Your Diploma Just Got Downgraded. But You Can Upgrade It At a 20% Discount!


From the comments on my last post —  friend of the blog (and Sloan-C Karoake instigator) Michael Berman lets us know he got some bad news about the Udacity certificate he earned in 2012.

Please note this is a real email, from “Amanda Sparr, Coach @Udacity”. This is not a parody. (Really!)

Dear Michael,

Nice work on earning a certificate for the Intro to Computer Science courseware. It speaks volumes for what you learned while completing this rigorous course. Congrats again!

Today we upgraded this course . This brings you new opportunities, for little extra work:

  • You can now practice and show off your skills, with a new hands-on project where you’ll build a social network.
  • You can also earn a Verified Certificate, since this course now has a subscription option.

Udacious Coaches like me work with you and award these Verified Certificates. We review your project code, share feedback and tips, and conduct a final video interview where we verify your identity. With these steps, employers see our Verified Certificates as an even stronger endorsement of your skills.

To get you started here’s a 20% discount*:

Oh my. I don’t know where to start. The fact that the “magic formula” involves personal tutors and graders? The line “Udacious coaches like me….”?

But of course the kicker is the business model: hey, we know you earned this certificate, but it’s kind of worthless now that we only do Verified Certificates. But, look, for a low, low fee you can earn it again. For real this time!

I never realized the answer to the college cost crisis was right in front of us all the time. We just need to downgrade everyone’s degrees, then let them know for a low, low price and a short trip to a testing center we will continue to verify their diploma. Instant cash flow! And accountability!

Oh, man. You really can’t make this crap up.

13 Comments on “Your Diploma Just Got Downgraded. But You Can Upgrade It At a 20% Discount!”

  1. amichaelberman says:

    Who said MOOCs have no business plan?

    • mikecaulfield says:

      It’s genius. We give students a diploma on the “subscription model”. Pay us or the diploma goes away.

      I dont know why we didn’t see this before.

  2. CogDog says:

    It’s like the airlines charging you to select your seats in advance. People love that stuff.

    • mikecaulfield says:

      It’s why airline customer service is so highly rated!

    • Would you like to take a suitcase on your flight? We’ve upgraded the flight, so now you can do that for a low, low price of $25 per passenger.

      • CogDog says:

        For my flight on Thursday British Airways wanted £47 each way to select a seat. They must have me confused with a member of the Royal Family. Does the software really cost that much to run?

  3. jecgenovese says:

    Reblogged this on peakmemory and commented:
    I also have completed Introduction to Computer Science with Udacity. So it’s odd to hear ” we know you earned this certificate, but it’s kind of worthless now “

  4. front3ffects says:

    Reblogged this on Front Effects – VFX curiosities and Making of and commented:

  5. Michael, I blogged on this from my perspective at Thanks for all your pungent observations.

  6. Alex says:

    Hello, Every One
    Upswing makes online learning so simple.Students are able to search for a subject, see accredited coaches, book a session, and engage in one-on-one coaching. In less than 60 seconds, you will be talking to your own live coach. Go ahead, give us a try at

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  8. […] “Your Diploma Just Got Downgraded. But You Can Upgrade It At a 20% Discount!” […]

  9. i want 2 years computer diploma certificate year of 2004

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