Free Courses in Computer Science

With all the buzz about Coursera, there's a similar program for those interested in computer science. Read more about free online courses that are all the rage!

After reading Stephanie’s blog post discussing Coursera, I couldn’t help but wonder what other options there were for free online courses (also known as "massively open online courses," or MOOCs). 

After looking around a bit, I found an excellent program that even I signed up for!


Udacity is a website offering university-level education in the field of computer science. Founded by three roboticists, their introductory class, “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence,” boasted over 160,000 students from more than 190 countries. They currently offer six different classes, from CS101: Building a Search Engine to CS387: Applied Cryptography.

Why is this worth my time?

Unlike Coursera, Udacity offers a certificate—which is signed by the instructor—for each student who completes a course. If you attend a college that has a Prior Learning Assessment program, like the University of Phoenix, you could get credit towards your degree! You will also have a chance to learn from some brilliant minds.

Meet The Staff

David Stavens

David received an M.S. and Pd.D. in computer science from Stanford and a B.S.E. in computer science, magna cum laude, from Princeton. He has also received numerous awards for his work with autonomous cars. He is a Co-Founder and CEO of Udacity.

Mike Sokolsky

Mike was a research engineer in the artificial intelligence lab at Stanford, working on systems integration for “Junior,” Stanford’s car that tested computer vision, decision-making, and probabilistic planning. He is a Co-Founder and CTO of Udacity.

Sebastian Thrun

Sebastian received a Ph.D. in computer science and statistics, summa cum laude, from the University of Bonn in Germany. He was the co-director of the Robotic Learning Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University, and former director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He is currently a Google Fellow and part-time research professor of computer science at Stanford, as well as Co-Founder and Professor of Udacity.


Just last week, MIT and Harvard announced a partnership to launch EdX, a nonprofit that provides free online courses by professors from the elite schools. A $60 million venture, certificates of mastery will be available for those who successfully complete these classes. The schools will use an "open-source online learning platform" which features self-paced learning, online discussion groups, wiki-based collaborative learning, learning assessments, and online laboratories.

Not just computer science

For more general studies and practice, check out Khan Academy, which is filled with more than 3,100 educational videos touching on subjects like math, science, finance, humanities, and even SAT and GMAT preparation.

Udacity is just one of many different resources available to students looking to get an edge on college. Make sure you check with your school before assuming the certificate will translate into college credit, and always check to see if the “professors” teaching free material have credentials to back it up. Even if you don’t get college credit, you may learn something you wouldn’t have had the chance to elsewhere!


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About Adam Cronin

Adam Cronin

Adam Cronin works as a Data Entry Specialist at Carnegie Communications while pursuing degrees in computer science and music performance. He is responsible for helping to grow and maintain various databases. On his own time, Adam is currently researching different aspects of artificial intelligence in an attempt to quench his thirst for knowledge, all while preparing himself for a constant schedule of music auditions. As a self-proclaimed “geek,” he hopes his knowledge of computer science and music performance can offer guidance to the readers of CollegeXpress, from auditioning and admission to résumé building and preparing for graduation!

You can follow Adam on Twitter or subscribe to his CollegeXpress blog


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