edX is one of the biggest players in the online learning business and was started as a collaboration between Harvard and MIT. Today you will find thousands of courses taught by some of the leading institutions in the country. edX courses cover a broad set of subjects and can be taken for free in most cases if you don’t want a certificate or want to take part in a larger program.
If you are looking for a more formalized program then edX has you covered there as well. They have a number of different paths that allow you to get a deeper understanding of a particular discipline. edX offers MicroBachelors, MicroMasters, Professional Certificates, XSeries, Freshman Year Classes, Online Masters Degrees, and Executive Education. We’ll dive into each of these in more detail below, but you can see how adding these things to your resume would be very valuable.
Just be prepared that as you move away from the free courses, you are going to have some cost. That can be as low as $39 for a single course certificate, up to thousands of dollars for a fully online degree. At the end of the day, it’s great to have so many different options to take edX courses based on your financial circumstances.
edX Review Methodology
While conducting our edX review, we looked at a number of different factors. Here’s a breakdown of what we think is the most important when it comes to rating an online learning platform.
There’s a big difference when it comes to course quality between different online learning platforms. Some allow individuals to set up accounts and create courses, while others partner with universities and businesses.
Along with course quality, it’s important that the teachers are true experts in their field. That’s easier to identify with platforms that partner with well-known colleges, but it’s also not to say that individuals without an association to a college can’t be just as knowledgeable.
One of the most important impacts of online learning is to expand access to those who might not otherwise get these educations. Having affordable options is a major factor in our reviews.
If you want the maximum benefit of these programs, you need to have something to show for it. Offering certificates and degrees is something we like to see from online learning platforms.
Ease of Use
We do consider how easy a platform is to use and navigate. That said, because Learning Management Systems (LMS) are so prevalent, most of the major companies in this space have good capabilities.
Free edX Courses vs. Paid Verified Certificate
Free edX course features
Access to All Modules – Your access to all the modules is not limited when you use the free version of edX. Where some online course platforms aren’t going to give you access to much without paying, edX gives you a ton of great information and coursework for free.
Learn at Your Own Pace – The free version of most courses are not instructor-led. While not having a live instructor can be a drawback, the ability to learn at your own pace is a major positive. Most courses are comprised of a number of different video lessons. You can watch and practice what you’ve learned at your convenience.
Discussion Board – Each course has its own discussion board for general discussion and questions. You have access to this board even in the free edX courses. It’s not the same as having a live instructor to ask questions, but it gives students the ability to get help when they get stuck.
Skills Network Labs – This is a cool cloud-based tool that allows you to use a virtual lab for practice in necessary classes. For instance, we started the Python Basics course and found this was an easy way to practice our skills without having to download bulky software to our computer.
Mobile App – You can learn on your mobile device by downloading the Cognitive Class mobile app. The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store (coming soon) or Google Play Store.
Paid Verified Certificates
Graded Assignments – You will have graded projects and assignments which makes the experience feel more like an actual class.
Share – The certificate is a great way to show employers you’re upgrading your skills. You can use this on your resume to land a new job, or with a current employer to move up.
Support the Mission – If you want to see the educational system change and become more accessible, then the fee is worthwhile as a charitable donation. Remember edX is a non-profit and needs all the support it can get. By purchasing a verified certificate you are helping in the mission while getting something in return.
This is another offering from edX that allows you to get a deeper knowledge of a subject. Like their Micro Degrees, these are a set of courses you take within a larger subject area. Looking through the XSeries programs you will see they are not quite as focused on career skills, but more general topics and subjects you might just want to learn more about.
Global Freshman Academy
This is an interesting concept that edX has partnered with Arizona State University. You can take classes from anywhere in the world and earn transferable credits from ASU. The best part is that you only pay for the classes if you earn the grade you needed and plan then to use them for credit at ASU or another University.
Currently, the course selection looks pretty limited, but we’ll keep an eye out for any expansion to this unique edX course program.
Online Master’s Degrees
These are full-fledged Master’s degrees offered by some of the best universities in the world. Currently, there are degrees offered by colleges like Indiana University, Boston University, Purdue University, Arizona State University, and others. Some of these degrees are being offered for less than $10,000 which is a strong value when you get to add a Master’s degree to your resume.
This set of edX courses is focused on high performing business leaders. Obviously, people in this category already have busy work schedules, so allowing for executive development through online learning is a great forum for business leaders. The current set of course is somewhat limited, but hopefully, we’ll see it continue to grow with time.
edX pricing has a few different levels depending on whether you are taking courses, or working through a larger program or degree.
At it’s most basic level, as we’ve already discussed, edX has free courses. These are great for people wanting to learn at their own pace.
Verified Certificate Cost
Next, you have the verified certificate track you can take when completing courses. These start at $39 and can go up from there, but are extremely affordable. For this cheap price, edX gives you a certificate you share and use to increase marketability.
Micro Degrees Cost
The next level of pricing is programs and degrees. edX offers innovative Micro degrees and certificate programs that take substantially more time and money. That said, they are a fraction of the cost of what you will pay at traditional colleges for similar content. These can range from a couple hundred to a couple of thousand dollars depending on how in-depth the program.
The cost of XSeries courses is considerably less than Micro degrees but still runs in the hundreds of dollars. Depending on the course, they can run from right around $100 to closer to $1000. Our observation was the price correlated heavily to the skills ability to improve your marketability. For instance, the XSeries courses that are more technological in nature cost more than the ones covering softer skills.
Online Master’s Degrees Cost
As you might expect, these are the most expensive option of all the edX course offerings. We are, after all, talking about real degrees that are almost definitely should add dollars to your paycheck when complete. With prices ranging from around $10,000, up into the $20,000’s we think the programs are fairly priced given the potential return you should get.