The Best Free Online Courses for Computer Programming and Coding
The Best Free Online Courses for Computer Programming and Coding

The Best Free Online Courses for Computer Programming and Coding

Modern technology is evolving rapidly, and many activities involve innovative computer programs and software designed to make our lives easier.

This has resulted in an increased demand for computer programmers: those who can write in a language these machines understand to instruct them to perform specific operations.

This article will highlight the benefits of acquiring this highly sought after skill, then give an overview of the best free online courses in computer programming and coding.

The Best Free Online Courses for Computer Programming and Coding

Beginner Level Courses

1. Udacity: What Is Programming?


  • Learn at your own pace
  • Short course can be completed in a day
  • No prior experience required


  • Won't suit those seeking in-depth knowledge

This short course from Udacity is aimed at those with little to no experience in the field. You will work at your own pace through five video lessons covering the fundamental concepts of computer programming and coding.

You will learn the basics of web development languages, be taught industry lingo and disparate web terms, and the practice of version control.

You will also receive an overview of the work-life of a programmer by looking at common daily activities.

There are no entry requirements for this course. Anyone with an interest in programming can sign up, and all five lessons are easily workable in a single day.

Visit Udacity: What Is Programming?

2. Codecademy: Code Foundations


  • Learn to write basic code
  • Explore a range of potential careers in tech


  • Free access limited to a week

If you are looking to explore career paths in computer programming, this online course from Codecademy could prove a valuable resource.

Aimed at beginners, it is a two-week program that delves into the history, applications, and foundational concepts of the areas of computer science, web development and data science.

You will gain a first-hand insight into each career path from industry professionals, as well as learning basic computer language and how to write simple code.

Video lessons can be viewed on-demand, and you will receive a certificate on completion.

Visit Codecademy: Code Foundations

Best Free Online Courses for Computer Programming and Coding in 2021
Best Free Online Courses for Computer Programming and Coding

3. Skillcrush: Free Coding Bootcamp


  • Learn at your own pace
  • Can be completed in around three days
  • Covers a range of different topics including programming, web design, user experience and more


  • Provides basic knowledge of various topics; won't suit those seeking in-depth content on specific areas

With around three days of commitment required, this free online coding course offers a broad overview of computer programming for beginners.

You will work through video lessons at your own pace, covering what it is like to work in tech and the core knowledge needed to start building websites.

The basics of HTML and CSS, user experience, and web design are all covered, as is an introduction to WordPress. You will also take part in interactive activities that will see you writing your code.

No prior experience is required to enroll in this course, and you should have a good indication of whether a career in computer programming is right for you by the end of it.

Visit Skillcrush: Free Coding Bootcamp

Beginner Level Courses – Language-Specific

The courses covered below are ideal for anyone looking to learn the basics of a specific programming language.

They are all offered by Codecademy, and all video lessons are free to access.

However, if you wish to take part in quizzes and projects and earn a certificate of completion, you will need to sign up for a Codecademy Pro subscription.

This is currently priced at $19.99 per month.

4. Codecademy: Learn HTML


  • Learn at your own pace
  • Course can be completed in nine hours
  • Useful insights into the building blocks of websites


  • Access to quizzes, projects and certificate of completion requires subscription

Over six self-paced lessons, this course covers everything you need to know to get started with HTML and CSS.

You will learn about elements, structure and syntax, how to create tables and forms, and how to write more meaningful code using semantic HTML tags.

It will take approximately nine hours to complete this course in full.

Visit Codecademy: Learn HTML

5. Codecademy: Learn Java


  • Course can be completed in 25 hours, studying at your own pace
  • Covers a range of fundamental Java concepts, providing a useful overview of the programming language


  • Access to quizzes, projects and certificate of completion requires subscription

The 11 lessons contained in this comprehensive course take approximately 25 hours to complete and cover all the fundamental concepts of this popular programming language.

You will start with an introductory overview before exploring topics including object-oriented Java, variables, loops, string methods, arrays and debugging.

Visit Codecademy: Learn Java

6. Codecademy: Learn JavaScript


  • Covers a variety of different topics, providing useful overview of JavaScript
  • Can be completed in 20 hours, fitting around busy schedules
  • No prior experience required


  • Access to quizzes, projects and certificate of completion requires subscription

There are 17 lessons in the Learn JavaScript course designed to give you the fundamental knowledge needed to build interactive, engaging web pages.

The syllabus teaches you how to use conditional statements, functions, iterators, loops, modules and arrays. It also covers object syntax, API calls, classes, asynchronous programming and browser compatibility.

It is recommended you reserve around 20 hours to cover all course content.

Visit Codecademy: Learn JavaScript

7. Codecademy: Learn Python 2


  • No prior experience required
  • Easiest first programming language for beginners to learn
  • Develop practical Python programming skills


  • Access to quizzes, projects and certificate of completion requires subscription

In this course, you will cover the syntax of Python, how to use functions, conditionals and control flow, and the basics of classes, loops, and strings and console output.

You’ll also dive into more advanced aspects of Python language, including lambda syntax and expressions, list comprehensions and list slicing.

There are 12 lessons to work through in total, requiring approximately 25 hours of commitment.

Visit Codecademy: Learn Python 2

8. Codecademy: Learn C++


  • No prior experience required
  • Learn practical C++ programming skills
  • Covers a range of fundamental C++ concepts


  • Access to quizzes, projects and certificate of completion requires subscription

A powerful and flexible programming language, those interested in learning C++ will find this 25-hour course a comprehensive offering.

You will start with the basics before moving onto more complex topics, including the use of conditionals and logic, loops, functions, and classes and objects.

You will also learn how to manipulate memory with references and pointers, and how to organize data using C++ vectors.

Visit Codecademy: Learn C++

9. Codecademy: Learn C#


  • No prior experience required
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Comprehensive overview of C#


  • Access to quizzes, projects and certificate of completion requires subscription

Nine lessons make up the syllabus of this free computer programming course dedicated to C#.

After an introductory overview of its various applications, you will move onto variables and data types, creating methods and working with Boolean logic.

Lessons also cover automation and organization with arrays and loops, using references, simplifying code with interfaces and inheritance, and working with data using LINQ queries.

This is another comprehensive course that takes around 30 hours to complete.

Visit Codecademy: Learn C#

10. Codecademy: Learn SQL


  • Short eight-hour course fits around busy schedules
  • Useful insights for those seeking to work with data and databases
  • No prior experience required


  • Access to quizzes, projects and certificate of completion requires subscription

If your computer programming interests sit in the world of data, this short introductory course to SQL could be a good fit.

Taking just eight hours to complete, you will work through four lessons designed to give you the skills you need to start working with relational databases.

You’ll learn the basics of data manipulation, how to use query keywords and aggregate functions for more complex operations, and cover working with multiple related tables.

Visit Codecademy: Learn SQL

11. Codecademy: Learn Ruby


  • No prior experience required
  • Takes around 10 hours to complete, fitting around busy schedules
  • Learn at your own pace


  • Access to quizzes, projects and certificate of completion requires subscription

The last of our basic computer language courses focuses on Ruby.

Again, the syllabus covers all you need to know to get up and running on your projects, taking approximately 10 hours to complete.

You will learn about control flow, blocks and sorting, arrays, loops and refactoring.

In the final two lessons, you will focus on Ruby’s object-oriented programming capabilities, including inheritance, classes, method privacy and modules.

Visit Codecademy: Learn Ruby

Intermediate Level Courses

12. Udacity: Object Oriented Programming in Java


  • Learn at your own pace
  • Hands-on exercises to assist learning


  • Restricted to those with prior Java experience; won't suit beginners

Moving on to intermediate-level computer programming courses, this offering from Udacity delves deeper into the Java language and its capabilities.

It is a self-paced course that takes approximately four weeks to complete depending on how much time you commit.

Video tutorials are split into four lessons. Lesson one focuses on objects, the creation of classes, and the use of methods, fields and constructors.

Proceeding lessons cover user interaction, working with key concepts like inheritance and encapsulation, and understanding collection types.

You will complete practical tasks along the way to put your skills to the test.

To make the most of this course, you will need to understand Java syntax and basic concepts such as data types, loops and variables.

You will also need to install an Integrated Development Environment that supports Java to complete practical components.

Visit Udacity: Object Oriented Programming in Java

13. Raspberry Pi: Programming 102: Think Like a Computer Scientist


  • Suggested study of two hours per week fits around existing schedules
  • Study at your own pace
  • Certified by the CPD Certification Service


  • Certificate of completion requires paid course access
  • Free access limited to four weeks
  • Does require prior knowledge of Python; not suitable for beginners

Part of the Start Programming with Python educational series, this on-demand course helps you develop your skills around working with data using Python.

You will build on your foundational knowledge, covering advanced functions, lists, string data structures and algorithms.

From here, you will focus on sort and search algorithms, including merge, bubble and insertion sort, and binary and linear search.

There is also an element for those who teach programming, helping you share what you have learned and devise lesson plans.

This makes up only a small portion of the course, and as a whole, content is suitable for anyone with an interest in working with data.

Based on two hours of study per week, it takes four weeks to complete, and free access is granted for four weeks.

If you wish to obtain unlimited access and a certificate of achievement, you can do so for a fee.

Visit Raspberry Pi: Programming 102: Think Like a Computer Scientist

14. Raspberry Pi: Programming 103: Saving and Structuring Data


  • Learn at your own pace
  • Short course with suggested two hours of study per week suits busy schedules
  • Useful exercises and examples to assist learning


  • Certificate of completion requires paid course access
  • Free access limited to three weeks
  • Restricted to those with existing Python experience; won't suit beginners

Following on from Programming 102, this next course from Raspberry Pi explores working with external data files and how to structure data effectively for use in Python.

You will look at CSV and JSON files, the storage and retrieval of persistent data, and how to sync Python programs with an SQL database.

In a self-paced course, there are three lessons to work through, which should each take around two hours to complete.

Visit Raspberry Pi: Programming 103: Saving and Structuring Data

15. PRACE: Defensive Programming and Debugging


  • Learn at your own pace
  • Suggested four-hour weekly study accommodates busy schedules
  • Useful content for anyone looking to identify and solve bugs in code


  • Certificate of completion requires paid course access
  • Does require prior programming experience, with examples provided in C and Fortran (though principles can be transferred to other languages)
  • Free access limited to five weeks

With around 20 hours of study required in total, this online coding course teaches you how to identify, prevent and fix bugs.

Content is delivered using the Fortran and C languages, so it is useful if you have pre-existing knowledge of these. That said, the skills taught are transferable to other programming languages.

You will explore code analyzer and debugging tools and best practices, defensive strategies and key techniques for catching and solving bugs preventatively.

You can access this course for free for seven weeks, or pay £62 for unlimited access and a certificate of achievement.

Visit PRACE: Defensive Programming and Debugging

Advanced Level Course

16. Udacity: JavaScript Design Patterns


  • Learn at your own pace
  • Offers hands-on learning opportunities
  • Useful for those seeking to write clean, organized code


  • Advanced content requires well-rounded existing programming skills

This advanced-level course is a good option for anyone looking to take their JavaScript skills to a higher level.

Focusing on organization and structure, the content is designed to help you write cleaner code in line with organizational best practices.

Across four self-paced lessons, you will explore the differences between working with and without an organizational framework through practical exercises.

You will need to dedicate around six weeks to this course, but on completion will have gained highly sought-after skills, adding a polished, professional finish to your coding projects.

This advanced level course will require you to possess a knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, as well as having prior experience working with a JavaScript organizational library.

Visit Udacity: JavaScript Design Patterns

Multiple Course

17. freeCodeCamp


  • Provides the opportunity for extensive hands-on programming practice
  • Courses available across a wide range of topics
  • Certificates of completion available


  • Won't suit those looking for instructor-led courses that run on a schedule

This free-to-use online resource offers a variety of courses that can be completed at your own pace, each with a certificate of achievement.

The complete curriculum covers everything from responsive web design to machine learning.

For anyone new to computer programming, it is recommended you work through the courses in order.

There is also a useful section on interview preparation for coding roles.

Visit freeCodeCamp

Why Take a Computer Programming Course?

Understanding the basics of computer programming and coding is advantageous for many career paths.

They are essential skills for software developers, as well as being prerequisites for careers in computer science and data science.

Not only that, more employers desire these skills in non-computer-related disciplines, like marketing, where knowledge of basic computer language is becoming increasingly important.

What these skills provide are flexibility and job security. They are incredibly versatile, used in a broad range of roles, and since they are in high demand, anyone in possession of them can improve their job prospects

Whether you’re exploring career development opportunities or are beginning in a professional context, online computer programming courses have a lot to offer.

Who Might Benefit From Taking a Free Coding Course?

High School Leavers Preparing for College

Coding is a technical skill that takes time and practice to master.

If you are enrolled on a college degree in a computer-related discipline, taking a free coding course before you start full-time study will help you develop one of the most valuable ICT skills there is.

With a comprehension of basic computer language knowledge, you can focus your studies on accelerating your skills, making your formal education a more valuable experience.

Anyone Considering a Career Change

As the world becomes increasingly digitized, roles in computer programming are becoming more diverse and more readily available.

This makes this profession a great choice for anyone with a vested interest in technology considering a career change.

One of the benefits of taking a free online coding course is that, in many cases, you will be introduced to potential career opportunities, helping you decide which direction you want to take your newfound skills in.

Those Looking to Improve Their Employability

Programming is one of the top technical skills to show on your resume and can be hugely advantageous when it comes to landing a new role.

If you are not interested in pursuing further education but want to increase your skillset, a free course in computer programming is very advantageous.

Enthusiasts and Hobbyists

If coding is something you enjoy doing in your spare time, a free course will help you get more pleasure from your hobby.

In just a short period, you can develop foundational knowledge taught by professionals and use this to experiment at your own pace.

What Should You Expect to Gain From Your Computer Programming Course?

The precise skills you will learn from free computer programming courses vary widely.

It all depends on your existing knowledge and the nature of the course you choose to undertake.

As a general overview, however, here are some of the key things you can expect to gain:

Language Proficiency

There are many computer programming languages, and while success in the field does not require you to know them all, it is useful to be proficient in two at least.

Common languages include Java, Python, C++ and SQL. Each language has its applications; therefore, it is best to decide on a specialism and learn the most appropriate languages for it.

Knowledge of Code Applications

As well as learning the languages themselves, most courses will also introduce you to their various capabilities and most common applications.

For example, SQL is used for working with relational databases, while C++ and Java are popular with game designers.

Problem Solving Skills

Programming is all about tackling a given problem by breaking it down into smaller components and using computer language to create a workable and efficient solution.

Free online courses will teach you this through practical exercises that challenge you to apply problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and coding acumen.

History and Future Advancements

Some courses will consider the evolution of computer programming and its future potential.

In this fast-moving industry, it is always useful to know how the technology has advanced, what is presently considered best practice and future potential advancements.

How To Improve Your Coding Skills Alongside Your Course

Step 1. Practice on real-world projects

Coding is a practical skill, and the more experience you receive, the better you will become. Most computer programming courses will involve a practical element; however, you should try to complement this with your projects and work on them regularly.

Step 2. Study code

There are numerous free online resources and printed publications dedicated to coding. Taking out short periods of study as part of your daily routine will allow you to develop your skills and knowledge to remain up to date in this fast-paced industry.

Step 3. Be part of the coding community

Success in coding comes from sharing knowledge. Numerous online communities facilitate this. Reddit r/webdev, StackOverflow and Developers Forum are just some of the places where this knowledge sharing takes place. You can also join open source communities like GitHub to study open-source code to use and manipulate for your projects.

Step 4. Look for feedback

Whether it’s through a personal mentor, a work colleague, or members of an online community, constructive criticism can improve your coding skills. Every coder will have a different approach to a given problem, and by gathering feedback from various sources, you will learn to critically evaluate your work.

Final Thoughts

Computer programming skills are undoubtably a valuable addition to any resume. Versatile and in increasingly high demand, they can broaden your career opportunities and improve employability.

Whether you are beginning or looking to build on existing knowledge, the wealth of free online coding courses available now makes this field accessible to everyone.

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