☑︎ Last update of this review: July 2021

Life-long learning is no longer optional in the 21st century. The more knowledge and skills you possess, the higher your chances of career growth or business success 🚀

… And given the existence of platforms like Udemy, there are zero excuses not to keep learning!

In this detailed guide we will examine if Udemy courses are worth your time (and money), as well as answer the most important related questions:

  • 🎓What exactly is Udemy and how does it work?
  • 📊How good are the courses on this platform?
  • 🔍How do you find the best courses on Udemy?
  • ✔️Who should use Udemy and who shouldn’t?

Before we discuss the tips for getting the most out of Udemy, it’s important to understand how this platform is different from other e-learning services:

What Is Udemy?

A combination of the words “you + academy”, Udemy defines itself as a global marketplace for learning – in other words, it’s a collection of online courses 🤓 A really, really big one, in fact:

Right now Udemy is by far the largest online learning platform in the world, regardless of which metric you use – the choice of courses, the number of students, or available languages:

Udemy facts

Apart from its size and continuing growth, there are several unique features that set Udemy apart from its alternatives –

  • While other platforms tend to focus on academic-style courses created by large universities, Udemy is all about practical knowledge and skills – a clear emphasis on learning by doing, and actually using what you learn in day-to-day life.
  • In addition to that, Udemy takes a more democratized approach to teaching and learning than most other online platforms – here, anyone can create a course and start sharing their skills with the world.

All this means that usable skills rather than beautiful diplomas 📜 are the entire point of Udemy:

…yes, you will get a certificate after completing a course, but it will not contain logos of Harvard or MIT that you can show off on your LinkedIn profile

The best courses on Udemy are therefore not determined by university brands, but rather by the actual usefulness of the content and the teaching talents of the tutor.

The principle of “free access for everyone” also inevitably leads to a LOT of mediocre or even outright crappy courses on the platform (which is probably the most frequent criticism of Udemy).

But here’s the good “news”:

Out of 150,000 courses, there are bound to be fantastic ones on every imaginable topic – and with a little effort, you can easily find them.

In the next section we will share some essential tips on how to do that, based on our 7-year experience with Udemy:

How to Find the Best Courses on Udemy

As we mentioned earlier, Udemy allows anyone to create new courses on its platform; this implies a huge variation in the quality of courses – from awful to brilliant…

…but it also ensures that the truly talented teachers get equal chances to share their skills, regardless of whether or not they work for famous universities.

Just like with choosing an apartment to rent on Airbnb or a new book to read on Amazon, the key to finding the best courses on Udemy is to gradually narrow down your choices until you find that perfect one 🎯

Here’s how you can approach this process, step by step:

  1. First and foremost, find worthy candidates. The easiest way is to use Udemy’s catalogue, moving from the broad categories to more specific topics:

    Visit the Udemy course catalogue ›

    In the examples below, we’re going to look for a great introductory course in Javascript development:

    Udemy: categories

    If your desired topic is more exotic (or you just can’t find it in the catalogue) you might want to perform a keyword search instead.

  2. On the category or search results page, scroll down to the course list and pick 2-3 courses that match your needs:

    Udemy: filter results

    Make sure they are rated above 4.5 stars and have at least several hundred reviews. Use the filters in the left-hand panel and the sorting tool for your convenience.

  3. Next, read the course information for each of the courses you picked in the previous step to make sure it matches your needs and expectations:

    Udemy: course info

    Carefully study the grey box titled “What you’ll learn”, as well as the course’s table of contents, requirements, and the main description.

    TIP: be sure to check the “last updated” date in the header of the course – content in certain fast-moving categories (like software or design) tends to get pretty outdated every 1-2 years!

    By this logic, a course on time management doesn’t need to be updated as often as a Javascript tutorial or a guide on user experience in mobile apps.

  4. Now it’s time to look at the instructor: scroll further down until you find the section which displays more details about the author of the course.

    Pay attention to the stats next to their profile photo – most importantly, their overall rating across all courses, which ideally should be at least 4.5:

    Udemy: course instructor

    In addition to that, read the author’s self-description to get an idea of their education and credentials – how long have they worked in the relevant industry, etc.

  5. For dessert we have the user reviews, of course. When you scroll below the author section, you will see a diagram showing the course’s ratings breakdown:

    Udemy: course reviews

    Examine the diagram and make sure that the majority of ratings are 5 stars. Also check that there are no weird spikes in the lower ratings, e.g. no more than 5% of the students giving 1 star.

    Finally, skim through 3-5 actual reviews, paying special attention to negative feedback; if you can’t see any, you can use the drop-down to display some 1-star or 2-star reviews.

  6. Last but not least, take time to actually watch the introductory video as well as one of the lessons – almost every course on Udemy offers previews:

    Udemy: course preview

    Take a critical look on the instructor’s teaching style: are they speaking too fast? Too slow? Does their voice annoy you for no specific reason? No? Awesome!

If a course passes all of the above filters, you can be pretty sure it’s going to be a good one. But that’s not all –

Here are some additional tips to make the most of Udemy:

  • You can find 60% to 90% discounts 💸 on great courses in almost every category – so there’s very rarely a need to pay more than $20 for a course, unless it is on a really specialized or advanced topic.
  • Took a paid course and weren’t satisfied? You can get a full refund 💰 within 30 days from the date of purchase: visit the course in your dashboard and click on the three dots in the top right corner.

By the way, “how to get a refund on Udemy” is not the only question we repeatedly get about the e-learning platform; not even the most popular one – here are some more FAQs:

Udemy: Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s start with the basics…

Is Udemy legit? This one always makes us smile a little – but in any case, the answer depends on one’s definition of “legit”. Yes, Udemy is legit education, for people who wish to learn new skills – especially practical ones.

If, on the other hand, academic accreditation is the focus of the question, it must be noted once again that Udemy is a skill marketplace, not an online university – which means that most courses will not have university names on their certificates.

Udemy’s primary value lies in giving everyone an equal chance to manifest their teaching talents, not on popular university brands.

How often does Udemy have sales? Three words: all the time! Udemy’s conscious strategy seems to be to ensure that at least some part of the courses is on sale at any given time – ensuring reasonable prices for almost any subject.

Check out the previous section of this review for tips on choosing the best value-for-money courses on Udemy.

How to download Udemy videos? Here are three ways, starting from the most simple one: clicking on “Download lecture” in the overlay menu under the cog icon below the video:

How to download Udemy videos

What if the option is greyed out? Well, the second-best way is to ask the author of the course 😇 – and the last resort is to use specialized software like Udeler.

Before we move on to the final verdict, let’s sum up what we’ve learned about Udemy by listing the stronger and weaker sides, relative to other online learning platforms:

Pros and Cons of Udemy

  • Udemy offers the widest choice of courses compared to any other platform (in fact, probably even more than all of its alternatives combined!)
  • Everyone can create a course, so the best ones are determined by the actual quality of content and not by university brands.
  • There are courses in more than 60 languages on the platform, with major regional languages like Spanish, Portuguese, and German offering thousands of titles.
  • You get unrestricted, life-long access to all content of the courses you purchase (and of course any free course on the platform).
  • There is a 30-day money back guarantee on any paid course: Udemy will issue a full refund if you aren’t satisfied with a course you purchased less than a month ago.
  • Udemy courses tend to focus on practical skills rather than purely theoretical knowledge.
  • For teams of 5 and more people, Udemy for Business offers location-independent training based on a collection of 5000+ curated courses.
  • The number of available courses can be overwhelming, and choosing a good one will take some time.
  • Course diplomas are issued directly by Udemy and will rarely mention a famous university brand.
  • Some of the best courses are going to be in English, and certain languages will offer much less choice.

Should You Use Udemy?

Well, this is a bit like asking, “should you use Airbnb?”: there are both really cool and really crappy apartments – so it’s all about the choices you make.

Likewise, Udemy is a huge platform with thousands of very good courses and even more mediocre or worthless courses:

🔍 if you take a methodical approach to the selection process, you can find fantastic educational content for very reasonable prices (or even for free).

As you might have already understood, Udemy itself is not necessarily the best choice for everyone – here’s what you should keep in mind:

  • Udemy is probably NOT for you if you want to take a course in a fundamental discipline like molecular biology or classical literature – or if you’re looking for an internationally accredited diploma from a famous university.
  • Conversely, you SHOULD probably give Udemy a try if you need to learn a practical skill to advance your career, if you prefer learning by doing, and if you value the widest possible range of topics, languages, and teaching methods:

Choose from 150,000 courses on Udemy ›

Still have questions about Udemy? Or maybe you’ve already taken some of the courses on this platform? Either way, head over to the comments section below, let’s help each other make more informed decisions!

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8 comments

easy to stumble upon shitty stuff but also quite a bit of great high quality courses around

Narene Stevens

I am so disappointed in Udemy. I cannot find 2 courses that I paid for. I have the receipts and welcome emails. And my queries go unanswered. Not happy at all.

just in case, have you tried clicking on “My learning” in the top right menu, next to your profile link?

hello sirs how do I find any coupon codes for Udemy is that possible? So far no luck they just don’t work always writes “expired”

Hello Hassan, check out our separate tool for finding the best discounts on Udemy here! ;)

my experience with udemi was good but would not call it great so five stars would be an exaggeration

4/5

so many courses, so little time…..

thanks for the six steps this is really visual and intuitive
what is the best thing to choose the free or the paid courses?

5/5