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The internet is full of great free online computer science courses. Students that want to learn more about computer science can find a number of fantastic resources to begin their studies online. The best part is that these online computer science courses are often free.

A free online computer science course is a great way for you to take the first step toward a new career in computer science without having to invest in an expensive college course or training program. Enrolling in a free online computer science course lets you dip your toe in the waters of an exciting new career.

There are a number of great options for online computer science courses that are free. We chose a selection of ten of our favorite programs that can help you get started with your career in computer science.

1. Accelerated Computer Science Fundamentals Specialization

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Available via Coursera by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers an incredible free online computer science course directly to students via Coursera. This online computer science course focuses on the intermediate level of computer science studies. In this program, you will work through a curriculum that is focused on expanding your understanding of algorithms and data structures. 

Topics covered in this program include basic object-oriented programming, analysis of algorithms, and the implementation of basic datas structures. A shareable certificate is awarded once you complete this program. If you are someone who is looking for an intermediate level computer science course, this program offered by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a great option to consider. The program is free to enroll in and definitely worth checking out. 

This online computer science course has an average rating of 4.7 stars out of five on Coursera. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a number of start dates throughout the year so you’re never too far from jumping into this course. 

Summary

  • Three months to complete
  • Shareable certificate upon completion
  • Flexible schedule and start dates
  • Focuses on intermediate level programming knowledge
  • Entirely online. 

2. Computer Science 101

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Available via edX by Stanford University

If you are looking to build computer science fundamentals and build your knowledge from the ground up, this online computer science course is a fantastic option for you. Offered by Stanford University through the edX platform, this online computer science course is made available to students entirely for free. 

This online computer science course is intended for students with no prior experience in computer science studies making it an incredible starting point for novice students. You can expect to be able to complete this program in its entirety in just six weeks – which is really great. In just six weeks, you can go from no prior knowledge of computer science to an understanding of the fundamentals.

Stanford University has designed this program to be self-paced allowing a greater deal of flexibility over your experience in the program. New cohorts of this program start every few months so there is always a good time on the horizon to jump in.

Summary

  • Six weeks to complete
  • Self-paced and self-taught
  • Flexible schedule and start dates
  • No prior computer science experience needed
  • Built off Stanford University’s curriculum

3. Master the Theory Behind Programming

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Available via Skillshare

Made available through Skillshare, Master the Theory Behind Programming is a great starting point for students wanting to begin their studies in computer science. A major advantage of this program is that it is built on the Skillshare platform, which is one of the best online learning platforms available. This program is designed for beginners and is extremely friendly to those with little to no background in computer programming.

Topics covered in this free online computer science course include sorting algorithms, program analysis, arrays, and much more. Throughout this course, students will engage in four major projects. These major projects are designed to ensure that students are understanding the material and can demonstrate a mastery of what they have learned. 

Because of the self-taught nature of this program, students are able to complete this degree as quickly or slowly as they choose. Upon completion, students will have a great understanding of the theory behind computer programming

Summary

  • Offered via Skillshare
  • Four major assignments throughout, designed to test your mastery
  • Can be started at any time
  • Self-taught and can be completed on any time frame. 
  • No prior computer science experience needed

4. Programming with a Purpose

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Available via Coursera by Princeton University

Built off the curriculum made available at Princeton University, this online computer science course is a great option for beginners. If you are a student who has little to no experience in computer science we highly recommend that you consider enrolling in this free course in computer science. Offered through Coursera, this online computer science course is taught by two Princeton professors and follows the first half of the computer science textbook used at Princeton.

A total of about 88 hours are needed to complete this degree. This online computer science course is also offered with many different starting dates throughout the year making it very easy to jump into. In this program you will learn basic programming elements and will gain an understanding of object-oriented programming. A follow up course is offered after completing this degree. That program is also offered for free.

This program is self-taught and a great option for students looking to begin their studies in computer programming. We highly recommend that beginners enroll in this free online computer science course.

Summary

  • Can be completed in 88 hours
  • Based off a Princeton University curriculum
  • Self-taught
  • Multiple start dates and flexible deadlines
  • Designed for beginners with little to no experience

5. Computer Science for Business Professionals

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Available via edX by Harvard University

If you are a business professional who wants to build an understanding of computer science, this free online computer science course is exactly what you’re looking for. Built off of Harvard University’s very on curriculum, this online computer science course is designed to help beginners build an understanding and master of computer science concepts. You do not need any prior computer science experience to succeed in this course of study.  In this program you will study topics including computational thinking, programming languages, internet technologies, web development, and more.

This program is made available via the edX platform. You can expect to be able to complete this program in just six weeks. Harvard expects students to invest about 2-6 hours of time per week towards the completion of this program. This program is self-paced and can be started at any time, making it one of of the more flexible options on the list.

Overall, this is a great option if you are someone who works in a business related to computer science or can see the inherent value in understanding these concepts. We highly recommend that business professionals consider enrollment in this free online computer science course. 

Summary

  • Built as an introduction to computer science for business professionals
  • Can be completed in six weeks
  • Self-taught
  • Can be started at any time
  • Designed for beginners

6. Foundations of Computer Science: Theory and Practice

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Available via Udemy by SE Factory

Offered on the Udemy platform, this free online computer science course is a great option if you are someone looking to learn the fundamentals of computer science. This free online course is designed for students who are beginners to computer science. In this course you will learn how to understand and write programs. You will also build an understanding of core computer science concepts. You can complete this course entirely for free.

This program includes over 4.5 hours of lectures and lessons. You are able to work through that content at whatever pace you’d like, making it one of the more flexible options on the list. A certificate is not available after completing this degree. Students are able to work directly with an instructor, but that does require students to pay some money. The actual course work is offered to students for free.

If you are someone who is looking for a free online computer science course that can act as a crash course and quick introduction to core computer science concepts this program is a fantastic option worthy of your time. 

Summary

  • Designed for absolute beginners
  • Offered entirely for free
  • Includes 4.5 hours of lectures and lessons
  • Self-taught
  • Can be started at any time. 

7. Intro to Theoretical Computer Science

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Available via Udacity

This online computer science course is made available to students via the Udacity learning platform. Learning through Udacity offers a number of great benefits. The platform supports rich learning content, interactive courses, and much more. This particular online computer science course is aimed at helping those students interested in building upon an intermediate understanding of computer science concepts. 

By enrolling in this online computer science course, students will learn about the concept of NP-completeness and how the hardness of computer science tasks are determined. This course is a great first step in a career in computer compramming, app development, and much more. 

Udacity courses offer students access to industry professionals to help with coursework. The course is offered in a self-paced format. You can expect to be able to complete this degree in about two months. 

Summary

  • For intermediate level students
  • Self-paced
  • Can be completed in about two months
  • Focuses on theoretical computer science
  • Can be started at any time

8. Introduction to Computer Science

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Available via edX by Harvard University

Harvard University has made this introduction to computer science course available to students via the edX platform for free. If you are looking for an introduction to the basic principles and core competencies of computer science, this free online course is an incredible jumping off point. Upon completion of this program, you will also be eligible for a certificate showing your completion and understanding of the material within the program. This program covers topics including algorithms, data structures, resource management, web development, and more.

This program is offered to students in a flexible self-taught format. Harvard University estimates that you will need about six weeks to complete the course if you are spending 6-18 hours a week on the course. Due to it being self-taught, this program can be started at any time making it an incredibly flexible addition to anyone’s current working schedule.

If you are someone who wants to learn the basics of computer science from one of the top universities in the world, this free online computer science course is an incredible option to enroll in.

Summary

  • Curriculum designed by Harvard University
  • Self-taught
  • Certificate available upon completion
  • Twelve weeks to complete
  • Can be started at anytime. 

9. Introduction to Computer Science and Programming

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Available via MIT

If you are interested in learning the basics of computer science from one of the top universities in the country, this online free computer science course is worth checking out. Built off of an existing MIT curriculum, this online computer science course includes lectures, recitation videos, problem sets, exams, and an online textbook. This course is designed with beginners in mind. An entire semester’s worth of work, this online computer science curriculum is one of the more comprehensive offerings on the list.

Students can take this course at their own pace as it is offered entirely in a self-taught format. You can access the course material through MIT’s MOOC. This course isn’t just aimed at those wanting to begin a career in computer science. This courses is designed to teach computer science principles in a way that anyone can benefit from the problem solving skills needed to understand computer science.

Enrolling in this free online computer science course gives students an opportunity to participate in a program offered by MIT for absolutely no cost. We highly recommend that you check out this free online computer science course.

Summary

  • Based off curriculum offered at MIT
  • An entire course’s worth of materials
  • Designed for beginners
  • Entirely free
  • Self-paced

10. Object Oriented Programming Java Specialization

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Available via Coursera by the University of California San Diego

Offered on Coursera, this free online computer science course is designed for beginners. This online course is a great option for students that want to build a basic understanding of various computer science concepts. Students in this program will learn about object oriented programming with a specific emphasis on the usage of the Java programming language. Upon completion of this degree you will receive a certificate showing your mastery of the content.

This course is self-taught and can be started at any time. It is estimated that this course can be completed in about five months. This completion time is based on spending about six hours a week on the course work. Four major components make up this course: Solving Problems with Software, Arrays and Structured Data, Object Oriented Programming in Java, and Data Structures and Performance.

We highly recommend this online computer science course for students that are looking for a beginner level course focused on understanding Java programming. 

Summary

  • Focused on Java programming
  • Can be started at any time
  • Self-taught
  • Five months to complete with a six hour/week time commitment
  • Free

Are there prerequisites for a free online computer science course?

Fortunately, there are no prerequisites for enrolling in a free online computer science course. While there are no prerequisites, there are some things that you should consider before enrolling in an online computer science course.

One of the main things worth considering before enrolling in one of these online computer science courses is the time commitment. Many of these programs are self-paced, so you can choose to complete the coursework at a rate that works best for you – it is still a good idea to ensure that you will have some time to set aside to keep up with the coursework as you make your way through it.

Another thing to consider is whether or not you would like to enroll in a course that is part of a longer curriculum or in a course that also includes a certification. Certifications from online computer science courses can be quite helpful when it comes to interviewing for positions within the field. 

A final thing to consider when choosing to enroll in an online computer science course is to ensure that you are enrolling in a course that is backed by a reputable institution. That is why we recommend that you choose from the list of online computer science courses we selected above.

What should I do after completing a free online computer science course? 

You have many options after completing a free online computer science course. Many free online computer science courses are part of a larger curriculum of online computer science courses. If you enjoyed your studies, it might be a smart idea to continue along with the rest of that course’s particular curriculum. Continuing along within a series of courses is a great way to build upon the knowledge you gained in the initial class.

Another option after completing a free online computer science course is to consider enrolling in a coding course. A coding course is a way for students to develop skills in a particular computer programming language. This can be incredibly useful when it comes to finding work within the field of computer science and other related fields.  Many coding courses are even designed with job placement opportunities upon their completion. 

If you are really serious about continuing your computer science education after your free online computer science course, there is always the option of choosing to pursue a computer science degree. A computer science degree is a great next step towards a lucrative career in computer science. 

What are the benefits of a free online computer science course? 

A free online computer science course can be a gateway to an entirely new career path. Leveraging the free resources afforded to learners online, a free online computer science course can act as a stepping stone to a potential life change. 

These online computer science courses tend to not require a large time commitment. By not requiring too much of a time commitment and being free, these online computer science courses are also great ways to see if a particular field is something you might be interested in. We highly recommend those who are curious about a potential career in computer science to enroll in one of these free courses to see if it is a good fit.

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Get our emails in your inbox, and you’ll get acceptance letters in your mailbox

Get our emails in your inbox, and you’ll get acceptance letters in your mailbox

Find Your Degree

Find Your Degree