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Udacity offers a wide range of cost-effective “Nanodegree” programs to get you ready for careers in areas like:
But is Udacity the best online learning platform to build these skills, and is it worth the money?
As a former tech recruiter, I decided to look.
Coming up, I’m going to share a detailed review of Udacity’s Nanodegree programs and answer the question, “Is Udacity worth it?”
Udacity is known for its online courses called Nanodegrees, which last a couple of months if taken full-time and are taught by notable experts/industry leaders.
Courses contain recorded video lectures, projects, and an impressive amount of structure, support, and tools to help you feel like you’re not alone in the learning process.
The goal of these courses is to teach you job-relevant skills and help you build a portfolio that you can show to employers to land a job.
Some of Udacity’s Nanodegree courses are true entry-level courses where you can build a skill (like coding, digital marketing, and more) from the ground up, while others are intended to advance your career and build upon existing skills.
Each Nanodegree course is clearly labeled with the prerequisites, so you can know immediately if it’s suitable for you.
Descriptions of each of Udacity’s courses and Nanodegrees listed on their website will also tell you the main skills you’ll learn and how long it will take you to complete the online course. You can also see reviews/ratings from real students who’ve taken the course in the past.
These courses run for a set period of time. Check the syllabus and class dates when joining. This approach is different than some other online courses, which have no deadlines and give you an unlimited amount of time to complete the course material and assignments/projects.
I set out to decide if Udacity is worth it, and to help with this review, Udacity gave me access to one of their top-rated Nanodegree programs, Intro to Digital Marketing.
The online course is taught by multiple, well-qualified instructors teaching via high-definition video lectures, and also giving you downloadable course materials, visual examples, and more.
Here’s what the course dashboard looks like when you’re viewing a lesson:
The Udacity course platform also does a good job of laying out the curriculum, helping you track what you’ve completed and what’s still waiting to be done, etc. I found Udacity’s programs and user interface to be intuitive, even when I was using it for the first time.
I also appreciated that the entire course is broken down into smaller, easily digestible pieces. For example, in one of the early modules in the Intro to Digital Marketing course, no video was longer than four minutes.
So Udacity’s Nanodegree course structure makes it easy to go step-by-step and make sure you’re learning everything before moving on.
I’ve taken courses on various other online learning platforms, and one thing that has frustrated me is longer videos, often 10-15 minutes in length.
Along with video content, Udacity also gives you a review/recap video after each module, quizzes to make sure you’ve learned and remembered the key points, visual examples of what was taught, and more.
With a Udacity Nanodegree course, you’ll get a study plan and calendar to keep you on track.
You’ll get a “mentor help” section, where you can search for help and ask questions about an assignment or course topic.
And you’ll get access to student discussion forums known as “peer chats.” These are conveniently organized by project within a course, so you can quickly find the right student discussion forum for the specific course lessons you’re working on and seeking help with.
I’ll share more about all of this coming up, but what matters most is the course content quality and the skill of the instructors who are teaching you. So let’s take a closer look at those first…
Udacity Nanodegree courses are generally high quality in terms of video/content and also the structure and dashboard you’re given.
Courses offer a mix of professional-quality, HD video lessons taught by multiple instructors instead of just one person, which is nice for a change of pace and hearing different perspectives.
This is one advantage I appreciated about Udacity’s courses. Most other online learning platforms don’t provide courses with multiple expert instructors.
The course lessons feature a mix of your instructors talking to you on video, but also showing you screenshots/graphics to illustrate concepts, slides with information/bullets, and more.
I’m a visual learner and found Udacity offered a great mix of types of content in each lesson/module of the course I took.
The course content was highly engaging.
You won’t be bored with Udacity’s course lessons and learning experience, which is a drawback to some other online education platforms that offer longer videos taught by a single instructor and with less variety in the type of lecture and video content.
Udacity gives you multiple instructors delivering video lectures in a variety of mixed formats (graphics, slides, and seeing the instructor talking live). This, plus the projects you’ll complete in Udacity’s Nanodegree programs, keeps the learning experience fresh and interesting.
The quality of instructors on Udacity’s learning platform is excellent.
Udacity produces its Nanodegree courses in partnership with some of the world’s top tech companies and their courses feature instructors who are leaders in their fields.
I don’t know many other places online where you can learn digital marketing from a former VP of Global Market Research at Yahoo and a Stanford University MBA.
Udacity delivers top-tier instructors in every Nanodegree course. Their teachers have a proven track record in the field, and are also great at teaching/explaining the concepts so that even a novice can understand and learn.
Udacity’s courses are as easy to use as any other e-learning platform I’ve tried.
The user interface is intuitive and modern, showing you topics/lessons on the left-hand side, and the current lesson you’re viewing on the right-hand portion of your screen.
Udacity Nanodegrees guide you and show you clearly which lessons and tasks to complete next, and which you’ve already done.
And if you left something half-completed, your course dashboard will show you that, too. Udacity courses are high quality, well structured, polished, and professional.
Finally, you’ll be notified of any assignments that are due soon so that you don’t miss anything that needs to be done.
Ease of use and the quality/clarity of the course experience are two of Udacity’s strengths.
You won’t just sit through video lectures in your Nanodegree course. Udacity is going to give you assessments and projects for you to practice and prove what you’ve learned.
While this is more work, it ensures you’re going to graduate and complete the Nanodegree with a strong foundation of knowledge.
You can use this as a strong selling point when you explain the course to employers in your job search (and some may already be familiar with the quality of Udacity’s Nanodegree courses).
The fact that Udacity gives these assessments and real-world projects that you can put into a portfolio is a big plus.
Whereas, if you take some of the free courses online, you won’t have much to show for your efforts other than academic knowledge.
Of course, even with free courses on the web, you can go out and complete your own projects. For example, if you taught yourself HTML and CSS via free courses, you could go create a basic webpage to show this knowledge in action.
The decision of whether to pay Udacity for their Nanodegree course or try to piece this knowledge together on your own online simply depends on whether you want structure, support, and a Udacity certificate.
I think it’s worth paying for a structured course like what Udacity offers if you’re serious about advancing your career or starting a new career. Your time is valuable, and it’s going to take days or weeks to piece together bits and pieces of info on the web while trying to determine which info is good/reliable and which is not.
And as mentioned earlier, the quality of instructors on Udacity is top-notch. I don’t know many other places where you can learn marketing from a Stanford University MBA for a few hundred dollars, for example.
One of my favorite features that should be mentioned in any Udacity review: You’re always one click away from getting help when needed.
Udacity’s Nanodegree programs offer 24/7 access to technical mentors so that you can ask questions and get help when you’re stuck or unsure of something.
And you’ll also be able to jump into student discussion forums to discuss specific lessons/assignments with other students in the same course.
These are some of the perks that I feel separate Udacity’s Nanodegree from the various free courses on the web and make it more similar to an immersive, live bootcamp than a simple video course (for a fraction of the cost).
Udacity offers a wide range of courses, primarily in technology fields like software engineering, machine learning, data science, cybersecurity, and more. Udacity also offers courses in other areas such as product management, UX design, and business topics like marketing and business analytics.
Overall, Udacity’s online learning programs are divided into the following categories or “schools”:
One benefit to taking Nanodegree courses in past years was getting access to Udacity’s career services like career coaching, along with the core online learning. Udacity’s career help has seen major changes as of February 28, 2021, though.
Career events and 1:1 coaching are being discontinued.
That doesn’t mean you’ll be left entirely on your own in your career and job hunt, though.
Many Nanodegrees include special modules/lessons that are career-focused. For example, the Udacity Nanodegree course I took, Intro to Digital Marketing, includes a segment dedicated to using LinkedIn to find a job.
And all Udacity Nanodegrees allow students to submit their resume, cover letter, LinkedIn, and Github profiles for feedback and optimization recommendations from Udacity mentors.
Having Udacity staff review your profiles ensures you’re not applying for jobs before you’ve optimized all of your online profiles, so that you don’t miss your shot at landing a job at the top employers you’re targeting.
Make sure you take advantage of this to get a job faster.
Still, the career services offered in this program aren’t as robust as what Udacity offered in the past, or as in-depth as what some other online course platforms seem to offer in terms of helping you start job searching and land a position in the real world after you graduate.
Udacity students will graduate with relevant, real-world skills and completed projects that employers want to see. I have no question about Udacity’s content quality after reviewing their Nanodegree course in digital marketing.
I just wish Udacity course graduates were given a bit more direct career help in the program.
As a former recruiter, I’ve seen many talented and capable people go unhired, and many people with mediocre skills and experience get hired because they knew how to ace the interview and sell themself to companies.
Many candidates, especially in their 20s, simply don’t know what employers look for in an interview or how they make hiring decisions.
I’ve practically made my living writing about interview tips and preparation on this blog, because so many people are trying to figure this out.
And landing that first position to break into a new industry is often the hardest job hunt and interview process (even if you’re highly skilled).
So that’s one area where I was hoping to see more in Udacity’s Nanodegree course material.
I got in touch with Udacity to ask about the success of their students in landing the type of job or raise they desired.
Based on a 2020 survey of Nanodegree graduates, 73% of graduates who signed up with the intention of advancing their career reported a favorable career change in the first 12 months after completing a Nanodegree program, seeing an average pay raise of 24%.
I think at the end of the day, you should look for the courses that teach the best job-related skills, which is where Udacity does an excellent job.
A lot of online courses and platforms brag about their connections to employers, their recruiting programs, etc., but quite often, you read real reviews from former students and graduates, and they’re left disappointed in the job search help they received.
It’s your job search at the end of the day, and an online bootcamp or course like Udacity’s Nanodegree can help you find a job, but you’re going to have to put effort into a job hunt either way.
So I respect Udacity for focusing on what they do best: Teaching you in-demand work skills that employers want, offering some key career help for free in each program, but not overpromising.
With the skills you’ll gain in a Nanodegree, and the CV/LinkedIn profile reviews and other basic career help you’ll get in Udacity’s programs, you’ll have the knowledge needed to conduct a successful job hunt and perform well in a job once you’re hired.
Udacity Nanodegree programs typically cost $1,000 to $1,400 for full course access for the entire amount of time needed to complete the course, which is three or four months depending on the program.
Udacity also offers a “pay as you go” pricing model where you’ll pay $399 per month for access to the course.
You’ll be given the choice between these two payment options when viewing any Nanodegree course on Udacity’s website.
Udacity also offers personalized discounts that you’ll see when browsing their course offerings.
Udacity occasionally offers scholarships opportunities on this page. However, they seem to be limited in terms of the number of scholarships offered and the enrollment timeframe.
Fortunately, the courses Udacity offers are priced competitively, and I feel Nanodegrees are worth the investment even if you’re not able to get lucky and find a relevant scholarship to take advantage of.
This wouldn’t be a complete Udacity review without discussing some cons and downsides to the platform.
The first con of Udacity, which I mentioned above, is that I felt they’re slightly light on career help.
I realize that Udacity Nanodegrees exist to teach you technical, job-related skills, not job hunting.
But job-hunting skills are so critical, and your Nanodegree’s worth depends on your ability to market yourself and attract employers.
So this is something I’d like to see even more of in future years.
Also, if you have a high budget and are willing to spend many multiples more, then another potential downside to Udacity is the lack of a live classroom learning experience. If you’re willing to spend $10,000 or more, then look at live bootcamps.
For example, here are some of the best online coding bootcamps.
Aside from this, there are very few cons to Udacity.
It’s not the cheapest platform, and you can certainly learn some of these skills via YouTube and other free online platforms.
However, I think Udacity’s cost is worth it given the structure, the support you get, and the quality of teachers. (These are top-notch industry experts teaching these courses; people who typically do not share free courses or content on a YouTube channel, etc.)
Udacity is not accredited. Like most other online learning platforms of its type, Udacity is focused on teaching you job-relevant skills and helping you attract employers, rather than providing a recognized degree or diploma that’s equivalent to a traditional university.
With Udacity, you pay much less, graduate much sooner, and leave with just job-relevant skills and projects/portfolio pieces for the career you want.
While not accredited, Udacity does provide Nanodegree graduates with a certificate that can be shown to employers as proof of completion. The certificate shows the date you graduated and the name of the course on Udacity that you completed.
To graduate from a Nanodegree program and obtain your certificate, you’ll need to complete all projects with a grade of “Meets Specifications.” The projects/requirements vary in each course. For more info, see the course syllabus before joining.
However, as mentioned above, the real value you’re obtaining with one of Udacity’s online courses, and what employers will be most interested in, is the job-relevant skills you’ve obtained.
That should be your reason for taking any and all online courses you enroll in; not a certificate of completion. Udacity is most useful for the skills it will teach you, not the certificate you’ll receive.
Employers will recognize the skills you obtained from Udacity and the projects you completed. They won’t look at your Udacity Nanodegree as being a substitute for a four-year degree from an accredited university, but fewer and fewer employers are requiring this anyway.
That’s what makes the Udacity Nanodegree worth it in my opinion, as someone who has been a job recruiter for years in modern industries like software technology, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals.
The reason to enroll in a program like Udacity’s Nanodegree courses is to learn a skill, like artificial intelligence, data science, programming, marketing, etc.
Don’t take one of these courses thinking some certificate or diploma will get you hired. Those are overrated in most industries. It’s your skills and project work that will get you hired.
Fortunately, Udacity does an excellent job of taking you through everything you need to learn and complete in each online Nanodegree course they offer.
The real reason to enroll in an online course with Udacity is to learn skills that employers seek, not to get some certificate. If that’s what you want, then Udacity is worth it and I recommend their online courses highly.
I’ll share more of my conclusions and overall answer to “Is Udacity Worth It?” coming up. I’ll also cover some cons and drawbacks to Udacity courses and Nanodegrees soon, so keep reading.
Udacity is a better online learning platform if you’re seeking a comprehensive, in-depth course to teach you everything you need to launch a new career. You can also build upon your Udacity Nanodegree with intermediate and advanced Udacity courses.
However, if you’re on a strict budget and/or unsure that a certain learning topic is right for you, then Udemy provides a much cheaper way (often below $20 with their discounts) to “test the waters” and learn a bit about a skill.
Some Udemy courses are fantastic while others are lackluster. It depends heavily on the instructor. With Udacity, you know you’re getting top-notch instructors, which I mentioned earlier in this Udacity review.
Therefore, Udemy is better if you’re looking for free or cheap courses and/or unsure a topic is right for you. Udacity is a better platform if you’re serious about finding courses taught by top-tier experts that will help start or advance your career.
Also, Udacity specializes in certain areas, mainly tech areas like full-stack software engineering, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, data science, machine learning, as well as business areas like data analysis, marketing, etc.
So their courses are only a viable choice for certain fields. I feel this is a strength or upside of Udacity. They have expertise in certain niches, and they stick to that. They do what they’re best at.
However, it’s possible that the skill you’re trying to learn simply won’t be offered by Udacity (for example, photography).
If that’s the case, you’ll need to look to another e-learning platform for a wider range of topics.
Read our full Udemy review here if you’d like more help comparing.
We also highly recommend Skillshare.com for learning topics outside of what Udacity teaches. With Skillshare, you get access to all of their 27,000+ online courses for a single low monthly subscription.
Udacity and Treehouse are both e-learning platforms with similar course topics and similar pricing, with one key difference.
Udacity Nanodegree courses need to be finished in a set time period (typically a few months).
These courses run for a set period of time. Check the syllabus and class dates when joining.
However, courses in Treehouse are entirely self-paced and simply require a monthly subscription payment to keep going.
If you want a more structured, class-like experience with projects, deadlines, and milestones, then Udacity is what I recommend.
If you want to study at your own pace with no pressure, but with less support/structure/help, then Treehouse may be the better choice for your online education.
Otherwise, go with Udacity for a more immersive, comprehensive learning experience.
There’s also some difference in the topics covered by these two course platforms, so review both platforms to see if they offer courses in the specific topic you need.
Udacity Nanodegrees are worth it for those who are serious about starting a new career or advancing their current career in the fields of tech or business. Each Nanodegree program delivers a massive amount of job-related skills and information in a relatively short amount of time, and the instructors you’ll learn from in Udacity’s Nanodegrees are top-notch.
However, Udacity’s Nanodegrees may not be worth it if you’re unsure whether a career is right for you, unable to commit to a couple of months of hard work and studying, or on an extremely tight budget.
Udacity’s Nanodegree programs offer several advantages over free and cheap courses online, though, including better structure and guidance, better-quality instructors, 24/7 technical mentor support, career services, and more.
So if the only factor holding you back is cost, be aware that you do get significant benefits from Udacity, versus the cheap and free courses available on the web.
Overall, I feel that Udacity’s online learning platform is competitively priced, costing much less than traditional universities or live bootcamps.
For most students, Udacity courses are worth it, and Udacity is one of the best online learning platforms I’ve reviewed/tested.
Biron Clark is a former Executive Recruiter who has worked with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.