Udemy Review (2021): Is Udemy Worth It? My Verdict

Posted 20 Apr 2021, by

Brendan Brown

(This review contains affiliate links which means we may earn a commission if you sign up⁠ — at no extra cost to you. However, it’s an honest review about my personal experience with Udemy)

Looking to finally learn coding in 2021? Or maybe you’re hoping to finally learn photography. No — wait, you’re definitely interested in drawing. Wait, gah! You can’t decide! There’s too much to learn!

What to do?

Check out Udemy. Udemy is the largest online learning platform to date, with hundreds of thousands (you read that right) of courses across every topic imaginable.

But is Udemy worth your money or time? Find out with me in this comprehensive Udemy review.

Let’s get started.

What is Udemy?

Udemy is an online learning platform — specifically known as a MOOC (massive online open course) provider — meaning that you can access online courses that are open to thousands if not millions of people — all at once.

Currently there are over 155,000 courses on the site, and 40 million students have enrolled in a course. That’s lightyears ahead of many other MOOC sites such as Coursera or Skillshare.

But are the courses quality? How much do they cost?

We’ll get to that, don’t worry!

Founded in 2010, Udemy focused on becoming “the academy of you,” meaning that they wanted to bring in as many instructors and students as they could — cultivating a DIY approach to education where anyone could sign up to take a class or teach a class. And that’s still very much true to this day — Udemy makes it quite easy for teachers to load courses onto the platform.

Udemy is not a substitute for college, nor do its courses provide you with college credit. If you’re more interested in college courses, I’d take a look at Coursera or EdX.

Udemy is all about teaching you applicable skills that you can implement in your daily life immediately. And, as a bonus, you do get a certificate of completion whenever you complete a paid course — so there certainly is an element of bragging rights associated with finishing something on Udemy.

There’s so much to cover though, so I’m going to jump ahead and start breaking this down into clearer detail. I’ll circle back at the end with a verdict on whether or not Udemy is worth it.

What courses are available?

udemy courses

Udemy has 155,000 courses taught by 70,000 teachers. They have 115 million minutes of video lectures available. If I did my math right, that’s 218 years worth of video available.

Clearly, there’s more than enough courses for you to take.

But what type of courses are there? Well, Udemy breaks it down into 13 categories:

From there, each of these categories is broken down into a number of subcategories. For example, under “lifestyle,” there is “pet care & training,” which further breaks down into additional categories such as “dog training” or “horsemanship.” It’s deceptively large, and it really pays to poke around through each of the categories to see how varied and deep the learning options are.

Want to learn crystal healing? Why that’s under esoteric practices under lifestyle!

But, backing up a moment, you can see from the category breakdown that business and career development are where the vast majority of courses are located. That’s where Udemy puts the majority of its focus.

Sure, there are tons of courses in other areas such as health & fitness, but that’s not the main focus. In this way, Udemy is a bit larger and a bit more concentrated than competitor Skillshare — though Skillshare certainly is no slouch.

Who teaches on Udemy?

udemy review angela yu

Udemy is different from sites like MasterClass or Coursera in that it does not rely on big names or major professors to sell the programs. Instead, Udemy courses are taught by all sorts of teachers. In fact, it is quite easy for someone to put together a course and get it on Udemy.

I’ll walk you through that process later on in our Udemy review.

As an example, the very popular course 100 Days of Code is taught by Dr. Angela Yu, the leading instructor at the London App Brewery, which is the leading coding bootcamp in London. That’s a very high-level teacher — and is probably as sterling as you can get on Udemy. Many teachers have similar level credentials, but plenty of the courses feature instructors who have a more average background.

While Udemy does go through and approve the course (ensuring it meets certain specifications), it is less curated than other MOOC platforms like MasterClass. This can give Udemy a bit of a wild, wild, west feel, where you are unsure whether or not a course will be worth your money.

Luckily, Udemy does provide user ratings per class, as well as the number of students who have enrolled. Using these two metrics, you can get a decent feel for which courses are worth taking and which ones are more of a gamble.

In this way, Udemy’s user interface is similar to Amazon: the cream rises to the top.

How much does Udemy cost?

Udemy courses are often on sale

Click the button below for the best current offers

Udemy is relatively unique in the MOOC field, in that there is not a subscription service for Udemy. You have to pay per course.

How much does a Udemy course cost? It varies. Courses typically hover around the $100-200 price point at full price. That second part, at full price, is key.

Here’s a secret: almost all of the Udemy courses are on sale at some point or another. And the sale prices are huge.

That 100 Days of Code class I was talking about earlier? Full price it’s $94.99. Currently, it’s $11.99. That’s a savings of 87%. So, when you time it right, you can get courses for bargain prices.

So what do you get when you purchase a Udemy course? Well, let’s take a look at that 100 Days of Code class as an example.

When you purchase access to the course, you get:

  • 60 hours of video lectures
  • 229 articles
  • 116 downloadable resources
  • 1 coding exercise
  • Lifetime access
  • Mobile and TV access
  • Course Assignments
  • Certificate of Completion.

For $95, that’s a very impressive slate of goodies. For $12, it’s pretty insane. You’re looking at well under a dollar per hour of video alone, not to mention assignments.

Granted, plenty of other courses aren’t nearly as long. Many are in the 5 hour range, as opposed to the 60-hour range. For these courses, the prices are lower, but not proportionally so.

For example, Dr. Yu has a Dart bootcamp class that is 29 hours — about half the length of the previously mentioned class. This course, however, is regularly priced at $149.99 and is on sale for $19.99.

So the prices are variable, and reflect in-demand skills, scarcity, and the professor’s price preferences. Prices are set by the teachers, not by Udemy, though, again, it is clear that prices do congregate around certain price points.

Is there a subscription service?

Sort of (but not exactly). Udemy has a service called Udemy Pro, which bills itself as a guided learning experience for students interested in IT certification.

Basically, you can access unlimited Udemy content only within the IT realm. This cost is $19.99 per month, and allows you to take as many IT courses as Udemy offers — meaning that you can take multiple courses at a time. Since most Udemy courses are priced at $100, but are often on sale for $10-20, it’s usually worth it if you can take 2 courses in a month (assuming that they are on sale). If the courses aren’t on sale, then you’re getting easily $80 off a course if you only take one in a month.

But, unlike MasterClass, Skillshare, or many other programs we’ve covered; Udemy does not have a subscription service that covers all the courses on the site.

That’s got its pluses and minuses — let’s take a look at the money breakdown.

Can I try Udemy Pro for free?

Udemy offers a free, 7-day trial of Udemy Pro — allowing you to access all of their IT subscription content for 7 days. After the 7-day trial is up, you will be billed at $19.99 per month.

It’s not the largest trial we’ve ever seen for a MOOC, but since it’s a free trial on top of a monthly subscription (as opposed to an annual subscription), it’s still a pretty good deal. Again, Udemy Pro is a specialized track, as opposed to traditional Udemy, so make sure that you’re doing this to advance your IT career.

Can I get a refund on a Udemy course?

Udemy has a great refund policy. You have 30 days from purchase to get a complete refund on any course! It’s easy to initiate a refund either through mobile or on the web, and you will receive your refund back on your original form of payment.

There are some restrictions, and Udemy won’t offer a full refund if you’ve completed the entire course within 30 days and are simply hoping to get your money back. Additionally, we’ve heard accounts that too many refund requests can be grounds for account suspension.

So don’t abuse the system! Instead, check out courses knowing that if you genuinely aren’t satisfied, you can initiate an easy refund within 30 days of purchase.

Are there any free courses on Udemy?

udemy free courses

Yes! Udemy has nearly 600 free courses that you can take right now!

All you have to do is navigate over to free resources, where you’ll find a treasure trove of free courses that you can access immediately. These classes are clustered around web development, programming languages, and animation.

The classes are typically shorter than paid Udemy classes — clocking in anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 hours. But brevity can be a boon; these courses pack quite a punch in their abbreviated timeframes. The one downside is that free courses don’t provide certificates upon completion.

Still, it’s a great way to dip your toes into the Udemy pool to see if Udemy might be right for you. If you like what you see, then you can jump into one of their paid courses.

Check out all the free courses on Udemy here.

Who is Udemy good for?

Udemy is great for learners who are looking to learn a whole variety of skills — but computer and design based skills in particular.

Udemy is particularly great for those who are looking to learn one specific skill at a time. Thanks to their pay-as-you-go format, you don’t have to worry about biting the bullet on a costly subscription. Instead, you just pay for a course that you take. This allows you to spend as much or as little as you’d like to ensure that you get the skills you need.

Udemy is also great for someone who is willing to do a little legwork in figuring out which course is right for them. As Udemy’s courses are not curated by the platform, but rather uploaded by 3rd party teachers, that means that the quality can vary from course to course. If you’re willing to do some research to discover which course is right for you, then you’ll get a lot out of Udemy.

Similarly, you’ll get a lot out of Udemy if you can time your purchases to coincide with the sales. Udemy’s classes are frequently on sale, and you can get courses up to 90% if you time it right. You’ll just need to put in a tiny bit of legwork to make sure you get the right deal.

Also, let’s not forget teachers! If you’re a teacher hoping to make some additional money through hosting an online class, you should consider Udemy. Their payment is transparent, and they provide you a referral code which can get you even more money per registration.

Granted, the competition is stiff with 70,000 teachers on the platform, but you can definitely make a good side hustle out of it!

Who won’t like Udemy?

Udemy isn’t for everyone.

One thing that Udemy does differently is that they don’t offer a true subscription model. This means you have to hunt down your course and purchase it individually. With other platforms, like MasterClass, you can simply stop taking a class if you don’t like it — it’s all wrapped into the subscription price anyway. But with Udemy, if you don’t like the class, you have to decide between a refund or just eating the cost.

If you’re someone who prefers the ease of a subscription service, then Udemy might not be for you.

Additionally, Udemy isn’t an accredited institution. It doesn’t provide courses for credits, and you can’t earn a college degree through Udemy. If you’re hoping to get a college degree through an online learning platform, then Udemy isn’t the right choice for you.

But, if you’re looking to learn some individual skills at a competitive price without getting sucked into a monthly subscription, then Udemy could be the perfect choice for you.

What’s it really like taking a Udemy class

taking a udemy class

We’re gonna break down the 100 Days of Code class by Dr. Angela Yu, so that you can get a good feel for what’s in store in a Udemy class.

In 100 Days of Code, you’ll learn how to:

  • Program in Python professionally
  • Build 100 projects Python.
  • Create a portfolio of 100 Python projects
  • Build  websites and web apps with Python
  • Use Python for data science and machine learning
  • Build games like Blackjack, Pong and Snake using Python
  • Build GUIs and Desktop applications with Python.

And more! That’s just from the course description, but once you get into each day’s lessons, you see that the material is quite extensive!

The class is broken down into 101 sections. Each section contains a variety of different materials that you’ll interact with, such as:

  • Video lectures. These typically are just a few minutes long, but they connect together to form a coherent lesson. Think of each lecture as a scene within a larger learning framework.
  • Quizzes. These help you assess your progress throughout the course
  • Projects. Some of these projects are single-day projects, while others take up to a week. You’ll get into more complicated projects as the course goes on.

The course is on-demand, meaning that you don’t have to start at a specific time. Rather, you’ll go through the course as you see fit. It is, for your benefit, broken up into days, but these are guidelines rather than hard starts and stops. Just go through it as you can! Once you’ve completed the entire course, you receive a certificate of completion — which you are free to add to your LinkedIn, resume, or wherever you see fit!

The course, like all Udemy courses, is video-lecture based. You can view these video lectures on the web on your computer, or through the Udemy app on your smartphone or Smart TV.

Udemy: The pros

It’s important to break down the pros and cons of each site we review. That way you can easily see whether you think the program is worth your time and money. For Udemy, there was a lot I liked, as well as a few things I wish they’d improve.

Let’s take a look at the pros first.

Tons of content

Udemy has 115 million minutes of video content. That’s over 200 years of video lectures. It’s impossible for you to take every course on Udemy. This is great, as many sites we’ve reviewed don’t have an extremely deep library, meaning that the subscription model is not always worth it.

That’s not a problem with Udemy. Udemy has courses across 13 different categories, ensuring that there’s always a course for you to sink your teeth into.

User Ratings System

With so many courses, you might fear that you’d have a hard time figuring out which courses are worth your while. Luckily, Udemy has a public rating system for their courses, allowing you to see how many people have taken the class, as well as what they thought of the course.

This way, you can steer clear of less-than-stellar classes, while ensuring that you choose courses which will be worth your while.

The courses are well-priced

Especially with the sales factored in, Udemy classes can be very inexpensive. This means that you can stretch your education dollars further, getting you the most bang for your buck. If price is a priority for you, nab those Udemy courses while they’re on sale!

Udemy: The cons

There were, unfortunately, a few things that I wish Udemy could do better. Let’s take a look at the cons.

The sales are confusing

Look: if all of your courses are marked as 90% off $500, then were they ever actually $500?

Sometimes, platforms use deceptive sales tactics, suggesting that courses are regularly priced much higher than they ever were. With Udemy, it’s confusing whether or not the courses were ever at that high price point. It’s also unclear how long courses stay on sale.

Still, the “sale” prices are very good, so it’s worth purchasing at the sale price. I just wish there was more clarity around pricing.

The curation isn’t strong

Udemy’s courses are uploaded by 3rd party instructors. Anyone can teach on Udemy!

While that is great for the democratization of education, it means that there is a whole spectrum of quality on Udemy. Some courses are excellent, some are subpar. Luckily, the ratings system helps you decide which courses are worth your time.

Alternatives to Udemy

There are a lot of big names in the online learning space, and it can be a little confusing to figure out what each platform offers, how much each costs, and which one is best for you.

That’s why I’ve put together a little guide which compares Udemy to some of the more popular learning platforms. This way, you can see how they all stack up!

Udemy vs. MasterClass

MasterClass is one of the biggest names in the online learning game. I really love MasterClass (check out my MasterClass review), but they differ significantly from Udemy.

MasterClass is all about you learning from some of the biggest names in their respective fields. I’m talking about Usher, Neil Gaiman, Shonda Rhimes, Helen Mirren. These are big names who sit with you for hours of video lectures to teach you what they’ve learned over a lifetime.

Most of these courses are craft-based — like writing, cooking, gardening; but some are more philosophical, like how Neil DeGrasse Tyson teaches critical thinking. The classes are highly engaging, but they’re more of a hybrid between entertainment and education than hard education.

I call it edutainment. They’re like documentary serieses on Netflix — engaging and informative. It’s pretty easy to binge 6 hours on MasterClass.

Udemy, on the other hand, is about teaching you skills — mostly around tech and web design. These classes can be anywhere from 30 minutes long to 60 hours long, and can take weeks to complete.

MasterClass, unlike Udemy, operates on a subscription service. For $180 a year, you get access to all courses on MasterClass. This can be a great deal as long as you’re taking at least two courses a year (as MasterClass used to value each class at $90).

For Udemy, courses retail from $100-$200, but are often on sale for $10-$20. Since you don’t have to worry about subscription fees, Udemy usually ends up being significantly less expensive if you can time the purchases right.

All in all, these two programs are wildly different. MasterClass is where celebrities teach you crafts Udemy is where you learn skills from experts.

Udemy vs. Skillshare

Skillshare is probably the closest analogue to Udemy. Skillshare also allows you to take classes that focus on specific skills, and their courses are taught by a wide range of teachers that vary in talent and quality.

Like Udemy, Skillshare has a rating system that helps you separate the wheat from the chaff, helping you figure out what courses are worth taking.

So what’s different?

The first major difference is the pricing. Skillshare is a subscription service that runs at $144 per year. Udemy is priced per class. If you pay full price for a Udemy class, you may pay more than a yearly subscription to Skillshare after just one course. However, if you time your purchases right, you can get a lot of content for less — with many courses being below $20.

Also, Skillshare courses are significantly shorter than Udemy courses — most being anywhere from 1-5 hours long. Skillshare revolves around teaching you skills fast, whereas Udemy is more about teaching you skills comprehensively.

Udemy vs. Coursera

Coursera is a significant change from Udemy. While Udemy is all about teaching you skills, Coursera is all about having teachers from accredited institutions teach you.

Coursera has around 4,000 courses that range from a few hours to several months to entire degree programs. All of their courses will provide you with a certificate upon completion, and some courses will actually give you credit toward a degree.

The pricing on Coursera has two different tracks: per course and subscription. Per course, Coursera can cost anywhere from $20 to hundreds if not thousand of dollars. Or, you can do their subscription service for $399 per year.

Udemy, on the other hand, has no real subscription model. You pay per course. The courses on Udemy are significantly cheaper than on Coursera, but they aren’t attached to accredited institutions.

Udemy vs. Mindvalley

Mindvalley is a significantly different learning platform than Udemy. Mindvalley is all about self-improvement. While Udemy does have quite a few self-improvement classes under “lifestyle,” it’s not as robust and as curated as Mindvalley’s content is.

Mindvalley has approximately 30 courses that they call quests. These quests are typically 30 days long, and they feature video lectures by experts in the self-improvement field, such as author Jon and Missy Butcher, Ken Honda, and Jim Kwik.

What sets Mindvalley apart from other platforms is that the content is meant to be engaged with daily — not all at once. You can’t binge a Mindvalley quest. Instead, you need to login and complete your tasks daily. In this way, learning becomes a habit, as opposed to something you cram all at once.

The price on Mindvalley is significantly higher than Udemy. Mindvalley’s subscription runs $499 a year, which is admittedly quite steep. Udemy, again, doesn’t have a subscription service, but their courses can be as inexpensive as $12 for a 60 hour course. Per hour, Udemy’s content is significantly less expensive.

But, Udemy’s content isn’t as curated as Mindvalley’s, so you may have some courses that don’t meet your expectations.

Udemy vs. The Great Courses

The Great Courses is much different than Udemy too.

The Great Courses is the oldest learning platform on this list, having gotten its start 30 years ago. Back then, you would purchase courses which were delivered by video. Now, you can purchase them online and watch them on your computer.

The Great Courses courses are strictly video lectures and supplemental readings. The classes are usually around 24 hours (quite long), and typically cover the material at an intro-college-course-level. Classes are typically taught by college professors, but other professionals in their fields are used from time to time.

These classes don’t have grades, quizzes, or certificates. The closest analogue to them I can think of is History Channel documentaries. They cover the material quite well, and they’re academic in nature.

Standalone courses vary in price, but are usually in the $50-200 range.

You can purchase The Great Courses Plus — their subscription service — for $360 a year, giving you unlimited access to their thousands of courses.

Udemy is all about teaching you hard skills. The classes are typically shorter, though they can reach 60+ hours in length. Additionally, courses are more interactive, with quizzes and assignments.

The Great Courses is simply an informational education site, whereas Udemy focuses on helping you build out necessary skills.

Can I teach on Udemy?

Yes! Udemy is always looking for new teachers.

They actually have rolled out a cool tool that gives you insights into which courses Udemy could use more of — allowing you to create a curriculum which will fill a need on their marketplace.

What’s great about teaching with Udemy is that you own all the rights to your material — even after it’s posted on Udemy.

Also great: the pricing. Whenever a student uses your referral code, you get 97% of the tuition cost. When a student organically signs up for your course (that is, browses Udemy and then picks your course), you get 50%. That’s a 47% increase if you can get someone to use your referral code. You can put this code on your own sites, your emails, and whatever promotional materials you wish.

Additionally, you are able to price and structure your courses as you wish — as long as there is at least 30 minutes of video instruction and 5 individual lessons.

There are some topics you cannot teach on such as weapons, dating, drugs, or conspiracy theories. But the pool of restricted topics is quite small, so you’ll likely be able to find a topic that you can speak on with authority.

You don’t need to have specific credentials to teach, though it certainly helps to have credentials when it comes to standing out from the pack.

Udemy review verdict: Is it worth it?

Thanks to its competitive pricing and tremendous amount of content, I’d say that Udemy is absolutely worth it.

I particularly enjoyed that you pay per class, as opposed to a subscription fee. This way, you don’t have to worry about ensuring you take enough courses to justify the subscription. No math involved! Just buy the course and then take the classes.

Udemy is a great way to affordably learn those hard skills that you need to succeed in today’s workforce.

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