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What is Udemy? Is it worth it? A comprehensive guide

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With the influx of learning platforms filling the .com world today, online educational marketplaces have become practical, budget-friendly alternatives to traditional learning.

At this point, tt’s safe to say that Udemy stands as one of the most well-known, long-standing platforms in the online education sphere, hosting over 180,000 courses in over 65 languages.

Since its foundation in 2009, this space has become the most populated, go-to global classroom for students everywhere, thanks to its affordability, wide range of subject matters, and diversity of instructors — 40,000 and growing! 

So how exactly does Udemy work and is it worth your hard earned money? Read through our guide and discover all the platform has to offer before signing up!

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What is Udemy?

Udemy is a popular online learning platform, sought after for its extensive library of course content, frequent sales, and diversity of instructors. 

Although sharing this space with top competitors such as Domestika and Skillshare, Udemy has maintained a unique position in the market because it does not trend toward a specific niche and offers a diversity of subject matters for all skill sets and budgets. 

Courses on the platform are via video, during which teachers guide you through class content you can follow at your own pace. Besides these instructional recordings, instructors commonly provide additional resources, to which you’ll have lifetime access after purchase.

More often than not, you’ll also be encouraged to work on projects, participate in forum sections, and interact with your mentor. 

Regarding teaching on Udemy, teachers sign up proactively — fee-free! Meaning, that to teach on the platform, all you have to do is sign up, build your course, receive in-house approval, and you’ll be practically good to go! 

Read also: Best Udemy alternatives: Learn new skills

This is great for teachers and building out the overall course catalog, but it does have some downsides. With no strict oversight of course creation, quality varies wildly between one course and another.

Additionally, because each teacher has their own approach and topics require different time investments, class duration varies quite a bit. This means you can expect to find classes that last 30 minutes or go up to 20 hours! Nevertheless, the average time of an entire course is a little over 4 hours long. 

Recently Udemy has undergone somewhat of a “facelift” which has made its navigation experience much more intuitive, updated and clean-cut. 

Presenting improved, easy-to-follow guidelines, designated areas for student feedback, helpful filter functionalities, and new content every day, the platform seems to be very much alive and kicking, continuing to be a favorite for many.

Udemy is also still ahead of the game in language options — one of its most competitive features. For example, while Domestika takes the lead in production quality, it lacks language alternatives for students sitting around the globe, which naturally results in a more reduced, niche customer base.

Due to these characteristics and more, Udemy has become one of the most (if not the most) accessible and relatable online classrooms for virtual learners of all walks of life.

How does Udemy work?

How does Udemy work?

Udemy is home to a vast range of classes set at different prices, languages, durations, and teaching styles. 

To take a course on the platform, you aren’t required to sign up for a subscription. Unlike other spaces like Skillshare or Masterclass, Udemy offers various purchase options but works mainly on a pay-by-course policy instead of an ongoing monthly/yearly subscription.

Read also: Skillshare vs Domestika: Which is better for creative courses?

As a result, courses on Udemy don’t demand completion within a specific time frame and encourage learning at your own pace. Along with this, once enrolled in a class, lifetime access to video content and downloadable resources are guaranteed!

Udemy isn’t an accredited institution, and therefore, doesn’t provide official accreditation to students. However, once concluding a paid class, enrollees receive a certificate: a beneficial feature for those starting in the workforce or wanting to add proof of skill development to their professional portfolio.

Besides one-off purchases, Udemy offers three subscription plans, outlined below. Note that you can only be subscribed to one plan at a time.

Udemy Business

Udemy Business is a program that invites businesses to acquire educational packs for their employees, providing them with training materials for areas of improvement or personal development. Currently, there are over 8,000 companies that use this service, inspiring workers to stay afloat with marketplace demands, push for digital innovation, and take on more leadership roles. 

This service includes over 6,000 classes to choose from and allows businesses to customize their course packages.

The program has also expanded its terms and now offers this service to different business sizes and capacities — a great way to provide ongoing education in diverse sectors and employees.

Plans start at $360 per year for small businesses, but the bulk of the benefits are for enterprise customers.

Some brands that use this program in the workplace include names such as Volkswagen, Apple, Netflix, and Eventbrite. Check pricing and sign up below.

Udemy Pro

Udemy free trial subscription

More recently, the platform has also developed Udemy Pro — a monthly subscription plan specifically designed to help students accomplish IT certification goals. For the time being, this type of membership is only available for this topic, and it costs $20 a month.

Once you’ve signed up you’ll have access to a selection of specialized topic areas. If you eventually decide to cancel your subscription, you’ll lose complete access to this content.

It’s a bit confusing to sign up, but typically you do this via the checkout page of any course in the platform, or via your account subscription settings in the link below. It includes a 7-day free trial.

Udemy Personal Plan

Udemy is also test-driving another monthly subscription option called Personal Plan. This membership includes access to all course content on the platform, just like Skillshare.

Nevertheless, this plan is not being rolled out to all students and is currently in pilot mode. So, we strongly suggest you stay on the lookout for updates!

The subscription costs $30 a month and includes access to over 5,000 courses covering over 1,700 topics. It’s fantastic for jacks-of-all-trades or curious course explorers looking for new skills to pick up.

If you want to test out these subscription services without committing, you can try out the platform’s free, 7-day trial. Sign up via the subscriptions page linked below.

(Note: this feature may not be available to you in your area.)

Udemy review: Is it worth it?

It’s hard to claim if Udemy is worth it or not since everyone has their personal demands and expectations when it comes down to online learning.

Here’s our list of pros and cons you may want to consider: 

Pros:

  • Affordable prices and constant sales
  • Wide range of course content and categories
  • Certificate provided upon completion
  • 30-day refund policy
  • Lifetime access to content upon class sign-up

Cons:

  • Low prices can convey the assumption of less quality
  • Goes against the idea that “less is more”
  • Udemy is not an officially accredited institution
  • Refund policy does not apply to subscription plans
  • Lifetime access does not apply to memberships

Pro: Affordable prices and constant sales

One of Udemy’s most attractive features is the prices it offers. With sales all year round, it’s common to find 90% discounts for courses and constant deals: rarely will you find classes at their original cost. The affordability of the content on this platform is perfect for learners on all budgets.

Con: Low prices can convey the assumption of less quality

On the other hand, the frequent price slashing and ongoing trends in sales have made many skeptical about the platform’s quality. The concept of marketing courses at such low prices may lead some to believe this reflects the overall quality of instructors, resources, and the platform.

Plus, paying full price for a course feels like a poor value with constant sales bringing down prices. You’re always better off waiting for sales.

Pro: Wide range of course content and categories

Another Udemy highlight is the diversity of subject matters it covers. With 13 main categories, including Business, Design, Marketing, and Lifestyle, this is a convenient option for anyone who wants to focus on their professional development or pick up a new hobby!

Con: Immensity of courses can go against the idea that “less is more”

Udemy is home to a remarkably extensive library of content, which in return, can transmit the idea of poorly curated content. While this may be the case for many courses, there is also room for top instructors and excellent classes. When enrolling as an instructor on the platform, specific guidelines and a quality check is done by an in-house team to prevent publishing low-quality content.

Pro: Certificate provided upon completion

When you conclude a course, a digital certificate will be issued to acknowledge your commitment and achievement. This feature can be especially enticing for young entrepreneurs who want to demonstrate their proactivity in supplementary education and skill development to prospective employers and clients.

Con: Udemy is not an accredited institution

Because Udemy is not an accredited institution, the certificate provided upon course completion may seem useless, as it commonly goes unacknowledged by companies as an official learning experience. A college degree it is not.

Pro: 30-day refund policy

The platform has a 30-day refund policy for when a course experience doesn’t match expectations. This rule comforts hesitant students who know they can get their money back if dissatisfied before the established cut-off date. In such scenarios, students will lose lifetime access to course content and not receive certificates. 

Con: Refund policy does not apply to subscription plans

On the contrary of individual course purchases, subscription plans and programs such as Udemy Business packages do not include this refund policy. The platform has also been reputed for lengthy waits when refunding customers.

Pro: Lifetime access to content upon class sign-up

Once you purchase a course, you’ll automatically be given lifetime access to content! This is a great benefit as you’ll be able to review class resources and information at any time: even years after course completion!

Con: Lifetime access to content does not apply to subscriptions

However, this benefit is not incorporated in subscription plans. If you decide to cancel your membership, you’ll lose access to content. As mentioned previously, this will also be the case whenever refunds are requested.

Verdict: Is Udemy worth it?

Udemy is absolutely worth it for any intrepid learner, no matter whether you want to study programming, craft skills, or anything in between. That said, it’s generally better to purchase courses individually instead of signing up for a subscription.

Sales make individual courses very affordable, and the value of subscription packages for individuals (unless you’re seeking IT certs) isn’t quite there. Plus, by buying individual courses you aren’t as locked into the platform and can enjoy great content on Domestika, Coursera, and elsewhere!

How much are Udemy courses? 

How much do Udemy classes cost?

There’s no doubt that one of Udemy’s most attractive selling points is its prices. 

With possibilities for all pocket sizes, the platform continues to be sought-after time after time by students on the lookout for low fees and juicy sales. 

One-off courses bought individually on Udemy range between $14-200. Nevertheless, very few classes maintain their original price once you start browsing: if the platform detects buyers’ hesitancy, it starts to offer discounts.

Also, Udemy lives on seasonal sales and campaigns, so there is always an abundance of amazing prices!

Because of the regular price drops the platform is known for, with 90% discounts being applied more frequently than not, the quality of Udemy’s content and instructors has been regarded with some skepticism. At first glance, this is entirely understandable. 

However, the company’s business model is unique in the marketplace and has discovered that lower rates attract a higher number of students who remain engaged and eventually purchase more courses. The consistent tendency of returning enrollees proves the quality of the platform and the character of its loyal customer base.

Read also: Udemy vs Skillshare: Which platform is right for you?

Knowing you obtain lifetime access to content and resources after purchase makes these prices seem even more surreal. The trick is to continue looking into courses you’d like to take and see how much the price drops so that you can enroll when the cost matches your budget.

As mentioned previously, subscription plans and programs such as Udemy Business, Udemy Pro, and Personal Plan offer different pricing models. 

For example, in the case of the Team package on the Udemy Business program (for 5-20 users), a fee of $360 is set per person/year (+taxes). 

The Personal Plan membership costs $30/month, and the specialized IT certification Udemy Pro service requires a nearly $20 payment/month.  

Instructors establish the prices for their courses according to a defined tier. Since Udemy does take a percentage of sales, instructors will commonly create more classes to increase their customer base and income. 

Udemy also continues to gift learners with a collection of free courses!

Although the company has done away with many of its free classes —believed by some as a strategy to transmit quality over quantity — the platform still offers over 500 unlocked courses you can enjoy today! 

 Keep in mind that free courses have specific restrictions: 

  • Up to only 2 hours of video content
  • No Q&A section
  • No Certificates 

How is Udemy for teachers? 

Boasting more than 40,000 instructors on its platform (and growing), Udemy is somewhat of a paradise for all kinds of teachers, whether amateur or experienced. 

Signing up on Udemy as an instructor is as easy as can be —and totally free! Considering the vast amount of course topics it offers, it’s no surprise teachers view the platform as an appealing strategy to monetize their knowledge. 

If you’re thinking of teaching on Udemy, there are a few points to take into consideration: 

  • Choose a topic and angle that will make your classes stand out
  • Identify your target: who are you teaching? How will this population respond to your content? Will they purchase other courses you create?
  • What price should be set to attract students but not lose out when discounts are applied? 

How much does Udemy pay instructors?

Ultimately, instructors establish at what price they want to value their course. 

Still, there are specific guidelines and rules that need to be taken into account. For example, customized courses cannot go beyond $200.  

But how does one know how to set the cost of their course

It’s crucial to know that when you sign up as a Premium Instructor, Udemy will present a set of terms you must follow. These will vary according to your preference to either create free content or build a course for purchase.  

Some of the main points to look into before publishing a course are: 

  • Udemy’s Revenue Share terms
  • Udemy’s Promotional Programs
  • Instructor Coupons and Course Referral Links
  • Payment requirements
  • Refund guidelines
  • Currency conversion rates
  • Instructor’s obligations

All of these terms are outlined on the platform and should be consulted before building your course. 

To clarify any doubts before you get started, you can also access Udemy’s support page to receive expert guidance beforehand! 

How do I make an Udemy class?

To sum it up, building a class on Udemy is easy-peasy!

First of all, signing up as a teacher on the platform is free. 

When signing up as a Premium Instructor, you’ll be required to follow a set of guidelines to ensure you meet specific technical requirements and present content that will spark engagement. 

Resources will be available to help you set up videos accordingly. You’ll also have access to the platform’s Marketplace Insights tool that will aid you in analyzing student trends and demands for specific subject matters.

This functionality will also help you shape your content to create an unwavering customer base in the long run. 

The platform also provides a Teaching Center that sheds light on best practices such as scripting class content — both written and visual —, and marketing your course effectively. 

Before publishing your class, Udemy will do a quality check to ensure you’ve ticked off all the checkboxes to get your content on their page. 

Steps to make a class: 

  • Sign up as a Premium Instructor
  • Navigate the Teach section in the main menu
  • Plan out your custom course against in-house guidelines and restrictions
  • Create your content (videos, slides, downloadable resources, etc.)
  • Submit your custom course for review (unless you have a Udemy Business account)
  • Admin will publish your course

If you’re looking for a tl;dr, here are some quick pros and cons to keep in mind before signing up as an instructor: 

Pros: 

  • No costs required to create or publish content
  • Maintenance fees aren’t required
  • Widespread community will have access to your class

Cons: 

  • Your course will most likely need to undergo sales and discounts — understanding Udemy’s policies beforehand is essential 
  • Producing excellent course content is crucial — if not, it will eventually get lost in the sauce due to the number of classes published
  • Support for teachers is OK but not acclaimed for its speediness

Best Udemy classes

Best classes on Udemy

Thanks to its infinite pool of options, selecting a class on Udemy can be challenging.

The platform hosts 13 main categories/topics and corresponding subcategories. 

To give you an idea of the kind of classes you can find, here’s a list of the best courses you can currently find on Udemy, per category.

As mentioned previously, Udemy has recently undergone a content clean-up and has updated its layout, visuals, and content. 

One of the improved functionalities on the platform is its browsing/filter options. An example of this is how courses have been tagged to give you additional information before you click: “Bestseller”, “Hot & new”, or “Highest rated”.

You’ll also be able to filter by ratings, video duration, topic, level, language, features, and subtitles.  

Reading student reviews and watching class trailers is also a great way to get a general feel of what you can expect before purchasing a course. 

Discovering top instructors on Udemy can take time since there are so many! Find some of the most popular teachers and courses you can find today below: 

  • John Purcell – Java 11 for Complete Beginners
  • Phil Ebiner – Photography Masterclass: Your complete guide to photography and additional
  • Dr. Angela Yu – 100 Days of Code: The Complete Python Pro Bootcamp for 2022

Udemy competitors

Since the world of online learning has boomed, Udemy has naturally had to make some wiggle room for upcoming competitors.

Read also: 10 best online course platforms for creatives

Although it continues to be a landmark in this realm, there are many other options you may want to discover for your next learning venture that may suit you more. 

Udemy vs Domestika

Domestika logo

These platforms are day and night in terms of content curation, niche, and language features. 

While Udemy boasts a never-ending range of content customized by proactive instructors, Domestika has taken another approach by having a more reduced number of classes, mainly focused on creative topics taught by cherry-picked experts. The latter also has an in-house team that works specifically on production, giving this platform a cohesive aesthetic and tone. 

Read also: 15 best Domestika courses in English (plus 5 in Spanish)

Both are not officially accredited institutions and mainly operate on individual course purchases. Although Domestika does provide affordable prices, it’s a little more “high-end” and does not have as many sales as Udemy.  

One of Domestika’s downsides is that its classes are mainly in Spanish (subtitled in multiple languages), unlike Udemy that offers more options in this aspect. Still, it’s worth checking out for just about any creative skill.

Udemy vs Skillshare

Skillshare logo

Skillshare is similar to Domestika because its content is primarily designated to creative/artistic learners and offers a more limited number of courses. 

The platform works solely on a subscription basis (monthly or yearly), versus Udemy that currently offers more enrollment options (even though its popularity relies on one-off course purchases). 

Both platforms share similar recruitment processes for instructors: free enrollments for anyone interested in sharing their knowledge, whether experienced or amateur.

Skillshare commonly offers shorter, more “hands-on” classes, while Udemy presents more in-depth, lengthy courses. Also, the platform does not provide members lifetime access to purchased content like Udemy — if you cancels your subscription, you automatically lose access.

However, it does offer a more attractive free trial. Instead of 7 days, you can get access for a full month — free of charge — at the link below.

Udemy vs Coursera

Coursera is an accredited institution and works on a monthly subscription. 

Distinct from Udemy, Coursera gives official course certificates upon completion. Since it’s an accredited academic platform, you can also expect a higher price tag on courses and additional features, along with greater demand in commitment. 

Coursera instructors are qualified university and college professors, guaranteeing professional teaching experience not always found on Udemy.

This platform is best for career-building learners looking for a more traditional, academic journey in areas like computer science, humanities, business, and more. 

Udemy vs LinkedIn Learning (Lynda) 

LinkedIn Learning is a popular platform for professionals and offers an all-you-can-watch subscription. 

With just $30 a month, the platform provides unlocked content for all kinds of courses. Commonly sought-after by professionals looking to improve soft/hard skills for the workplace, the platform offers high-quality classes taught by field experts. 

The general tone of LinkedIn Learning is not necessarily formal but is nowhere as relaxed as Udemy. The platform does offer a variety of digital art-related courses associated with programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, but doesn’t highlight crafts of manual arts.

It’s also heavily incorporated in the social media platform LinkedIn, so you can display completed courses on your profile to attract potential employers and clients.

Udemy vs Udacity

Udacity may not share Udemy’s spotlight, however, is a great platform to consider if you want to specialize in the area of technology.

Appreciated for its intuitive interface, specialized content, and mentor support, Udacity provides a well-rounded experience for students. It may include deadlines and assignments, in-depth resources, and a dynamic student forum. 

Classes on Udemy are shorter, less expensive, and more varied in topics when compared to Udacity, which provides technology-related, nano degree programs in partnership with leading industry partners. 

Like Udemy, Udacity also offers free courses. However, most classes on Udacity are more expensive and usually require a 1-2 month commitment for completion. That said, even free courses on Udacity tend to be more in-depth when compared with Udemy’s open classes. 

Udemy vs Masterclass

Masterclass is simply on another planet when compared to fellow learning platforms!

Starring personalities we all know and love like Annie Leibovitz, Alicia Keys, Neil Gaiman, Simone Biles, and —wait for it — Metallica, this platform provides a one-of-a-kind experience in terms of production and expertise that is hard to beat. 

Considering its teachers, a subscription to this platform is on the expensive end of the spectrum, requiring a hefty $200 yearly fee. On the other hand — how cool is it to be mentored by some of your idols?

In general, Masterclass and Udemy are worlds apart in every way and offer completely different opportunities in terms of production, content quality, pricing, and instructors. Still, it’s a fun way to (literally) learn from the pros.

Other FAQ

Does Udemy have free courses?

It does! You can find over 500 free classes available on Udemy today, covering topics in every category. 

How often does Udemy offer sales?

Very often. In fact, it’s hard to find courses that aren’t on sale! These come along roughly nine times a year, especially during popular campaign seasons such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Valentine’s, and Mother’s Day.

When enrolling in a course, you’ll also get a promotional code or voucher that will knock some dollars off your next purchase. Besides specific seasonal campaigns, Udemy is constantly slashing course prices, so being on the lookout or signing up for the platform’s newsletter is a great way to stay posted on great deals. 

Is Udemy legit?

Because Udemy offers such affordable prices and a diversity of courses, questioning its credibility is common.

But here is the thing: it’s totally legit.

With almost 300 million enrollments to date and over 40,000 instructors, Udemy is a popular online space to learn from everyday experts and continues to engage students year after year. Even though Udemy doesn’t thoroughly oversee or perform detailed quality checks on submitted courses, the in-house team does aim to guide instructors on how to create the best content possible. 

And for teachers, payments are always made on time and in full.

How do you pronounce Udemy?

The origin of the name comes from the combination of You+Academy. The correct pronunciation would sound something like You-deh-mee.  

Is Udemy accredited? 

No, Udemy is not an accredited institution. 

Does Udemy offer certificates?

Udemy offers a certificate upon course completion for learners who have purchased paid classes. This feature is not available for free courses. Since Udemy is not an accredited institution, these certificates may not be considered by employers. However, they can be a great way to enhance your portfolio, especially if you are new to the workforce or in university. 

How do I get a refund on Udemy courses?

The platform has a 30-day refund policy. To move forward with a refund request, you must meet policy requirements. To know more about how to refund a course, click here

Can you download Udemy videos?

Udemy videos can be downloaded on the mobile app to view content offline. However, the majority of courses cannot be downloaded to a computer unless instructors enable this function. Read up on how to get the Udemy’s app here and start learning today! 

How do I gift a Udemy course? 

Udemy classes are excellent gifts for family and friends and very easy to purchase.

On the landing page, find the “Gift this course” option — this may be placed in a different location depending on your account. 

Then all you have to do is enter the gift recipient’s name, email details, and delivery date. Lastly, you’ll be required to proceed to checkout and fill in your payment details. The process will be slightly different whenever you gift a course you’re taking, but the process is pretty much identical. 

To know more, click here and buy your next gift!


That’s it for this comprehensive guide to everything Udemy! Let us know if you have any more questions or comments below. Happy learning!

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