Harvard’s free online CS50 courses teach computer science to absolute beginners – and are some of edX’s most popular classes

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Harvard edX
  • Harvard offers its popular CS50 computer science classes online through the e-learning platform edX.
  • You can enroll for free, or pay a fee to receive a certificate to add to your resume or LinkedIn.
  • Below, find a list of Harvard’s online CS50 courses, as well as information about longer programs.

Whether you’re interested in pursuing one of the happiest jobs in America or one of the fastest-growing career paths, there’s a good chance it involves computer science. Coveted roles in data science, software engineering, and cybersecurity all require a comfortable understanding of how computers and computational systems work.

If you’re interested in learning the basics of computer science – and from one of the top schools in the worldHarvard University offers its CS50 classes and professional certificates through edX, an e-learning platform co-founded by Harvard.

CS50 classes are beginner computer science courses, with the introductory CS50 course being the largest one on Harvard’s campus. Its popularity is reflected online as well: Since being adapted into a free virtual version, nearly three million people have enrolled, making it one of the top 100 edX courses of all time.

Below, you’ll find all the free Harvard CS50 courses currently available (with the option of a paid certificate of completion for all of them). Topics range from game development to web programming with Python and Java.

You can also enroll in a paid CS50 professional certificate program, such as the data science program, which compiles multiple related courses together to master a skill and provide certification for your resume or LinkedIn profile. You can find the full list of those programs here, including CS50’s AP Computer Science Principles ($358.20), which offers high schoolers HarvardX certification as well as AP credit upon completion of the AP exam.

Below are all 8 free Harvard CS50 courses available on edX:

CS50’s Introduction to Computer Science

CS50 Introduction to Computer Science

Time: 12 weeks

Cost: Free; $199 for a certificate

In this introductory course, students learn concepts like abstraction, algorithms, data structures, encapsulation, resource management, security, software engineering, and web development.

They also become familiar with programming languages such as C, Python, SQL, JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. By the end, students develop and present a final programming project to their peers. 

CS50’s Introduction to Computer Science (button)
CS50’s Web Programming with Python and JavaScript

edX CS50 Python and Javascript

Time: 12 weeks 

Cost: Free; $199 for a certificate 

Students learn about data, design, scalability, security, and user experience. Using hands-on projects, they become well versed in writing and using APIs; creating interactive UIs, and leveraging cloud services like GitHub and Heroku. The class touches on HTML, SQL, JavaScript, Front Ends, Flask, and more. 

CS50’s Web Programming with Python and JavaScript (button)
CS50’s Introduction to Game Development

edX CS50 Web Programming Gaming

Time: 12 weeks 

Cost: Free; $199 for a certificate 

Learn about the development of 2D and 3D interactive games. Using lectures and hands-on projects, students explore the design of popular games such as Super Mario Bros., Pokémon, Angry Birds, and more.

Computer Science for Game Development by Harvard University (button)
CS50’s Introduction to Artificial Intelligence with Python

edX CS50 courses

Time: 7 weeks 

Cost: Free; $199 for a certificate

In this introductory course to AI, students learn to use machine learning in Python. Through hands-on projects, students are exposed to the theory behind graph search algorithms, classification, optimization, reinforcement learning, and other topics. They also learn about adversarial search, logical inference, Markov models, and natural language processing.

CS50’s Introduction to Artificial Intelligence with Python (button)
CS50 for Lawyers

edX CS50 For Lawyers

Time: 10 weeks 

Cost: Free; $199 for a certificate

This is a variant of Harvard’s introductory computer science course that’s been designed specifically for lawyers and law students to impart a deeper understanding of the legal implications of a client’s technological decisions. The original CS50 takes a bottom-up approach, but this course begins with high-level concepts and related design decisions first.

CS50 for Lawyers (button)
CS50’s Computer Science for Business Professionals

edX CS50 For Business Professionals

Time: 6 weeks 

Cost: Free; $199 for a certificate

This course is designed for business professionals such as managers, product managers, founders, and decision-makers so they can make technological decisions even if they’re not actual tech experts. Unlike CS50’s bottom-up approach, this course is also top-down, emphasizing mastery of high-level concepts and related decisions. Topics include computational thinking and web development.

CS50’s Computer Science for Business Professionals (button)
CS50’s Understanding Technology

edX CS50's Understanding Technology

Time: 6 weeks 

Cost: Free; $199 for a certificate

This is Harvard’s CS50 course for students who use technology every day but don’t necessarily understand how it all works or how to troubleshoot. Harvard designed this version of their class to help fill in the gaps. Basic concepts like hardware, the Internet, multimedia, security, programming, and web development are all covered. 

CS50’s Understanding Technology (button)
CS50’s Mobile App Development with React Native

edX CS50 Mobile App

Time: 13 weeks 

Cost: Free

Here, students pick up where the introduction to CS50 leaves off, learning about mobile app development with React Native and modern JavaScript (including ES6 and ES7) as well as JSX, a JavaScript extension. After hands-on projects, students implement an app entirely of their own design in a final project.

*This course is currently archived, but is still available to audit.

CS50’s Mobile App Development with React Native (button)

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