13 popular online courses that people enroll in and actually finish, according to Coursera

Coursera/ FacebookCoursera makes it easy to learn something new.
  • With the rising cost of formal education, online classes are becoming increasingly popular.
  • Coursera is one of the most comprehensive e-learning platforms, offering a wide range of courses and the ability to audit classes for free.
  • We reached out to Coursera to find out which courses have the highest completion rates – a metric that signals how much value the course provides to its students.
  • Coursera wasn’t able to share exact completion rates with us, but they did share a hand-picked list of courses that they say have both high enrolment numbers and corresponding high completion rates.

These days, you don’t need a classroom or a backpack full of textbooks to pick up a new skill or dive into a new subject. Online classes are breaking down the barriers to education as we know it, making learning more flexible, convenient, and affordable than ever before.

Coursera is a popular e-learning platform, offering thousands of courses administered by some of the top universities and higher-learning institutions in the world. While all courses are different, in general, they all include video lectures, some assignments, and discussion forums where you can communicate with classmates in your course.

Individual courses start at $US29 and go up to $US99, though you can also purchase specialisations – a series of courses and hands-on projects to help you master a skill – for a monthly rate. On Coursera, you can learn everything from Java programming and principles of chicken behaviour and how to influence others.

With such a breadth of options, it can be hard to know what courses are worth your time and money. Good news is, plenty of courses on Coursera are available for free. If you want to try out a specialisation, you can do a 7-day free trial before paying for the series. If you just want one course, you can audit it completely free – you just won’t have access to the assignments or be able to get a completion certificate.

We reached out to Coursera to get some insight on their most popular courses based on completion rates, a metric we felt signalled the value a course was providing to students. Coursera wasn’t able to share exact completion rates with us, but they provided a list of courses that they say have both high enrolment numbers and corresponding high completion rates. Additionally, these courses had higher completion rates for both paying and non-paying attendees than other courses.

Whether you’re looking to sharpen up some business skills or pick up a new hobby, Coursera probably has something for you.

Find 13 of the most popular courses, based on high enrolment numbers and completion rates, below:

Machine Learning

Coursera/ Facebook

Enrol here

Machine learning is something that touches our lives multiple times a day, though we may not even realise it. This course offers a broad introduction to machine learning, data mining, and statistical pattern recognition.

Number of students enrolled: Over 2.7 million

Offered by: Stanford University

Taught by: Professor Andrew Ng

Rating: 4.9/5 stars

Learning How to Learn

Coursera/ Facebook

Enrol here

Want to master a new skill? This course will teach you the mental tools needed to learn and retain information used by experts in art, maths, science, and more.

Number of students enrolled: Over 1.9 million

Offered by: University of California San Diego and McMaster University

Taught by: Dr. Barbara Oakley and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski

Rating: 4.8/5 stars

Programming for Everybody: Getting Started with Python

Shutterstock/ pressmaster

Enrol here

Learn the basics of programming computers with Python. This course covers everything from how to install Python, write your first program, and understand the nuances of the language.

Enrolled: Over 979,000

Offered by: University of Michigan

Taught by: Professor Charles Severance

Rating: 4.8/5 stars

Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills

Shutterstock/ boonchoke

Enrol here

Strong negotiation skills can propel you in your career and personal life. Learn key communication tactics, how to prepare, and how to create a contract, so you can become a better negotiator.

Number of students enrolled: Over 594,000

Offered by: University of Michigan

Taught by: Professor George Siedel

Rating: 4.7/5 stars

Neural Networks and Deep Learning

Shutterstock/ fizkes

Enrol here

This course will help you develop a strong background in deep learning, so you can break into the world of AI. Learn about the technology as well as how to build, implement, and fully understand neural networks.

Number of students enrolled: Over 503,000

Offered by: Deeplearning.ai

Taught by: Professor Andrew Ng, Teaching Assistant Kian Katanforoosh, Teaching Assistant Younes Bensouda Mourri

Rating: 4.9/5 stars

Stanford Introduction to Food and Health

Shutterstock/ Prostock-studio

Enrol here

Explore innovative strategies to help promote healthy eating. This course covers food safety, food science, health informatics, and nutrition.

Number of students enrolled: Over 275,000

Offered by: Stanford University

Taught by: Maya Adam, MD

Rating: 4.7/5 stars

Marketing in a Digital World

Shutterstock/ foxy burrow

Enrol here

Learn how digital tools, like the Internet, smartphones, and 3D printing, are changing the marketing industry and how brands can adapt.

Number of students enrolled: Over 255,000

Offered by: University of Illinois

Taught by: Professor Aric Rindfleisch

Rating: 4.7/5 stars

Financial Markets

Shutterstock/ Freedomz

Enrol here

Understand the real-world functioning of securities, insurance, and banking industries with a course that focuses on financial ideas, methods, and institutions.

Number of students enrolled: Over 225,000

Offered by: Yale University

Taught by: Professor Robert Shiller

Rating: 4.8/5 stars

Introduction to Marketing

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Enrol here

Learn the three key principles in building customer loyalty: branding, customer centricity, and go-to-market strategies.

Number of students enrolled: Over 186,000

Offered by: University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business

Taught by: Professor David Bell, Professor Peter Fader, Professor Barbara E. Kahn, Professor Jagmohan Raju

Rating: 4.8/5 stars

Technical Support Fundamentals

Shutterstock/ dragon images

Enrol here

Prepare for a role as an entry-level IT support specialist with this course. Introduce yourself to the world of IT and get tips on how to best prepare for a career in the industry.

Number of students enrolled: Over 188,000

Offered by: Grow with Google

Taught by: Grow with Google

Rating: 4.8/5 stars

What is Data Science?


Enrol here

Meet a range of data science professionals and learn about what they do, getting a real overview of what data science looks like today.

Number of students enrolled: Over 174,000

Offered by: IBM

Taught by: Alex Aklson, Ph.D., Data Scientist and Polong Lin, Data Scientist

Rating: 4.7/5 stars

Initiating and Planning Projects

Shutterstock/ Sfio Cracho

Enrol here

Learn the key roles and responsibilities it takes to be a project manager, like how to plan for successful outcomes.

Number of students enrolled: Over 151,000

Offered by: University of California Irvine, Division of Continuing Education

Taught by: Margaret Meloni, MBA, PMP

Rating: 4.7/5 stars

Psychological First Aid

Shutterstock/ solis images

Enrol here

Learn the RAPID model (Reflective listening, Assessment of needs, Prioritisation, Intervention, and Disposition) to help aid people in emergency. Bring this applicable skill to your workplace, volunteer organisations, and more.

Number of students enrolled: Over 97,000

Offered by: Johns Hopkins University

Taught by: Professor George Everly, Jr., PhD

Rating: 4.8/5 stars

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