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Coursera Specialization: the mini-MBA

For those of you making your own free MBAs out of MOOCs, I would like to bring to your attention Coursera’s new(ish) concept: Coursera Specializations.

coursera speacializations

Coursera Specializations: the (potentially free) mini-MBA

What is a Coursera Specialization?

Coursera Specializations are kind of like my DIY MBA, but perhaps a bit smaller.  Whereas my MBA project consisted of 12 courses, the Coursera Specializations are bundles of three or four related courses.  Though these are still not offered for credit (yet), they do provide the added benefit of a Certificate of Completion that verifies that you have successfully completed all courses in the Specialization module.  Most Coursera Specializations also have some sort of capstone project included as one of the requirements in order to obtain the Certificate of Completion.   In my opinion, the capstone project could also be good resume fodder, and useful for you when interviewing for your next job provided you choose a relevant topic.

Are Coursera Specializations free?

Yes and no.  There are two routes to your Coursera Specialization Certificate of Completion: the Coursera Signature Track route, and the non-Coursera Signature Track route. The Signature Track route costs money (typically around $150-500), the non-Signature Track route is free.  As you know from my emphasis during my Homemade MBA project, I strongly prefer the free version.  There is one caveat, however; with the free route, you will not be able to participate in the capstone project – you just get to take the courses.  Although I am certainly a proponent of the free MBA path, I just might cave here as I think a few hundred bucks for three or four potentially top tier (read Ivy league MBA content) classes, a capstone project, and a legit certificate of completion is a bargain.  It is also worth noting that Coursera is offering Financial Aid.

What Coursera Specialization should I take?

Since I am focused on MBA classes and business school content, perhaps I should have phrased that headline, “is there an MBA Coursera Specialization?”  The answer is yes; and you have a few options.  The best Coursera MBA Specialization is called Business Foundations, and is offered by the Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania).  Link:

Wharton Business Foundations

Wharton Business Foundations

This is essentially the same as the 4-course Wharton Business Foundations courses (Marketing, Operations, Accounting, Finance) that I completed for my Homemade MBA, but with fancier packaging.  However, there is one massive drawback to the fancy package: it costs $595.  My advice? Take the courses for free and create your own capstone project.

Are there other good business Coursera Specializations?

Yes, of course, but they are more concentrated.  I recommend the Wharton Business Foundations Coursera Specialization for those looking to cover the business basics.  For those looking to go to the next level in a specific business subject, I recommend the following:

Though I can only speak from experience about the Wharton courses (and one of the Entrepreneurship courses from University of Maryland), I am confident enough in Coursera and the reputations of these universities to recommend these Specializations to you.


If any of you other Homemade MBA-ers out there are taking a Coursera Specialization, please let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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