From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The logo of Udacity
Type of site
Online education
Available in English
Founded June 2011 (2011-06)
Created by Sebastian Thrun, David Stavens, Mike Sokolsky
Website www.udacity.com
Alexa rank 2,463 (July 2015)[1]
Commercial Yes
Registration Required
Users 1.6 Million[2]
Launched February 2012
Current status Active
Sebastian Thrun World Economic Forum 2013

Udacity is a for-profit educational organization founded by Sebastian Thrun, David Stavens, and Mike Sokolsky offering massive open online courses (MOOCs).[3] According to Thrun, the origin of the name Udacity comes from the company's desire to be "audacious for you, the student".[4][5] While it originally focused on offering university-style courses, it now focuses more on vocational courses for professionals.


Udacity is the outgrowth of free computer science classes offered in 2011 through Stanford University.[6] 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,[7] and 90,000 students had enrolled in the initial two classes as of March 2012.[8][9] Udacity was announced at the 2012 Digital Life Design conference.[10] Udacity is funded by venture capital firm, Charles River Ventures, and $200,000 of Thrun's personal money.[3] In October 2012 the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz led the investment of another $15 million in Udacity.[11] 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[12] and "nanodegrees."[13] As of 28 April 2014, Udacity has 1.6 million users in 12 full courses and 26 free courseware.[14]

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.[15][16][17][18]


The first two courses ever launched on Udacity both started on 20 February 2012,[19] 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,[20] 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.

On 23 August 2012, a new course in entrepreneurship, EP245 taught by retired serial entrepreneur Steve Blank, was announced.[21] 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.[22] On 28 November 2012, Thrun's original AI-class from 2011 was relaunched as a course at Udacity, CS271.[23]

Udacity announced a partnership with San Jose State University (SJSU) on 15 January 2013 to pilot three new courses, two algebra courses and a statistics course, available for college credit at SJSU and offered entirely online.[24][25] Three months later, the pilot was expanded to include MA006, MA008, and ST095, as well as two new courses, CS046 and PS001.[26] On 18 July 2013, the partnership was suspended after more than half of the students failed their final exams.[27]

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.[28][29]

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.[31] 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.[31]

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).[32] Udacity students for CS101 range from 13-year-olds to 80-year-olds.[33] Advanced 13-year-olds are able to complete multiple, higher-level computer science courses on Udacity.[34]


Udacity used to issue certificates of completion of individual courses,[35] but since May 2014 have stopped offering free non-identity-verified certificates.[36] 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".[21][37][38]

Further plans announced for certification options would include a "secured online examination" as a less expensive alternative to the in-person proctored exams.[38]

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.[39]


In November 2012, founder Sebastian Thrun won the Smithsonian American Ingenuity in Education Award for his work with Udacity. [40][41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Udacity.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2015-07-29. 
  2. ^ Chafkin, Max. "UDACITY'S SEBASTIAN THRUN, GODFATHER OF FREE ONLINE EDUCATION, CHANGES COURSE". Fast Company. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Stanford Takes Online Schooling To The Next Academic Level". All Things Considered, National Public Radio. 23 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Thrun, Sebastian. "Sebastian Thrun's Homepage". Retrieved 6 January 2013. 
  5. ^ Anders, George (5 June 2012). "How Would You Like A Graduate Degree For $100?". Forbes - Tech section. New York: Forbes.com LLC. pp. 1, 2. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "Professor leaving Stanford for online education startup". MSNBC. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  7. ^ Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Lewin, Tamar (4 March 2012). "Instruction for Masses Knocks Down Campus Walls". New York Times. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Salmon, Felix (23 January 2012). "Udacity and the future of online universities". Reuters.com. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  11. ^ Clark, Don (25 October 2012). "Startup Udacity Builds Bankroll For Online Learning". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 4 January 2013. 
  12. ^ Chafkin, Max. "UDACITY'S SEBASTIAN THRUN, GODFATHER OF FREE ONLINE EDUCATION, CHANGES COURSE". Fast Company. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  13. ^ http://recode.net/2015/10/30/udacity-online-school-from-google-x-founder-crosses-milestone-after-switching-direction/
  14. ^ https://www.udacity.com/courses
  15. ^ "Georgia Tech, Udacity Shock Higher Ed With $7,000 Degree". Forbes. Retrieved 2013-05-15. 
  16. ^ "Proving Grounds for a New Model for Higher Education". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-09-29. 
  17. ^ "The $7,000 Computer Science Degree — and the Future of Higher Education". Time. Retrieved 2013-05-21. 
  18. ^ "What Color Is Your Online Adult Course?". NY Times. 2014-03-17. Retrieved 2016-01-11. 
  19. ^ Graham, Blake (24 January 2012). "Robotics Mastermind takes Education Online". The Airspace. 
  20. ^ "Udacity expands course offerings: Five premiere classes will include physics and mathematics". 
  21. ^ a b "Udacity August Newsletter: All the latest updates straight to your inbox!". 
  22. ^ a b c d "Four New Classes!". 2012-10-18. 
  23. ^ "The Original, Free Online AI Class, now on Udacity!". 2012-11-28. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  24. ^ a b c d "Sebastian Thrun: Udacity Announces For-Credit Course Pilot with San Jose State University". 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  25. ^ "San Jose State Plus". 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  26. ^ "Sebastian Thrun: Expanding College Credit Pilot this Summer!". 2013-04-15. Retrieved 2013-04-19. 
  27. ^ "University Suspends Online Classes After More Than Half the Students Fail". 2013-07-19. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  28. ^ "Udacity, AT&T Team Up in Online Ed - Digits - WSJ". blog.wsj.com. Retrieved September 8, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Udacity-AT&T 'NanoDegree' Offers an Entry-Level Approach to College". nytimes.com. June 17, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014. 
  30. ^ a b "College Courses Online For Credit with San Jose State University". Retrieved 2013-04-19. 
  31. ^ a b Udacity General FAQ
  32. ^ Young, Jeffrey (10 August 2012). "Coursera hits 1 million students, with Udacity close behind". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  33. ^ 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. 
  34. ^ "Peter Norvig and Udacity host 13-year-old student". Udacity blog. 27 August 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2012.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  35. ^ Udacity Blog: Finished your final? Get an official Udacity certificate
  36. ^ Phasing out certificates of free courseware completion
  37. ^ "Udacity in partnership with Pearson VUE announces testing centers". 2012-06-01. 
  38. ^ a b "Proctored exam for Intro to Computer Science now available". 2012-08-24. 
  39. ^ "CSU forging smart partnerships in online studies". Coloradoan.com. Gannett. 27 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  40. ^ Shen, Clarissa (26 November 2012). "Sebastian Thrun wins Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in Education for Udacity work!". Udacity blog. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  41. ^ Vanderbilt, Tom (December 2012). "How Artificial Intelligence Can Change Higher Education". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 

External links[edit]