MOOCs now with extra certificate and greater depth

An accreditation system for MOOCs - Massive Open Online Courses - is a hot topic. Students who successfully complete a MOOC want their certificate to have value. In response, Coursera has now started to issue Verified Certificates. Leiden University and Geneva University are the first in Europe to offer these certificates.

European partnership

Leiden University has teamed up with the University of Geneva for a new programme that awards Verified Certificates in combination with a new type of certificate for a series of related MOOCs. When students have passed all the courses in the series, they are awarded a Specialisation Certificate. The aim of the Coursera specialisation programmes is to enable students to delve deeper into learning and develop mastery in a particular subject. This specialisation programme is the first to be offered in Europe.


Signature track

Students who wish to obtain a Verified Certificate have to prove that they have done the work themselves. For a small fee (about 36 euros), MOOC students are now able to confirm their identity online. Coursera, the international provider of these free online courses, checks their identity by means of picture ID and face recognition via webcam, and by recording each student’s unique typing pattern. Participants in this so-called Signature Track follow exactly the same MOOC as non-paying students. The difference is that they have to link their identity to each piece of graded coursework. When they have satisfied the requirements of the MOOC, they receive a Verified Certificate. Leiden already issues a Statement of Accomplishment to participants who successfully complete a MOOC.

Financial aid

Leiden is the first university in the Netherlands to offer this Signature Track: for participants in the second series of the MOOC on terrorism, which started in January this year. So far, there are 475 students participating in the Signature Track, of whom 69  are making use of financial assistance from Coursera. Thanks to its Financial Aid programme, students who are unable to afford the fee can still obtain a Verified Certificate.

Specialisation certificate

The next step in increasing the value of MOOC certificates is greater depth. Most MOOCs are introductory online courses, which is why Coursera is now introducing its Specialisations. These consist of a series of three or more MOOCs on a specific theme, with an in-depth project (a ‘Capstone’ project) as the final element. After obtaining a Verified Certificate for all of these elements, students are awarded a Specialisation Certificate. Leiden University and the University of Geneva have teamed up to offer the first Coursera specialisation in Europe: Challenges in Global Affairs. The programme takes the learning experience beyond a single course, and brings together the two cities of international justice, peace and governance: The Hague (Leiden University) and Geneva.

Sign up now

Anyone who is interested can now sign up for:


Small Private Online Courses

Leiden University starts in February with a trial of Small Private Online Courses: digital teaching for a select group. These SPOCs are a counterpart of the alrady existing Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
Read more about the SPOCs.

(23 January 2014)

More information

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Last Modified: 17-02-2014