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Udacity Completes the Switch to Term-based Scheduling for Its Nanodegrees

Udacity has noticed a 16-point increase in graduation rates for a term-based Nanodegree over its old subscription model.

In the past year or so, Udacity’s Nanodegrees have changed a lot. Last year, we wrote about Udacity removing its job-guarantee as well as the “half your money back” programs. Then it shutdown Blitz.com, a freelancing platform for Nanodegree Alumni. We also noticed that the newer Nanodegrees launched by Udacity were term-based i.e it had a start date and end date instead of the monthly subscription model.

Finally, the switch is complete, and now all Nanodegrees are term based. A few legacy Nanodegrees which were still on the monthly subscription plan, have now been moved over. Here are the before and after prices:

Nanodegree Name Old Pricing and Duration New Pricing and Duration
Android Basics $199/month, 4 months $599. 3 months
Front-End Web Developer $199/month, 6 months $999, 4 months
Full Stack Web Developer $199/month, 6 months $999, 4 months
Android Developer $1199 or $199/month, 8 months $999 months
Become an iOS Developer $199/month, 6 months $999, 7 months
Business Analyst $199/month, 160 hours NA

This switch was announced by COO of Udacity, Clarissa Chen in a blog post titled Connecting Learning to Jobs, at Scale.  Course providers generally like to bury news like these in cryptic blog posts (see EdX’s  Furthering the edX Mission, Forging a Future Path or Coursera’s Verified Certificates ensure academic integrity).

According to Clarissa, Udacity has noticed a 16-point increase in graduation rates for a term-based Nanodegree over its old subscription model. In the old model, students used to pay a monthly fee to access the Nanodegree contents until they complete the Nanodegree. In the new model, each Nanodegree has fixed start date and end date.

The term based scheduling means that that students need to finish all projects before the end of the term. Those who fail to do so are offered a 4-week extension to complete any outstanding projects. If they don’t, they are kicked out of the program and lose access to the content. Students also don’t have an option to pause their Nanodegrees. They can rejoin the Nanodegree the next term, but will have to pay the full price again. Even those who successfully complete a Nanodegree will have their access removed a period of time after graduation.

Via these changes, Udacity has created a rigid structure that seems closer to a university’s semester pattern. Interestingly, Silicon Valley University is starting to look a lot like a traditional university.

This change combined with other changes over the last year or so (like ending the half your money-back program) have effectively increased the cost of Nanodegree for an average student. These changes seem to be working, last year Udacity made $70M in revenue.


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 4

  1. Nikita Mirontsev

    For me it sounds very much as a lot of reg flags:
    1) Removing job-guarantee tracks looks like being unable to guarantee a job, based on knowledge gained during the courses;
    2) Removing “half your money back” also sound like loosing money on it.
    3) Not allowing students to pass their progress to next terms or pause the degree cost me 500 bucks earlier this year.

    So, Udacity (and mostly EdX, for me) are platforms who want to earn money more, then to provide education to masses. Coursera from this point has the most affordable prices, the most flexible course passing path and the most valuable teachers (at least in areas of ML and AI) with a huge variety of specializations.

    • Tuhin t

      I think they all are same initially they started with free course and later put charge on them. Although they are trying to be traditional university in reality they are business house. So their main motive is making money not serve masses! when i think of an online course I usually I try too search on MIT or Harvard as most of their courses are free (may not the delivery methods are not very sophisticated) but the content of the course has very high quality. Then I try to get some some of the reference material and bingo! you can have fair amount of knowledge on that area.

  2. Ugo Fred

    I guess they’ve changed their customer segment from mass market to people in the Upper-middle income earning households.

  3. Jayden Hart

    the support is really sucks.


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