Udacity drops free certificates

MOOC certificates could cost students up to $150 per month

brokeresizedThe massive open online course (MOOC) platform Udacity will no longer offer completion certificates for free, the company announced this week.

While students can still take the courses for free, Udacity is discontinuing its “non-identity-verified” certificates. Anyone hoping to earn a certificate proving they mastered material in a MOOC must instead pay for a verified certificate. Students can keep the certificates they have already earned.

The change, effective May 16, is to help employers take MOOCs more seriously, Udacity’s founder Sebastian Thrun said in a blog post Wednesday.

“Discontinuing the ‘free’ certificates has been one of the most difficult decisions we’ve made,” Thrun said. “We know that many of our hardworking students can’t afford to pay for classes. At the same time, we cannot hope that our certificates will ever carry great value, if we don’t make this change.”

Currently, Udacity offers two types of courses: full and free. The full courses, which come with a verified certificate as well as other perks like personalized support, cost $150 per month. There does not appear to be a third, or cheaper, option.

In his blog post, Thrun called the fee “relatively modest.”

(Next page: MOOCs stray further from their origins)

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