The Year of AI: End of Year Round-Up 2019

The Year of AI: End of Year Round-Up 2019

Trends from 45 million learners on Coursera show nearly two million enrollments in AI-related content in 2019, AI for Everyone breaks into the top ten list in its first year

By Dil Sidhu, Chief Content Officer at Coursera

When it comes to popularity and demand, tech-centric courses like artificial intelligence and data science consistently rank high on our platform. At a time when many jobs are at risk of automation and more than 300 million people are entering the workforce over the next decade, learners from around the world want to improve their technology and data science skills to prepare for the future.

As we reviewed Coursera’s top courses, Specializations, and Professional Certificates in 2019 as measured by enrollments, AI and related tech-centric content attracted interest like never before. 2019 is the year AI became accessible to the masses, rather than just for engineers, with AI for Everyone, a non-technical primer course, breaking into the top ten list in its first year. 

We’ve observed other trends over the past year. Our learner base (whose average age is 32) grew by more than eight million, with the US, India, China, Mexico, Brazil, the UK, and Russia as our largest markets. More than 40 percent of Coursera learners have accessed the platform from a mobile device this year, showing continued demand for flexible learning options.      

As 2019 comes to a close, 45 million learners around the world have access to impactful learning options through more than 3,800 courses, 400 Specializations, 16 degrees, 13 Professional Certificates, and six MasterTrack™ Certificates — all from leading universities and industry educators. Amid this expansive catalog, particular courses, Specializations, and Professional Certificates stood out. We’re excited to share the most popular content on Coursera in 2019!

AI courses surge in popularity

In February, we launched AI For Everyone from and taught by Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng. Geared toward non-technical learners – from marketers and designers to financiers and CEOs – it ranked as our fifth most popular course of the year globally. This is an absolutely incredible feat. 

The course has become a global phenomenon and is now subtitled in several languages, including dedicated Spanish and Arabic versions of the course experience. Cumulatively, AI-centric courses and Specializations on Coursera are on track to achieve two million enrollments in 2019 alone. For perspective, it would take the combined 2018 enrollments of more than 40 of the largest American public universities to reach that number!

In addition to AI for Everyone, learners flocked to essentials like Stanford’s Machine Learning and Deep Learning from They also wanted tools for AI projects, such as Python basics from the University of Michigan and’s introductory TensorFlow for AI course. 

Thriving in the midst of rapid change

In stark contrast to the AI-centric content topping the charts this year, Learning How to Learn from McMaster University and UC San Diego, as well as The Science of Well-Being from Yale were blockbuster courses, respectively ranking second and third in popularity for 2019. This comes as many look to make sense of a rapidly changing world. 

While machines may eventually replace humans for certain repetitive or computational tasks, companies will still rely on people for creativity and adaptability. Learning How to Learn addresses this in an accessible way for every learner, from first-year college students to retirees. 

On a more personal level, even as some experts project beneficial outcomes from an increasingly digital society, our hyperconnected world is leading to lower levels of well-being. The Science of Well-Being’s popularity seems to indicate that finding one’s own happiness is an enduring obstacle. Courses like this can act as powerful tools that empower individuals along the way to well-being. 

Demand for stackable career credentials   

To keep pace with digital transformation, employers and employees alike are recognizing the need for new career credentials. In its inaugural year, we saw notable interest in Professional Certificates, which are stackable, career-relevant programs that prepare learners for high-demand jobs in less than a year. 2019’s list of most popular Specializations and Professional Certificates featured the IBM Data Science Professional Certificate and Google IT Support Professional Certificate ranking third and fourth respectively.

The Google IT Support Professional Certificate, which launched in January 2018, shared its first impact report outlining the impact accessible career credentials have on a person’s life. In its first year alone, more than 50,000 learners enrolled in the program. 84 percent of learners said the program resulted in positive impact on their careers within six months. What’s more, the program is reaching historically underrepresented learners in technology, with 60 percent identifying as female, Black, Latino, or veteran.  

Demand for industry certificates is on the rise, as are innovative models for stackable credentials. This marks a new era of higher education that recognizes the need for stackable content before entering a degree program. The future is here — we’re excited to be a part of expanding access to high quality, impactful learning credentials!

  1. Machine Learning (Stanford)
  2. Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects (McMaster University and UC San Diego)
  3. The Science of Well-Being (Yale)
  4. Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) (University of Michigan)
  5. AI for Everyone (
  6. Neural Networks and Deep Learning (
  7. English for Career Development (University of Pennsylvania) 
  8. Algorithms, Part I (Princeton)
  9. Introduction to TensorFlow for Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning (
  10. What Is Data Science? (IBM)
  1. Python for Everybody (University of Michigan) 
  2. Deep Learning ( 
  3. IBM Data Science (IBM)
  4. Google IT Support (Google)
  5. Architecting with Google Compute Engine (Google Cloud)
  6. Applied Data Science with Python (University of Michigan)
  7. Data Science (John Hopkins University)
  8. Excel Skills for Business (Macquarie University)
  9. Data Engineering, Big Data, and Machine Learning on GCP (Google Cloud)
  10. Improve Your English Communication Skills (Georgia Institute of Technology)

Click here to see a breakdown of top courses, Specializations, and Professional Certificates by market. For reference, you can also check out our recaps of top courses and Specializations from 2018 and 2017.