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Analysis

Udacity’s 2021: Year in Review

In 2021, Udacity consolidated its enterprise focus, launched fewer free courses, but tripled scholarships.

Udacity – A Year In Review

In 2021, Udacity consolidated its position as a now largely enterprise-facing company whose focus is on corporations and governments rather than learners like you and me.

The refocus, initiated last year, comes in the wake of a few tumultuous years at Udacity. In 2018, they faced a downturn that prompted the CEO’s exit. In 2019, they carried out a restructuring plan punctuated by large layoffs. In 2020, amid a pandemic and under new leadership, they doubled down on B2B. And in 2021, they’ve settled in this position.

Udacity 2021 homepage: for enterprises, government, and individuals — in that order

In the process, Udacity stopped making waves. Last year, we wrote five articles about the company. This year, by contrast, this article will be the first and last. And it’s not because we stopped paying attention. At Class Central, we’ve completed a bunch of Nanodegrees. Udacity has been on our mind. But Udacity’s mind isn’t on their consumer segment anymore.

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

By the Numbers

Udacity 2021: By the Numbers
2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Nanodegrees 22 35 40 59 75
Graduates 18K 65K 100K 150K NA
Revenue 70M 90M NA NA NA
Employees 500 350 300 400 NA

As Udacity’s focus turned away from consumers and toward business, the company also became less transparent. Most notably, Udacity stopped sharing clear growth numbers.

At Class Central, most of our analyses are based on data we’ve curated ourselves, either by hand or through web scraping. But when a figure can’t be inferred from data available online, we may ask companies directly — for instance, to prepare our end-of-year series. This year, our email to Udacity remained unanswered, hence the largely empty 2021 column above.

Nanodegrees

Udacity: New programs per year — note the 2019 increase
2018 2019 2020 2021
9 14 19 16

One of the salient measures of Udacity’s all-encompassing plan for putting the company back on track to profitability was to speed up Nanodegree rollouts. In 2018, they launched just 9 Nanodegrees. Since then, they’ve launched on average 16 each year. More specifically, in 2021, Udacity launched 15 Nanodegrees and 1 Executive Program. Below is the complete list.

In addition, Udacity refreshed two of their best-selling Nanodegrees:

Note that as Udacity’s offering has kept growing, it’s become increasingly specific (and their names, increasingly long), often targeting particular tools and vendors rather than broad topics. For instance, there used to be just one machine learning Nanodegree; now, there are five:

Free Courses

Udacity: New free courses per year — note the 2019 decrease
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
12 31 64 49 34 35 7 5 3

Another consequence of the belt-tightening at Udacity has been the gradual decrease of the number of free courses launched each year. In 2021, Udacity released just three free courses:

Scholarships

Udacity: Scholarships and Nanodegrees funded per year
2019 2020 2021
Scholarships 4 5 9
Nanodegrees 2850 3725 9877

For individual learners, perhaps a silver lining of Udacity’s closer dealings with companies is that it seems to have attracted more scholarship partners. In 2021, Udacity launched 9 scholarships, funding close to 10K Nanodegree programs, almost three times more than in 2020.

Udacity: 2021 Scholarships
Scholarship Partner Nanodegrees funded
Accenture Scholarship Accenture 600
AWS AI & ML Scholarship AWS 2500
Tech Scholarship Bertelsmann 1600
OneTen Scholarship OneTen 2000
AWS ML Scholarship AWS 425
SUSE Cloud Scholarship SUSE 300
Blacks in Tech Scholarship Blacks in Tech 150
Advance Africa Scholarship Access Bank 2000
Nokia Scholarship Nokia 302
Manoel Cortes Mendez Profile Image

Manoel Cortes Mendez

Software engineer and online graduate student in computer science passionate about education, technology, and their intersection.

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