Sorry if it's a stupid question. While filling the Common Application forms, I came across a question "have you taken any college/university course since 9th grade?". There is a space for courses taught online. I have taken Coursera's Probabilistic Graphical Models and Udacity's Artificial Intelligence for Robotics: Programming A Robotic Car. Do these courses count as university courses? If yes, how do I file the space "College or University And Location"? Do I provide information about Coursera or the university which prepared the course? Here's a screenshot of the question: alt text

Thanks in advance.

asked 15 Dec '12, 11:12

koz4k's gravatar image


The answer is clearly no (with a small qualification). The same organizations may come up in the future with accredited versions of these same courses, but whatever we have studied until now does not officially count officially as college courses.

The small qualification is that IIRC at least one German university chose to accept AI-class as equivalent to a course of theirs, and this university reached an agreement with AI-class. But even in that case you had to take the exam in their classroom in Germany instead of online, otherwise it didn't count. I'm not aware of other similar agreements between other online courses and other universities.

That form is for more traditional official online offerings from established universities, for example:


answered 15 Dec '12, 15:12

XavierP's gravatar image


edited 15 Dec '12, 15:14

Here is an example of a university offering credit for a Coursera course: Not quite as relevant, but here is a class being offered (in somewhat different versions) online for credit from University of Washington and free/no credit by Coursera
(15 Dec '12, 15:24) rseiter ♦ rseiter's gravatar image
Of course most Coursera and edX classes are versions or copies of official courses, we all know that. The initiative of the University of Helsinki is the kind of thing I was talking about, much like the other example with a German university. There may be more examples, but again I'm not aware.
(15 Dec '12, 16:51) XavierP XavierP's gravatar image
There are different levels of being versions of official courses (i.e. closeness of the offerings to each other with respect to materials used, especially evaluation materials). My perception was that the UW classes through Coursera were closer to their official counterparts than is typical for Coursera. That is why I called that class out. (my not quite as relevant statement was speaking to your "of course everyone knows...")
(16 Dec '12, 11:56) rseiter ♦ rseiter's gravatar image

Check out this Hangout on Air recording -

Representatives on two colleges touched the subject on MOOCs for college applicants.

Curious about what makes a great college application essay? Whether it's better to take the SAT or the ACT? Whether your +Coursera or +Khan Academy coursework should be part of your application packet?

Earlier today +The Princeton Review kicked off College #AdmissionsWeek with a panel discussion with top Universities, answering the above questions and more. Check it out below and share it with any prospective students finishing their apps this holiday season.

And remember - this is only the beginning. This week the seven Universities listed below will host Hangouts on Air answering your questions - see the full calendar (and RSVP) here:


answered 18 Dec '12, 12:15

Gundega's gravatar image


Thanks for the great resource @Gundega. This deserves its own post. Speaking specifically to @koz4k's question they address MOOCs in this video and generally recommend adding them to the personal statement.
(18 Dec '12, 12:29) Ben Haley Ben%20Haley's gravatar image
Thanks @Gundega! I thought the Binghamton segment (linked by @Ben Haley) was encouraging wrt MOOCs on an application, but the Penn State segment immediately following it seemed less encouraging to me (though I might be reading too much into his not saying much about MOOCs but emphasizing courses on a transcript). Neither response said anything about what the admissions officer actually sees. In particular, do they see the original form (including the MOOCs listed by name as Coursera/Udacity) or do they see a coded (i.e. post data entry) version which might be unable to represent the MOOCs if they lack a CEEB code?
(18 Dec '12, 12:40) rseiter ♦ rseiter's gravatar image
@rseiter he also said that it will depend very much from college to college. The Penn State guy in particular seemed to not care if a student wants to learn something, all he cared about seemed to to be if they want to cut the time of studies. If I was looking for a college to attend, I would not apply to Penn :-)
(18 Dec '12, 12:51) Gundega Gundega's gravatar image
I think some cultures/people just move more slowly (and are more "by the book") than others. I should emphasize that if I were an admissions officer I would look favorably on MOOCs on an application (though I might have some skepticism if there was a serious inconsistency between formal academic results and MOOC results, that might be a case worth deeper investigation if test scores seemed to align with the MOOC results). My main issue in this thread is whether mechanisms are in place to allow admissions officers to see MOOC results in a meaningful fashion.
(18 Dec '12, 13:47) rseiter ♦ rseiter's gravatar image
Thank you very much @Gundega. So I think that since neither Coursera nor Udacity has a CEEB code it would be best to mention the courses in a personal essay or in the "extracurricular and work activities" section.
(18 Dec '12, 14:08) koz4k koz4k's gravatar image

I think the answer is no, but this seems like an important practical question that is worth asking Coursera, Udacity, EdX, etc. directly. One question would be whether there is an applicable CEEB code. Even if there is no transferable credit, it seems like both the students and the course providers would benefit from satisfying the conditions to appear in an application like this. For perspective, I would bet that University of Phoenix classes could be used in your application. My guess would be that PGM compares favorably to many of those (with the usual identity verification and cheating caveats we frequently discuss on aiqus).

If you find out anything more about answers to your question please post.


answered 15 Dec '12, 13:12

rseiter's gravatar image

rseiter ♦

I assume you are talking about this.

alt text

I would list my coursera/udacity courses. Worst case the admissions officer looks at it and thinks you are reaching. Best case they have heard buzz about MOOCs and this makes your application stand out.

As long as you don't misrepresent these classes as accredited from stanford, or some other real university, I think you will be fine. imho.


answered 17 Dec '12, 12:37

Ben%20Haley's gravatar image

Ben Haley

I think the sticking point is what to enter in the first column. As @koz4k asks, do you enter Coursera or the university? Furthermore, do Coursera/Udacity/etc. have a CEEB code? I think giving Stanford's CEEB code would be venturing into the gray area of misrepresenting. Practically speaking, I think the impact depends on whether this document is reviewed directly or whether data entry and review are separate. If the latter and there is insufficient data to enter properly I think there is no positive value and possibly some negative value for indicating an inability to follow directions. If the former I think your analysis applies.
(17 Dec '12, 12:57) rseiter ♦ rseiter's gravatar image
I should have been more explicit. I would enter 'courera' or 'udacity' in those forms. I agree their is a chance this could indicate a failure to follow directions.
(17 Dec '12, 13:08) Ben Haley Ben%20Haley's gravatar image
Well, it asks for "college/university affiliated" courses. In case of EdX/Coursera there is clear affiliation with universities, be it MIT, Stanford, Rice or any other. In case of Udacity you can not do that, since our courses are not directly affiliated with any universities.
(17 Dec '12, 15:40) Gundega Gundega's gravatar image
@Gundega, do you know anything about what would be involved with Udacity getting a CEEB code? Is there any chance of that happening?
(17 Dec '12, 16:22) rseiter ♦ rseiter's gravatar image
@rseiter not sure we are looking for it, but I can ask around.
(18 Dec '12, 05:53) Gundega Gundega's gravatar image
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