free online computer science courses with certificates

Computer Science is the study of computer technology, including both software and hardware. It is an exciting and diverse field that can teach students skills that are in demand across almost every industry in our tech-driven world. This broad subject encompasses multiple specializations and sub-disciplines in theory, analytics, hardware and software systems, data science, and more.

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Disclaimer: Some courses may include an affiliate link. Courses were chosen first based on the methodology with affiliate links only added after the ranking was complete.

In this article, we will review some of the top free computer science courses available, as well as courses in many of the various levels of specialization in the field. We’ve ranked them in descending order using a methodology we developed to choose the most robust and helpful courses first. However, each of the following free courses deserves merit and is worth looking into.

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Ranking 10 Free Online Courses for Computer Science

1. CS50’s Introduction to Computer Science

Offered by Harvard University via edX

Over 1.5 million students have enrolled in this edX course presented by Harvard. The on-campus version of CS50 is the University’s largest course, and this free online version is nearly as comprehensive. Even more astounding is that you can take it for free in its entirety. However, if you do choose to pursue a certificate to highlight your accomplishment, the platform offers this perk for only $90, a serious bargain compared to the classroom version.

The course is extensive, which is why we have listed it at the top of our list. Anyone looking into the best free online course in computer science should check this option out first. No prior programming experience is necessary, and the course can be taken at your own pace.

Topics covered include:

• A thorough understanding of computer science and programming

• How to use algorithms and solve programming problems

• Concepts such as data structures, encapsulation, abstraction, algorithms, resource management, software engineering security, and web development

•Programming languages, including C, Python, SQL, and JavaScript plus CSS and HTML

The course can be taken on its own or as part of a professional certificate in Game Development, Artificial Intelligence, Web Programming, or Mobile Apps

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: 12 weeks

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent


•Covers all the basics of computer science

•Harvard University’s most popular class

•Taught by three prominent Harvard faculty members



2. Introduction to Computer Science and Programming

Offered by MIT

This MOOC from Massachusetts Institute of Technology is also one of the best free online courses in computer science available. Provided through the Institute’s Open Courseware program, it covers the same materials as taught on campus and is aimed toward students with little or no prior programming experience.

The biggest skill students will take away from this free online course is computational problem solving, which will be accomplished by learning:

• How to use Python

• How to write and debug a program

• The process of moving from written problems to a computer formula for solutions

• Basic algorithms

• How to use simulations to solve complex problems

• How to use computational tools for modeling and understanding data

MIT’s online learning platform has a bit more of a learning curve than some of the other, more user-friendly options on our list, but there is a wealth of learning material here for those who are willing to do some digging. The online computer science course features a complete set of lecture videos accompanied by tons of resources as well as homework, self-assessment tools, and links to further study.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: Varies

Curriculum: Introductory to Advanced

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Excellent


•No hoops to jump through, you set your own schedule and go at your own pace

•Perfect for those who want a solid foundation in computer science

•Entirely free courseware from a major tech college


•No certificates are offered

3. Computer Science 101

Offered by Stanford University via edX

This is an excellent self-paced course brought to you by Stanford Online and presented on the edX platform. It’s one of the top free online computer science courses we have found for beginners, as it introduces users with zero prior experience to the subject. Intended to be taken over six weeks at four to six hours per week, students will learn the fundamentals of CS, including:

• All about computers and code and what they can and cannot do

• How computer hardware works

• Computer terminology and jargon

• How software works

• How digital images work

• Computer code

• Big ideas: abstraction, logic, bugs

• How structured data works

• How the internet works

• Computer security

• Analog vs. digital

• Digital media, images, sounds, video, and compression

This online computer science course assumes no prior knowledge, and there are no prerequisites. Students who are already versed in most of the above concepts will likely find the course too rudimentary; however, for the absolute beginner, it is ideal. A certificate of verification can be purchased for $149 but is not a requirement as the course can be taken in its entirety for free.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: Six weeks

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent


•Excellent for beginners

•Taught by senior Stanford University lecturer Nick Parlante

•No previous skills required


•Probably too basic for some students

4. Computer Science: Programming with a Purpose

Offered by Princeton University via Coursera

Learning to program is the fundamental first step in computer science, and this course presented by Princeton University covers the subject in-depth with over 40 hours of learning. Unlike some of the other introductory courses on our list that use Python, this one uses Java, although the main goal is to teach students programming as a whole.

You will learn essential programming elements like loops, arrays, conditionals, variables, and I/O. The free online computer science course then moves on to concepts like modular programming, recursion, and code reuse before it introduces object-oriented programming.

Unlike most Coursera offerings, there is no certificate associated with this class, and all the features are available at no cost, including auto-graded multiple-choice exercises, quizzes, and programming assignments. A streamlined version of IntelliJ is provided, which is easy to install and perfect for beginners, but students are free to use any programming environment they choose.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: 10 Weeks

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent


•Ideal for beginners

•Auto graded exercises are featured

•Taught by two high-level Princeton faculty members


•No certification offered

5. Accelerated Computer Science Fundamentals Specialization

Offered by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign via Coursera

This specialization in the fundamentals of computer science consists of three courses, each of which can be taken in audit mode for free on the Coursera platform for the full specialization experience. In the free mode, you won’t be able to participate in the hands-on projects or earn a certificate, but all other components of the coursework are available. If getting the certification is important to you, but you cannot afford it, you can apply for financial assistance on the site.

The three courses include Object-Oriented Data Structures in C++, Ordered Data Structures, and Unordered Data Structures.

Taught by computer science professor Wade Fagen-Ulmschneider, the free computer science course online is intended for students who have already taken an introductory course in a programming language like Python and who can write a program.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: Two months

Curriculum: Intermediate

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent


•Highly rated

•Can help students prepare for advanced courses in CS

•Great user experience


•Certification is only offered at the paid level of the program

Is there any free online degree courses?

The pursuit of higher education is a lifelong dream for many. However, the cost of tuition, books, and other associated expenses can be a significant barrier to achieving this dream. Fortunately, the digital age has brought about a revolution in education, making it possible for anyone with an internet connection to access a wide range of courses, including free online degree courses.

Online education has been growing in popularity over the last decade, with numerous institutions and universities offering free courses and even full degree programs. These online degree courses cover a variety of fields, including business, arts, and sciences, and many of them provide certificates or degrees upon completion. In this article, we’ll explore the availability of free online degree courses and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of pursuing your education online.

Free online computer science courses with certificates

Computer science is a field that’s in high demand, with a shortage of qualified professionals to fill the numerous job openings. As a result, many people are eager to learn computer science and gain the skills needed to secure a well-paying job in the tech industry. The good news is that there are plenty of free online computer science courses that offer certificates upon completion.

These courses cover a wide range of topics within the field of computer science, from programming languages like Python and Java to more specialized areas like artificial intelligence and machine learning. Some of the most renowned universities and institutions, such as Stanford, Harvard, and MIT, offer free computer science courses online. These courses can be an excellent way to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the tech industry, without the financial burden of a traditional degree program.

MIT free online computer science courses

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is well-known for its prestigious computer science programs. The good news is that MIT offers free online computer science courses through its OpenCourseWare (OCW) platform. These courses provide an opportunity for learners to access high-quality educational content without the need to enroll in MIT as a formal student.

MIT’s OCW platform includes a wide range of computer science courses, from introductory programming courses to more advanced topics like algorithms and data structures. While these courses don’t result in a degree, they provide access to MIT’s world-class educational materials and resources. Additionally, many of these courses offer certificates of completion, which can be a valuable addition to your resume when seeking employment in the tech industry.

Online free computer science courses

In addition to MIT, numerous other institutions and online platforms offer free computer science courses. These courses are accessible to individuals of all backgrounds and skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced programmer looking to expand your skill set, there are options available to suit your needs.

Websites like Coursera, edX, and Udacity offer a variety of free computer science courses in partnership with renowned universities and institutions. These courses cover topics like web development, mobile app development, and data science, and many of them provide certificates upon completion. Online communities and forums also exist where learners can engage with one another, share resources, and collaborate on projects to reinforce their learning.

Where can I do free online courses with a certificate?

If you’re looking to enhance your skills or earn a certificate to boost your career prospects, there are several platforms where you can access free online courses with certificates. Some of the most popular options include:

  1. Coursera: Coursera offers a wide range of free courses from top universities and institutions. While certificates for some courses come with a fee, financial aid options are available for those who qualify.
  2. edX: edX provides access to free courses from prestigious universities. You can audit courses for free and choose to receive a verified certificate for a fee.
  3. Khan Academy: Khan Academy offers a plethora of free educational content in various subjects. While they don’t offer traditional certificates, their resources are excellent for learning and self-improvement.
  4. Stanford Online: Stanford University offers free online courses across multiple disciplines. These courses often provide certificates upon completion.
  5. MIT OpenCourseWare: As mentioned earlier, MIT offers free online courses through its OCW platform, which includes a variety of subjects.

In conclusion, the internet has opened up a world of educational opportunities, and free online degree courses, computer science courses with certificates, and a wide range of other courses are readily available. Whether you’re seeking to advance your career, change professions, or simply pursue a passion, there are numerous options to help you achieve your educational goals without breaking the bank. Online education has made learning more accessible than ever, allowing individuals from all walks of life to acquire knowledge and skills that can shape their future.

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