Which Colleges Offer Free Online Programming Courses?

While some online programming classes offered by colleges and universities focus on a particular programming language, most emphasize thinking like a programmer and understanding the systems in which programmers work. Four schools offering free programming courses online are Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California-Berkeley, Rice University and Harvard University. Read on to explore their program offerings. Schools offering Computer Programming degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Studying Programming Online for Free

Free online programming classes don't usually let you earn college credit, but they are useful for gaining basic knowledge of computer programming. They are typically collections of course materials published by instructors. These course materials commonly cover fundamental aspects of programming like data structuring, programming languages and algorithms. More advanced courses are available for languages like Java.

Important Facts About These Courses

Online Availability There are a great deal of online computer programming courses available including some that result in degrees and some that are purely for practice. There are several courses listed below as well as other free online courses such as with Kahn Academy, CodeAcademy, and Advance Learning.
Degree/Certificate Field Software Development, Software Programming
Possible Careers A programming course can lead to careers in both specific software developing companies like Google, Facebook, or other internet sites. Moreover, almost all companies that use computer software will require programmers on their staff in order to oversee its maintenance.
Average Salary The annual mean wage for a software developer and programmer job pays $95,280 according to the BLS.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Through the OpenCourseWare program, MIT has a large database of free online classes. These online courses include lecture notes, exams with answers, audio and video files and problem sets with solutions. Courses are undergraduate- and graduate-level, and many are available in other languages, such as simplified Chinese. MIT's free online programming classes included the following, as of 2014:

  • Introduction to Computer Science and Programming
  • A Gentle Introduction to Programming Using Python
  • Introduction to Programming in Java
  • Introduction to MATLAB Programming
  • Practical Programming in C

University of California-Berkeley

Berkeley distributes many courses online through webcasts, including several in computer science. Students learn about topics like object-oriented programming, GNU and data abstraction. In addition to webcasts, these classes include online textbooks, course readers and sample exams with solutions. You can also access lab handouts, online help and illustrated program maps. Berkeley offers free online programming courses that cover:

  • Computer program structure and interpretation
  • Data structures
  • Programming languages
  • System programming
  • Software engineering

Rice University

Rice University's Connexions initiative serves as an online marketplace for instructors to freely share educational materials with users. Information and materials are provided primarily in the format of modules and tutorial collections. Among the many programming courses and modules available in the Connexions database include:

  • Programming Fundamentals in C++
  • C Language
  • Network Programming
  • Object-Oriented Programming with ActionScript
  • Object-Oriented Programming with Java

In 2012, Rice University partnered with a California-based company, Coursera, to provide free online courses. As of 2014, it offered the course 'An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python' as a specialization in its Fundamentals of Computing program.

Harvard University

The Harvard Extension School offers a free online computer science course. Taught by Harvard faculty, 'Intensive Introduction to Computer Science' teaches students about programming languages, compilers, software development and operating systems. Each two-hour lecture can be downloaded using Quicktime, Flash or in MP3 format.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools