9 Free Courses by Harvard, MIT, IBM, Google, and Microsoft

and get certified for the price of your groceries


Aphinya Dechalert

3 years ago | 6 min read

A traditional degree can be quite costly — especially if you’re thinking about a career change or don’t want to rack up a large student loan. While community colleges and local institutions tend to be much lower in cost, you might be unsure about long term commitment levels or have family-related logistics to coordinate.

Or maybe you just want to formally upgrade your skills without taking 3 years off to officially do so.

Here are 9 courses where you can learn coding for free. The best part is that you can also get certified by Ivy League Institutes or industry leaders like Google, AWS, Microsoft, and IBM.

For the courses listed here, learning the content and completing the associated materials is often free but getting the accreditation for it can cost a little, depending on the provider and institution.

1. Computer Science for Web Programming

Course by HarvardX

This certificate contains one course that’s broken up into 2 parts. Both parts are free. The price of a verified certificate is about a week’s worth of groceries for one person, so it’s not too bad.

The first part covers the introductory component to web programming and touches on C, Python, SQL, JavaScript, CSS and HTML. The second part deals with more in-depth topics and includes Git, using APIs, SQL, scalability, testing, and various front end technologies.

All in all, the entire course can be completed in approximately 20-ish weeks. But it can be completed faster because it is self-paced.

2. Computer Science and Mobile Apps

Course by HarvardX

This is another professional certificate by Harvard University via EdX. The first part of this course is the same as the one above, and it is the second half that sends you down a mobile application specialty with React Native.

If you’re looking to get into front end development specifically, the course above this one is better suited. If you’re looking to have cross-functional skills with mobile development, then this track may be the right pathway.

Whatever you end up choosing, you can still do the other path too in conjunction since the content will eventually crop up in real-life scenarios.

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Course by Microsoft

This course is a bit on the pricier side to complete. However, it does consist of 11 difference courses with a focus on Python. Each course has its own certified certificate, with all 11 adding up to a professional certificate by Microsoft.

It is self-paced and the expected workload is approximately 4–6 hours per week — or an hour a night if you’re looking to slowly digest through the content. Because it is self-paced, this means that you can finish it faster if you have a bit more time.

The course includes deep learning, ethics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

4. Introduction to Computer Science

Course by Microsoft

This certification consists of 3 courses and deals mainly with Python. The program is aimed at absolute beginners, which means that you’re not expected to know anything at all about programming.

100% self-paced and you can work through the program without needing to pay anything for access.

If you’re looking for a starting foundational course, the free content in this one can help kickstart your career in tech. However, it’s good to note that this course is very python-centric, which isn’t a bad thing. But if you’re looking for a general course because your mind is better to generalist methods of learning, then the Harvard ones above may be better for you.

5. Computational Thinking using Python

Course by Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This course is another beginner course, aimed towards people who want to get started and test the waters with programming but don’t know where to start.

The length of time required to complete this program (5 months estimate with 14–16 hours per week commitment) suggests that the program is meatier in content.

The program overview says that you don’t need prior experience to computer science-related subjects and topics to get started, meaning that you’ll get to learn the important concepts that make up the foundation of computational thinking.

6. Architecting with Google Compute Engine

Course by Google Cloud

Cloud computing is the flavor of the coming decade and this course was created by Google to help you understand and work with their technologies.

You’ll get to learn about infrastructure, the core services Google offers, how they work, in addition to concepts and theories about cloud computing.

This course is suited for those who may already have some programming skills and want to upgrade into a true full-stack developer.

The issue with a lot of people that advertise themselves as full-stack is that just because they can boot up something in the cloud, it doesn’t instantly make you a true full-stack developer. Cloud infrastructure and architecture is a complex creature, as complex as all the other parts of development work and this certification track can bolster up your missing knowledge and make you a better full stack developer.

7. Cloud Computing

Course by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The courses inside this track are part of the University’s Master in Computer Science degree. However, the content track for this certification is geared toward becoming an expert in cloud computing theories and technologies.

It also touches on big data and how to deal with it in the cloud.

This track is not for beginners and better suited to those who already have experience in development work and maybe some years working with applications. It is more an upgrading skill and knowledge kind of course than a complete beginning one.

8. IT Fundamentals for Cybersecurity

Course by IBM

This course is created by IBM and aimed at beginners looking to get a better understanding of cybersecurity and how application building processes work.

The course content deals with security protocols, cybersecurity frameworks and how cyber-attacks happen.

Security is often one of the last things on people’s minds — until it happens then the magnificent captain hindsight kicks in. Having a good foundation is security that can help prevent these kinds of occurrences from happening.

You don’t have to be a coder to start this program, or even be looking to learn how to code specifically. Rather, this course is suitable for all, regardless of your current discipline.

9. Blockchain

Course by University at Buffalo & The State University of New York

Who isn’t talking about blockchain nowadays? It’s everywhere. You’ve probably heard about it from somewhere. But the issue with blockchain is that while there is the hype, a lot of people don’t really know what it is, what it does or how it works.

This is your chance to upgrade your skillset and get started on something that’s being touted as the ‘next frontier’ of technology. It’s a different way of thinking about programming and how to create applications.

Blockchain is a revolution in action and this is your opportunity to be part of it.

Final thoughts

Taking a structured course can also help you get out of the self-taught route and take you out of the tutorial rut by giving you a structure to topics and idea paths that you may not be aware of.

The perks about the courses listed above are that they’re all free — which means that unless you want the certificate for showing purposes, the knowledge itself is free. The only cost is the initial time investment you put in.

Becoming a crafter of code is a constant act of learning. It doesn’t matter where you are in your your journey right now, learning is a common activity that all the best developers have in common.


Created by

Aphinya Dechalert







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