edX is a massive open online course (MOOC) provider that hosts university-level courses in a wide range of disciplines. More than 150 schools, non-profit organizations, and corporations offer courses on the edX website. As of 2020, edX had around 33 million students enrolled in more than 3,000 courses.
- Taking university-level classes online
- Getting a degree or professional certification
- + Courses come from big names like Harvard and Microsoft
- + Degree paths and professional certificates
- + Many courses can be audited for free
- - Some courses can be very expensive
- - No consistency in course structure
edX subjects are offered by top educational institutions or corporations, so the focus is very much on professional development. As a result, you’ll find everything you need in academic subjects but only very limited options in subjects related to personal development.
- Art & culture
- Biology & life sciences
- Business & management
- Computer Science
- Data Analysis & Statistics
- Economics & Finance
- Education & Teacher Training
- Energy & Earth Sciences
- Environmental Studies
- Food & Nutrition
- Health & Safety
- Philosophy & Ethics
- Social Sciences
Classes can be purchased individually or packed into programs or degree pathways. Pathways include:
MicroBachelors Program – undergraduate-level, for career advancement or a degree path
MicroMasters Program – graduate-level, for career advancement or a degree path
Professional Certificate – from employers or universities to build today's in-demand skills
XSeries – series of courses for a deep understanding of a topic
Global Freshman Academy – freshman year courses for university credit from Arizona State University
Online Master's Degree – top-ranked programs, affordable, and fully online
Executive Education – courses designed for business leaders for developing strategic skills
Because courses are offered by different organizations, there is really no consistency to the learning format. With the individual courses, you can generally work at your own pace. Degrees and pathways tend to have deadlines, although you can still access the materials at a time that suits you rather than having to confirm to a specific timeline.
All courses on edX are provided by top American and global universities, non-profit organizations or corporations. The 59 edX charter members include the top nine schools in the QS World University Rankings: MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Caltech, Oxford, ETH Zurich, Cambridge, Imperial College London, and University of Chicago. In addition to the charter members, there are dozens more edX members offering classes on the platform.
As you might expect for a service with such prominent backers, the edX platform runs pretty smoothly. Courses can be searched by subject, provider, degree program, level (introductory, intermediate, advanced), and language. You can also search by keyword.
edX has a mobile app, available for download on compatible iOS and Android devices. This lets you stream videos on the go or download to watching offline when you don’t have internet access.
The great thing about edX is that most individual courses are free to audit, although you will need to pay if you want a certificate at the end of the course. The price of certification ranges from $49 to $199. For example:
- Programming for Everybody: Getting Started with Python (University of Michigan) - $49
- Marketing Analytics: Marketing Measurement Strategy (University of California, Berkeley) - $249
- World of Wine: From Grape to Glass (The University of Adelaide) - $199
Not surprisingly, degrees and pathways from partnering universities are expensive–although a lot more affordable than actually enrolling in a traditional degree. The average cost per credit for what edX calls a MicroBachelors program is $166, around 70% less than the undergraduate national average in the U.S. The 13 Master’s degrees range from $9,920 for Cybersecurity (The Georgia Institute of Technology) to $25,300 for Nutritional Sciences (The University of Texas at Austin).
edX was founded in 2012 by scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University. The first courses were led by MIT and Harvard scientists, including Anant Agarwal, a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and the current edX CEO. edX is structured as a non-profit, open-source enterprise.
At risk of hyping them up too much, edX has truly revolutionized the way people learn academic subjects. Not even a decade ago, universities were closed spaces. But thanks to edX, you can now receive an education and even take a full graduate degree from many of the world’s top universities from home. In this era of social distancing and working from home, edX is sure to grow in popularity as a learning platform.