Comparing Coursera Specialization vs. Professional Certificate will give you an in-depth comparison of all the factors that make these two-course styles different.

By the end, you will know the exact factors that will answer questions like, “Is a specialization the same as a certificate?”

If you are a student, a working professional, or a keen learner like me, Coursera specialization and professional certificate can help you. In this article, I will teach you how to reap the benefits of these two course types on Coursera while pointing out their differences.

What Is The Difference Between Specialization And Professional Certification In Coursera?

Before we decide on the better one between specialization and professional certification, let’s quickly examine the main differences.

Comparison CriteriaSpecializationProfessional Certificate
Free Trial
Cost$39-$79 monthly/course$39- $99 monthly
Best ForStudents and Working IndividualsWorking Individuals
CertificateGiven by CourseraGiven my Course Makers
Course Duration4-6 months4- 10 weeks
No. of Courses1,025+149+
BenefitsComprehensive understandingUpskill or reskill 

What Does Specialization Mean On Coursera?

Specializations on Coursera are a series of approximately 4-10 chapters curated for keen learners to develop a comprehensive understanding of a specific niche from scratch.

Specializations on Coursera
Source: Coursera

The specialization courses are balanced by theory and a project that learners must qualify to gain a Coursera Specialization Certificate.

Who Are Coursera Specializations for? 

The Coursera Specialization is for anyone looking to learn a specific topic in-depth. Hence, I often suggest specialization courses for students.

Specialization can benefit students in schools, colleges, or universities by strengthening their fundamental knowledge in a specific area.

However, not many specializations give university credits, so specializations are the best for self-study.

What Does A Professional Certificate Mean On Coursera?

A professional certificate on Coursera has the most value because these certificates are often given directly by the course makers. Professional certificates on Coursera are in demand because industry leaders like Google, IBM, Meta, and others curate the courses.

Professional Certificate on Coursera
Source: Coursera

Professional certificates are short courses that help learners learn about various tools and their functions that can help learners develop job-ready skills.

Who Are Professional Certificates For?

Professional certificates are for working individuals who want to keep up with the latest trends in the workforce and use various tools to make their work life easy and productive.

Coursera Specialization vs Professional Certificate: Pros and Cons

Both these course types have their pros and cons. Let’s look at a few important ones-

Pros and Cons of Coursera Specialization

Specialization Courses have many pros and a few cons like- 

Pros of Coursera specialization-

  • You get to gain comprehensive knowledge.
  • Paced out over a few months
  • Helps master a niche from scratch
  • Best for novices as well as professionals

Cons of Coursera specialization-

  • Lacks motivation, which can lead to a high dropout ratio
  • No university credits  

Pros and Cons of Coursera Professional Certificate

Finding the cons of Coursera’s professional certificate was challenging, so I have mentioned only a couple of them.

Pros of Coursera Professional Certificate-

  • Great for upskilling
  • It helps you stand out during an interview 
  • Offered by Industry Leaders
  • Short duration courses
  • It helps bridge the gap between job- skills and learning 

Cons of Coursera Professional Certificate-

  • It might require prior knowledge.
  • Best suited for working individuals only. 

Coursera Specialization vs Professional Certificate – Courses

In this segment, I will discuss the details of the Coursera specialization and professional certificate course structure, helping you understand which one is better for you.

Specialization Courses On Coursera

As mentioned before, specialization courses are more extensive than professional certificate courses. Typically, a specialization course on Coursera includes 4 to 10 chapters per specialization.

Specialization Courses on Coursera
Source: Coursera

Every specialization course consists of a few video-audio lectures, pop-up quizzes, and a Capstone project at the end, which is assessed by your peers.

Professional Certificate Courses On Coursera

Coursera has no bearing on the design of these courses. These short courses are designed and curated by experts or professionals already working at leading organizations. The professional certificate course has 1-5 chapters only.

Professional Certificate Courses on Coursera
Source: Coursera

These experts also teach the courses via video-audio lectures, a few pop quizzes and a rarely applied project exercise is also required if the course makers say so.

Coursera Specialization vs Professional Certificate- Cost

Coursera has a very confusing price structure, so here is a simplified Coursera’s price structure for your reference –

Coursera Specialization Cost

Coursera Specializations are priced at $39-$79 monthly/course. So, if you take a specialization that costs $79 and the course length is six months, the whole course will cost you about $474.

Note-  In such cases, getting a Coursera Plus subscription and using my savings tips below is better.

Coursera Professional Certificate Cost

You must pay a flat fee for Coursera Professional Certificates, typically between $39 and $99 monthly /course. So, a professional certificate course that takes 10 weeks to complete will cost you $2 months’ fees.

Coursera Specialization vs Professional Certificate- Certificates

Coursera certificates are very valuable and well-recognized globally, But how do you get them, and what makes Coursera certificates so valuable? Here is the answer.

Coursera certificates
Source: Coursera

Coursera Specialization Certificate

The specialization certificate offered by Coursera will have your name and the course name on it.

It will also mention that you completed this specialization, which helps you show your future employers or your desired college that you are passionate about learning and are highly motivated to do better by gaining knowledge from reliable resources like Coursera.

Coursera Professional Certificate

The Coursera Professional Certificate is offered by the course makers. It will have your name and the course name on it as well.

The Coursera Professional Certificate symbolizes that you have taken a course from a renowned course maker and learned skills essential in the workforce.

Coursera Specialization vs Professional Certificate – Best Courses

I have curated a list of popular specializations and professional certificate courses you can try. If a free trial is available for that particular course below, I recommend you take it. 

Specialization Courses On Coursera

5 Best Coursera Specialization Certificates are as follows-

1. Entrepreneurship Specialization

This specialization course, offered by the University of Pennsylvania’s online college, Wharton, will help learners understand the skills and topics every entrepreneur must know.

Course ProviderWharton Online, University of Pennsylvania
Included in the Free trial?
CostEnroll to find
Duration3-6 months
Best forEntrepreneurial process, conception and development, launch, growth, and financing and profitability
Course LinkHere

2. Algorithms Specialization

This course is best for computer science enthusiasts. It will teach you how to think and work like a computer scientist.

Course ProviderStandford
Included in the Free trial?
CostEnroll to find
Duration3-6 months
Best forLearning fundamentals of the design and analysis of algorithms
Course LinkHere

3. Coding For Everyone: C and C++ Specialization

This beginner-friendly course will teach you the ABCs of Computer Programming, C++

and Coding.

Course ProviderUniversity of California, Santa Cruz
Included in the Free trial?
CostEnroll to find
Duration3-6 months
Best forComputer programmers to learn to code, debug, and solve complex problems with C and C++
Course LinkHere

4. Practical Guide To Trading Specialization

If you are planning to start trading, it is essential that you are fully aware of the capital markets and investment strategies taught by this course on Coursera

Course ProviderInteractive Brokers
Included in the Free trial?
CostEnroll to find
Duration3-6 months
Best forLearn how to trade, and understand global capital markets while using a simulated trading account
Course LinkHere

5. Six Sigma Green Belt Specialization

This course is excellent for working professionals who want to improve their skills using scientifically proven methods. Learn skills that have been proven to help improve business processes, performance, and quality assurance.

Course ProviderUniversity System of Georgia
Included in the Free trial?
CostEnroll to find
Duration3-6 months
Best forLearn proven tools to improve your organization’s work quality.
Course LinkHere

Professional Courses On Coursera

5 Best Coursera professional certificates that will help you grow professionally are- 

1. Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate

This certificate will help professionals like Data Analysts, Junior Data Analysts, and Associate Data Analysts with professional-level training from Google.

Course ProviderGoogle
Included in the Free trial?
CostEnroll to find
Duration6 months
Best forFast-track your career in Data Analytics
Course LinkHere

2. Google Project Management: Professional Certificate

As the course name suggests, this certificate course is also a professional certificate program offered by Google. It will help you if you are in the field of management or are aiming to become a Project Manager, Project Coordinator, or Project Assistant.

Course ProviderGoogle
Included in the Free trial?
CostEnroll to find
Duration6 months
Best forFast-track a career in project management
Course LinkHere

3. Meta Data Analyst Professional Certificate

This certificate program is taught from Meta’s perspective of data analysis. It benefits Data Analysts, Associate Data Analysts, and Business Analysts who want to develop SQL, Pandas, and Python skills.

Course ProviderMeta
Included in the Free trial?
CostEnroll to find
Duration5 months
Best forLaunching a career in data analytics.
Course LinkHere

4. IBM Data Science Professional Certificate

IBM professionals and experts teach the most up-to-date practical skills that Data scientists might need in their daily job routine in this beginner-friendly, short professional certificate program.

Course ProviderIBM
Included in the Free trial?
CostEnroll to find
Duration5 months
Best forApplying for a job as a data scientist
Course LinkHere

5. Intuit Academy Bookkeeping Professional Certificate

If you want to develop a career as a Bookkeeper, Accounting Clerk, or Accounts Payable Specialist, then this is the course for you. It helps learners build a strong foundation by explaining the fundamental concepts of accounting and teaching them how to analyze, measure, and make finance-related decisions.

Course ProviderIntuit
Included in the Free trial?
CostEnroll to find
Duration2 months
Best forApplying for a job as a bookkeeper or accountant
Course LinkHere

Coursera Specialization vs Professional Certificate – Which One Is Worth It?

Finding out which is worthy—Coursera Specializations or Professional certificate courses—is challenging. But here are my two cents on why I find both course types equally deserving, but for different reasons.

Are Coursera Specialization Certificates Worth It?

Coursera Specializations Certificates are worth the price and time investment as they give learners in-depth knowledge and a certificate that showcases your devotion to learning the finer details.

Are Coursera Professional Certificates Worth It?

Coursera Professional Certificates are worth it as they help you learn a skill quickly. The Professional certificate directly being awarded by industry leaders makes them worthier than any other certificate received from an online learning platform.

How To Save On Coursera Certificate And Specialization?

Here are my secret tips on saving on Coursera, whether you are doing a specialization or a professional certificate course.

  • Free Trial

When you sign up for the Coursera Plus membership plan, you get to try the platform for 7 days for free. During this duration, you must take as many courses as possible to determine which course teaching style, course structure, and instructors you like the most.

This way, you will be able to decide whether you like the platform or not without spending any money.

  • Subscription plan

Instead of buying multiple courses or a monthly subscription, I prefer buying the annual Coursera Plus subscription, which lets me earn unlimited certificates for a one-time fee (charged annually).

  • Financial Aid

Apply for aid by filling out an application and writing a short essay to Coursera explaining why you deserve the financial aid service. Once approved, you can take courses on Coursera for free or at discounted rates.

  • Coursera Discount

Coursera offers its new users discounts regularly. Stay tuned for offers like the Black Friday sale, the referral discount codes, and more on Coursera to make significant savings.

Coursera: Specialization vs Professional Certificate – Which One Is Best?

Both the certificates, be it the specialization or the professional certificate, can be helpful to you professionally for the following reasons –

  • It shows that you are dedicated to learning and growing and have skills you have learned from experts in your field.
  • It shows that you are motivated as an individual because online courses are infamous for high dropout rates due to the lack of external motivation that one finds in a traditional classroom.
  • These certificates help you stand out from the crowd when applying for a job.
  • You can use Coursera Certificates to quantify your skills and ask for a promotion.

Related Read:

Conclusion- Coursera Specializations And Professional Certificates Can Boost Your Career!

Coursera Specialization vs Professional Certificate is not easy to judge because both these certificate courses are valuable, and their certificates are well-recognized worldwide.

Both certificate courses have created a space for themselves and can not be pitted against each other. These Coursera certificates are good as they help professionals and students learn and grow.

If you are considering taking either of these courses, go for it! If you are a working professional, you can boost your professional journey, and if you are a student, you can enhance your college application by using Coursera certificates. Use my tips to save money and get yourself a Coursera account today.


Are Coursera professional certificates recognized?

Coursera professional certificates are usually issued by course makers like Google, Meta, and IBM directly making them recognized among hiring managers and employers globally.

Is a specialization the same as a certificate?

Specialization and certificate courses are similar in structure, but a Coursera specialization focuses on learning a subject from scratch, whereas a certificate course focuses on learning a particular job skill or tool.

Which is better, Udemy or Coursera?

Coursera is better than Udemy as its certificates are accredited, and its courses also offer credits.

Is Coursera recognized by employers?

Coursera is recognized by employers as its certificates are accredited and issued by course makers who are industry leaders.

Are the paid courses on Coursera worth it?

Coursera’s paid courses are worth it due to its accreditation and for courses that provide learners with practical and theoretical skills.

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