and exams, which can provide a more rigorous learning experience. These assessments are often reviewed by instructors or peers, providing valuable feedback that can help you improve your understanding of the subject. Additionally, paid courses may include additional resources such as projects, case studies, and interactive content that can enhance your learning experience.

Professional specializations and certificates are another paid feature on Coursera. These are series of related courses designed to help you master a specific skill or topic. For example, the “Data Science Specialization” from Johns Hopkins University includes 10 courses covering everything from data visualization to machine learning. Completing a specialization can provide a deeper understanding of a subject and make you more competitive in the job market.

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Financial aid and scholarships

Understanding that not everyone can afford courses, Coursera offers financial aid and scholarships to help students access paid content. According to Coursera, more than 2 million students have received financial aid since the program's inception. This initiative aims to make education more inclusive and accessible to people of all economic backgrounds.

To apply for financial aid, students must fill out an application form that includes questions about their financial situation and educational background. The application process is simple but requires some time and effort. Once approved, students can access the paid course for free or at a significantly reduced cost. This can be a game-changer for those who are serious about their education but lack the financial resources to pay for it.

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In addition to financial aid, Coursera also offers scholarships for specific programs. For example, the program «Google IT Support Professional Certificate» offers scholarships to help students gain the skills needed for entry-level IT jobs. These scholarships are often sponsored by companies or organizations seeking to build a skilled workforce in specific fields.

Comparison between free and paid options

When deciding between free and paid options on Coursera, it's essential to consider your learning goals and financial situation. Free courses are a great option for those looking to gain knowledge without any financial commitment. They provide access to high-quality content and allow you to learn at your own pace. However, the lack of a certificate and graded assignments can be a disadvantage if you are looking to use the course for professional development.

On the other hand, paid courses offer several advantages that can make them worth the investment. The certificate of completion can be a valuable credential that enhances your resume and LinkedIn profile. Graded assignments and exams provide a more rigorous learning experience, and additional resources can help you gain a deeper understanding of the topic. If you are serious about your education and career, the benefits of paid courses may outweigh the costs.

Comparison between free and paid options on Coursera

Free courses
Paid Courses
Access to materials
Videos, readings and quizzes
Videos, readings, quizzes and additional resources (projects, case studies)
Certificate of completion
Graded tasks
Assessments and exams
Instructor feedback
Access to discussion forums
Professional value
Self-improvement and skill development
Credentials recognized by employers and professional benefits such as promotions and salary increases
Access to specializations
Financial help
Varies depending on the course and specialization
Interesting: According to Coursera, 87% of people who complete paid courses report professional benefits such as promotions, salary increases or new jobs.

Financial aid and scholarships can also tip the balance in favor of paid courses. If you qualify for financial aid, you can access the benefits of paid courses without the financial burden. This makes it possible to gain valuable credentials and skills that can help you advance your career. Therefore, it is worth exploring these options before making a decision.

Is Coursera worth it?

In conclusion, Coursera offers a wide range of learning opportunities to suit different needs and budgets. The platform provides over 1,600 free courses from its catalog of over 7.000, allowing students to access high-quality education at no cost. These courses cover a variety of topics and provide access to all course materials, making them a great option for self-study and skill development.

However, the paid options on Coursera come with additional features and benefits that can make them worth the investment. The certificate of completion, graded assignments, and additional resources provide a more rigorous and comprehensive learning experience. Professional specializations and certificates can also help you gain in-depth knowledge and make you more competitive in the job market.

Financial aid and scholarships make it possible for students of all economic backgrounds to access paid content. This initiative ensures that education remains inclusive and accessible, allowing more people to benefit from the high-quality courses Coursera offers. So, whether you choose a free or paid course, Coursera provides valuable learning opportunities that can help you achieve your educational and career goals.

Ultimately, the decision to use Coursera depends on your individual needs and circumstances. If you're looking for free educational resources, Coursera offers many options that can help you learn and grow. If you are willing to invest in your education, paid courses provide additional benefits that can enhance your learning experience and career prospects. Either way, Coursera is a valuable platform that can help you achieve your goals.

Frequently Asked Questions about whether Coursera is completely free

How long can I audit a free course on Coursera?

By auditing a course on Coursera, you can access all course materials for free for an unlimited time. However, access to assessments and certifications is not available unless you pay for the course.

Can I get a free certificate on Coursera?

It is not possible to get a free certificate on Coursera. To obtain a certificate of completion, you need to pay for the course or specialization. However, Coursera offers financial aid options that can reduce or eliminate the cost of certificates for those who qualify.

Are there limitations on the resources available for free courses on Coursera?

Free courses on Coursera provide access to all the core materials, such as videos, readings, and discussion forums. However, premium features such as graded assessments, projects, and instructor feedback are available only to paying users.

What type of support is available for students auditing free courses on Coursera?

Students who audit free courses on Coursera can participate in discussion forums where they can interact with other students and, occasionally, instructors. However, direct support from instructors or teaching assistants is generally reserved for students who have paid for the course.

Does Coursera offer discounts or promotions for its courses and certifications?

Yes, Coursera often offers promotions and discounts, especially for its subscription CourseraPlus, which allows unlimited access to most courses for an annual fee. There are also occasional discounts and special offers that can be found on their website or through marketing campaigns. Find out here if there is a current offer on Coursera Plus

Coursera provides a mix of free and paid courses, offering access to high-quality educational materials. The free courses are great for self-study, although they do not include certificates. Paid options offer additional benefits such as skilled assignments and recognized certificates. Financial aid and scholarships make paid courses accessible to everyone. Whether you choose a free or paid course, Coursera is a valuable platform that can help you achieve your educational and career goals.


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Digital Marketing specialist and higher education expert, Fabian Mendoza has dedicated more than a decade to transforming the teaching landscape. With a significant track record in student retention for dozens of universities in his native Colombia, Fabian has played a crucial role in developing strategies that maintain student interest and engagement in virtual environments. Currently, in his work with AulaPro, he has guided thousands of visitors in the search for online courses and programs that enhance his professional skills. His contribution has been essential to making online education an accessible and relevant option for a global audience.

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