GetSmarter Review: Pros, Cons & How It Compares

GetSmarter features courses from many of the world's top-ranking universities. But, that's not all - let's dive deeper.

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GetSmarter: Our Verdict

Platform Rating

4.4 / 5

GetSmarter includes a superb lineup of partnered universities, a high course completion rate, a good selection of subjects, and career support services. However, it could benefit from more low-to-mid price range courses, and some students have complained about certificates arriving too slow.

Pros

  • Features many top-ranking universities
  • High retention and course completion rates
  • Instructors are world-famous professors
  • Includes career support services
  • Wide range of course subjects available

Cons

  • No low-to-mid price range courses
  • Some reports of certificates arriving slow

Full Review

GetSmarter review introduction

GetSmarter is an online short course provider with courses from many of the world’s top-ranking universities such as Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge, and Yale.

This is significant enough on its’ own, but consider also that many of these universities are exclusive to GetSmarter.

For instance, no other online short course provider besides GetSmarter offers online courses from MIT, Harvard, Oxford, or Cambridge. The only exception to this is edX: also owned by GetSmarter’s parent company 2U Inc. None of the competing online course platforms have managed to get their hands on these partnerships, and that gives GetSmarter a very unique value proposition in the online education market.

That is why if you’re a student seeking to get educated by the world’s best educational institutions without breaking your bank, GetSmarter appears a rather appealing platform.

But, names and world university rankings are not all there is to a good learning experience. To see what the platform’s really about first-hand, I’ll be personally enrolling in MIT’s “Digital Business Strategy: Harnessing Our Digital Future“. As this is one of GetSmarter’s most popular online courses, it should give me a good overview of what it’s like to study on the platform. And, that experience is what I’ll be documenting in this review of GetSmarter.

But first, let’s go through the basics.

What is GetSmarter?

GetSmarter is an online education platform that provides online short courses from many of the world’s leading universities. GetSmarter was founded in 2008 by brothers Sam and Rob Paddock in Cape Town, South Africa, and the company was acquired by e-learning giant 2U, Inc. back in 2017.

Since the acquisition, GetSmarter’s catalog of online courses has improved drastically, growing from a handful of partnered universities back in 2016 to the 20+ we see available today. And, the catalog of courses appears to be expanding indefinitely which is even more promising.

What subjects can you learn at GetSmarter?

GetSmarter offers courses on a wide range of subjects. The list of subjects on the website includes all kinds of things from business, finance, and marketing, all the way to data science & analysis, design, health, HR, and cybersecurity. As of the writing of this review of GetSmarter, there’s a total of 251 online short courses available, and you’ll find the full list of courses on the GetSmarter website.

While this number of courses is not the biggest on the market, it’s worth stating that GetSmarter typically only offers courses that take at least 6 weeks to complete. They don’t offer any micro-courses in the style of Udemy that can be finished in a matter of hours, and as all the courses on GetSmarter are university-led, come with dedicated support, and the course development process is much different from the rapid-fire content delivery of a typical course provider.

Selection of universities at GetSmarter

As mentioned above, one of the biggest selling points of GetSmarter is that its list of partnered educational institutions. As of the writing of this review, these include:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Stanford University
  • Harvard University
  • University of Oxford
  • Yale University
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Toronto
  • George Washington University
  • Northwestern University
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of Cape Town
  • Bocconi University
  • Institute for Management Development (IMD)
  • Rice University
  • Syracuse University
  • Tecnológico de Monterrey
  • The London School of Economics and Political Science
  • University of Dayton
  • University of Stellenbosch Business School

In addition to the abovementioned universities, GetSmarter also features a few online courses from other institutions such as The Economist and the Institute for Management Development (IMD).

How much does GetSmarter cost?

The prices of online courses on GetSmarter depend on the specific course and university you choose. MIT’s “Digital Business Strategy: Harnessing Our Digital Future“, for example, is a 6-week online course that costs $2800. Another example would be Oxford’s “Executive Leadership Programme“, which costs around $3200. The price can differ quite a bit depending on the course, but you can always check the price of a given course by visiting its page on GetSmarter’s website.

There are also a few different payment options available depending on the duration of the course:

  • Single payment. With this payment plan, the full amount is paid before the start of the course. You don’t get any extra charges and you pay exactly the amount that is written on the course page. This plan is available for all courses on GetSmarter.
  • Split payment. With this part-payment plan, you pay for the course in two installments over the duration of the course. If you use this payment option, you’ll be paying the full course price plus 3% in fees. This plan is available for all courses on GetSmarter.
  • Payment in three installments. This is essentially the same as the split payment plan, except that you make three payments instead of two, and it’s only available for courses that take 10 weeks or longer to finish.

Online reviews of GetSmarter

In this section, I’ll be showcasing reviews from other students I could find online to get a more balanced overview of what a typical student experience on the platform looks like.

While doing so may have left out legitimate student experiences, I decided to exclude:

  • Reviews older than three years (most high-end courses are updated frequently and these reviews will often be outdated);
  • One-star reviews and five-star reviews (these reviews often fail to give a comprehensive opinion on their overall experience and instead tend to focus on one or two small aspects they loved or hated.

Based on the online reviews that I used for this analysis, it appears that students were largely satisfied with their experiences on GetSmarter.

A great course selection, excellent support, and top-tier universities were some of the common aspects that were commonly positively highlighted by students in pages such as the GetSmarter Facebook community and Hellopeter.

But, don’t let me speak on behalf of the online reviews. Instead, let’s showcase a few of them right here. As the first example, here’s a Facebook review from a student who took a Harvard course on GetSmarter:

Online review of GetSmarter on Facebook

And, here’s another Facebook review from a student who took a Stanford medicine course on GetSmarter:

As you can see, these online reviews of GetSmarter were rather positive. But, it must be noted that not all reviews of the platform were as enthusiastic.

When it comes to the negative experiences of GetSmarter students, one common theme appears to be that students of the platform said they did not receive their certificates in due time.

The issue of slow certification was reported by multiple users on Hellopeter and here’s one such example:

Online review of GetSmarter on Hellopeter

While I can’t confirm or deny this problem just yet as I have not yet completed the MIT program, it’s worth having this in mind if you happen to need your certificates in a quick manner.

Advantages (Pros) of GetSmarter

Based on my evaluation, these are the biggest benefits of GetSmarter online courses:

Features many top-ranking universities

It goes without saying that one of the biggest attractions of GetSmarter is its impressive lineup of partnered universities. This includes, but is not limited to, many of the world’s top universities such as Stanford, MIT, Oxford, Cambridge, and Yale.

The reputation of universities such as these speaks for itself, and having access to their courses at a fraction of the price of their on-campus programs is a very impressive prospect.

High retention and course completion rates

GetSmarter boasts a high course completion rate of 88%, which is one of the best in the industry and an impressive feat. Compare that to the industry average of around 12.6%, and it becomes evident that GetSmarter has to be doing something right. Personally, I believe this is at least partly due to the well-built customer support network, as well as the partnership lineup. But, it must also be stated that this data appears to be self-reported, therefore it’s difficult to verify the actual retention and completion rates.

Instructors are world-famous professors

Having online courses led by universities such as MIT also means that GetSmarter also boasts some of the best online course instructors in the industry. Take, for example, MIT professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee: there’s no doubt that these professors are experienced, highly educated, valued, and that they will seek to impart their knowledge to students through each of their online courses.

Includes career support services

Access to 2U’s Career Engagement Network is included in all courses and it’s an opportunity for employers and students to connect. Resources will include CV preparation toolkits, workshops on interview etiquette, career fairs with companies such as Google, and more. Students can get career insights they won’t find anywhere else while also engaging directly with professionals within their desired field of interest.

Industry-aligned career support can help students maximize their educational achievements and reach their career goals. That is why bonuses such as 2U’s Career Engagement Network are sometimes not given enough attention by students looking for online courses.

Wide range of course subjects available

Courses on GetSmarter cover a wide range of topics and disciplines. While the absolute number of courses offered on the platform is smaller than that of competitors such as Coursera or Udemy, the platform does a great job of covering many in-demand subjects. Coupled with the prestigious university selection on the platform, you get a strong overall selection of relevant courses to choose from.

Disadvantages (Cons) of GetSmarter

And, here are some of the drawbacks of the Getsmarter platform:

No low-to-mid price range courses

It goes without saying that Ivy League education does not come cheap and the costs of degrees have skyrocketed within the last decade. While GetSmarter does offer prices much cheaper than traditional degree programs, the prices are usually still in the thousands of dollars. Having more learning options available in the low-to-mid price ranges would be a great step towards making the platform more accessible to a wider range of people.

Some reports of certificates arriving slow

One of the most common complaints voiced by students echoed a sentiment similar to what was mentioned in the previous section. Namely, it appears that some students said they did not receive their certificates in due time, which is why I had to include this here as one of the disadvantages of GetSmarter.

Conclusion: is GetSmarter worth it?

In conclusion, yes – GetSmarter is a legit online learning platform that’s worth spending your time and money on. While no platform is flawless, the unparalleled lineup of universities, as well as its high course completion rates and competitive Ivy League education prices make this online learning platform a great all-around choice.

If you are looking for an easy way to take courses from prestigious universities or need to supplement your credentials, GetSmarter, along with a select few alternatives such as edX, offers some of the most cost-effective online learning solutions out there.

All in all, my review of the GetSmarter platform showed that it was deserving of a recommendation despite the at-times mixed reviews found online. Many of its strengths have been underreported by others, including the access to 2U’s Career Engagement Network, and it’s certainly a platform worth trying out.