11 Best Sites for Free Online Computer Programming Courses
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We’re living in the golden age of programming. Not only is there a healthy number of in-demand computer programming jobs, but there is now an abundance of free online courses. These days, you can become a master coder without picking up a traditional computer science degree.

Where are all of these excellent learning resources, you ask? Great question. Keep reading and we’ll show you.

Need to step back into the basics first? Check out an introduction to what coding is.

1. MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare is simply incredible. Many years ago, when I was struggling through a Linear Algebra course in college, MIT OCW came to my rescue. Complete courses are available online for free, and you can go through them at your own pace.

11 Best Sites for Free Online Computer Programming Courses online programming courses mit opencourseware

That Linear Algebra course (no longer available, sadly) is a strong contender for The Best College Course I’ve Ever Taken. It was all video lectures, but the professor knew his stuff and he presented the material in an easy-to-digest manner. It truly validated MIT’s reputation as an educational institute.

So I’m confident that you’ll love MIT OCW’s Programming courses. The introductory ones are split into General Introductions, Language-Specific Courses, and Follow-Up Courses. But these aren’t exhaustive. For a full listing, browse the Computer Science section.

2. edX

edX is a provider of free college-level online courses, jointly spearheaded by MIT and Harvard University. Not only are the courses available without charge, the organization itself is non-profit, so you can rest easy knowing that you won’t be exploited by ulterior motives.

11 Best Sites for Free Online Computer Programming Courses online programming courses edx

Courses on edX can be Weekly or Self-Paced. Subjects span the entire range of topics you might find at any accredited university, but there’s a heavy skew towards Computer Science, Engineering, and Business & Management. They’re also divided into Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced levels for your convenience.

edX also offers Certificate Programs, which are course curriculum that build toward mastery in a specific area, like Front-End Web Development or Data Science. These are handy for deeper learning.

3. Coursera

Coursera is another free online course platform, except this one’s backed by Stanford University and venture capitalists. Coursera collaborates with various universities and organizations to provide their courses, and earns revenue through its Certificate programs.

11 Best Sites for Free Online Computer Programming Courses online programming courses coursera

What’s nice is that Coursera focuses on Specializations: sets of courses designed to build your skills in a particular topic, but not so comprehensively as a full program. For example, the “Data Structures and Algorithms” six-course specialization covers Basic Data Structures, Basic Algorithms, Graph Algorithms, String Algorithms, Advanced Algorithms, and Genome Assembly.

Note that not all courses are free, but many are. Courses are self-paced but have definite start and end dates, meaning you’ll have to go through them as they’re available. Today’s courses may not be there tomorrow, but new ones may show up in their place. Check out the best Coursera courses worth paying for The 10 Best Free Coursera Courses You'll Want to Pay For The 10 Best Free Coursera Courses You'll Want to Pay For You can learn anything online with Coursera. These 10 free courses are so good that you'll want to pay to earn a certificate, too. Read More if you need some ideas.

4. PVTuts

PVTuts is a free online repository of video courses for learning programming languages. It hasn’t been updated since 2013, but the video library is still a great resource for newbies. Just know that these courses are strictly about language syntax and nothing else.

11 Best Sites for Free Online Computer Programming Courses online programming courses pvtuts

Available topics include four general programming languages (C++, C#, Java, and SQL) and six web programming languages (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, ASP.NET, and XML).

5. Udacity

Udacity is yet another online course platform, but unlike MIT OCW, edX, and Coursera, Udacity strictly focuses on topics related to programming, data science, and engineering. No math, no social sciences, no humanities. It’s all about technology, and arguably better for it.

11 Best Sites for Free Online Computer Programming Courses online programming courses udacity

The goal of Udacity is to prepare you for occupational success in one of its tech-related fields. The platform places a lot of attention on its Nanodegree Programs, which are compact curriculums (usually completed in under a year) designed to get you job-ready as quickly as possible. But Nanodegrees cost anywhere from $100 to $500 each.

Don’t want to pay anything? That’s fine. You can eschew the whole curriculum-based approach and stick to individual free courses.

6. Udemy

Udemy is an online education marketplace where anyone can create (and even sell) their own courses for others to consume. This is quite the double-edged sword: it allows skilled folks to share their knowledge without an education degree, but you have to wade through a lot of crap to find it.

11 Best Sites for Free Online Computer Programming Courses online programming courses udemy

The programming courses on Udemy range across all kinds of topics. You’ll find everything from Python-based data crunching to the basics of ethical hacking, from Java fundamentals to master-level web development. You’ll also find a lot of courses related to game development 5 Free Game Development Software Tools to Make Your Own Games 5 Free Game Development Software Tools to Make Your Own Games Here are the best free game development software and tools you can use to start making your dream game today. Read More . Free Udemy courses The 10 Best Free Udemy Courses The 10 Best Free Udemy Courses Udemy offers 80,000 classes to choose from. We've done the work and rounded up the best free Udemy courses for you. Read More are plentiful.

A note on paid Udemy courses: never pay full price! The Udemy marketplace constantly goes through massive sale periods, frequently dropping prices anywhere from 50 to 90 percent off. Unless you absolutely need a course right now, do yourself a favor and wait.

7. Free Code Camp or The Odin Project

If your goal is to become a proficient web developer, whether front-end or back-end, then I highly recommend either Free Code Camp (which teaches HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and React) or The Odin Project (which teaches HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby on Rails).

11 Best Sites for Free Online Computer Programming Courses online programming courses freecodecamp

These two are comprehensive courses, both 100 percent free, that will take you from zero to hero at your own pace. Even if you have no coding experience at all, you’ll be fine. Expect to invest several months from start to finish so you can really understand the concepts taught. Don’t rush it.

8. Khan Academy

Khan Academy is one of the internet’s greatest treasures. This non-profit education platform has been a wonderful source of free education for the past decade, and it’s only getting better. Want to learn Calculus? Biology? World History? How to do your taxes or invest your money? It’s all here.

11 Best Sites for Free Online Computer Programming Courses online programming courses khanacademy

To be fair, the Computer Science and Computer Programming sections are playing catch-up, which is why it’s so low on this list. You can only learn JavaScript at the moment, plus the basics of algorithms and cryptography, but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.

9. Codecademy

Codecademy is a series of interactive online courses that aim to teach you the basics of a handful of programming languages and frameworks. Each course is a gamified, step-by-step process that holds your hand all the way from beginning to end.

11 Best Sites for Free Online Computer Programming Courses online programming courses codecademy

But a word of warning before you dive into Codecademy: the things you’ll learn here are extremely basic and superficial. Codecademy teaches you how to write code, but it doesn’t teach you how to think like a programmer. Many first-time newbies end up frustrated because they don’t know what to do with the knowledge they’ve picked up.

If you have prior coding experience and simply want to learn the syntax of a new language, then Codecademy is actually pretty useful. If you consider yourself a beginner, then you should avoid Codecademy for now Why You Shouldn't Learn to Code With Codeacademy Why You Shouldn't Learn to Code With Codeacademy What's wrong with Codecademy? For those who want to learn coding, the instructional site is one of the best to begin with. But does Codecademy teach you to think like a coder? Read More .

10. OpenCourser

OpenCourser isn’t an education platform like the other sites listed above. Rather, it’s a search engine that aggregates thousands of free online courses from around the web and brings them to your fingertips.

11 Best Sites for Free Online Computer Programming Courses online programming courses opencourser

As of this writing, over 900 free online programming courses are cataloged by OpenCourser, with many more added every day. Yes, you’ll find a bunch of courses from edX, Coursera, Udacity, etc. but you’ll also find some from elsewhere, like Saylor Academy. At the very least, it’s a convenient way to search many of the above platforms at once.

11. YouTube

YouTube is very hit or miss. Thousands of tutorial playlists exist, but too many of them are superficial or downright wrong. Of the ones that seem promising, a good chunk of them are incomplete. And of the ones that are complete, a significant portion are outdated.

That being said, if you have a discerning eye, YouTube can be a great resource for learning how to program. Start with our roundup of the best YouTube programming tutorials The 17 Best YouTube Programming Tutorials The 17 Best YouTube Programming Tutorials In this post, we'd like to point you to some of the best YouTube programming series we've found. All of these are sufficient for getting your feet wet as a newbie programmer. Read More .

Notable Mention: Lynda.com

As of this writing, Lynda is home to just under 6,000 different online courses spread across 12 tech-related fields (e.g. Animation, CAD, IT, Marketing, Photography) and hundreds of more specific topics of interest. With over 670 courses, the Programming category makes up a huge chunk of Lynda’s content.

11 Best Sites for Free Online Computer Programming Courses online programming courses lynda

Topics covered include Foundational Programming Concepts, Database Management, Game Development, Mobile Development, Web Development, and, of course, courses for individual programming languages. What’s nice is that courses are divided into Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced levels, so you can always find the ones most relevant to you.

The only downside is that Lynda is a paid platform with a basic subscription costing $20 per month. But there’s a trick you can use to access Lynda’s courses for free: all you need is a public library membership.

More Tips for Computer Programming Newbies

After completing your first couple of courses, you may end up at a skill plateau. I also recommend tapping into some programming-related podcasts 15 Top-Notch Podcasts for Programmers & Software Developers 15 Top-Notch Podcasts for Programmers & Software Developers Podcasts are a fantastic way to learn more about programming. Here are some of our favorite programming-related podcasts for your listening pleasure. Read More , which can help you feel more comfortable and accelerate growth.

If you stick with it and decide to pursue programming as a career, check out our tips for programming interview preparation How to Prepare Yourself for a Programming Interview How to Prepare Yourself for a Programming Interview The best advice for programming interviews. Any interview can be daunting. Do you know enough to pass? Will your solutions be good enough? What if you choke? Apply these five tips. Read More . On the other hand, you may find that programming is too difficult: signs that programming isn’t for you 6 Signs That You Are Not Meant to Be a Programmer 6 Signs That You Are Not Meant to Be a Programmer Not everyone is cut out to be a programmer. If you aren't completely sure that you're meant to be a programmer, here are some signs that may point you in the right direction. Read More .

Hopefully, these course sites help! If you know of any others, please share them with us in a comment below. Otherwise, let us know what kind of programming you want to learn.

Explore more about: Online Courses, Programming.

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  1. letsfindcourse
    August 2, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    hey you can visit letsfindcourse.com where you can get links to the best programming courses so you need not to search a lot all good programming courses links are provided there .

  2. Roberto
    May 16, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Adding to Dale's comment, I would also say that Bitdegree.org is also a potential site to learn programming. They offer courses on various different programming languages and also on some trending topics like solidity or contract building. I don't know how advanced their courses are, but I tried some beginners' topics so it was a good start. Oh, and courses are free as well.

    • Robby
      June 25, 2018 at 3:24 pm

      I heard about Bitdegree from several sources already so decided to check it out. After browsing through their site and trying some of the courses I could agree that this site could hit the list one day in the future. For now, their site is only in a beta version and it is visible compared to other sites by content amount. However, the courses that are already listed on Bitdegee (the ones I tried) seemed very professional.

  3. Dale Firmin
    April 9, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    cppinstitute.org has a course in C and C++ basic and advanced. The course is free and you can take an exam for a fee for certification with a discount if you complete their course first.
    alison.com is free, has courses in C, C++, Python, Java and more. They have an online test that is far to easy so may not be well respected. You can get a "diploma" or a "certificate" for a fee after completing the course. They have many, many more courses in a variety of other subjects as well.

  4. Cristovao Jose Mucuio
    July 11, 2017 at 6:55 am

    How can i join to start the free course. What should i do.

  5. Sello
    June 6, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Good day I'm Sello so certificate after finishing course are they accredited