15 Free Computer Science Courses Online

Trying something different today. Here is a guest post by Karen Schweitzer who has found a lot of interesting online courses in computer science. You can also find free curriculum resources at Microsoft’s Faculty Connection.

It is no longer necessary to pay tuition and enroll in a formal program to learn more about computer science. Some of the world's most respected colleges and universities now offer free courses online. Although these courses cannot be taken for credit and do not result in any sort of degree or certificate, they do provide high quality education for self-learners. Here are 15 computer science courses that can be taken for free online:

Introduction to Computer Science - Connexions, a Rice University resource, hosts this free course that introduces students to computer science. Covered topics include computer systems, computer networks, operating systems, data representation, and computer programming.

Introduction to Computer Science and Programming - This free Massachusetts Institute of Technology course provides an undergraduate-level introduction to computer science and computer programming. The course includes online readings, assignments, exams, and other study materials.

Mathematics for Computer Science - This free course, also from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, teaches students how math is relative to computer science and engineering. Course materials include lecture notes, problem sets, assignments, and exams.

Introducing ICT Systems - The UK's Open University provides this free online computer science course to self-learners who want to gain an understanding of ICT (information and computer technologies) systems. The course is designed for introductory students and can be completed by most people in less than 10 hours.

Programming with Robots - Capilano University offers this free online computer science course to self-learners who want to explore computer programming and robotics. Course materials include tutorials, readings, lectures, exercises, assignments, and quizzes.

System Design and Administration - This free computer science course from Dixie State College focuses on computer information systems and technologies. The course introduces students to system design and administration through lectures notes, assignments, and other self-guided study materials.

HTML Basics - The University of Washington Educational Outreach Program offers several free courses, including this free HTML course. The course is designed for beginning level students who are unfamiliar with HTML documents, tags, and structure.

Software Applications - This free course from Kaplan University is a very basic course for people who want to learn more about using software applications. The course covers Internet applications as well as word processing, spreadsheet, communication, and presentation apps.

Object-Oriented Programming in C++ - The University of Southern Queensland offers this free computer science course to teach students the basics of C++ programming and object-oriented design. The course includes 10 modules, multiple lectures, and assignments.

Operating Systems and System Programming - This free online course from the University of California-Berkeley includes a series or audio and video lectures on operating systems and system programming.

Data Structures - This free audio/video course, also from the University of California-Berkeley, covers data structures through a series of online lectures.

Artificial Intelligence - The University of Massachusetts-Boston offers this free computer science course to self-learners who are interested in artificial intelligence (AI). The course uses assignments and other study materials to teach students how to write programs.

Information Theory - This advanced-level computer science course from Utah State University teaches concepts relating to the representation and transmission of information. Course materials include programming and homework assignments.

Network Security - This free computer science course from Open University is for master-level students who have substantial knowledge of computing. The course explores a wide range of topics, including network vulnerabilities, network attacks, encryption, cryptography, access control, and authentication.

Computational Discrete Mathematics - Carnegie Mellon University provides this free computer science course through the school's Open Learning Initiative (OLI). The self-guided course is ideal for independent learners who want to gain a better understanding of discrete mathematics and computation theory.

Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the About.com Guide to Business School. She also writes about online colleges for OnlineCollege.org.

Comments (4)

  1. Alan Fekete says:

    I believe we do a dis-service to education by using the term "online course" for some of these, which are really just on-line sets of materials (lectures, assignments, etc). To be a genuine course, there needs to be interaction; in particular, someone knowledgable needs to look at the learner’s work and give them feedback. Even a good self-learner is prone to make incorrect inductions from presented examples and explanations; these misconceptions can only be corrected by an expert who considers the learner’s work one-on-one.

  2. AlfredTh says:

    I don’t disagree with you Alan. I think the list works for a very lose definition of "course." It may be more useful for educators looking for coursware than for students looking to learn online.

  3. Dave says:

    Here is a link to MIT Open Courseware http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/home/home/index.htm.  There are Computer Science Course and more.  All Free….

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