Are the online certificates and degrees worth the time, effort and money?

I’m sure you’ve come across people in your work life who have certificates from Udemy, edX, Coursera and other popular MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) platforms. So, what exactly are these “certificates”? And what value do they have in the real world? In this article, I’ll give you an overview and tell you what multinational companies really think about online certificates in job applications. 

First of all, what is a “Certificate”?

The internet is full of courses that offer certificates for course participants.

The certificate can be anything, it can be a simple statement of participation for taking a short video course or it can be an official bachelor’s degree for completing an online study program.

This is all you need to know:

In most countries, course providers can name their degrees anything they want; there aren’t many restrictions on it. Only certain terms such as “bachelor” or “masters” as an academic title of a university are regulated (depending on the individual laws of the land).

  • Participants will usually receive a “certificate or degree” only after successfully completing a test in the online course.
  • While, a “statement of participation”, is a simple confirmation without documenting a specific learning accomplishment.

From Nanodegree to the xSeries Certificate, course providers have quite unique & diverse names for their certificates; you’ll find more such names as you go through the article. “Certificate” is frequently used as a general term.

“Official” degrees:

If you are someone that needs an “official” degree (something that is regulated by law) then the best way ahead for you is to contact the course provider upfront for details.

If you want to use online courses to collect academic credit (ECTS in Europe) for your studies then you should talk to the course provider and university beforehand. Although, I must say credits for online courses are not that much common.

However, in real life, other factors are often more important, especially when it comes to professional training courses.

Should online certificates be a part of your job applications?

When it comes to deciding on a specific online course, for many learners, the main factor is not the name of the certificate or if it is an “officially recognized” degree.

Obviously, another important factor here is the course content. You can check out the course content in the providers’ course descriptions.

However, the one important question that bothers every job applicant is whether the employers even know how to assess the online course certificates.

So, should you mention a certificate that you obtained by completing an online course in your CV and job application? 

What the companies say?

Not, to boost but I have a few contacts here & there in some large companies. They must have an answer to this question as their recruiters are handling thousands upon thousands of applications and resumes every year. So they should already be familiar with MOOCs and other online courses. Following are some general insights that I was able to collect about online certificates in the recruiting process:

1. Employers recognize certificates from online courses

Most recruiters from multinational companies know about online courses and have seen certificates before. If the online course can be shown to teach relevant skills for the job in question, they see certificates as an added bonus for an applicant.

2. Job relevance needs to be clear

As mentioned above, relevance is important. Make sure that whatever online courses you list on an application are relevant to the job position.

3. Certificates from online courses can show personal commitment

Having a certificate from an online course shows how committed you are, as these online courses are attended mostly voluntarily. Since, companies like proactive employees, showing certificates from online courses can advantageous to your job application.

Integration into Resume and Online Profiles

Most of the people I talked to recommended including only a list of the relevant online courses on the resume. So, it’s better to avoid sending all the individual certificates and degrees with your job application.

You can also add a list of your video learning courses to your LinkedIn profile.

Certificates of the Main Course Providers

You’ll get a statement of participation (or a certificate for passing an additional test) from most providers. You’ll have to pay a fee in order to obtain a certificate on successful completion of the course, even if the course is free.


  • You can choose to obtain a Verified Certificate on successful completion of the course.
  • The criteria changes depending on the course. Usually, the participant will have to complete certain online tests and peer reviews.
  • The certificates require a fee and include ID verification to validate that it was you who submitted the assignments: i.e. there was no cheating involved.
  • The logo of the partner institution offering the course (if the partner institution includes it) is too on the certificate. Having Stanford University or the Wharton Business School logos on your resume can be pretty impressive.
  • You can integrate the certificates into your LinkedIn profile.
  • They also offer full degree programs, payable via financial aid through the site.


  • edX too gives you an option to obtain a Verified Certificate (for a fee) on successful completion of the course. You can also choose to take the course without a certificate. This is true for most of the MOOCs. Your identity will be verified digitally.
  • The MOOC series at edX also have additional xSeries Certificates or Professional Certificates as confirmation of successful participation in the entire series.
  • The certificates can be added to your social media profiles such as LinkedIn. With names like Harvard, MIT, and Oxford, the credibility of the high-quality learning content can be documented. 
  • edX offers additional MicroMasters and MicroBachelors Credentials. With MicroMasters & MicroBachelors, some online courses can be credited towards an academic master’s or bachelor’s degree at certain universities.


  • When you complete an Udemy course, you receive a certificate of completion.
  • You can select this yourself and then download it.

Final thoughts…

Well, that’s it, I think by reading this article you must have an idea of what’s certificates, what is their value and how can they be beneficial for your career.

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