Do Coursera Certificates Expire?

So, you’re clearly wondering do Coursera certificates expire?

The answer is: Coursera certificates do not expire due to time passing.

Alright, that settles that. End of article, right? Not so fast there… because while it is true that Coursera certificates do not expire, there are still situations that can occur that can cause your certificates to be revoked. For the rest of this article, I’m going to explore all the ways that Coursera certificates can expire, be revoked, cancelled or lost.

Getting Banned From Coursera Is The Main Way Their Certificates Expire

If you read the mind-numbing legal text in Cousera’s Terms of Service [ coursera.org] you will find this little phrase:

we grant you a… revocable license to use our Services.

This means Coursera can delete your account and ban you, in which case, you will lose access to any digital certificates you earned. You could still claim to have your certificates and present any previously downloaded PDF versions of them, but no one would be able to verify your certificates online.

Here is a list of some of the reasons why you could get banned and lose your Coursera account and certificates:

  • You are under the age of 13
  • You create multiple Coursera accounts
  • You download Coursera material and redistribute it with commercial intent
  • You allow others to access your account
  • Coursera receives credible complaints about your account or account security
  • You violate copyright or other intellectual property laws using Coursera’s services
  • You file chargebacks or otherwise attempt to defraud them
  • You violate their acceptable use policy
  • You violate their honor code

If you’re worried that you’re currently doing something that Coursera wouldn’t approve of, you should stop doing that or else risk losing your account.

Do Coursera Certificates Expire If Earned During a Free Trial?

Currently, Coursera offers a 7 day free trial for their Specialization certifications. I can confirm that you can indeed rush through a specialization, earn your certificate and cancel your subscription before getting charged… and still keep your Specialization certificate even after cancelling.

However, keep in mind that Specializations consist of several courses and you will need to pass your final exam to get your certification. This is a difficult thing to achieve in such a short time period, and is best attempted on subjects which you already know a lot about.

If you do not cancel your free trial by the 8th day your credit card will be charged.

I Thought I Earned a Coursera Certificate But I Can’t Find It In My Account

While you are logged into Coursera, if you visit the Accomplishments page [ coursera.org] you will see a list of all Coursera certificates that you’ve earned.

If you do not see a course certificate that you’re expecting, make sure to check the following:

  • If you have 0 certificates, make sure you have completed the ID Verification process [ coursera.help]
  • If the course requires a payment, insure that you’ve paid for the course/certificate
  • If you have more than one Coursera accounts (against the rules!) make sure you’re signed into the correct account
  • You may not have finished the course. Double check that you have completed the course in question
  • If the course has peer-reviewed grades, you may need to wait awhile for your peers to finish grading the assignments
  • It is possible to finish a course below the requirements for a certificate, in which case you will not receive a certificate

Do Coursera Certificates Expire When a Course Is Retired or Removed?

No, Coursera certificates still remain in your account even after a course is retired or is no longer available. I guess it’s possible someone at Coursera could accidentally or even purposefully remove certificates from closed or retired courses, but it appears the policy is to retain any certificates indefinitely.

Here is a Coursera certificate I earned, which I’ve also added to my LinkedIn and resume. As you can see, the certificate does not have a date on it. However, the Coursera accomplishment page does include the date you earned the certificate.

You can find my LinkedIn profile and more of the certificates I’ve been earning on my about page.

Are Coursera Certificates Eternal? Will They Outlast the Heat Death of the Universe?

Okay, now I’m answering the questions you all really came here for!

If humanity goes extinct, the sun goes super nova or aliens subjugate us into servitude, chances are that Coursera won’t exist and at such a time, your certificates would effectively be expired.

However, pending the apocalypse or the collapse of society, it is seems rather certain that Coursera will be around for years, decades, or even centuries down the road. This means you don’t need to worry about Coursera certificates expiring any time soon.

In all likelihood you’ll die before Coursera dies, so cheer up!

Practical Expiration for Coursera Certificates

Alright, I went a bit crazy with the last section, so bringing the topic back to down to earth… even if Coursera certificates never expire, when do they lose their value?

The answer, is of course going to be different for everyone. If a course teaches you something new, helps you learn a skill, or opens the door to a better job, then the certificate has already done it’s job.

I guess there is no way but to sound mystical and say that a certificate loses it’s value when you believe it does. Or from a practical point of view, maybe it loses it’s value when it no longer means something to prospective employers. Again, you’re going to have to be the judge of that for yourself.

Final Thoughts

Coursera offers a fantastic value, and if you take advantage of their frequent promotions, it is not hard to amass a giant collection of valuable free IT certificates from Coursera.

Luckily, Coursera certificates are different from professional certifications like CompTIA or older Microsoft certifications which had a shelf-life before expiring. You don’t have to worry about your Coursera certificates expiring.

Of course, people in the industry often include their expired certificates on their CV and resumes anyway, because why retake a course just because it arbitrarily expired? Generally, certificates expire because they are in a field that has a tendency to change a lot of several years.

At the end of the day, Coursera can teach you new skills and offer you a long-lasting certificate that you can put on your resume, CV and LinkedIn for years to come.

Thanks for reading and happy learning!


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