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EdX’s 2021: Year in Review

In 2021, edX was acquired by 2U for $800M, stopped being a nonprofit, and the 2U integration has begun.

edX – A Year In Review

This year, edX shocked the world by getting acquired for $800 million in cash by 2U, a for-profit public company. You can read my 4,500-word analysis, which is part data-driven and part opinionated.

In 2021, edX gained 7 million new learners, similar to what it did in 2019, and less than the 10 million it gained in 2020, during the pandemic boost.

EdX isn’t a non-profit anymore, lost its co-CEO, shut down a microcredential (Executive Education), and we saw the first signs of its integration with 2U: it started promoting courses and bootcamps from other 2U acquisitions.

So far, none of its partners have left edX due to the transaction. The acquisition also doesn’t seem to have boosted 2U’s stock price, which is lower than before the acquisition.

For Class Central‘s complete analysis of edX’s 2021, keep reading. For our previous years’ analyses, follow the links:

By The Numbers

EdX By the Numbers
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Courses 1290 1820 2275 2650 3090 3550
Microcredentials 118 174 233 292 385 483
Master’s Degrees 0 1 9 10 13 13
Learners 10M 14M 18M 25M 35M 42M
Revenue $42M $54M $60M $76M $84.7M NA


EdX now has 3,550 active courses, up from 3,090 last year. Data collected by Class Central shows that they’ve announced around 550 online courses in 2021 (compared to 750 in 2020).

Here are edX’s ten most popular courses by enrollment launched in 2021. The top course has 80K enrollments, while the #10 has around 22K.


Here’s a list of 100 Top FREE edX Courses of All Time and 100 most popular courses launched in 2021.


EdX microcredentials
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
XSeries 45 32 29 40 40 52
MicroMasters 20 43 51 56 67 57
Professional Education 53 64 62 73 94 97
Professional Certificate 0 35 91 123 176 265
MicroBachelors 0 0 0 0 8 12
Total 118 174 233 292 385 483

Currently, edX lists 483 microcredentials (up from 385 last year) of 5 different types. The table above shows how each microcredential type has grown over the years.

In 2020, edX launched a new kind of microcredential, MicroBachelors. They also launched a new line of higher-priced online courses under the Executive Education banner. These courses had a fixed schedule, were 4 to 6 weeks long, and were priced between $999 and $3,599. 

In 2021, those courses are no longer available. Instead, edX has started listing courses from 2U-acquired company GetSmarter, under the banner of Executive Education.

EdX Executive Education: Notice the links to GetSmarter at the bottom

Similarly, edX has also added a page to promote Trilogy Bootcamps, another company acquired by 2U.

EdX Trilogy Bootcamps page

GetSmarter courses and Trilogy Bootcamps are not included in our microcredentials count.

EdX Online Master’s Degrees

In 2021, edX did announce a Masters in Public Health from Boston University, but it will only start in 2023. It was announced as part of its acquisition by 2U, but there’s no information yet on the edX website (that’s why we didn’t include it in our degree count).

For comparison, in 2020, edX had announced four new online master’s degrees.

Here is a complete list of MOOC-based online degrees. Below is a list of all the degrees currently listed on edX.

EdX’s online master’s degrees
Degree Name University Cost
Nutritional Sciences The University of Texas at Austin $25,300
Mechanical Engineering Purdue University $22,500
Data Science The University of Texas at Austin $10,000
Civil Engineering Purdue University $22,500
Electrical and Computer Engineering Purdue University $22,500
Leadership: Service Innovation University of Queensland < AU$25,000
Business Administration (MBA) Boston University $24,000
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
Supply Chain Management Arizona State University $18,000
Computer Science The University of Texas at Austin $10,000

2U + edX

EdX Consortium partners (Source)

Though the acquisition was announced at the end of June, it finally got approved last month.

Now, edX CEO Anant Agarwal has transitioned to ‘Chief Open Education Officer’ at 2U. EdX has also waived all the membership and annual fees for its members. It announced that none of the edX Consortium members had left, while two dozen of 2U’s partners have joined edX. But as far as we can tell, these aren’t offering courses on edX (yet at least).

2U stock price following edX acquisition

2U’s edX acquisition hasn’t had a positive impact on the 2U’s stock, which is lower than it was before the acquisition. At the time of writing, the company is valued at $1.61B.

Open edX Remains Open

In essence, 2U acquired all edX assets except Open edX, the open source software that powers the edX platform and those of many institutions. The acquisition left behind a nonprofit entity under MIT and Harvard control, for now called The Center for Reimagining Learning (tCRIL).

Open edX now lives under tCRIL’s purview, and a new shared governance model has been put into place. It involves a committee of 9 people — 3 from edX/2U, 3 from Harvard/MIT, and 3 from the Open edX community — in charge of giving Open edX direction in the years to come.

EdX Co-CEO Adam Medros Leaves the Company

In March 2021, a year and a half after becoming co-CEO of edX with Anant Agarwal, Adam Medros left the company. Adam was also the President of edX.

Adam joined edX as Chief Operating Officer (COO) and President back in October 2017, following 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. In late 2019, he was promoted to co-CEO.

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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