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EdX’s 2019: Year in Review

In 2019, edX got a new co-CEO, gained more learners than in 2018, and a couple of the platform’s instructors won a Nobel prize.

edX Homepage Screenshot

In 2019, edX got a new co-CEO, gained more learners than in 2018, and a couple of the platform’s instructors won a Nobel prize.

The total number of learners on edX grew to 24 million, up from 18 million last year. Before that, edX was gaining 4 million learners a year.

As usual, edX launched more courses, microcredentials, and online degrees (though fewer than last year; they even lost a degree). edX’s paywall, announced last year, was expanded to more courses.

For Class Central‘s complete analysis of edX’s 2019, keep reading. For our previous years’ analyses, follow the links:

By The Numbers

2016 2017 2018 2019
Master’s Degrees 0 1 9 10
Courses 1290 1820 2275 2650
Learners 10 million 14 million 18 million 24 million
Microcredentials 118 174 233 292


The number of active courses on the platform increased to 2,650 (up from 2,275 last year). Data collected by Class Central shows that edX has launched around 410 online courses in 2019.

According to edX, the following courses received the most enrollments between July 2018 and June 2019 (edX’s calendar year):

  1. CS50’s Introduction to Computer Science via Harvard
  2. IELTS Academic Test Preparation via University of Queensland
  3. Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python via MIT
  4. Introduction to Python: Absolute Beginner via Microsoft
  5. Introduction to Data Analysis using Excel via Microsoft
  6. TOEFL® Test Preparation: The Insider’s Guide via ETS
  7. Data Science: R Basics via Harvard
  8. Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Power BI via Microsoft
  9. Python for Data Science via University of California, San Diego
  10. Introduction to Linux via Linux Foundation

Three of the courses from the list above (#1, #3, and #9) are also part of Class Central’s Top 100 online courses of all time.


Currently, edX lists 292 microcredentials (up from 233 last year) of 4 different types. The table below shows how each microcredential type has grown over the years.

2016 2017 2018 2019
XSeries 45 32 29 40
MicroMasters 20 43 51 56
Professional Education 53 64 62 73
Professional Certificate 0 35 91 123
Total 118 174 233 292

In our research, we also found that certain courses are part of multiple microcredentials. EdX’s most popular course, CS50x, is part of three different Professional Certificates. We also discovered a Microsoft course which is part of two Professional Certificates and one XSeries.

Screenshot: edX courses part of multiple microcredentials

Online Degrees

In 2019, edX announced just two master’s degrees as opposed to eight in 2018. edX announced its first online MBA, offered by Boston University.

Purdue University became the 7th edX partner to launch a MOOC-based master’s degree with the company.

Besides its master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering, Purdue plans to launch two other online degrees on edX in 2020:

  • An online master’s degree in mechanical engineering
  • An online master’s degree in civil engineering

The civil engineering degree will be developed from the ground up. By contrast, the other two will be based on master’s degree programs currently offered by Purdue on its own online education portal, where they cost $40k. On edX, the degrees will cost less than $25k.

Interestingly, a MOOC-based degree seems to have been either canceled or postponed: edX’s Data Science Master — offered by the University of California, San Diego — isn’t listed on the provider’s page anymore.

Below is a list of all the current degrees announced by edX. Detailed information is not yet available for another 13 upcoming degrees.

Degree Name University Cost
Electrical and Computer Engineering Purdue $22,500
Leadership: Service Innovation University of Queensland < AUD $25,000
Master’s in Business Administration Boston University $24,000
Master’s Degree in IT Management Indiana University $21,000
Accounting Indiana University $21,000
Cybersecurity Georgia Institute of Technology $9,920
Analytics Georgia Institute of Technology $9,900
Marketing Curtin University AUD $25,850
Supply Chain Management Arizona State University $19,080
Computer Science The University of Texas at Austin $10,000

Other 2019 Highlights/Milestones

New Co-CEO

Photo of Anant Agarwal and Adam Medros, edX's co-CEO

EdX announced the appointment of Adam Medros as co-CEO. He will lead the company alongside the founder and CEO Anant Agarwal.

Adam joined edX back in October 2017 as COO and President. He came from a 13-year stint at Tripadvisor (it’s like Class Central, but for travel) where he was Senior Vice President of Global Product and a member of the executive team.

Paywall for Graded Assignments

edX course screenshot describing how long the course is accessible

Last year, edX announced a paywall for graded assignments. Under this policy, graded assignments will be available to learners who purchase verified certificates. The learners who don’t pay will only be able to access the content for a limited amount of time.

Not all courses follow this policy, but in 2019 many more do. The policy is very similar to FutureLearn’s paywall, but unlike FutureLearn, the transparency is missing: you find out if a course has a paywall and limited-time access only after you enroll. On FutureLearn, this information is right on the course pages.


In 2019, edX added three people to the leadership team: Lauren Holliday (presumably taking over from Mark Haseltine, Chief Product Officer), Stephanie Brocoum, and JP Beaudry. Long-time edX’er Johannes Heinlein expanded his role to include Chief Commercial Officer.

Here is how the edX Leadership currently looks:

  • Anant Agarwal, Founder and CEO
  • Adam Medros, President and co-CEO
  • Johannes Heinlein, Chief Commercial Officer and Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships
  • Stephanie Brocoum, Chief Marketing Officer
  • Nell Ma’luf, Vice President and General Counsel
  • Kathy Pugh, Vice President of Services
  • Lee Rubenstein, Vice President of Business Development
  • JP Beaudry, Vice President of Engineering
  • Peter Brau, Vice President of Finance
  • Lauren Holliday, Vice President of Product
  • Nina Huntemann, Senior Director of Academics and Research

Global Freshman Academy

The Global Freshman Academy from Arizona State University has been scaled back and largely replaced by the non-MOOC (neither open nor free) Earned Admission program. Theories about why conversions are low from MOOCs to actual college credit continue to be proposed.

Nobel Prize in Economics

In October 2019, two edX instructors — Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo — were awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for their research in helping fight poverty. The two MIT professors are behind the MicroMasters in Data, Economics, and Development Policy. Duflo is also an instructor in the Statistics and Data Science MicroMasters.

This article is just one of our 2019 MOOC Roundup Series. Find the whole series here. You’ll discover everything about MOOCs in 2019 — from the most popular classes, to overviews of MOOC platforms developments, to looking at the future of MOOCs.

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.

Comments 2

  1. Dustin Miller

    It is interesting because the two nobel prize winning teachers, are the ones in the Micromasters that I took/started. It makes me want to go back and keep learning! I only left because my prerequisite knowledge wasn’t strong enough.

    • Antonello

      ..It is also interesting that the course of the Nobel Price awarded instructor is the worst of the whole Statistics and Data Science MicroMaster 😉

      (and, by the way, it is also interetesting that the students doing the same course in the contest of the Development Policy doesn’t feel the same..)


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