How do edX courses work?

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Written by Dhawal Shah Last updated on March 20th, 2023

Looking for a listing of EdX courses?

EdX is an online education provider that offers online courses, popularly known as MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses, from top universities and other institutions around the world. Currently, edX boasts a catalog of more than 3000 online courses created by these partners.

EdX courses consist of pre-recorded video lectures that you can watch on a weekly schedule or when it's convenient for you. They also have readings, student discussion forums, homework/assignments, and online quizzes or exams. There is an example course titled DemoX, which is designed to show new students how to take a course on

Generally speaking, edX courses are free to audit (i.e. watch videos and join discussions) for a limited period, but if you want unlimited access and earn a course Certificate, you will need to pay. EdX  was previously the only leading MOOC provider that was both non-profit and open-source, but in 2021, it was acquired by the public company 2U.

EdX also offers a number of microcredentials: MicroMasters, Xseries, Professional Certificates, and Professional Education. Here is a brief summary of each edX microcredential:


The MicroMasters program grants credit that counts towards a Masters degree, if the learner who earned the credential is accepted into the on-campus program. MicroMasters contain a series of masters level courses.


XSeries was the first ever credential launched by edX, but few new XSeries are being released. XSeries consists of a sequence of courses that help you gain a deep understanding of a particular subject.

Professional Certificates

Professional Certificates are similar to the MicroMasters and Xseries. Unlike MicroMasters, they do not offer a path to academic credit. Compared to Xseries, they are supposedly more employer friendly.

Professional Education

Professional Education are essentially paid courses, designed for professionals already working in the subject field.

Online degrees are also available through edX.

If you want a certificate but cannot afford the full cost, edX offers partial financial aid.

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