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EdX’s 2017: Year in Review

New Online Masters degree, yet another credential, new President/COO, and more.

This article is just one in our 2017 MOOC Roundup Series. Find the whole series of articles here, and discover everything MOOCs in 2017 — from the most popular classes, to overviews on developments in MOOC platforms, to looking at the MOOC future.

EdX started 2017 with the announcement of its first (and so far only) Online Masters program, which was launched in partnership with Georgia Tech. The program has seen good enrollment numbers so far (details below).

EdX has a total of 14 million learners and is still the second largest MOOC provider in the world. Like Coursera, edX also had a flat year in terms of number of new learners. It added four million learners in 2017, which is the same amount it added in 2016.

In 2017, edX doubled down on the MicroMasters (with one MIT MicroMasters bringing in $4 million in revenue) and launched a new credential know as a Professional Certificate.

EdX hired a TripAdvisor executive as its new President and COO.

For more of Class Central’s analysis of edX’s 2017, keep reading.

By The Numbers


EdX currently has 14 million learners, up 10 million learners in 2016. These learners accounted for more than 50 million course enrollments, 16 million of which came about in 2017.

The median age of an edX learner is 28, and 62% of all learners are male. EdX learners range in age from 7 to 96, and here is how they are distributed:

  • Continuing learners (25+) — 65%.
  • University age students (19-24) — 28%.
  • High school students (13 – 18) — 7%.

Seventy-seven percent of edX learners are outside of the US. After the US, India is the country with the most users (11% of learners). Only 6% of edX learners come from Africa.


At the time of this writing, edX has approximately 1,800 courses, 500 of which were added in 2017. A good chunk of these courses came from Microsoft, who now offers over 200 courses as well as 10 Professional Certificate and 8 Xseries programs.

Here is a list of the most popular edX courses (from 7/1/16 to 6/30/17):

  1. Introduction to Computer Science — HarvardX
  2. Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Excel — Microsoft
  3. Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python — MITx
  4. IELTS Academic Test Preparation — UQx
  5. English Grammar and Style — UQx
  6. TOEFL® Test Preparation: The Insider’s Guide — ETSx
  7. Introduction to Python for Data Science — Microsoft
  8. Introduction to Data Analysis using Excel — Microsoft
  9. Artificial Intelligence (AI) — ColumbiaX
  10. Introduction to Linux — LinuxFoundationX


This is where things get a bit confusing. EdX now offers four types of credentials (they are presented here in the order of when they were launched):

  1. XSeries.
  2. Professional Education.
  3. MicroMasters.
  4. Professional Certificate.

XSeries was the first ever credential launched by edX, but it doesn’t seem to be something edX is investing in as much. The number of XSeries Certificate programs went down in 2017  from 45 to 32.

Professional Education courses are basically completely paid content. EdX currently offers 64 of these, up from 53 in 2016.

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. This seems to be where edX is investing a lot of resources. Currently, there are 43 MicroMasters, up from 20 in 2016. Around two dozen universities are offering a MicroMasters program. There’s more information on MicroMasters later in the article.

Professional Certificate is a new credential that edX launched this past year. There are 35 Professional Certificate programs. A few of the XSeries programs were converted into Professional Certificates. You can read Class Central’s detailed analysis of Professional Certificate programs for more information.

Here is a list of the most popular MicroMasters programs and Professional Certificate programs by enrollment:

  1. Front-End Web Developer — W3Cx
  2. Supply Chain Management — MITx
  3. Java and Android Foundation — HKUSTx
  4. Inclusive Leadership — CatalystX
  5. Introduction to Java Programming — UC3Mx
  6. Data Science for Executives — ColumbiaX
  7. Artificial Intelligence — ColumbiaX
  8. Gestión Pública para el Desarrollo — IDBx
  9. Business Management — IIMBx
  10. Cybersecurity — RITx

2017 Highlights/Milestones

Online Masters in Analytics

Picture of woman at computer.

Building on the success of its Online Masters of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS) program with Udacity, Georgia Tech has announced a second, similar program: Online Masters of Science In Analytics (OMS Analytics). This time it partnered with edX.

The OMS Analytics costs less than $10,000. The first cohort started in fall 2017 with 250 students. Another 400+ learners will start the Masters in spring 2018, taking the total registered numbers to an impressive 650.

By comparison, OMSCS — which started more than four years ago — has around 6,000 students enrolled, while the iMBA from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Coursera launched two-and-a-half years ago, and has 800 students.

MicroMasters Push

A MicroMasters credential grants credits that counts towards a Masters degree, if the learner who earned the credential is accepted into the on-campus program.

MIT’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) was the first MicroMasters that edX launched back in 2015 and, according to edX CEO Anant Agrawal, it has already generated $4 million in revenue. In mid-2017, around 800 people (out of the 1,100 eligible) took the final test to earn the SCM MicroMaster, and 622 passed. Of those, 130 have applied to the full degree program at MIT, but only 40 will be accepted.

In 2016, Class Central wrote about how edX had invested heavily in a number of mechanisms to achieve improvements in rigor, including both course quality and learner integrity.

These mechanisms include randomized problems for exams; timed exams; peer grading for free learners and hand grading for certificate earners; virtual proctoring; timed exams that disappear after the exam is submitted; teamwork and projects through the team mechanism; a significant focus on accessibility; and so on.

EdX continued its push in 2017, doubling the number of MicroMasters it offers. In most cases, the university that created the MicroMaster is the one that accepts the MicroMaster for credit. But for certain Micromasters, such as UC Berkeley’s Marketing Analytics or UC San Diego’s Data Science, the credit-accepting institution is Curtin University. MIT’s Supply Chain MicroMasters students can earn credits from three different universities (in addition to MIT): Curtin, Rochester Institute of Technology, and University of Queensland.

MicroMasters range in price from $540 to $1,500, with the median price being $946. Below is a complete list of MicroMasters and their prices.

New COO and President: Adam Medros

EdX hired Adam Medros as its Chief Operating Officer (COO) and President.

Adam comes to edX from TripAdvisor, Inc. where he was Senior Vice President of Global Product, leader of the hotels vertical, and a member of the executive team.

New Credential: Professional Certificate

Professional certificate program on edX website

In April 2017, edX announced its fourth credential: the Professional Certificate. Now edX has 35 such Professional Certificate programs. You can read Class Central’s detailed analysis of Professional Certificate programs for more information.

Much more so than the MicroMasters, the Professional Certificates vary in price: they can range from $75 to $2,340. The median price is $312, while the average price is $635. The most expensive Professional Certificates are from Wharton and New York Institute of Finance. Below is a list of all Professional Certificates and their pricing.

Spanish Language Launch

In May 2017, edX announced the launch of its Spanish-language website: Fourteen percent of edX learners are from Latin American countries.

edX for Business

EdX has a corporate learning offering called edX for Business. Here is how edX describes its offering:

EdX is working with ~40 companies in different capacities from full LMS integrations to bulk purchases into courses. We have had thousands of new enterprise learners register on edX in the last months through new corporate partnerships. Overall, we are seeing great success with the edX for Business product.

More Highlights

Dhawal Shah Profile Image

Dhawal Shah

Dhawal is the CEO of Class Central, the most popular search engine and review site for online courses and MOOCs. He has completed over a dozen MOOCs and has written over 200 articles about the MOOC space, including contributions to TechCrunch, EdSurge, Quartz, and VentureBeat.

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