This resource was updated on October 26th, 2017
Some MOOC platforms offer specialization courses which are a series of related courses designed to help you deepen your expertise in a subject. For a fee, you can earn a verified certificate on completion of all the courses, or you can study each course independently for free if you do not wish to pay for a certificate. In some cases, financial aid is available for students with demonstrated economic need.
Currently, there are four main MOOC Providers that offer specialization courses
Coursera | edX | Udacity | Futurelearn
See below for details.
Coursera offers “Specializations” which are study pathways designed to deepen your expertise in a subject through a series of related courses. If you successfully earn a Verified Certificate for each course in a Specialization, you will be awarded a Specialization Certificate. You earn a Verified Certificate by completing each course in the Specialization.
To complete a Specialization on Coursera, you must also complete the Capstone Project, which is an assignment that serves as a way for students to demonstrate the knowledge they’ve acquired in a Specialization to an applied project. You need to complete and pass all Specialization courses before you are eligible to take the Capstone. For more information on the Capstone Project, click here.
The courses in Coursera’s “Specializations” can be audited for free, but you will not be able to access the graded assignments nor be eligible for a Verified Certificate in the course, the Specialization Certificate or taking the Capstone Project. See how to audit MOOCs for free.
The total cost of earning a Specialization Certificate varies according to the time it takes to complete the course with subscription fees usually at £37 a month. See all courses
Coursera offers Financial Aid for students with demonstrated economic need. You can learn more about applying and the requirements here.
Further details about Coursera’s Specializations can be found here.
For MoocLab’s independent review and rating of Coursera, click here.
EdX offers three different forms of specialization programs: XSeries, Professional Certificate Programs and MicroMasters all of which consist of a series of related modules or courses in a specific subject.
The XSeries are created by world-renowned experts and top universities and provide a deep understanding of a subject. To receive an XSeries Certificate, students must successfully complete the Verified Certificate option for all the individual courses that are part of the XSeries. The prices can vary across courses and specific XSeries, but typically range between $100 and $450 per program. The XSeries Certificate programs do not grant credit.
Xseries courses can be audited for free and you can participate in any or all activities and exams, but you will not receive a verified certificate.
For current offerings, visit the XSeries page.
EdX's Professional Certificate Programs are designed to build and enhance specific in-demand professional skills needed in today's job market. The programs, are designed by industry leaders and top universities and typically run over a 2-6 month period, allowing learners to quickly reskill or upskill in order to advance their career or position themselves for a new job.
Learners can expect to pay either $25 to $550 per individual course or, in certain cases, can buy a complete program package for between $175 and $555.
As with the XSeries, students must successfully complete the Verified Certificate option for all the individual courses that are part of the Professional Certificate program in order to earn a Professional Certificate.
For further details about edX Professional Certificate Programs, click here.
Finally, the MicroMasters™ Credential consist of a series of graduate level courses and are geared towards career advancement, providing in-depth learning in a specific career field and are linked to specific career outcomes. Each program has been officially endorsed by an industry leader highlighting the real job relevance of the course. MicroMasters™ credentials also count as credit toward a portion of a degree allowing graduates to apply to an on-campus program that recognizes the credential. The number of credits varies across programs and each university determines the number of credits that will count toward the on-campus degree.
To receive a MicroMasters™ credential, students are required to earn a verified certificate in the individual courses that are part of the program and, in some cases, complete a capstone exam or project. There are no requirements for eligibility, but some MicroMasters™ programs have prerequisites which can be found on the page for that program.
The cost of the MicroMasters™ credential varies across programs and range from $600 to $1,500. Information on pricing can be found on the individual program pages.
To learn more about the edX MicroMasters Programs, click here
For MoocLab’s independent review and rating of edX, click here.
Udacity's specialization programs are called “Nanodegrees”. These course programs, built in partnership with leading tech organizations, are designed to teach the necessary skills to make you job-ready. The courses are project-based and each course and project builds on each other so, at the end, you'll have a portfolio of projects to demonstrate to potential employers that you're job-ready.
To earn a Nanodegree credential, you will need to build a portfolio of projects. That means completing and submitting each project for validation by a certain date. If you already have the skills you need to complete a project, you can just go ahead and complete it, and move on to the next project in your Nanodegree portfolio.
If you need extra skills to complete the projects as you go, we recommend you use the individual courses that map to each project.
The cost of a Nanodegree program varies program to program and more information can be found at a program's overview page.
Some Nanodegree programs are self-paced and are charged on a monthly basis (such as $199/month). Most of these programs are expected to take between 6-12 months to complete, depending on your study schedule and prior background.
Other programs offer a one-time payment option. You pay upfront for the program and do not make any further payments. The exact cost will vary program to program so you'll need to look at the program's overview page to see the exact cost.
Udacity also offer programs that are released in terms. Payment is by term and you pay a flat fee for each term.
The materials for individual courses—and their associated projects—that make up the Nanodegree curricula can be accessed for free. You can find these courses and information in the syllabus section of the relevant Nanodegree overview page. However, to earn a Nanodegree credential, you will need to be enrolled in the program.
For current available Nanodegree programs, click here.
For MoocLab’s independent review and rating of Udacity, click here.
Futurelearn offers "Programs" which are made up of a series of courses designed to provide you with a deeper and more valuable learning experience than a single course. Taking all courses in a program will allow you to develop and demonstrate your learning progress. The program may also include an additional summative element such as an exam or tutor marked assessment where appropriate.
Taking courses that are part of a program is free, but if you would like to receive a FutureLearn Award to prove what you’ve learned, or gain university-recognised credit (for those programs which offer this), you must upgrade your courses and qualify for a Certificate of Achievement for each course on the program. If the program also requires assessment, you must also purchase and complete the assessment to receive the program Award.
To see all current Futurelearn Programs, click here
For MoocLab’s independent review and rating of Futurelearn, click here.
Other resources to help you get started with online learning:© Copyright 2015 MoocLab.club. All Rights Reserved
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Assessment in MOOCs
The Beginner’s Guide to e-Learning (I)
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Online Study Tips
Glossary of e-learning terms
A Guide to MOOC Certificates
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