Two months ago, the Class Central team noticed that Coursera had started experimenting with an annual subscription plan called Coursera Plus. The subscription cost about $500 per year and gave access to over half of the provider’s catalog. However, it was only available to some learners in some regions.
Today, Coursera is formally introducing Coursera Plus and expanding it worldwide. The subscription now costs $399 per year and gives access to a vast majority of the provider’s catalog, including courses, Specializations, and Professional Certificates.
More specifically, Coursera Plus comprises 90% of the provider’s catalog, which includes 3,900+ courses, 400+ Specializations, and 15 Professional Certificates.
Coursera let its partners decide whether or not to make their offering part of Coursera Plus. Most partners accepted. Some popular courses available include:
- Algorithms, offered by Princeton.
- Learning How to Learn, offered by McMaster University.
- Programming for Everybody, offered by the University of Michigan.
However, some partners declined. As a result, a few popular courses may not be available on Coursera Plus. This is notably the case of Andrew Ng’s Machine Learning. Nonetheless, with its 3,500+ courses, Coursera Plus boasts a large offering.
In a call with Class Central, Shravan Goli and Anubhav Chopra, respectively Chief Product Officer and Consumer Product Lead at Coursera, articulated the purpose of Coursera Plus around four objectives:
- Enabling flexible learning: The subscription preempts learners from having to overthink individual course choices or worry about time constraints.
- Providing unmatched value: The subscription gives learners access to the largest catalog of academic courses available online through an annual subscription.
- Supporting diverse learning: The subscription allows learners to explore a wide range of topics, from science to art, from hard skills to soft skills.
- Offering unlimited certificates: The subscription enables learners to earn as many certificates as they want without having to pay for each one separately.
In the same call, Arunav Sinha, Coursera’s Head of Communications, placed Coursera Plus in the broader context of the widening skill gap and the increasing need for lifelong learning:
This isn’t the first time Coursera experiments with a subscription plan. In late 2017, they tested a sitewide $49 monthly subscription. But the test was eventually abandoned in favor of individual prices for courses and microcredentials.
The new subscription plan differs from the old one in two important ways:
First, it’s an annual subscription instead of a monthly one. Thereby, it involves a significant upfront cost. But it also provides excellent value for engaged learners.
Second, it’s not meant to replace Coursera’s other payment options, simply to exist alongside them. Learners that prefer paying for single courses may continue to do so.
Coursera Plus resembles Coursera for Business and Coursera for Campus, two subscription plans respectively geared toward enterprises and universities. All give access to most of Coursera’s catalog. But Coursera Plus is just a subscription. The other two include a service layer with curated content and analytics dashboards.
Although officialized today, Coursera Plus remains in pilot phase. As such, it may continue to evolve over the coming months based on the needs and interests manifested by learners.
To learn more about Coursera, head to our 2019 end-of-year analysis of the course provider.