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Coursera at Vanderbilt

Coursera at Vanderbilt

Coursera is a global online learning platform that offers affordable online courses and degrees to learners around the world. Since 2012, Vanderbilt University has partnered with Coursera to design, produce, and offer courses on a variety of topics.

Anyone with internet access is able to participate in these courses, and certificates for course completion are offered for nominal fees, with financial aid available through Coursera. Course components include video lectures, discussion boards, auto-graded quizzes, and peer-graded assignments.

The Vanderbilt-Coursera partnership provides educational opportunities for learners around the world and introduces them to Vanderbilt’s teaching and research missions. As of February 2021, Vanderbilt courses on the platform have had over 1.8 million enrollments and over 110,000 course completions.

History of the Partnership

Vanderbilt University initially partnered with Coursera in 2012 and launched its first set of open online courses on the Coursera platform in 2013. The initial set of courses were taught by faculty members who were both experienced teachers and willing to experiment with a teaching context that was very new.

Those first courses represented the College of Arts & Science, the School of Engineering, the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, and the Owen Graduate School of Management. Over time, Vanderbilt would offer at least one course on Coursera from each of its colleges and schools, providing a sense of the range of expertise and educational experiences available at Vanderbilt.

When Coursera made available a new format called a specialization, consisting of a sequence of courses, often with a capstone of some sort, Vanderbilt faculty were once again game for something new and different. As of February 2021, the university has launched three specializations, providing more extensive learning experiences for people seeking particular skills.

The Center for Teaching became the administrative home for the Vanderbilt-Coursera partnership in 2019. In that role, the CFT provides guidance for faculty and programs interested in proposing new courses and specializations, course design and media production assistance for faculty building courses, and technical and administrative support for ongoing courses and specializations.

Current Courses and Specializations

Following is a list of the courses and specializations that Vanderbilt is currently offering on Coursera. Click on the title or icon to learn more about the offering.


Android App Development 
Instructors: Jerry Roth, Julie Johnson, Michael Walker, Douglas Schmidt, Jules White
MATLAB Programming for Engineers and Scientists
Instructors: Akos Ledeczi, Mike Fitzpatrick, Jack Noble



Faster Together: Enhancing the Recruiting of Minorities in Clinical Trials
Instructors: Tiffany Israel, Consuela Wilkins, Margo Michaels, Yvonne Joosten
Data Management for Clinical Research
Instructors: Stephany Duda, Paul Harris
Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative
Instructor: Jay Clayton
Building Cloud Services with the Java Spring Framework
Instructors: Jules White, Douglas Schmidt
Understanding the Music Business: What Is Music Worth?
Instructor: Jen Gunderman
Leading Innovation in Arts & Culture
Instructors: David Owens, Jim Rosenberg
Introduction to Programming with MATLAB
Instructors: Akos Ledeczi, Mike Fitzpatrick
Case Studies in Personalized Medicine
Instructor: Dan Roden
Java for Android
Instructors: Jerry Roth, Julie Johnson, Michael Walker, Douglas Schmidt
Hot Topics in Criminal Justice
Instructor: Christopher Slobogin


Proposing a New Course or Specialization

Faculty and programs are invited to propose new courses and specializations as part of Vanderbilt’s Coursera partnership. Below is a brief outline of the process, but please contact Derek Bruff, director of the Center for Teaching, with questions about proposals.

  1. Those interested in proposing new courses are encouraged to learn more about the Coursera platform and its affordances. One way to do so is to enroll in one or more of Vanderbilt’s courses on the platform. Additional resources for potential Coursera instructors are available to Vanderbilt faculty and staff upon request.
  2. Potential instructors are also encouraged to arrange through the CFT a conversation with Vanderbilt’s Coursera partner representative, who can advise about course topics likely to be of interest to learners, as well as course topics already well covered on the platform. Coursera maintains a list of in-demand topics that can help guide course proposals.
  3. Once potential instructors are ready to propose a course or specialization, they will need to complete a Coursera Content Definition Form. This form requests a working title, a list of all instructors, an overview of the course or specialization, expected target audience, and more.
  4. The completed content proposal should be submitted to the Center for Teaching, along with statements from the instructors’ supervisors (e.g. school dean, department chair) that the work involved in developing and offering the course or specialization is consistent with the instructors’ effort obligations.
  5. The proposal will be reviewed for approval by Office of the Provost and, if approved, a revenue distribution agreement will be drawn up. Courses and specializations typically follow the revenue share policy for royalties as defined by the Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization.
  6. Once approved, Coursera will arrange access for instructors on the platform to begin designing and building their courses. Instructors are encouraged to consult with CFT staff, particularly assistant director for instructional design Julaine Fowlin and assistant director for digital media Rhett McDaniel, on the design and production of their courses.

As noted above, please reach out to Derek Bruff, director of the Center for Teaching, with questions about this process.