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- edX and Coursera both online graduate courses, many from top schools like MIT and Duke.
- edX MicroMasters and Coursera MasterTracks are bite-sized portions of master’s degree programs.
- They can be used to build stand-alone skills or as stepping stones to full master’s degrees.
To mitigate common economic and geographic barriers to getting a master’s degree, established online platforms edX and Coursera have special programs like edX MicroMasters and Coursera MasterTracks, which offer graduate-level courses for a fraction of the average on-campus price tag.
Ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, they can cover up to 50% of a university master’s program’s curriculum. On top of that, you can usually apply your MicroMasters or MasterTrack credits towards select full master’s programs to reduce costs and finish your degree faster. Since both platforms count top universities among their partners, that could eventually mean lower overall tuition costs at schools like MIT, Duke, the University of Michigan, Indiana University, Georgia Tech, and more.
Below, we compared the basic details for each bite-sized graduate program below. Ultimately, the best platform will be the one that offers the program closest to your particular interests and goals. But, in terms of services, edX may edge out Coursera – its offerings are cheaper, significantly more varied, and more lenient overall.
You can find detailed FAQs on Coursera’s MasterTracks and edX’s MicroMasters here, and learn more about Coursera and edX here, including how they compare to each other as e-learning platforms.
You can browse all of edX’s MicroMasters programs here.
You can browse all of Coursera’s MasterTrack programs here.
An edX MicroMasters is an online graduate-level program with courses that cover 25% to 50% of a university’s master’s degree curriculum for a lower cost.
MicroMasters are designed as a stepping stone toward credit in a full master’s degree, or to strengthen stand-alone skills to help advance your career, offering a certificate of completion to add to your LinkedIn profile or resume. On average, they take roughly six to 12 months to complete.
Plus, every MicroMasters program on edX must be eligible for credit in a full master’s degree program, so you can take the MicroMasters on its own, or potentially apply it to a full degree online afterward.
While every master’s program offered online through edX includes a MicroMasters program, some of these MicroMasters programs can also be transferred to an on-campus master’s degree, such as the Project Management MicroMasters which is designed to count towards a master’s degree in Professional Studies at RIT. If you’re accepted into an eligible master’s program, your MicroMasters program counts towards the degree requirements.
What is a Coursera MasterTrack?
A Coursera MasterTrack is a portion of an on-campus master’s program that’s been adapted online at a lower price than taking the classes in person. On average, MasterTracks range from four to eight months.
Each MasterTrack is a stackable, for-credit program with several courses. In some programs, students are allowed to earn credit toward the full master’s degree program from which the MasterTrack certificate program is based.
For instance, you may apply to the MScA degree from the University of Chicago after the online Machine Learning for Analytics MasterTrack Certificate program and, if admitted, your MasterTrack Certificate will equate to the first two classes in the program (approximately 18% of course requirements), allowing you a headstart on your degree. Sometimes, the MasterTrack may even be “cashed in” to lower the cost of the full, on-campus master’s program.
You can check out a full review of a Coursera MasterTrack program here.
How much do they cost on average?
edX MicroMasters range from $1,000 to $1,500, and you pay all at once. You can buy MicroMasters courses on an individual basis, but if you bundle all the courses in the program at once, you’ll typically save 10% overall.
All individual courses in edX MicroMasters programs are free to try, so learners can test them out before deciding to pay to upgrade to the verified track.
Coursera MasterTracks range between $2,000 to $5,000. Some MasterTracks offer installation payment programs — otherwise, students can choose to pay upfront and get a 5% discount. You can’t buy individual courses within a MasterTrack, and you typically can’t try out any of the courses for free before signing up.
Do they offer financial aid?
Coursera doesn’t offer financial aid or free audit access on its MasterTrack courses.
edX offers financial aid and trial periods for its MicroMasters programs. You can find more information here, though you’ll typically enroll in the course as an audit learner and complete a financial aid application here.
How does academic credit work?
The edX MicroMasters credits you earn may be accepted by eligible on-campus or online Master’s programs to cover a portion of your master’s degree.
If you’ve successfully earned a MicroMasters program certificate, you can apply to the on-campus or online master’s programs that may accept credits from your MicroMasters program. Every MicroMasters program must be eligible for credit in a master’s degree program. To find your program’s specific details, search for “Certificate & Credit Pathways” or scroll to find this section in the FAQs at the bottom of the page. Once you’re accepted into the master’s program, you can apply your certificate toward a segment of the full master’s degree to reduce the tuition cost and potentially finish your degree sooner.
Coursera MasterTrack credits are often offered for the institution’s full master’s program, but not always. Sometimes, they may reduce the cost of the full-time program.
Once you’ve completed a university’s MasterTrack program, you can sometimes apply to the institution’s full master’s program. If admitted, your certificate will sometimes transfer and equate to a certain number of classes or credits in the program. The exact details vary by school and degree. To find your program’s specific details, search for “Accelerate Your Path to a Degree” or “Earn degree credit” on the page.
However, some MasterTrack programs don’t offer credit exchanges. For programs like the Blockchain Applications MasterTrack Certificate from Duke, completion doesn’t give you on-campus credit. It does make you eligible to fast-track your application process and get a scholarship that covers10% of the cost of Duke University’s Master of Engineering in FinTech if you apply and are accepted to the program.
The bottom line: Which one is better?
It thoroughly depends on which platform has the best program for your career or educational goals, but edX may have better overall perks.
edX lets you audit courses for free, gives you lifetime access to its materials, and can provide financial aid for its MicroMasters, while Coursera doesn’t. edX MicroMasters are also cheaper on average than Coursera MasterTrack programs, and edX offers significantly more post-graduate program options.
A few of the most popular edX and Coursera programs: