Udacity Will No Longer Offer Free Certificates

Udacity hopes the certificates it offers to people who complete its massive open online courses are worth something. Now the company plans to charge students accordingly.

The company, one of the big three MOOC providers, said on Wednesday that it would no longer give learners the opportunity to earn free, “non-identity-verified” certificates. People will still be able to view Udacity’s online-course materials without paying, but those who want a credential will have to open their wallets.

“Discontinuing the ‘free’ certificates has been one of the most difficult decisions we’ve made,” wrote Sebastian Thrun, Udacity’s founder, in a blog post about the policy change. “We know that many of our hardworking students can’t afford to pay for classes. At the same time, we cannot hope that our certificates will ever carry great value if we don’t make this change.”

So far Udacity has given students who complete a MOOC the option of downloading a free certificate. But lately the company has been designing courses that combine the promise of instructional rigor with premium services to create tuition-based offerings. Those “full” courses cost $150 per month and include contact with human coaches, project-based assignments, and job-placement services.

“The courseware will still be available, so you can still learn for free,” wrote Mr. Thrun. “But you can’t get our credentials unless you give us a chance to find out who you are and vouch for your skills.”

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