Launches of new MOOC degrees declined in 2019

Class Central has published an end of the year industry analysis for MOOCs which spans over multiple articles

Class Central, one of the world’s largest search engines for digital course offerings, recently released its end-of-year industry analysis to track the impact of global MOOCs.

The report found that global MOOC enrolments grew to 110 million learners in 2019, excluding numbers from China. On top of this, Class Central’s research found that education institutes launched more than 2,500 courses, 11 online degrees and 170 microcredentials.

Learners Courses Microcredentials Degrees
Coursera 45 million 3,800 420 16
edX 24 million 2,640 292 10
Udacity 11.5 million 200 40 1
FutureLearn 10 million 880 49 23
Swayam 10 million 1,000 0 0

By the end of 2019, 13.5k MOOCs had been announced or launched by over 900 universities worldwide. The report notes that in 2019 alone, approximately 2.5k online courses were launched by 450 universities.

Source: Class Central

Online degrees

Only 11 new digital degrees were launched last year, mostly by Coursera and FutureLearn, down from the 30 programmes that were launched in 2018. This brings the total number of global MOOC degrees to 50 – again, excluding China. This figure includes Georgia Tech’s online master’s in computer science (OM CS), which is provided by Udacity and has over 9,000 students.

2017 2018 2019
Coursera 4 11 16
edX 1 9 10
FutureLearn 4 18 23


The analysis also highlights that the total number of MOOC-based microcredentials has now broken through the 800 mark. Last year, more than 170 new microcredentials of 10 different types were launched, compared to just 120 microcredntials that were added in 2018.

Type Provider 2018 2019
Specialisations Coursera 310 400
Professional Certificate Coursera 0 13
MasterTrack Coursera 3 6
Professional Certificate edX 89 123
MicroMasters edX 51 56
XSeries edX 29 40
Professional Education edX 62 73
Nanodegrees Udacity 35 40
Programmes FutureLearn 23 32
Academic Certificates FutureLearn 14 17
Programmes Kadneze 19 20


Source: Class Central

According to the data, the distribution of courses across subjects last year remained fairly similar to 2018. Approximately 40% of courses sit within the categories that are deemed the easiest to monetise: business and technology.

“When we compiled the numbers for our 2019 end-of-year analysis, we realised that online degrees weren’t doing as well as in prior years. In 2019, there were only one third as many new degrees as in 2018. Considering the significant hype MOOC-based degrees had generated, we were surprised to see them showing signs of a slow down so early,” said Dhawal Shah, CEO of Class Central.

“So, 2020 may be a pivotal year for online degrees,” adds Shah. “It will be interesting to see how many new degrees are announced and how those that already launched perform – and to see whether MOOC-based degrees will follow the same trend as MOOCs: generating a lot of hype in the beginning, but not as drastic short-term changes as some would expect.”

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