Ultimate Comparison: Brilliant (Brilliant.org) vs Coursera

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Simon Mclellan

Writer, developer.

There are many different online learning platforms today. Two of the most popular ones are Brilliant.org and Coursera. Both offer a variety of courses, but which one is the better option for you? In this article, we will compare the two platforms to help you decide which one is right for you. Maybe you are wondering who the best online learning platform is, or maybe one of these platforms has caught your eye and you want to know what it’s all about. Either way, let’s get started!

First off, it’s important to know what these two platforms have to offer. This way you can see which platform fits your interests and needs the best.


Let’s start with Brilliant.org first, as this is a platform that not many people have heard of before. Brillant.org was founded in 2015 by Joshua Ziering and Charles Best.

Joshua Ziering is a former teacher and he created the platform because of his experience with students who could not afford to go to college. Brilliant was also founded by Charles Best, the founder of DonorsChoose.org. He started this site because he wanted a place where people could donate money to help students in their education.

The purpose of brilliant is to give students access to free online courses, but also offer courses that are completely free for students all over the world. The platform also allows users to donate money directly to scholarship funds at colleges and universities. They have raised over $7 million dollars in scholarship funds!

Features of Brilliant.org

There are actually three different ways to take courses with the brilliant platform:

Take a free course in one of their topic areas

This is the most common way for people to take courses on Brilliant.org because their courses are free! Their course options were created by teachers and professors who have experience in the topic area they are teaching. All of these courses provide you with certificates of completion so that you can download your certificate if you would like to put it on your resume or CVs.

Take a free course in one of their topic areas, and have the opportunity to take a proctored test for a fee

This is another way that you can get certificates on Brilliant.org. The difference between this option and the first option is that instead of taking an untimed test or quiz for completion, you will actually need to prove that you understood the information in the course. Some students like this option because it adds more validity to their certificates. A proctor will review your work before you can download your certificate of completion. A proctored test costs $49, but if you score well enough on the test then they will refund 50% of your money back.

Take a free course that is not in one of their topic areas

Not all courses on Brilliant.org are created by teachers and professors or experts in the field. Some of these courses were found online from sites like Coursera, edX, Udemy, etc. Their goal with offering these kinds of courses is to show students the apps and resources that they can use for their own education. These courses are not proctored, but you will be able to download your certificate of completion just like all of their other courses.

The Pros of Brilliant.org

Revenue goes to support students

This is the best part about Brilliant.org! They have raised over $7 million dollars in scholarship funds, and they are continuing to grow every day! Money that is paid for proctored tests is donated directly to college scholarship funds. If you purchase any certificates for completion then 50% of the money goes to funding scholarships.

Brilliant suggests other courses for you based on your interests

One of the coolest features of Brilliant.org is that they offer personalized recommendations! When you create an account, you will be asked to create a profile that will include your interests, career goals, etc. Then when you are browsing through courses or taking exams, the site will recommend courses to you based on your profile. Since their course options are not limited by teachers or professors who might only teach about their own areas of interest, students can learn about different topics that they never thought they would be interested in!

The courses are free!

All of the courses available on Brilliant.org are completely free! Once again, they have raised over $7 million dollars that are donated to college scholarship funds and they plan on continuing to raise money every day.

The Cons of Brilliant.org

There is not enough variety in courses to choose from yet

Unfortunately, there are not many course options yet. Most of their courses are in the area of computer science and data science. They plan on increasing course options to include more humanities, social sciences, etc. This is not a major problem though because they plan on having many other courses available in the future.

There is no way to test out of courses

There is no test-out option available on Brilliant.org as there are with Coursera or edX courses. You can only take an untimed quiz for completion which will have nothing to do with your level of knowledge about the course topic, and you will not be given a grade.

There is not a certificate for each course completed

Since courses on Brilliant.org are not meant to be taken for educational purposes, there is no official class or program that you must enroll in before taking the test. When you buy a certificate for completion it will just say “completed” on it and will not say the course name.

It’s not in real-time

There is no way for students to participate in courses with other students. There are also no forums or deadlines for the courses except when the proctor reviews your work before you receive a certificate of completion. This means that each course will take much longer than if you were taking it at one of the universities, but there is more flexibility in what you can choose to study.

It’s not a degree-granting program

When you complete a course through Brilliant, it will say on your resume or LinkedIn profile that you have completed the assignment, but it will not indicate any achievement on a college credit level. This means that if you go on to apply for other courses, you will not receive credit because Brilliant.org is not an accredited school hoping to issue degrees.


Coursera is another online learning platform that has made a name for itself in the educational world. They offer free courses from over 140 universities to anyone who wants to sign up, and they also offer certification programs for those who want proof of their achievement and credentials. Although they do not give scholarships like Brilliant.org, many students take Coursera courses because they can be completed for college course credit.

Features of Coursera Courses

The Mode of Learnings

Coursera offers online classes that are completed at times scheduled by the school or teacher offering the course. This allows students to complete their homework and assignments on their own time, but it also means that there will be deadlines for tests and quizzes. Each class also has discussion forums where students can communicate with each other about the topics and express opinions. The forums are monitored by group leaders who can see all posts made by students.

The Quality of Courses

All courses offered on Coursera come from a university or a college. This means that the teacher is actually a professor or instructor at a real educational institution and is qualified to teach about their area of expertise. It also means that some courses are not free, but the cost is usually small compared to what you would pay for a college course.

The Experience of Enrolling in Courses

Anyone with an email address can enroll in any class on Coursera since they do not have to go through an application process or interview. All students are allowed to enroll in the course and begin the lessons as soon as they sign up. Most students take these courses to learn something new about their field of interest, but some can choose to complete them for college credit if offered by the school where the teacher comes from.

The Nature of the Certificate

All courses offered by Coursera come with a certificate indicating completion. Each individual course can also be added to your resume or LinkedIn profile as an achievement if you choose, but it will not be endorsed if you plan on applying for college credit. The certificates can include the name of the school and teacher and describe their level of expertise.

The Pros of Enrolling in Coursera

The Cost of Taking Courses

Most courses offered on Coursera are free to take for anyone who signs up. This makes it easy for students to explore new topics without having to pay money to sign up, but they can also choose to take a course with a certification program if they wish. The prices for some courses may include a small amount of money, but it is usually not more than twenty dollars.

The Convenience Factor

Since the classes are offered online through an application process, students can choose when and where to complete their work. This means that you can work at your own pace without having to attend school on certain days, but you can also work on the course at any time that works for your schedule. There will be deadlines for tests and quizzes that must be met in order to complete the class successfully.

The Opportunity of Self-Paced Instruction

Since Coursera offers courses online, they are offered at a self-paced pace where students can complete them at their own speed. This means that there is no interruption from attending a lecture or it is taught in a live setting, but it also means that you will have to work on your own schedule if you want to pass the class and earn a certificate. The classes must be completed within a certain amount of time, but if you miss the deadline you can still access all course materials and complete the class at your own pace.

The Free Classroom Environment

Since all courses offered through Coursera are given by teachers or professors from real educational institutions, they provide students with a free classroom environment where they can learn about the course material. Students are able to communicate with instructors and each other through discussion forums, but group leaders can monitor any posts made in order to maintain a safe environment.

The Flexibility for Part-Time and Full-Time Students

All courses offered through Coursera are self-paced and self-taught, which makes them ideal for part-time or full-time students. Since there is no live instruction available, the courses are perfect for anyone looking to complete them on their own schedule. This means that you can work on your classes at any hour of the day and during any day of the week since it does not require your attendance. The only requirement from students is that they pass the course before a certain deadline.

The Simplicity of Learning from Home

Since all courses offered through Coursera are given by real educational institutions, students have the ability to complete them from the comfort and privacy of their own homes. There is no travel required and there is no time limit for completing each course. You can take your time and learn at a pace that is comfortable for you to ensure that you can actually understand the material being taught.

The Cons of Enrolling in Coursera

The Restriction of Not Being Able to Earn College Credit

Each class offered on Coursera can be completed for free, but they will not earn college credit when combined with a degree. The classes are all self-paced and self-taught so this is something to consider when deciding which course to take or if you wish to add the course to your resume.

The Risk of Falling Out of a Class

Since each course offered on Coursera is self-taught and self-paced, there is no way to fail or drop out of a class. If you do not pass the course after completing all requirements, then you will need to retake it in order to receive a passing grade. All students are allowed to remain enrolled in their courses until they complete them, but some students may not want to stay enrolled for more than one class. This is not a problem since students can complete as many courses as they want, but it is something to consider before signing up.

The Risks of Peer-to-Peer Communication

Since all communication between instructors and students is done through a discussion board or email, there is always the risk information could be passed on to third parties. This means that you must make sure to follow the rules and never share personal information with other students, but this is a problem since some people may not be able to resist. Students should always use a separate email account if they wish to speak with other students in private messages or through social media sites.

Now, Which One is Better? Brilliant vs Coursera

Ultimately, Coursera is a better option for the following couple of reasons:

This is perhaps the most important thing to consider when thinking about which option will take you further in your education. Though both platforms offer free classes, Coursera offers online courses from real educational institutions and it can be completed for college credit. If you plan on taking a class that the institution offers through the platform, then you are better off signing up through Coursera since it offers more benefits.

Unlike the website, Brilliant.org does not have any type of red tape or focus on college credit. It is a simple platform that allows students to learn at their own pace and take classes with no time limit. This is something to consider for students who wish to take courses from teachers outside of the United States. Since there are no lectures or classes which must be completed, it allows any student in the world to complete a course regardless of what time it takes.

Another reason why Coursera is the better option is due to the fact that classes are taught by instructors from educational institutions. This means that students can get a more polished education that has been approved and accredited by their chosen university. Many of the courses offered on Brilliant.org may come from individual teachers who do not have any type of connection with a school or institution, so it may be difficult to take the class seriously.

On Coursera, courses are taught by real professors and instructors who have earned degrees from prestigious universities. This means that students can trust the information they receive is reliable and accurate since it has been approved by an accredited college or university. When taking any type of online course, this is especially important for students since there is no way to verify the information like they would in a classroom.

More benefits of signing up for Coursera include access to forums where students can discuss the course material with other people who are taking the class, verified certificates of completion after finishing courses which indicate your skills have been reviewed by an approved college, and the opportunity to learn new skills which could help you get a new job.

Overall, Coursera is the better platform for students who want to take classes from accredited institutions with experienced professors. Though Brilliant.org offers a wide variety of courses that can be beneficial, it does not have the same level of accreditation or polish that Coursera offers. If you are looking for high-quality education and want to learn new skills which will help you in your career, then signing up for Coursera is your best bet. You can also take a quick review and see why Coursera is worth it.