General Frequently Asked Questions


  • Can I earn a certificate without paying?

    The only means of getting a certificate in this course is by paying or applying for financial aid for the Course Certificate option, where your identity is verified by the combination of photo ID and typing patterns. There is no Statement of Accomplishment or other similar alternate certificate available in this course, or in any of the on-demand courses now available on Coursera.


Please note: All deadlines are suggestions; you will not be penalized or unable to complete a course if you miss a deadline! Below is Coursera's description of how deadlines will affect you in Duke's Coursera courses.

If your course has set start and end dates, you’ll be given the option to switch to the next session if you fall two weeks behind. When you switch to the next session, your course progress is saved, but you get new deadlines, discussion forums and classmates. Before switching, please check the start date for the next session to make sure you won’t have to wait too long to access the course content. See this article in the Coursera Help Center for more information.

  • How frequent are sessions for this course?

    New cohorts (essentially a new group of students starting out in the course) are being launched every two weeks for this course.

  • Can I start courses at any time?

    Subsequent sessions of Duke's courses are currently planned to be offered at least every 4 weeks, and perhaps every 2 weeks as well, if the demand is high. So you will likely be able to start these later courses very soon after you complete this one, or wait a while if you prefer.

  • Is this some kind of ever-recurring course, with the peer assessments also continuously repeated?

    Yes, this model of course offering is 'ever-recurring', allowing for students to complete the course mostly at their own pace, but still have some motivational deadlines to encourage completion.

  • Where should I go for information about the platform?

    The best place to go for info is the Coursera Learner Help Center, and to post in their forums if something is still not clear. This will help them learn about your concerns, and hopefully they will also be able to incorporate that feedback into improved documentation in the Help Center.

  • If we are falling behind, will the program notify us?

    You will likely receive an automatic email reminder from Coursera if you fall behind the suggested schedule. Other learners have received such messages.

  • I'm bit confused about this though: "If your course has set start and end dates, you’ll be given the option to switch to the next session if you fall two weeks behind." So this was a four week course and I was able to complete and pass 3 weeks of assignments/quizzes, but did not complete week 4. I'm NOT two weeks behind and only one week behind. What options do I have in this case? Can I still switch to the next upcoming session?

    Yes, you can still switch to the upcoming session. You will not lose any of your progress; you will still have three weeks completed and can continue working on week four. You will still be eligible for the Course Certificate as well.

  • I finished the course and submitted my project on time, however I got an email today stating that I have fallen behind. When I go to the final project it indicates that it was submitted. In addition I am in the process of peer reviewing other final projects. What is this?

    My guess is that there is an automated message from Coursera based on the suggested deadlines. In your situation, I would recommend continuing to review the other projects. Most likely you will not need to worry about the deadlines. If you find that you are unable to complete part of the process (like submitting an evaluation, for instance), please post in the course forums or in the Learner Help Center support forums and we'll try to get clarification about your situation from a Coursera representative.

  • Do deadlines work the same way for Verified Certificates?

    Yes, if you are enrolled in the signature track (verified), you can go into the next session. You have 180 days to finish each course.

  • My current course ends on Nov 2nd and I have the the 4th week's peer assessment deadline on 25th October. Can I still submit my peer assessment completion before Nov 2nd, or does the deadline is strict for peer assessments?

    To the best of my knowledge, none of the deadlines are strict. If you have the option to submit, you can. It may take longer to get peer feedback if you submit after the deadline (fewer peers still working on it) but you won't be penalized.

  • This is the first time I’m using Coursera. Are there online lectures to attend or just a self study?

    You can proceed at your own pace. The lectures are always available online. We encourage you to use the deadlines suggested by Coursera to keep up a good pace in completing the material, but those deadlines are suggestions only.

  • I have some problems with my last assignment. How can I switch to the next session?

    Our Coursera contact said that students could choose to enroll in a later session at their own discretion; your progress will be saved and rolled over into the new session you join.

    If you are still working four days after the final deadline for the last assignment in a session, you should be contacted automatically by Coursera encouraging you to join the next session available.

  • I did submit my last assignment (E-portfolio) before the deadline. However, I had to change something and resubmit. It now shows “grading in progress” for that last assignment. I haven't received any email from Coursera asking me to join the next session. What are the next steps? How long will it to grade? Do I have to switch to the next session?

    It may take some time (perhaps a week) for grading to be completed, especially if you are submitting an assignment after a deadline, because fewer learners will be completing that assignment and become available to evaluate work. As long as it shows "grading in progress" I would recommend patience for now.

    Coursera will not send an email until at least four days after the deadline for the final assignment in a course. At that time they will likely recommend joining a later session of the course to complete your work. However, you should be able at any time to enroll in a more recent session of the course in order to have new deadlines for completing any work you still have left to finish.

    You will be able to join the next course whenever you wish, even if you take extra time to complete this course, there will be a new session of the following course available soon, because a new session starts every few weeks.

    You can learn more about deadlines in Coursera's new platform in the Learner Help Center (blue link in the lower right).

  • What does it mean when the assignment says “yet to be reviewed” and there is a 0 and a red cross near it? Has it been reviewed yet?

    Most likely, you will simply need to wait for additional students to review your work. This commonly can take up to a week or so to conclude. You will also need to complete at least three reviews of other learners work to be able to get your result.

  • If we are unable to keep up with the material this session and transfer to a later session (where our work is saved), will we have to pay for the course again?

    You do not pay for the course again. Your payment covers completion of the course even if you join a later session.

  • How do I switch to another session?

    You should be able to go to the your course's info page and select the next session to join. It should provide a date when that session will start (and end). Click on the blue 'Switch Sessions' button to join the next session.

Forum Guidelines/Best Practices

  • Check the FAQ and existing threads before creating a new thread – your question may have already been answered.
  • Stay on topic in threads. Start a new topic if you have a new question – don’t post it as a reply to an existing thread unless it’s closely related. This makes it easier for people to find your question to help you.
  • Identify your operating system, browser, IDE (as relevant) when posting about technical (not code-related) issues (eg “I can’t view something”). This makes it easier to figure out if it might be an issue with your computer/browser/IDE.
  • Use the code formatting box (the one with this symbol: </> ) whenever you post code. This helps people read your code and help you more easily.
  • If you’re referring to a video, quiz, or assignment, say its name so that others can find it to help answer your question e.g. “In Programming Exercise Finding All Genes, what does it mean when it says…?” If you are referring to a video, give the timestamp of the part you are mentioning.
  • Make sure you actually ask a question! Don’t post your code and say “it isn’t working” or “what’s wrong with my code”, or ask “how do I write the code for this method”. Try to debug as much as you can before asking for help with your code. Be as specific as you can about the issue. Say what debugging you have tried so far. This makes it easier for people to help you. Example: “When I run the method doSomething on file1.txt I expected to get 10 but I get 0. It looks like it isn’t adding to the return value inside the loop and I can’t figure out why. Does anyone have any idea why this might be happening? Any help would be much appreciated.”
  • If you are having trouble understanding a topic or creating an algorithm, ask questions about the concepts rather than asking people to show you their code. If you feel your question requires showing your code, try to post a few lines of code rather than your whole class or program.


  • Can I use an IDE other than BlueJ, such as Eclipse or NetBeans?

    BlueJ is recommended for this course but you can use your IDE of choice. We will not be able to provide support for technical issues with other IDEs, but please feel free to post questions regarding other IDEs on the forums as fellow learners may be able to provide assistance.

  • Can I use the edu.duke libraries in an IDE other than BlueJ?

    Yes, you can download the custom library files required for this course here.

  • When I print out lines in a file, my BlueJ console is only showing the end of the file, not the beginning. What’s happening?

    By default, BlueJ only shows the last few lines of output. To see all output, select the BlueJ console window, click menu item ‘Options’ and then ‘Unlimited buffering’.