I read through the forum and the opinion seems to be that doing a MOOC is equivalent of reading a book on that subject. This is largely because of that you can cheat through a MOOC.

So what if I join a signature track on a MOOC such as the one of Coursera ? I haven't ever tried a signature track out, but they capture your photo and recognize the way you write to ascertain if you have genuinely gone through the work or not.

Even american council of education is acknowledging this ....

How is this a duplicate of that question :|

  • possible duplicate of mentioning MOOC's I took in my scholarship application
    – 410 gone
    Jun 9 '14 at 10:18
  • 2
    If MOOC is just like reading a book, a signature track is just like giving an official prove to others that you have really read the book.
    – bingung
    Jun 9 '14 at 11:53
  • Really ? Cause I have to write a project writeup and make a project for this mooc that am attempting. @bingung
    – Aditya
    Jun 10 '14 at 2:36

At best, MOOC's are going to be viewed just like any other course on your transcript—they're not going to make it or break it anymore than any other course that you can take. However, as many people have pointed out, MOOC's are also viewed with substantial suspicion, in part because of their low completion rate and because of the difficulties with quality assurance.

So I would ultimately say that a MOOC probably has little or no advantage over a comparable course offered at your university. If it's something that is both highly relevant and not available at your university, that's another story—but then that should be clearly stated in your application as well!

  • So if I have poor grades like 8/10 ~ 3.2/4 having a mooc certificates is going to make the person reviewing my application overlook my grades ? See in my college they force the elective on you. My class took public administration as elective :| so my grades plummeted. So will I have an advantage if I have a mooc certificate in machine learning? I plan on doing a ms in machine learning. Also no one seems to have answered the question of whether this slight advantage of doing a mooc will be "amplified" if it is verfied in the signature track :|
    – Aditya
    Jun 11 '14 at 0:21
  • As I said, it's going to be treated like another course in your transcript. It's not going to explain away a weak GPA.
    – aeismail
    Jun 11 '14 at 5:06

It is unlikely that listing the completion of a MOOC on your CV will have any meaningful contribution to admission into a graduate program. The weight of this type of educational experience does not parallel that of credit-based coursework. However, in your narrative, you can describe a MOOC experience as evidence of your motivation and independence in learning / work.


I am not in any admissions committee, so I am more or less guessing here.

A MOOC shows you have interest in the subject, and that you have a basic knowledge (you are familiar with the topics and some vocabulary). This knowledge is very easy to test in an interview by a few basic questions, so having a signed track will not add much to it.

Nevertheless, the skills learned during the course can be a good point if they are a good complement for your degree. For example, if you are a physicist wanting to get into experimental data analysis, knowing machine learning is very useful; but most Physics programs do not include this as subject. On the other hand, taking a programming course for a CS adds next to nothing.

An advantage of MOOCs is that you can take them for free, and you can just sign up for several of them just to see if the topic interests you, so they have a very low cost of opportunity. If you sign up for a university class, you have to pay for it (depending on the country) and/or actually see it to completion. Even if you find the topic too hard, too easy, completely irrelevant, or poorly taught.

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