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List of Free Online Computer Science Courses and Classes

See our list of the top free online computer science courses. Learn about what courses are available and what topics they cover to find the course that's right for you.

Online Computer Science Courses for Credit

A large variety of free computer science courses are available online. These courses don't require students to register or pay tuition, but they also don't lead to college credit. Students who want to earn alternative forms of credit might consider courses that charge a fee in exchange for access to online course materials. Study.com offers this type of online learning with its short and informative video lessons and corresponding self-assessment quizzes. Transcripts are also available for the video lessons. These resources can prepare students to earn real college credit.

Students interested in exploring the Business 104: Information Systems and Computer Applications course can find chapters on these topics and more:

  • Hardware and Systems Technology - Get details on the parts and functions of a computer system and learn about storage devices, input and output devices and binary code.
  • Network Systems Technology - Topics covered in this chapter include client/server systems, telecommunications hardware, network operating systems, wireless communication and network architecture.
  • Systems Development - Examine systems development life cycles, graphical user interfaces, internal and external application development processes and project management.
  • Data Management - Subjects in this chapter include database structures, database management system models, data types and cloud computing.
  • Introduction to Programming - Find out about validation tools, analysis and design tools, programming logic and methods for writing programs.

Free Online Non-Credited Computer Science Courses

As part of their OpenCourseWare (OCW) efforts, several universities offer free, online courses in computer science and related fields, like information technology. These courses vary in terms of the types of learning materials made available to self-directed learners and don't offer interaction with instructors, grades or credit. Special software, such as document readers or media players, may be needed to access course materials.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science offers an extensive variety of OCW from computer science courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. These sample courses come from the department's undergraduate offerings.

  • Elements of Software Construction covers software development theory and methods. Students learn how to write straightforward code and debug programs. Course materials include lecture notes, assignments and exams.
  • Introduction to Computer Science and Programming goes over basic knowledge about computer programming. Course materials include 24 video lectures, assignments, sample problems and exams. Readings from the textbook are available online for free, and students in this course can interact with others through an online study group.
  • Mathematics for Computer Science allows students to learn modeling and analysis of mathematical processes used in computers, with a strong focus on proofs, logic and discrete probability principles. The text is available in PDF format on the course site. Additional materials include lecture notes, problem sets and exams.
  • Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs covers the basics of programming languages and may complete several programming projects. Free materials supplementing the 20 video lectures include an online version of the textbook, assigned readings, descriptions of programming projects, exams and solutions. Students in this course may also ask questions through a link to a free online study group.

The Open University

A distance education provider based in the United Kingdom, the Open University makes learning materials from many of its courses available on its OpenLearn website.

  • Computers and Computer Systems offers simple explanations of computer systems, components and functions, exploring topics that include binary code, search engines and database technologies. Students can obtain illustrated lecture notes and complete activities and quizzes.
  • An Introduction to Data and Information is for beginners with minimal or no computer background. Lessons include how to use a search engine, Internet sales and how computers can map the human genome. Students can access a complete set of lecture notes, with examples and activities.
  • The Incredible Shrinking Chip is an intermediate-level one-hour unit presented through lecture notes and video clips. The unit looks at the invention of the microchip in Scotland in 1947, how the technology has advanced and what the future holds.

University of Michigan

  • Cyberscience: Computational Science and the Rise of the Fourth Paradigm is an honors course in which students examine the role of computers in science and how their use has changed scientific inquiry. Students can access notes from 17 lectures and download the required textbook for free.
  • Networked Computing: Storage, Communication and Processing covers topics that include computer architecture, Web technologies, security and database modeling. Lecture notes and select lecture videos are available, as well as a downloadable textbook on learning the Python programming language, assignments, handouts and additional readings.

Utah State University

  • Error Coding looks at how to write code to detect and correct errors in programs. Prior understanding of probability, communications and linear algebra is recommended. Students can review PDFs of lecture notes on topics including linear block codes and cyclic codes. Two homework assignments, consisting of exercises from the required textbook, are included with this course information.
  • Information Theory provides students with a foundation for research in data compression, pattern recognition and other topics. Advanced mathematics skills are necessary for success in this course. Students have access to a syllabus with a required textbook list and can download lecture notes, homework assignments and programming assignments.

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