Udacity calls itself the place where lifelong learners come to develop the skills they need so that they can land their dream jobs.
Rather than offering traditional degrees, Udacity provides nanodegree programs that help you to enrich your tech knowledge and skill set so you can achieve specific goals.
Udacity partners up with leading tech businesses, like Microsoft, Mercedes, AWS (Amazon), and Google, to create learning programs on the vital technology skills these sorts of firms are looking for.
I’ve used Udacity for many years now, having developed my own skills via a number of the courses they have available. In the review below, I’ll give you my honest thoughts, covering the good and bad while also giving you some insight into the courses they provide.
What is Udacity for?
Udacity is for anyone who is looking to gain further knowledge and earn new skills in areas such as data science, business, and programming. The courses are designed to help you attain real employable skills that are based on real-world projects where you can ask for help from mentors 24/7 and learn at your own pace.
Ease of Use
Pros of Udacity
- Intuitive interface – Udacity is incredibly easy-to-use. You won’t have any trouble finding what you are looking for. This makes the learning experience much more enjoyable!
- Get a certificate – If you complete a course with Udacity, you will receive a certificate. You can display this in your office or business premises.
- Free courses available – There are around 200 free courses. This means you do not need to spend a penny to enhance your skills and boost your credentials.
- Access career services – If you enroll in a nanodegree, you will get access to Udacity’s Career Services. This includes help with your cover letter and resume, as well as GitHub and LinkedIn reviews.
- Technical mentor support – You gain access to knowledgeable mentors who will help to guide you, motivate you, and keep you on track.
- Benefit from premium quality – Udacity develops its own content in collaboration with industry-leading partners, including Nvidia, Mercedes, Amazon, Google, and much more.
Cons of Udacity
- Certificates are not free or accredited – While getting a certificate is a nice touch, do note that the nanodegree programs are not certified. Also, you will need to sign-up for a paid account to download your certificate.
- Only available in English – The course material is mainly only available in English. While some courses do have subtitles in other languages, Udacity has primarily been designed for English speakers.
- Limited to business and computer science – I have skeptically included this in the “cons” section. Udacity does offer courses relating to business, computer science, and technology, yet it does not branch out of these niches. While this does mean that courses available are limited, it is often better to choose a specialist provider.
- The app is no longer available – There was a Udacity app. However, this was removed from the Android and iOS app stores in 2019, and it has not been replaced since.
- Some of the programs are costly – While there are free programs available, the programs you do need to pay for are quite costly.
What is a nanodegree program from Udacity?
You have heard the term ‘nanodegree’ a few times, and you may be wondering what this actually is! A nanodegree is just like a regular degree, yet there is a smaller timeframe of between three and six months.
These programs have been designed specifically to fill gaps within the job market. Job seekers are taught skills that companies need right now! You can do this at a lower price point and in a shorter duration when compared with a university degree.
The majority of the nanodegrees provided by Udacity are tech-based. For example, cybersecurity, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and doing. However, there are a number of business programs too, including in areas like data analysis, UX, and digital marketing.
What to expect from a nanodegree
A nanodegree will consist of a group of lessons, which are designed to get more and more complex while the student moves along the program and builds on the knowledge they gained in the previous classes.
By the time you graduate, you will have completed a number of different projects, which will be added to your own portfolio. Your portfolio is added to GitHub.
You will need to complete every project to graduate. A Udacity Project Review will mark your project as complete.
If you do not pass, the review will request that you make the required changes and then re-submit your work. You are allowed to resubmit your projects as many times as required in order to pass.
To create the courses provided, Udacity has partnered with some of the world’s most impressive companies, including Salesforce, Facebook, Google, and Amazon.
For example, the Digital Marketing Degree has been created in collaboration with Google and Facebook. Udacity has also teamed up with Amazon Web Service (AWS) and Kaggle for its Machine Learning Nanodegree.
How does Udacity work?
Udacity is user-friendly. Once you have decided what sort of course you want to take, you will need to follow these steps:
1. Pay the tuition fees
If you opt for one of the nanodegree programs, you will need to pay. You can secure a cheaper price by going for a three-month deal with most courses.
There are various payment options available, including credit cards and PayPal.
2. Course onboarding
When you start a Udacity online course, you go through onboarding. This will prepare you for both Udacity and the course.
This section involves the following:
- You will fill in a questionnaire
- Preview the syllabus
- Plan a personal study schedule
- Set personal study reminders
This kind of extensive onboarding aims to prepare you for the course you are going to take. Moreover, the purpose of it is to help you in setting concrete goals so you can progress through the syllabus.
3. Take quizzes
While you go through your course lessons, quizzes will pop up now and again. These are usually at the end of your course unit. They ensure you understood the lesson materials.
If you pay attention to the lessons and take notes, you should pass the quiz. However, if you don’t, you can simply go back and get your knowledge to the level it needs to be.
4. Complete graded projects
Graded student projects are at the core of the Udacity teaching system. These are real-world projects that expert mentors will review. The purpose is to provide you with practical experience.
To ensure you are getting the most from your nanodegree, you should ask questions from your mentors. It is also worth taking part in student-to-student discussions as well.
5. Graduate with a certificate
To make sure you qualify for a Udacity certificate, you need to fulfill the following:
- Complete all the projects with a grade of “Meets Expectations”
- Pass all course lessons
6. Use the career services
One of the great things about Udacity is that they offer career resources, including reviews for GitHub, LinkedIn, resumes, and cover letters.
I’ve found these services to be very helpful, especially if you’re looking to establish a new career.
Udacity’s teaching style
We all have different learning styles. So, when choosing a course, it’s always important to make sure it matches your way of learning. Otherwise, you are going to find yourself in an uphill battle.
Having taken more than one Udacity course, one thing I have noticed is that they all follow the same sort of format. To begin with, there is a video lecture, which explains the concept of the course. Although they are called lectures, they don’t last longer than five minutes.
Next, the same concept is described in written form. This is helpful because it reinforces what was said in the video, yet in a different manner.
After this, there is a quiz, with matching-making, true or false, and fill-in-the-blank questions. If you are unable to complete the quiz successfully, this lets you know that you need to go back and go over the video and written notes again.
There is also an in-build workspace where you can do different exercises.
Some of the most popular courses offered by Udacity
Udacity currently offers over 200 courses for people to make the most of. This includes 187 free courses, two executive programs, and 59 nanodegree programs.
To give you a better understanding, I’m going to take you through a few of them:
Udacity Full Stack Developer Nanodegree
If your objective is to become a full-stack web developer, you may be considering Udacity’s Nanodegree program. The Udacity Full Stack Developer Nanodegree program aims to give learners the unique skills required to build database-backed web applications and APIs.
The program includes five projects and four courses. Each project you build will give you the chance to apply what you have learned during the lessons, demonstrating to potential employers that you have the practical full-stack development skills they are looking for.
If you take this program, you will learn the following:
- How to design and build a database for a software application
- How to deploy a web application that is Flask-based to the cloud using Kubernetes and Docker
- How to secure and manage user authentication and access control for an application backend
- How to create and deploy a database-backed web API (Application Programming Interface)
If you commit between five and 10 hours per week, you should complete the course within four months. As it is self-paced, you can learn in a schedule that suits you, ensuring you can fit this course in with your daily life.
In terms of prerequisites, you will need previous experience in Git, HTML, CSS, and Python.
The 4 courses of the Udacity Full Stack Developer Nanodegree
As mentioned, there are four different courses that make up the Udacity Full Stack Developer Nanodegree program. I will talk you through each one so you can get a better understanding.
Course 1: Data modeling and SQL for the web
This program is all about leveraging Python and the power of SQL so that you can incorporate database logic into your programs and master relational databases.
The first course project involves designing a venue booking database. You will need to build out the database and data models for a venue/artist booking application. You will be provided with a prototype design of the web application. However, you then need to build out the data models the website is going to rely on by using Postgresql and SQLAlchemy. You will write out both the SQLAlchemy and raw SQL commands to run for powering the site’s backend functionality.
To complete this project, there are six lessons, which are as follows:
- Connecting and interacting with databases
- An introduction to the basics of SQLAlchemy and SQLAlchemy ORM
- A more in-depth look at SQLAlchemy ORM
- Using SQLAlchemy ORM to build a CRUD app (Part 1)
- Using SQLAlchemy ORM to build a CRUD app (Part 2)
Course 2: API development and documentation
Next, you will learn all about using APIs to manage and control applications on the web, including best practices for API testing and documentation.
For this project, you will need to use the skills you have picked up to create a Trivia API. This API will enable users to look for trivia questions and their answers via difficulty and category, modify the questions’ difficulty rating, and add new questions.
The objective here is to utilize APIs so that you can control a web application and manage it effectively using existing data models. You are going to be provided with a set of data models and the application front end. Your task is going to be the implementation of the API in Flask so that the Trivia game is functional.
To complete this project, there are five lessons, which are as follows:
- An introduction to APIs
- Flask and HTTP Basics
- Payloads and Endpoints
- API Testing
- API Documentation
Course 3: Identity Access Management (IAM)
Next, you will learn more about implementing authentication and authorization in Flask, providing you with an understanding of how to design against key security principles. You will also get experience with securing a REST API, role-based control design patterns, and applying software system compliance and risk principles.
The task for this project involves building a backend for a coffee store. You will need to add user accounts and authentication to the application and use role-based access management strategies to control the various kinds of user behavior in the application.
The application needs to give shop managers the ability to credit new drinks and amend existing ones. Shop baristas should also be able to view recipe information. The public should be able to view drink names and graphics. Moreover, the graphics need to represent the ratio of ingredients found in each drink.
This project provides you with a hands-on opportunity to demonstrate and practice the skills you have learned, namely:
- Applying software system compliance and risk principles
- Securing a REST API
- Implementing role-based control design patterns
- Designing against key security principles
- Implementing authorization and authentication in Flask
To complete this project, there are three lessons, which are as follows:
- Thinking adversarially
Course 4: Server Deployment and Containerization
The final part of the course is about enhancing your understanding of containerized environments. You will learn how to use Docker for storing and sharing containers, as well as how to use the CI/CD pipeline to deploy a Docker container to AWS Elastic Kubernetes Service.
To complete this part of the course, there are three different lessons:
- AWS and Kubernetes
- Deployment using C1/CD
The concluding phase of the Udacity Full Stack Developer Nanodegree program is all about bringing together the skills you have developed and learned during the course so far so that you can build a database-backed web API with user access control.
You will select the app you want to build, and then you will design and construct all of the API endpoints required for the application. You also need to ensure they are secured properly so they can be used in any front-end application, whether mobile or web.
Udacity Ethical Hacker Nanodegree Program
This program is designed to give students the skills they need to advance their security careers and become penetration testers or ethical hackers. Students will learn how to find and exploit weaknesses and vulnerabilities in different systems, as well as design and execute penetration testing plans, and report on findings using evidence from the project.
The Udacity Ethical Hacker Nanodegree Program consists of two courses; ethical hacking and penetration testing & red teaming operations.
Course 1: Intro to Ethical Hacking
Ethical hackers make sure they hack into a system before a cybercriminal does, ensuring businesses can take the required steps to protect their business.
The aim of this course is to give students an introduction to a wide range of techniques and job responsibilities that are linked with the role of an Ethical Hacker. Ethical Hackers use their knowledge of company processes to assess risks while protecting core operations.
This part of the program is split into five different lessons:
- Vulnerability Management
- System Auditing
- Application Auditing
- Social Engineering
- Open-Source Intelligence
Course 2: Penetration Testing & Red Teaming Operations
The second part of the program gives you a deeper insight into penetration testing techniques, and how ethical hacking can be used to conduct a cybersecurity assessment on a specific system. You will also learn about conducting a penetration test project within a business to determine any risks, flaws, or vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.
This part of the program is split into five different lessons:
- Scanning & Research
- Gaining Access
- Maintaining Access
- Cover Tracks & Reporting
Udacity Digital Marketing Nanodegree Program
The final program I am going to reveal a little bit more about is the Udacity Digital Marketing Nanodegree Program. You should finish this in approximately three months if you dedicate 10 hours per week. You do not need any experience to enroll in this course.
This program will take you on a journey through two core courses, helping you to define a company’s content strategy, value proposition, marketing channels, customer journey, target personas, KPIs, and marketing objectives.
You will learn how to create more data-driven marketing insights about your consumers and digital presence with Google Analytics, as well as explore newly emerging marketing techniques so that you can reimagine your future marketing capabilities.
So, let’s take a look at the two courses that make up this Udacity nano degree:
Course 1: Marketing Fundamentals
Building a digital marketing strategy is a journey, and this course guides you through that. You will learn how to define a company’s value proposition and branding, as well as map your content strategy and customer journey so you can achieve your corporate goals.
The seven lessons you will work through are as follows:
- Introduction to Digital Marketing Framework
- Your Business Value
- Your Customer
- Marketing Channels
- Marketing Objectives and Performance
- Plan Your Content
- Working in Digital Marketing Roles
Course 2: Marketing Data and Technology
Data and measurability make digital marketing powerful and rapidly grow on a daily basis. You can track your digital marketing efforts, ensuring it impacts your business goals. That’s what this course is about.
You will learn about trending technologies and marketing data, as well as Google Analytics, and how all of these help you understand your audience, measure your acquisition’s success, understand engagement efforts, and assess your user’s conversions to your goals.
The six lessons you will work through are as follows:
- Marketing Data for Your Business
- A/B Testing and Attribution Models
- Google Analytics (Part 1) – Getting Started & Audience
- Google Analytics (Part 2) – Acquisition, Behaviors, and Conversion Tracking
- Marketing Technology and eCommerce
- The Future of Digital Marketing
My final thoughts on Udacity
So there you have it: everything you need to know about Udacity and the different courses that are available. I hope this has helped you to get a better understanding of the sort of courses the company provides so you can get a feel as to whether or not this suits your career goals and needs.
It is certainly pleasing to see that Udacity provides courses that fit in with the current gaps in the market. Teaming up with the likes of Google and Microsoft assures students that they are developing skills that the big firms are looking for.
Nevertheless, there are a few things that you do need to keep in mind, namely the fact that Udacity does not provide accredited degree programs. This does not mean that their courses are not valuable, but it is still something you need to be aware of.
FAQ about Udacity
- Are Udacity projects difficult? Yes, they are supposed to be. After all, they are designed to make sure you are ready for work. However, you do get all of the tools and assistance you need so that you can pass the projects with flying colors.
- Is Udacity certificate accredited? Udacity is not an accredited educational institution. Rather, it is a private provider of online education.
- Is Udacity respected? Yes, Udacity is valued by many companies around the world. A lot of big businesses collaborate with Udacity to create their courses, so they certainly value the provider. So, while it does not have accredited certificates, Udacity is respected.
- Will Udacity get you a job? There are no guarantees. However, Udacity Nanodegree programs help to make sure you are prepared for the working world. The courses are specifically designed to plug current gaps in the market. Plus, the courses are designed in collaboration with some of the world’s biggest companies, meaning you will have a much better chance of getting a job once taking one of the Udacity courses.
- Is it worth paying for Udacity? If Udacity offers a nanodegree in your preferred area of study, you will probably find the platform to be well worth the cost. You get lots for your money, including a range of tools, expert interviews, graded projects, mentorship, and career services.
- Which is better Udacity or Udemy? It really depends on what you are looking for. Both platforms are easy to use. Udacity does have a more limited course selection, yet if it covers the course you are looking for, you may find that the degrees are more in-depth and suitable for you.
- Are Udacity courses free? Some Udacity courses are free (around 200!). However, the nanodegree programs are paid.