Free Online Data Science Courses

Free online data science courses are offered by many accredited colleges and universities. Keep reading to learn what courses are available and what you will need to get started.

Overview of Free Online Data Science Courses

Data science is a discipline involved with processing and interpreting large amounts of data. It is also known as data mining or big data. Many accredited colleges and universities offer free online data science courses. These often consist of video lectures and assignments, and a strong mathematics background is recommended.

Harvard University

Harvard University offers an assortment of free online data science courses. After signing up for these introductory courses, you will have access to video lectures with transcripts and assignments. No prerequisites are required for the courses, though a computer is required to complete the assignments. Each course covers a different set of topics, but some topics you can expect to see are R programming, probability theory, web scraping, string processing, and regularization, as well as data predictions, aggregation, and modeling. Here are some examples of Harvard's free online data science courses:

  • Data Science: R Basics
  • Data Science: Probability
  • Data Science: Inference and Modeling
  • Data Science: Wrangling
  • Data Science: Machine Learning

Columbia University

This free online sequence of courses from Columbia University covers the basics of data science, machine learning, and the internet of things. Made for executives and anyone else who is interested in the subject, the courses' only prerequisites are high school math and a passing familiarity with programming. After a quick enrollment process, you can access video lectures and assignments on a variety of topics, including statistical thinking, visualization, data modeling, data preparation, algorithmic techniques, networks, protocols, and automated decisions. You will need a computer to access this free online sequence of courses:

  • Statistical Thinking for Data Science and Analytics
  • Machine Learning for Data Science and Analytics
  • Enabling Technologies for Data Science and Analytics: The Internet of Things

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers some free online data science courses through its OpenCourseWare system. These undergraduate courses are presented as video lectures with transcripts and lecture notes or simply as a series of lecture notes. Problem sets and project assignments are also provided. A computer is needed to complete the assignments, and no sign-up is necessary to take the course. Prerequisites vary but can include introductory computer science, linear algebra, probability, and statistics. Some topics explored in the courses include optimization, stochastic thinking, clustering, group testing, and approximation algorithms. Free online data science courses at MIT include the following:

  • Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science
  • Topics in Mathematics of Data Science

California Institute of Technology: Learning from Data

This free online undergraduate course from the California Institute of Technology is an introduction to a significant topic in data science: machine learning. These self-paced video lectures will walk you through the basics of machine learning and prepare you to take the included problem sets (with solutions) and final exam, no sign-up necessary. Knowledge of calculus, as well as matrices and basic probability are prerequisites for the course. Topics covered by the course include linear models, generalization, neural networks, overfitting, regularization, validation, and kernel methods.

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:

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

  • Ashford University

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