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Data Science Specialization Makes Coursera Millions in Revenue

Data science is a hot field right now, with Harvard Business Review calling it the “sexiest job of the 21st Century”. It is also a hot Specialization for Coursera. Offered by Johns Hopkins University, Coursera’s Data Science Specialization consists of 9 courses, followed by a capstone project.

Ira Gooding who is Open Educational Resource Coordinator at Johns Hopkins gave some stats regarding this Specialization in this blog post. Namely:

• 1.76 million course sign-ups
• 71,589 Signature Track verified certificates were awarded
• 917 students completed all 9 courses and signed up for the first capstone course
• 478 students successfully completed the first capstone course

At $49 per Signature Track certificate, the 71K figure results in ~$3.5M (though a little less, because the first course is $29 and there may have been scholarships). But remember, students pay at the outset of the course, and not all of them meet the requirements to get the certificate, thus the revenue might be even higher

However, whatever the exact revenue that Coursera took in, some things are clear. First, we see the large public interest in learning about data science, with the 1.76 sign-ups. Second, we know that a major educational effort was conducted, with at least 71K validated course completions–without even counting the learning of those who didn’t complete their courses or didn’t sign-up for the certificates. Third, we see that this has resulted in a high-leverage revenue stream for Coursera.

Even though data science is one of the hotter fields, this model is being replicated in many different areas, and it is very promising for establishing a sustainable business model for Coursera. And because of the scale offered by the MOOC platform, the individual costs are very affordable compared to other ways to comprehensively learn this subject area.