Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Phasing out certificates of free courseware completion

Since its inception, Udacity has issued many tens of thousands of certificates. To get such a certificate, a student had to sign up and make it through the online courseware. Identity checking was never part of our certification. Neither were mentor-supervised projects, which we now offer for an increasing number of courses.

We have now heard from many students and employers alike that they would like to see more rigor in certifying actual accomplishments. We owe it to you, our hard working students, that we do whatever we can to ensure your certificate is as valuable as possible.  So effective May 16, we will stop offering free non-identity-verified certificates. The courseware will still be available, so you can still learn for free. But you can’t get our credentials unless you give us a chance to find out who you are and vouch for your skills.

Discontinuing the “free” certificates has been one of the most difficult decisions we've made. 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. 

If you are currently enrolled in free courseware:

You can still earn a certificate of completion if you complete that class before May 16th, at no extra cost. 

If a paid experience is available for that courseware, consider upgrading to earn a Verified Certificate. For a relatively modest tuition fee, you can receive feedback on an interesting real life project (part of our assessment). You can interact with a wonderful group of mentors who will guide you through onboarding and exit interviews. Our assessments are now based on a final project, so it is much more rigorous than mere “course completion.” We firmly believe that the money you entrust to us is worth every penny in terms of your learning success, and certificate value (and if you disagree, we have a 2-week money-back guarantee).

If you have earned certificates of free courseware completion:

We recognize that you have worked hard and learned a lot, so these certificates of free courseware completion will remain available for you in your profile.

We keep working hard to bring you the best learning experience. Sometimes it means making tough choices - this was one - to maximize the learning outcome for our students. 

I can’t wait to see more employers seek you out for the skills you develop on Udacity.

Thanks for learning with us.

Sebastian

Update on certificates of free courseware completion:

When we announced that Udacity is phasing out free certificates, Professor Dave Evans initially started issuing (with our permission) personal certificates of free courseware completion for Intro to Computer Science. I have since asked Professor Evans to change this approach, in light of our emphasis on Verified Certificates of mastery, demonstrated by final projects and interviews, rather than certificates of completion. Professor Evans gracefully agreed to this. Thanks for learning with us.