Udacity is an online learning platform for those interested in tech-related subjects such as data analysis, software engineering, artificial intelligence and web development.
Courses are interactive and visual, and include quizzes, short videos and projects that students can add to their portfolios.
(Courtesy of Udacity)
The online learning platform, headquartered in Mountain View, California, came to life when two Stanford University instructors, Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig, began offering their course on artificial intelligence online for free. Now, the company says it’s partnered with industry strongholds that include Google, Amazon, Facebook and Slack.
As of October 2020, Udacity has awarded more than 150,000 nanodegrees, and more than 1.5 million learners have completed at least one course successfully, says Cary Fulbright, head of enterprise marketing for Udacity. He adds that the platform has seen a spike in learners over the past several months because of COVID-19 social distancing regulations.
Udacity offers self-paced courses in a couple of different formats. Its signature nanodegree programs include course learnings, a series of projects and support classes. These programs can also include mentorship, forums and other services.
Students can enroll in Udacity’s programs at any time and are able to access the course content immediately, but the company’s website does advertise specific start and end dates “to provide (learners) with some structure and guidance.”
Each nanodegree program includes a series of courses – about three or four – but Udacity also offers individual paid courses. These individual courses can be completed in about one month if a student is learning for about five to 10 hours a week, according to Udacity’s website. Graduates receive a certificate after completing each course. Udacity doesn’t recommend taking more than one course program at a time.
In addition to individual courses and nanodegree programs, Udacity offers executive programs that are more focused on the broad issues facing today’s business and industry leaders. These programs are designed for business leaders who will encounter high-stakes decision-making in the real world.
“We found that it’s not enough to train the people who are doing the front-line programming, data science, analysis, AI, machine learning, coding or cloud architecture if management doesn’t understand…the opportunities of these new technologies,” Fulbright says.
Each of these programs includes a personal career coach, project reviews from industry professionals and mentorship.
Udacity offers 59 nanodegree programs, two executive programs and 187 free courses. Udacity is not an accredited educational institution, it does not accept hours of credit from outside institutions and certificates from Udacity courses are non-transferable. The company does, however, have a partnership with Georgia Tech and AT&T that allows students to obtain an online master’s degree in computer science.
Udacity also has partnerships with UC Santa Cruz and Western Governors University.
anodegrees on Udacity
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Udacity course prices vary based on the program. Students can access materials in 187 free courses or pay for a nanodegree program, one of two of the executive programs or a single paid course.
A single, paid Udacity course costs $399 for one month.
If a learner enrolls in a nanodegree program and spends five to 10 hours per week studying, they can expect to finish in three to four months and spend between $1,000 and $1,500, depending on the lessons taken and promotions offered, according to Fulbright.
Executive programs cost $799 per month and take about a month or two to complete if students dedicate five hours each week to learning.
Udacity offers 10 scholarship programs, and more than 22,000 scholarships have been awarded. These programs are sponsored by Google, AT&T, Lyft and Accenture.
Udacity offers promotions and discounts, but they vary.
Udacity will give learners a full refund for a nanodegree program, executive program or single paid course if they unenroll within the first two days of the first month’s subscription.
Users can find their subscription settings and billing information in the account settings. A user cannot receive a refund from a course or program they have graduated from.
Students can only receive one refund per program or course. If the student cancels and reenrolls in the program within the two-day period, they won’t be eligible to receive a refund.
Udacity does not grant partial refunds after the two-day period, nor does it guarantee refunds based on whether the learner went through the courses. Learners must reach out to an enrollment advisor to complete a cancellation after the refund period.
The company recommends that users who’d like to cancel a subscription do so well before the next billing date to avoid any unwanted charges. If you cancel your subscription before the end of the month, but after the two-day refund period, you can still access the course information until the end of that billing period.
Learning through Udacity could be worth it if you need training in the technology and innovation industry without letting go of a current job.
“We are tightly focused on comprehensive, skills-based education and project-driven learning in topics such as AI, data science, cloud and autonomous systems,” Fulbright says. “This is especially attractive to people today because we are entering a more competitive job market, and being able to demonstrate job-ready skills puts job seekers at a competitive advantage.”
Online courses offer the freedom of learning while working, he adds.
Prior to the pandemic, learners in the self-driving car engineer nanodegree program uploaded code to Udacity’s self-driving vehicle, “Carla,” which then performed in-car testing on a closed course. This capstone project has since been replaced with a testing simulator, but Fulbright says Udacity looks forward to getting the program back to the in-car phase as soon as possible.
According to Fulbright, 50% of the students who said they enrolled in a nanodegree program to get a raise received a 33% pay increase after graduating from their program.
Udacity is currently partnered with Google, Intel, BMW, Amazon, Microsoft and Nvidia, which allows the company to develop course materials straight from industry minds.
You should check out trustworthy third-party reviews before enrolling in an online course. Udacity was given an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, but is not accredited by the organization. Udacity has a 4.8 rating on Trustpilot, with most of the negative reviews citing issues with billing and costs.
Like Udacity, Udemy offers non-accredited courses that are not transferable to a college or university, but the range of topics at Udemy is wider, including classes like an introductory course to Excel or wellness courses.
Both online learning platforms feature multiple classes for tech-industry learners. Among the biggest differences are Udacity’s nanodegree programs and interactive, real-world projects. Udemy does not offer subscriptions or study tracks.
Udacity programs offer graded assignments, mentorship programs and deadlines for learners, while Udemy does not.
The cost of Udemy’s courses can skew a bit cheaper than Udacity’s, depending on the course.
The biggest difference between these platforms is that learners can earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees through Coursera, as well as professional certificates.
Coursera has classes ranging from data engineering to the humanities, whereas Udacity is more focused on technology, AI and science.
Coursera offers full, accredited degrees starting at $9,000 and MasterTrack certificates beginning at $2,000. Udacity’s price range for nanodegrees and executive programs is lower.
Coursera Plus users can pay $399 per year for unlimited access to most of the courses on the site, compared with the $399 per month or per course fee at Udacity.
The defining differences between Treehouse and Udacity are the cost of learning and the variety of technology courses.
Treehouse offers a seven-day free trial, and courses cost $29.99 per month. Treehouse also offers a Courses Plus option for $49 per month and a Techdegree program that costs $199 per month, in comparison with Udacity’s $399 course fee and nanodegree programs that range from $1,000 to $1,500.
Udacity has a wider range of specialized topics in technology and science, but the two platforms are similar in that they both specialize in courses in that area of study. Both companies offer tracks or guided learning for topics taught on the platforms.
Neither platform awards accredited degrees, but users of both programs receive certificates after graduating from their selected track.