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Udacity, Inc.
Type of site
Online education
Available inEnglish
FoundedJune 2011 (2011-06)[1]
Created bySebastian Thrun, David Stavens, Mike Sokolsky
CEOSebastian Thrun
RevenueIncrease $100 million (2018)[2]
Users1.6 million[3]
LaunchedFebruary 2012; 12 years ago (February 2012)
Current statusActive
Sebastian Thrun at Frankfurt Motor Show 2019

Udacity, Inc. is an American for-profit educational organization founded by Sebastian Thrun, David Stavens, and Mike Sokolsky offering massive open online courses.[4][5][6]

According to Thrun, the origin of the name Udacity comes from the company's desire to be "audacious for you, the student".[7][8] While it originally focused on offering university-style courses, it now focuses more on vocational courses for professionals.

Accenture agreed to acquire the company in March 2024.


Udacity is the outgrowth of free computer science classes offered in 2011 through Stanford University.[9] Thrun has stated he hopes half a million students will enroll, after an enrollment of 160,000 students in the predecessor course at Stanford, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence,[10] and 90,000 students had enrolled in the initial two classes as of March 2012.[11][12] Udacity was announced at the 2012 Digital Life Design conference.[13] Udacity is funded by venture capital firm, Charles River Ventures, and $200,000 of Thrun's personal money.[4] In October 2012, the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz led the investment of another $15 million in Udacity.[14] In November 2013, Thrun announced in a Fast Company article that Udacity had a "lousy product" and that the service was pivoting to focus more on vocational courses for professionals[15] and "nanodegrees."[16]

In 2014, the Georgia Institute of Technology launched the first "massive online open degree" in computer science by partnering with Udacity and AT&T; a complete master's degree through that program costs students $7,000.[17][18][19][20]

In October 2017, Udacity along with Unity, launched ‘Learn ARKit’ program which could help developers improve their AR application building skills.[21][22] In the same month, Google partnered with Udacity to launch a new scholarship initiative for aspiring Web and Android application developers.[23][24][25] While not yet profitable as of February 2018, Udacity was valued at over $1 billion having raised $163 million from noted investors included Andreessen Horowitz, Drive Capital, and Alphabet's venture capital arm, GV.[26]

In March 2024, Accenture announced its acquisition of Udacity, which would help support its AI-powered LearnVantage suite, to equip clients with the resources to reskill and upskill their workforce.[27][28]


Free courses[edit]

The first two courses on Udacity started on 20 February 2012,[29] entitled "CS 101: Building a Search Engine", taught by David Evans from the University of Virginia, and "CS 373: Programming a Robotic Car" taught by Thrun. Both courses use Python.

Four more courses began on 16 April 2012, encompassing a range of ability and subject matter, with teachers including Steve Huffman and Peter Norvig. Five new courses were announced on 31 May 2012,[30] and marked the first time Udacity offered courses outside the domain of computer science. Four of these courses launched at the start of the third "hexamester", on 25 June 2012. One course, Logic & Discrete Mathematics: Foundations of Computing, was delayed for several weeks before an email announcement was sent out on 14 August stating that the course would not be launched, although no further explanation was provided.[31]

On 23 August 2012, a new course in entrepreneurship, EP245 taught by retired serial entrepreneur Steve Blank, was announced.[32] Four new specialized CS courses were announced as part of collaboration with Google, Nvidia, Microsoft, Autodesk, Cadence Design Systems, and Wolfram Research on 18 October 2012, to be launched in early 2013.[33] On 28 November 2012, Thrun's original AI-class from 2011 was relaunched as a course at Udacity, CS271.[34]

University credit courses[edit]

Udacity announced a partnership with San Jose State University (SJSU) on 15 January 2013 to pilot three new courses—two algebra courses and an introductory statistics course (ST095)--available for college credit at SJSU for the Spring 2013 semester and offered entirely online.[35][36] 300 SJSU students had the opportunity to enroll for 3 units of college credit at a fixed cost of $150. Additionally, like other MOOCs, anyone could enroll anytime for free.

This first pilot resulted in pass rates below the traditional in-person SJSU class for all three courses. One hypothesis was that many of the students who had enrolled online had already taken and failed the traditional course, and therefore were likely to fail again. The pilot was repeated in the summer semester with an increased enrollment cap of 1000. In addition, the pilot was expanded to include two new courses, Intro to Programming (CS046) and General Psychology (PS001).[37] This time, pass rates for the statistics, college algebra, and programming courses exceeded those of the traditional face-to-face course.[38]

Despite this, the partnership was suspended on 18 July 2013.[39]


In June 2014, Udacity and AT&T announced the "Nanodegree" program, designed to teach programming skills needed to qualify for an entry-level IT position at AT&T. The coursework is said to take less than a year to complete, and cost about US$200/month. AT&T said it will offer paid internships to some graduates of the program.[40][41]“We can’t turn you into a Nobel laureate,” Mr. Thrun said to a learner. “But what we can do is something like upskilling — you’re a smart person, but the skills you have are inadequate for the current job market, or don’t let you get the job you aspire to have. We can help you get those skills.”[42]

A cybersecurity nanodegree was announced at the RSA Conference in April 2018.[43] As of the beginning of 2022, Udacity offered 78 nanodegrees.[44]

Course format[edit]

Each course consists of several units comprising video lectures with closed captioning, in conjunction with integrated quizzes to help students understand concepts and reinforce ideas, as well as follow-up homework, which promotes a "learn by doing" model.,[45][46] Programming classes use the Python language; programming assignments are graded by automated grading programs on the Udacity servers.


Over the first several months of Udacity's existence, enrollment for each class was cut off on the due date of the first homework assignment, and the courses were re-offered each hexamester. Since August 2012, all courses have been "open enrollment"; students can enroll in one or more courses at any time after a course is launched. All course lectures and problem sets are available upon enrollment and can then be completed at the student's preferred pace.[45]

Udacity had students in 203 countries in the summer of 2012, with the greatest number of students in the United States (42 percent), India (7 percent), Britain (5 percent), and Germany (4 percent).[47] Udacity students for CS101 range from 13-year-olds to 80-year-olds.[48] Advanced 13-year-olds are able to complete multiple, higher-level computer science courses on Udacity.[49]


Udacity used to issue certificates of completion of individual courses,[50] but since May 2014 has stopped offering free non-identity-verified certificates.[51] In addition, beginning 24 August 2012, through partnership with electronic testing company Pearson VUE, students of CS101 can elect to take an additional proctored 75-minute final exam for a fee of $89 in an effort to allow Udacity classes to "count towards a credential that is recognized by employers".[32][52][53]

Further plans announced for certification options would include a "secured online examination" as a less expensive alternative to the in-person proctored exams.[53]

Colorado State University's Global Campus began offering transfer credit for the introductory computer science course (CS101) for Udacity students that take the final examination through a secure testing facility.[54]

In 2015, Udacity started the Nanodegree program,[55] it is a paid credential program. Udacity also offers Nanodegree plus, which is a bit more expensive, but guarantees a job, if they fail to provide a job, the course fee is returned, although it plans to cancel the program.[56]


In November 2012, founder Sebastian Thrun won the Smithsonian American Ingenuity in Education Award for his work with Udacity.[57][58]

Spin-off company[edit]

In April 2017, Udacity announced a spin-off venture called Voyage Auto, a self-driving car taxi company to compete with the likes of the Uber ride-hailing service.[59] The company has been testing its project, based on production consumer vehicles, on low-speed private roads in a retirement community in San Jose, California.[60] In 2018, Voyage announced a ride-hailing partnership with The Villages, Florida, another retirement community.[61][62] In March 2021, Voyage was acquired by Cruise.[63]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Udacity's Sebastian Thrun, Godfather Of Free Online Education, Changes Course". Fast Company. 14 November 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  2. ^ "Udacity 2018 Disruptor 50". CNBC. 22 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Stanford Takes Online Schooling To The Next Academic Level". All Things Considered, National Public Radio. 23 January 2012.
  5. ^ Cava, Marco della. "Online pioneer Udacity lands $105 million round and a $1 billion valuation". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2021-07-08.
  6. ^ Anderson, Stuart. "Sebastian Thrun: Udacity Would Not Exist Without Immigrants". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-07-08.
  7. ^ Thrun, Sebastian. "Sebastian Thrun's Homepage". Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  8. ^ Anders, George (5 June 2012). "How Would You Like A Graduate Degree For $100?". Forbes - Tech section. New York. pp. 1, 2. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  9. ^ "Professor leaving Stanford for online education startup". NBC News. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  10. ^ Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
  11. ^ DeSantis, Nick (23 January 2012). "Professor Departs Stanford U., Hoping to Teach 500,000 Students at Online Start-Up". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  12. ^ Lewin, Tamar (4 March 2012). "Instruction for Masses Knocks Down Campus Walls". New York Times. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  13. ^ Salmon, Felix (23 January 2012). "Udacity and the future of online universities". Reuters.com. Archived from the original on 24 January 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  14. ^ Clark, Don (25 October 2012). "Startup Udacity Builds Bankroll For Online Learning". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  15. ^ Chafkin, Max. "UDACITY'S SEBASTIAN THRUN, GODFATHER OF FREE ONLINE EDUCATION, CHANGES COURSE". Fast Company. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
  16. ^ "Udacity, Online School from Google X Founder, Crosses Milestone After Switching Direction". 30 October 2015.
  17. ^ "Georgia Tech, Udacity Shock Higher Ed With $7,000 Degree". Forbes. Retrieved 2013-05-15.
  18. ^ "Proving Grounds for a New Model for Higher Education". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-09-29.
  19. ^ "The $7,000 Computer Science Degree — and the Future of Higher Education". Time. Retrieved 2013-05-21.
  20. ^ "What Color Is Your Online Adult Course?". NY Times. 2014-03-17. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
  21. ^ "Udacity launches new 'Learn ARKit' program; ties up with Unity for expanded VR/AR content". The Economic Times. 2017-10-05. Retrieved 2017-10-05.
  22. ^ "Udacity, Unity launch new $200 developer training course for Apple's ARKit". TechRepublic. Retrieved 2017-10-05.
  23. ^ Khosla, Varuni (2017-10-06). "Udacity to focus on individual student projects". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  24. ^ "Google, Udacity to Award 50,000 Scholarships to Aspiring Developers". eWEEK. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  25. ^ "Google Pledges $1 Billion to Fund Non-Profit Education". NDTV Gadgets360.com. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  26. ^ Heather, Somerville (2018-02-27), Udacity, with eye to eventual IPO, says revenue more than doubled in 2017, The Reuters
  27. ^ Brady, Diane (5 March 2024). "Accenture CEO Julie Sweet shares why her firm is acquiring Udacity to launch an AI-powered training platform". Fortune.
  28. ^ Miller, Ron (5 March 2024). "Accenture to acquire Udacity to build a learning platform focused on AI". TechCrunch.
  29. ^ Graham, Blake (24 January 2012). "Robotics Mastermind takes Education Online". The Airspace. Archived from the original on 29 June 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  30. ^ "Udacity expands course offerings: Five premiere classes will include physics and mathematics".
  31. ^ "Udacity Cancels Free Online Math Course, Citing Low Quality". The Chronicle.
  32. ^ a b "Udacity August Newsletter: All the latest updates straight to your inbox!". 24 August 2012.
  33. ^ "Four New Classes!". 2012-10-18.
  34. ^ "The Original, Free Online AI Class, now on Udacity!". 2012-11-28. Retrieved 2012-11-29.
  35. ^ "Sebastian Thrun: Udacity Announces For-Credit Course Pilot with San Jose State University". 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
  36. ^ "San Jose State Plus". 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
  37. ^ "Sebastian Thrun: Expanding College Credit Pilot this Summer!". 2013-04-15. Retrieved 2013-04-19.
  38. ^ "Udacity And San Jose State See Improvement In Their Online Education Experiment [Updated]". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2019-02-13.
  39. ^ "University Suspends Online Classes After More Than Half the Students Fail". 2013-07-19. Retrieved 2013-08-01.
  40. ^ Winkler, Rolfe (16 June 2014). "Udacity, AT&T Team Up in Online Ed - Digits - WSJ". Wall Street Journal. blog.wsj.com. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  41. ^ "Udacity-AT&T 'NanoDegree' Offers an Entry-Level Approach to College". The New York Times. June 17, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  42. ^ Manjoo, Farhad (2015-09-16), "Udacity Says It Can Teach Tech Skills to Millions, and Fast", The New York Times
  43. ^ Shieber, Jonathan (2018-04-22). "Udacity tackles cybersecurity with its latest nanodegree". TechCrunch. Oath Inc. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  44. ^ "Everything You Need to Know About Udacity". Pathways to Advancement. 2021-08-25. Retrieved 2022-01-31.
  45. ^ a b Udacity General FAQ
  46. ^ Udacity Review
  47. ^ Young, Jeffrey (10 August 2012). "Coursera hits 1 million students, with Udacity close behind". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  48. ^ Mangan, Katherine (6 August 2012). "A First for Udacity: a U.S. University Will Accept Transfer Credit for One of Its Courses". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  49. ^ "Peter Norvig and Udacity host 13-year-old student". Udacity blog. 27 August 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  50. ^ "Udacity Blog: Finished your final? Get an official Udacity certificate". Archived from the original on 2016-02-03. Retrieved 2016-02-02.
  51. ^ Phasing out certificates of free courseware completion
  52. ^ "Udacity in partnership with Pearson VUE announces testing centers". 2012-06-01.
  53. ^ a b "Proctored exam for Intro to Computer Science now available". 2012-08-24.
  54. ^ "CSU forging smart partnerships in online studies". Coloradoan.com. Gannett. 27 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-19.
  55. ^ "Udacity Cloud Developer Nanodegree Review 2020". onlinecourseing.com. Akshay Vikhe. 1 July 2020.
  56. ^ "Nanodegree 101: What is a Nanodegree Program?". 28 July 2016.
  57. ^ Shen, Clarissa (26 November 2012). "Sebastian Thrun wins Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in Education for Udacity work!". Udacity blog. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  58. ^ Vanderbilt, Tom (December 2012). "How Artificial Intelligence Can Change Higher Education". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  59. ^ "Udacity self-driving taxi spin-off Voyage takes aim at Uber". Reuters. 6 April 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  60. ^ Etherington, Darrell. "Udacity spin-out Voyage is testing self-driving cars in retirement communities". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  61. ^ Cameron, Oliver (2018-01-10). "Self-Driving Cars in a City Like No Other". Voyage. Retrieved 2019-07-30.
  62. ^ "Why retired people could be ideal customers for self-driving cars". The Economist. 2019-02-21. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2019-07-31.
  63. ^ Korosec, Kirsten (2021-03-15). "Cruise acquires self-driving startup Voyage". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2021-03-15.

External links[edit]