The 11 Best Sites for Free Online Computer Programming Courses
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Right now, there’s an abundant number of in-demand computer programming jobs, and an abundant number of free online programming courses to help you land one of those jobs—even without a traditional computer science degree.

We’ll show you where to find these excellent online programming classes. If you don’t know the first thing about programming, check out our introduction to what coding is.

1. MIT OpenCourseWare

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

MIT OpenCourseWare is 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.

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. For a full listing, browse the Computer Science section.

2. edX

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

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

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

Coursera is a free online course platform that’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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Free game development software is a great way to start video game making. We've compiled the best game software on the market. Read More .

Note: Never pay full price for a Udemy course! The Udemy marketplace frequently holds massive sales, slashing prices anywhere from 50 to 90 percent off. While you wait, check out the best free Udemy courses.

7. Free Code Camp or The Odin Project

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

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).

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

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

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.

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. 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 .

10. OpenCourser

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

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

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. Codecademy

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

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 .

Notable Mention: Lynda

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

Lynda is home to over 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.

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.

Lynda is a paid platform that costs $20/mo, but there’s a trick you can use to access Lynda courses for free How to Use Lynda.com for Free From Your Local Library How to Use Lynda.com for Free From Your Local Library If you live in the US or Canada, chances are you have completely free and unrestricted access to Lynda through your library. Here's the easy process to enroll on Lynda.com through your library. Read More .

More Tips for Computer Programming Newbies

If you stick with it and decide to pursue programming as a career, check out our tips for programming interview preparation. 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 .

Explore more about: Online Courses, Programming.

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  1. Shagba Ayatse
    August 12, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Wow,this is really great. Keep it up!!!

  2. Harley Quinn
    July 26, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    used codecademy and let me tell u, they r NOT FREE. they will give u a beginners course in changing the colour, size, and wording of bubbles as a trial run, but u want a program, then ur pushed into BUYING their " PRO " version!!! nothing FREE in that!!! got my hopes up for nothing with that site!!!

  3. Reena Sen
    June 13, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    Interesting Content. Keep writing. I would like to keep myself updated with education related information.

  4. Johan
    May 23, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    This is a great list to start with programming

  5. 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 .

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    • Harley Quinn
      July 26, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      alison is a bunch of videos that dont allow u to work on ur own, rather it does the work for u. dont matter the topic, there will always be a " teacher " telling and showing u what to do, rather than trying it for urself.

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

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

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

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