Udacity - Learning Path - Fork in the road

Choosing your learning path with Udacity is the first essential step you need to take to reach your career goals. You’ll find an array of choices in our catalog, from introductory courses on foundational skills, to advanced programs that delve into the most transformational technologies. We encourage you to explore and let your curiosity guide you. But you also need to have a clear plan. You need to think about the kind of program you want to study, the time and effort you can commit, and the level of support you think you’ll need. These are important decisions, so we’ve created this brief guide to help you make the right choices about your unique learning path.

Nanodegree program or free course?

Let’s begin by discussing the distinctions between our Nanodegree programs and our free courses. This is important, as you want to ensure you choose the learning opportunity most suited to your goals. To understand the differences, we’ll look at three areas where our offerings differ:

  • Services. With our Nanodegree programs, you’re fully immersed in a subject. You work on amazing projects and receive personalized reviews of your work. You’re supported by classroom mentors, and you network with a global community of students in forums and Slack channels. You benefit from personal career support, and you earn an industry-recognized credential when you graduate. With our Free Courses, you focus entirely on curriculum. This is an ideal approach when you want to build a specific skill, or learn a particular tool or technique. If you want a full-service, end-to-end learning experience, a Nanodegree program is the way to go.    
  • Cost. Our Nanodegree programs combine academic rigor with a host of resources to support your learning. If you want the benefit of features like project feedback, career support, and a student community, these programs offer tremendous value. Alternatively, free courses are a great way to learn what you want without paying for features you don’t currently need.
  • Commitment. Nanodegree programs represent a serious educational commitment. Program prerequisites can be intense depending on the level of curriculum, and you have to be ready to commit to the challenge at any level. Depending on your goals, and what you’re prepared to take on, our free courses provide the same world-class curriculum without the immersive experience of our Nanodegree programs. This means you can choose the level of commitment that’s right for you. 

You can opt to search only our Nanodegree programs, or just free courses, by selecting either option in the “Type” section on the left-hand side of the catalog.

Pro tip: Many of our Nanodegree programs and free courses are developed in collaboration with leading industry partners—such as Google, Facebook, and IBM. Our catalog helpfully highlights these partnerships in the program description. If you’re especially interested in content built with a particular organization, try using the search bar to find all the programs related to that company.

How to find your ideal program

There are different ways to find your ideal program in our catalog, depending on how certain you are of what you’re looking for:

Find a specific topic

If you know what you want to study, our catalog is very straightforward. Use the search function at the top of the page to quickly locate programs that meet your needs. For example, you can quickly search for all the programs that have a focus on “JavaScript” or that are related to “AI.”

Search by your field of interest

In every field of knowledge, there is a broad spectrum of skills and understanding—from “fundamentals” to “highly specialized.” If you’re not sure where your learning needs fit on that spectrum, try selecting the field you’re interested in from the “Category” column on the left-hand side of the page. You can then browse all of our programs in a particular area—in everything from Android to Web Development.

Search by your skill level

If you want to determine which programs fit your current understanding of a subject, you can select different skill levels on the left side of the page. As a guide, this is how we define our skill levels:

  • Beginner programs build foundational skills and are open to everyone, no matter your previous experience or skill level.
  • Intermediate programs require you to have some prior knowledge—such as experience with a programming language or knowledge of calculus. You’ll build on your existing skills to deepen your knowledge of a particular field, programming language, or tool.
  • Advanced programs are for taking your expertise to amazing new places—from developing advanced skills in something you’re already working with, to building your practical experience with new, cutting-edge technologies.
Search by time commitment

We know time management can be a challenge, so we’ve made it possible for you to search the catalog by the “Estimated Duration” of our programs. This helps you find something that fits your schedule. For example, search for programs that take under a month of study, and you’ll find all the programs that can be completed in a matter of weeks.

Every program description displays the estimated weekly time commitment required to graduate from a program or complete a course.

Udacity - Catalog - Learning Path

Choose your learning path

Our Nanodegree programs provide multiple points of entry into different fields, depending on your current skills and experience. As you review our offerings, you will see that our program pages often include a “Related Nanodegree Programs” section. This helps you map out how programs fit together—showing you the prerequisites for enrollment in a Nanodegree program, and identifying the more advanced programs you qualify for after you’ve graduated. It’s a great way to start planning a personalized learning journey that suits your needs.

For example, take a look at our Intro to Self-Driving Cars Nanodegree program. This is an intermediate program where you start mastering the essential skills to build a self-driving car. You’ll see that successful completion of the program guarantees you admission to the advanced, career-ready Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program. In addition, you’ll build the skills you need to enroll in either the Flying Car or Robotics Software Engineer Nanodegree program. This means you can specialize in whichever transformational technology interests you most!

You can also try our Pathfinder feature. You’ll answer some simple questions on your interests and experience, and the Pathfinder will direct you to your ideal program.

We hope this has been a helpful introduction to choosing the learning path that’s right for you! Start choosing between the many learning options available to you by taking a look at our programs here.

Happy learning!