MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--(Marketwired - Feb 11, 2015) - Leading companies are joining Coursera and its university partners to help create projects with real world applications for online learners. Experts at Google, Instagram and other companies are among the first industry partners to support the Capstone Projects for Coursera Specializations, which have enrolled hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

Combining a curated series of courses with a final Capstone Project, Specializations help learners develop an expertise or master new skills with the best of university teaching and the real-time market perspective of top industry partners. Coursera currently offers Specializations from 19 university partners in fields including data science, digital marketing, music production, and global affairs.

Companies can now play an active role in educating aspiring professionals throughout their careers. In a job market that is increasingly filled with job descriptions that didn't exist a decade ago or less, workers and employers alike are recognizing the value of online certificates. A recent survey by the Career Advisory Board of 500 U.S. hiring managers reports that 87 percent are likely to consider nontraditional micro-credentials like Specializations Certificates valuable among job candidates.

"Approximately half of Coursera's learners come to us seeking knowledge to boost their careers, and that ratio is even higher in places like India where online learning certificates have gained early acceptance," said Rick Levin, CEO of Coursera and former President of Yale University. "Many of these learners didn't have the chance to attend a leading university, and others are several years out of college and need a way to gain essential new skills without dropping everything to go back to school full time. A Specialization is their chance to supplement the latest knowledge from universities with projects developed by companies at the top of their fields."

Coursera Capstones offer an applied learning experience to those who have completed all of the previous coursework in a Specialization. Companies help design projects with real world problems and in many cases provide direct feedback to top performers in the Capstone. At the end, learners are left with a project they can add to their portfolio that demonstrates industry proficiency to potential employers and the world.

"My courses on interaction design in college had a lasting impact on the design of Instagram, and my career," said Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger. "As our devices become increasingly powerful, it's essential that we create a generation of designers and builders who can help people around the world harness that power. I'm excited to see what a global classroom of students will design as part of this project."

The following companies and business leaders are supporting upcoming Specialization Capstones:

  • Instagram - Interaction Design, University of California San Diego (starts June 16th): Learners will design new social experiences in their Capstones. The project requirements were created with Mike Krieger, Instagram's co-founder. Krieger and the professor will lead a judging process and provide feedback on the best designs.
  • Snapdeal & Shazam - Business Foundations, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania (starts April 6th): Learners will prepare a solution to a strategic challenge created in partnership with industry partners, including Shazam, one of the world's most popular mobile apps that connects people to the world around them, and Snapdeal, India's largest e-commerce marketplace. Leadership teams from industry partners will review the highest scoring projects prepared for their companies.
  • 500 Startups - Entrepreneurship, University of Maryland (enroll anytime): Learners will create a business plan and pitch deck for a new business opportunity. Global seed fund and accelerator 500 Startups will join an interactive pitch session with top performers, while select learners will be invited to interview with 500 Startups.

The first Capstones for Coursera Specializations were recently piloted with support from these companies:

  • Google - Mobile Cloud Computing, University of Maryland and Vanderbilt University (enroll now in next session): Learners designed mobile cloud computing applications from the ground up. Google committed to reviewing the top Android apps created in the Capstone Project and will issue Nexus tablets to the winners. The best apps may be considered to be featured in the Google Play Store.
  • SwiftKey - Data Science, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University: SwiftKey, award-winning developer of leading keyboard apps for smartphones, worked with professors at Johns Hopkins University to create a Capstone Project in which learners analyze a large textual data set to develop original predictive language models.
  • iHeartMedia - Modern Musician, Berklee College of Music (enroll now in next session): Aspiring musicians and music producers wrote and produced their own original compositions. Top performers met with an executive from iHeartMedia, the multiplatform media and entertainment company with more than 850 radio stations in the US and the leading digital music service iHeartRadio, to discuss how independent artists bring their music to market.

For more information on each Specialization and Capstone Project, visit the individual Specialization pages at

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