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February 26, 2024

You are in the right place if you are wondering about the difference between Coursera Specialization vs Professional Certificate and which one is the better option for you.

Let me give you a detailed download of what each of these Coursera learning programs offers based on my personal experience of using Coursera and the numerous reviews I have gone through to write this article.

By the end of this post, I’ll also help you decide which one you should go for and which one will benefit you the most –professionally!

So, stick with me until the end and find out. 

Coursera Specialization: Key Features

  • Teaches you  a specific skill
  • Courses are extensive
  • Series of courses
  • Taught by educational partners
  •  Achievable in a few months to one year

Professional Certificates: Key Features

  • Learn in-demand skills
  • Prepares for job opportunities
  • Hands-on projects
  • Taught by industry partners
  • Finish within a few days or weeks

Difference Between Coursera Learning Path vs Specialization

Each course has a learning path designed for you to learn efficiently. The courses are made in such a way so that anyone seeking promotion from entry to mid or from mid to senior roles can learn job-relevant skills and advance in their career.

Specialization, on the other hand, is made up of several courses. Various courses within a Specialization help you gain extensive knowledge, making you a master of the given subject.

Coursera Specialization vs Professional Certificate - Overview

You earn a specialization certificate when you finish all these courses individually.

Verdict: Learning paths are different from Specializations on the basis of the content. Specialization contains a series of lessons, whereas the learning path comprises several individual courses. 

Coursera Specialization vs Professional Certificate- Time And Cost

Here is a quick table for your reference-

SpecializationProfessional Certificate
Time4- 6 monthsUnder a year
Cost (USD)$39-79 monthly/course$39- $79 monthly
7-Day Free Trial
Project Time40 HoursN/A
Payment optionPre-pay or Pay by coursePre-pay

Note – Longer Specializations can include ten or more courses and take up to a year or more.

Which One Provides More Value?

The answer to the above question is- it depends.

The definition of what is valuable can be subjective. However, I use the following 4 factors to check if a course provides value to me- 

  • Course Content
  • What will I gain from a particular course
  • Teaching Style of the Instructor
  • Price of the Course

Now, Ask yourself what you are looking for on Coursera.

If you want to gain in-depth knowledge, then Specialization is for you. But if you wish to pursue a course that will help you hone a specific job-related skill, then Professional certificates offer precisely that.

Both these course types are similar. Both course types include projects. These Projects end with you earning a certificate, which helps hiring managers recognize that you can use information provided in the course on the job, too.

Career Growth Options

Be it a fresher or a veteran in 2024, growing your knowledge base from time to time is a must for all. Coursera offers numerous courses that will help in Career development.

Here are my top picks of certificate courses that will help you leap in your professional journey –

1. English For Career Development By The University Of Pennsylvania

We all read, speak, and write English, but this course is designed especially for Career Development. Learn practical communication skills to help you enter the job market, network, strengthen your resume, write attractive cover letters, and prepare for an interview with this course.

English For Career Development

2. Programming With Google Go Specialization

This 3-course Specialization series by the University of California, Irvine, helps you learn the Go programming language from Google. Learners will gain the knowledge and skills to create concise, efficient, clean applications using Go.

Programming With Google Go Specialization

Learning Golang is excellent for you as it is an in-demand job as a Golang developer. An entry-level salary for a Golang developer is $177k  on average.

3. Meta Front-End Developer Professional Certificates

This Professional certificate course is created and taught by Meta Staff. This course will help you catapult your career in coding and building websites. The certificate is awarded to you after you complete the project by creating your front-end web application.

Meta Front-End Developer Professional Certificates

4. HRCI Human Resource Associate Professional Certificate

This Professional Course Certificate will help you launch a career in Human Resources. By the end of this course, you will understand the workings of recruitment, developing policies for employees, and creating a positive work environment.

HRCI Human Resource Associate Professional Certificate

5. Business Foundations Specialization By The University Of Pennsylvania

This specialization helps you learn the language and commonly used terminologies in every business. This course is great for anyone planning to open a small business or attend business school for further education.

Business Foundations Specialization

How To Save Money On Coursera Certificates?

There are a couple of ways to save money on Coursera. Here is comprehensive information on all of them-

  • 7-Day Free Trial

Specialization and Professional Certificates offer a 7-day free trial. Based on your trial, you can gauge if the courses satisfy your expectations. The trial helps learners get the course experience without financially committing to it. 

  • Annual Subscription Of Coursera Plus

 My favorite plan for saving significant dollars on Coursera is to get a subscription to access 90% of Coursera material and unlimited course certificates. The learners can get a monthly or annual subscription, depending on the course length. 

  • Save $309 on Coursera Plus

The annual plan helps you save $309 instantly compared to the monthly subscription. The monthly subscription fee of Coursera is $59, which amounts to $708 for 12 months. The annual subscription fee is $399 only. It only makes sense to get the yearly subscription as it allows learners to take as many courses at a marginal price as possible. Get to know more about Coursera pricing here.

  • Coursera Plus Discount

Get a Coursera Plus Subscription today only for $199 here. Instead of paying for each Professional certificate course or Specialization, I prefer getting this subscription and saving $200.

  • Financial Assistance On Coursera

If you can not afford any of these courses, check if that course has the option for financial aid and apply for it. After verification, you can access your desired course entirely or partially for free.

How To Get A Coursera Certificate?

You can get your certification for a Specialization or Professional course after you have completed all the assignments and projects.

Please check the course requirements beforehand, as some courses require learners to score specific GPAs and finish the course in a fixed time. Only after meeting these criteria are these certificates given.

If you want to specialize in Coursera, please remember that each specialization has multiple courses. So you must finish all these courses to get your Specialization certification. 

For example, if you enroll in a specialization with six courses, on completion of each course, you get a course certificate. On completion of the last course, you also get a specialization certificate, so there are seven certificates in total. We have also listed the best Coursera certificates for you to check out.

Which One Is The Best For Me? Coursera Specialization Or Professional Certificate

Coursera Specialization is best for you: 

  • To Gain 360° knowledge about a topic
  • If you are Self- a motivated learner
  • Learning any subject from scratch

The professional certificate is best for you 

  • If you want to upskill
  • If you are a fresher
  • To qualify for an Entry-level Job

Final Verdict: Coursera Specializations Offer More Value Than Professional Certificates

Coursera offers various courses in various shapes and forms. The specialization courses and Professional Courses both have one thing in common, and that is their projects. These projects are beneficial as they give you hands-on knowledge and prepare you for job-related requirements.

Professional Certificate courses are similar to Specializations (series of related courses) but are only shorter. The main difference between the two is that Schools create Specializations, and companies create Professional Certificates.

To get all the benefits of these courses and certificates for a fraction of their original cost, sign up for the limited-period offer and get a Coursera Plus Subscription for a year for as low as $199 today. 


What career can I prepare for with a Professional Certificate in 2024?

By earning a certificate, you can build job-ready skills for a career related to data analysis, project management, UX design, IT support, social media marketing, and cybersecurity analysis.

Can I take Courses on Coursera for free?

Yes, you can take many courses for free on Coursera. However, you will have to pay a cost to avail of a certificate.

How much does a Coursera certificate cost?

Coursera certificates range between $29 to $3000. Your course structure, instructor, or the duration of the said course are the deciding factors of the certificate price.

What is the difference between a specialization certificate and a  Coursera certificate?

The specialization certificates are offered directly by its content maker, usually a school or a University. As the name suggests, Coursera offers Coursera Certificates.

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