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Learn to Code with These Free Online Programming Courses

15 min read
Online programming courses

Have you wondered what it might be like to start a new career in a more lucrative field?

It’s a question that people are asking themselves more and more frequently, and many of those people are turning to web development, also known as coding or programming. It doesn’t require a 4-year degree, and the national average salary for a junior programmer is over $50,000.

Sounds great, right? But how do you get started? While there are many options for paid boot camps, it’s a good idea to see if you even like it first.

What if I told you there are free online programming courses?

It’s never been easier to get into programming than it is today. Keep reading to find some great options to begin your programming journey.

Online Programming Courses

While there are plenty of paid online courses you can take when it comes to web development, it’s a great idea to start by taking advantage of one of the hundreds of free Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs) that are available.

Often these courses are of the same quality or higher than many paid courses and offer a risk-free way to decide if web development is right for you. But with so many options, where do you start? Let’s take a look.

Front End Web Development

There are two main areas of web development, front end, and back end. We’ll get to back end in a minute. In general, when you learn to code, it’s best, to begin with, front end development. This includes HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. When you go to a website, the parts you can actually see are built by a front end developer.

Let’s take a look at some great MOOCs you can take to learn these skills.


Many universities offer the option of free Online programming courses class audits, and one especially good one is an Introduction to HTML5 from the University of Michigan, offered through Coursera. This is a very well-designed course from an established institution, and HTML is a great place to begin your journey.

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Udacity offers an Introduction to HTML and CSS. When you begin learning online, it’s a good idea to look at HTML and CSS together. They are often used in tandem, and knowing both will give you a broader look into the world of front end programming.

Another great CSS tool offered by the renowned edX is Introduction to Bootstrap – A Tutorial. Bootstrap is a framework for CSS, and currently the most popular one available.


JavaScript is the most widely used coding element you can learn- it is the backbone of front end development, and frequently being used more in back end development as well. One of the most prestigious universities in the United States, John Hopkins, offers HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for Web Developers, also through Coursera.

Back End Web Development

Back end, also known as server-side development, is everything else. If you’ve ever wanted to learn to program using languages like C++, Python, or Ruby, these are what a back end developer might use. They are used to create the actual structure of a website, all the parts you can’t see. Let’s look at a MOOC for each of Python, C++, and Ruby, the three most commonly used programming languages.


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take a class at MIT? Well, you can! And it won’t cost you a dime. Through edX, MIT is offering Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python. Many experienced coders suggest that when it comes to programming languages, Python is the best place to start due to its readability and ease of use.


C++ is the programming language developed by Microsoft, so you can imagine how helpful it is to know in the tech world. While C++ is the most commonly used, there is a whole family of ‘C’ programming languages, and C for Everyone: Structured Programming will serve as an excellent introduction to the more basic aspects, building up to the somewhat more complex C++ by the end of the course.

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For Ruby, we will head back to John Hopkins for their course Ruby on Rails: An Introduction. Similarly to Python, Ruby is often offered as a wonderful programming language to start with when you first learn to code. It is designed to be as similar to writing in English as possible for ease of use.

Computer Science

If you’d like a more general introduction to the basic theory of computer science, there’s even a MOOC for you! Harvey Mudd, through edX, offers MyCS: Computer Science for Beginners. If you’re curious how a computer actually works, or what exactly computer science is, this is the perfect jumping-off point.

Why Learn to Code

Nearly every industry needs programmers. This means that, no matter what your passions are, you can find a niche you’ll enjoy. If you like music, you can work with record labels to design sites for artists, if you enjoy finance there are always jobs centered around the massive amounts of data the industry processes.

When you learn to code you can even use this knowledge to grow a personal brand, from making your own website to better understanding how to use tools like Snapchat advertising to gain clients or followers.

It doesn’t matter if you’re planning on a career change, adding a new skill to your existing resume, or just picking up a new hobby, a free computer programming course is always worthwhile.

Online programming courses

Today Is a Great Day to Keep Learning

The world is moving more and more into the realm of technology. What we’ve discussed here is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you want to know more about computers, programming, or technology in general, check out one of the many other articles in our technology section. And when you do, don’t forget to drop us a comment!

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