best computer science courses online

25+ Best Computer Science Courses Online for Beginners

Computer science is a wide discipline. 

It may be challenging to decide on the right computer science courses to take if you are a complete beginner. 

From neural networks and operating systems to algorithms and data structures, there are just so many key topics and technologies to consider, which you may not be familiar with initially. 

That’s in addition to the many programming languages that you’ll need to learn as well along the way.

However, with this breakdown of the best online computer science courses, you’ll be able to easily narrow down your preferred niche. 

It doesn’t matter whether you’d like to become a big data specialist or a software developer, the right computer scene training will enable you to get into any tech and tech-related industry of your choice. 

In this guide, I’ll be taking you through the best computer science courses online to make you an expert computer scientist.

Let’s get started. 

1. Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) | Coursera 
2. Computer Science 101: Master the Theory Behind Programming 
3. Computer Science Principles: Programming Online Class | LinkedIn Learning, formerly Lynda.com 
4. Computer Fundamentals: Operating Systems | Pluralsight 
5. Neural Networks and Deep Learning | Coursera 
6. Operating Systems from scratch – Part 1 | Udemy 
7. Computer Science Principles: The Internet Online Class | LinkedIn Learning, formerly Lynda.com 
8. Python Desktop Application Development Course | Pluralsight 
9. Algorithms, Part I | Coursera 
10. CS101 Bootcamp: Introduction to Computer Science & Software | Udemy 
11. Introduction to Quantum Computing Online Class | LinkedIn Learning, formerly Lynda.com 
12. Algorithms and Data Structures Course – Part 1 | Pluralsight 
13. Python Data Structures | Coursera 
14. Computer Programming for Beginners | Udemy 
15. Computer Science Principles Lab: C# Online Class | LinkedIn Learning, formerly Lynda.com 

1. Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) [Coursera]

Python is a popular programming language for computer science, and this tutorial will show you how to get started with it. 

Some course highlights include: 

  • A free Python textbook that you can use for reference during the course, and even afterward when you start writing your own Python programs. 
  • Many exercises around Python scripting to enable you to build complex apps beyond the popular “Hello World” template. As a result, this is one of the best computer science courses on Coursera for Python projects.
  • An extreme coverage of Python 3 basics, including installation on both Windows and Mac, including bonus content on Raspberry PI

The course covers Python on a basic level, so you may feel that it could use a little more complex challenges. On the other hand, it’s the best computer science course online as it offers a good starting for beginners, and also if you’d like to relearn Python. 

2. Computer Science 101: Master the Theory Behind Programming [Udemy]

The theory part of programming is often overlooked, and this is the course to give you the theoretical foundation you need to thrive as a computer scientist. 

You’ll get to: 

  • Learn about data structures and algorithms, and when to use which one depending on what type of application you may want to build.  
  • Uncover programming theories for understanding programming beyond simply learning one language. You get concepts you can apply to many languages. 
  • Discover efficient ways of coding. The course is well-explained, concise, and excellent if you have zero programming experience. 

While this computer science tutorial doesn’t have a lot of practical content as it is geared toward programming theories, it is the best computer science course on Udemy to get a universal programming foundation. Moreover, these theories are vital to understanding how software works and are a crucial step to applied learning. 

3. Computer Science Principles: Programming [LinkedIn Learning]

If time is of the essence, this computer science training will quickly get you up to speed with the most important principles. 

Course highlights include: 

  • Basic language concepts that will enable you to approach and understand programming languages holistically, thereby smoothing your entry into learning Python programming, among other languages you may prefer.
  • Tips on refactoring to improve software operations without changing functionality. This is therefore one of the best computer science courses on LinkedIn Learning for debugging. 
  • A creative teaching style where you learn how to reuse, control and define code sections to break down complex programming tasks into simple sections.

Unfortunately, course support isn’t as forthcoming as would be ideal. Nonetheless, it remains one of the best computer science courses online to understand the basics of object-oriented programming, and you can get student support from the forum. 

4. Computer Fundamentals: Operating Systems [PluralSight]

The operating system is the bridge between a computer’s hardware and its applications, and this is the computer science training to take you under the hood of how it all works. 

The course covers: 

  • Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems and their key features. This is therefore one of the best computer science courses on PluralSight to make you a cross-platform expert.
  • Bonus content on mobile operating systems, which will give you a nice footing if you’d like to get into mobile application development at some point. 
  • Working with various command-line tools to perform diagnostic, configuration, and monitoring tasks at an in-depth level. 

While most of the content focuses on Windows and its various versions and architectures, there’s still sufficient coverage of Linux and Mac. So it remains the best computer science course online to get a working knowledge of the most popular operating systems. 

5. Neural Networks and Deep Learning [Coursera]

A neural network is the AI brain that powers deep learning models. This computer science tutorial will show you how to craft AI models from scratch by creating powerful neural networks. 

You’ll learn about:

  • How to avoid overfitting problems when building AI models, making this one of the best computer science courses online for tackling some of the challenges involved in building neural networks. 
  • The real-life applications of artificial intelligence, so you can be aware of the main AI trends and how they are affecting various industries today.
  • A neural network’s architecture and how to work out important parameters to implement and train efficient and reliable neural networks

Being an intermediate-level course, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of Python programming and data structures. Even so, it is the best computer science course on Coursera because the coding assignments are pretty straightforward.  

6. Operating Systems from Scratch – Part 1 [Udemy]

For computer science training with a focus on operating systems, this is the tutorial to get you started. 

Benefits of this course include: 

  • Excellent instructor availability so you can get any off-topic questions answered in good time, making this one of the best computer science courses on Udemy for support.  
  • There’s a lot of free content for you to preview on input/output devices and computer hardware, so you can get a feel of the course before enrolling. 
  • Good coverage of CPU scheduling algorithms namely, FCFS, SRTF, and SJF. You’ll learn the pros and cons of each to understand how the CPU goes about resource allocation. 

While the instructor does dwell on topics a little bit resulting in the videos being a little bit lengthy, his way of teaching makes it easy to understand complex OS concepts. It’s also great that he goes into great detail.

7. Computer Science Principles: The Internet [LinkedIn Learning]

If you’d like to understand how web servers work, this is the course for you. 

Some course highlights include: 

  • You’ll learn how you can encrypt data that applications send over the internet, among other cyber security strategies you can learn more about from some of the best cyber security courses online in 2021. 
  • A breakdown of HTML and hypertext, so this is the best computer science course online if you’re keen on web development. 
  • An overview of the internet protocol, including how IP addressing and routing works, so you can get a better understanding of how local area networks operate. 

Being a quick introductory course, you may feel some internet concepts could be covered at a more in-depth level. 

Nonetheless, it is the best computer science course on LinkedIn Learning for beginners because it simplifies complex internet topics, and touches on important aspects every computer scientist should know about. 

8. Python Desktop Application Development [PluralSight]

Would you like to create quality desktop applications? 

If so, this is one of the best computer science courses online you could try out. 

By the end of the course, you’ll be able to:

  • Use the QT widget tool kit to build a highly responsive and beautiful GUI for the desktop applications you’ll design. 
  • Gain basic knowledge of Python programming. Because of this, it is one of the best computer science courses for Python refreshers.  
  • Build applications using Python, like the Hello World app, and others that can run on all major operating systems. This is therefore one of the best computer science courses on PluralSight for cross-platform development. 

While this computer science course was released a while ago and hence is a little out of date, the Python back-end development concepts it teaches are still viable. The same goes for the Qt version used for teaching. 

9. Algorithms, Part I [Coursera]

Algorithms and data structures are the foundations of all software. This computer science training by Princeton University is a great choice for understanding these programming building blocks.

Course highlights entail: 

  • Overview of popular data structures like queues and stacks, and how you can implement these to create queuing systems in applications. 
  • Iterators and generics, among other advanced Java features that will simplify client code. Consequently, this is the best computer science course online for Java coding best practices. 
  • Lots of hands-on Java programming and data structures exercises, that will enable you to choose the right algorithms to efficiently solve a problem.   

Unfortunately, the course doesn’t offer a certificate of completion if you’re keen on adding that to your portfolio. Nonetheless, it remains the best computer science course on Coursera for Java developers who’d like to leverage Java programming to build efficient applications. 

10. CS101 Bootcamp: Introduction to Computer Science & Software [Udemy]

Would you like to get into software development? 

Then you may need to learn how to program and this is the course that’ll show you how. Course highlights include: 

  • Foundational concepts of object-oriented programming that will enable you to understand software programming in PHP, Python, and Java. This is therefore the best computer science course on Udemy if you don’t have any coding experience. 
  • Bonus content on working with databases, both SQL and NoSQL databases, so you can better understand how to work with big data. 
  • You also get to learn mobile app development tools and techniques for both Android and iOS platforms. 

This computer science training could do with a few more practice quizzes. 

However,  it’s one of the best computer science courses online as a crash course. It touches on all the important computer science concepts that would typically take an entire semester to learn. 

11. Introduction to Quantum Computing [LinkedIn Learning]

In the age of big data, quantum computing enables us to perform data analytics extremely fast.

If you’d like to get ahead of the future of computing, then this is computer science training for you.

Some course benefits include: 

  • A detailed look at the top AI trends in 2021, and how quantum computing is affecting every industry from medicine to space exploration. 
  • A simple approach to the scientific principles of quantum computing and how you can adapt these to your own business
  • 2.6 CPEs to help you on your way to studying Information Technology, making this the best computer science course on LinkedIn Learning if you’re keen on pursuing the degree. 

You may need some understanding of Quantum Physics to comfortably make progress in this class. The good news is that the instructor offers ready help in the Q&A should you need it. 

12: Algorithms and Data Structures – Part 1 [PluralSight]

To be a good software engineer, it’s vital to master data structures and algorithms, and this is the course to set you on your way. 

The course covers: 

  • A breakdown of a real-world application to get a practical feel of the different types of structures, like binary search trees and queues, and how they work in reality. 
  • Optimization of data structures and algorithms to increase the performance of applications and also reduce the amount of programming involved. As a result, this is the best computer science course online to learn efficient coding.
  • Asymptotic analysis of algorithms and how to evaluate algorithm efficiencies using run-time inputs instead of individual machine tests. 

Unfortunately, you’ll need basic knowledge of C# to get started. 

With the right background, it’s the best computer science course on PluralSight to learn how to implement advanced algorithms and data structures in C#. 

13. Python Data Structures [Coursera]

Python data structures offer excellent flexibility and fast processing, making them an invaluable component of computer science. 

Highlights of this course include: 

  • Aside from helpful assignments before each chapter, you also get incredible support for the assignments, making this one of the best computer science courses online. 
  • Learning to create Python programs that read and write from files, in addition to executing multi-step tasks such as lopping using tuples. 
  • A coverage of often-overlooked pain points, including addressing coding errors on screen as the instructor encounters them. 

Being part of a larger specialization, it may be helpful to take this course in the order of the arrangement to unlock its full value. Although it builds upon the previous course, it’s still one of the best computer science courses on Coursera as a standalone tutorial because there’s a quick overview of Python syntax basics. 

14. Computer Programming for Beginners [Udemy]

If you’re totally new to programming and would like to build a foundation you can take into any programming language, then this might be an excellent choice for you. 

It’s one of the best computer science courses on Udemy because: 

  • You’ll build basic programs in both JavaScript and Python programming, which are two of the best programming languages for web development
  • Step-by-step teaching style where you’ll learn to code alongside the instructor, coupled with timely feedback on your code. 
  • It was recently updated to include more exercise, and provide you with more opportunities to put your new knowledge to the test.

This course may feel like twice the work because you get to learn both JavaScript and Python at a go. The upside is that you learn two languages, in addition to general programming concepts. So this is the best computer science course online for programming value.  

15. Computer Science Principles Lab: C# [LinkedIn Learning]

Would you like to learn C# programming?

C# is one of the most flexible, general-purpose languages that enable you to build a huge variety of cross-platform applications. 

In this computer science training, you’ll learn about: 

  • Coding refactoring, which is an important concept that will help you debug and improve the quality of your code. 
  • Core principles of agile software development to allow for fine tuning product features with ease. This makes it an excellent option for C# software development. 
  • Creating arrays in C# for data storage to power a host of applications, including .NET and Windows apps.  

However, this course is a part of the Computer Science Principles series, and there are a few concepts it builds on from the preceding course. That said, it’s still one of the best computer science courses on LinkedIn Learning because it’s viable as a stand-alone C# introductory course, as it only skips a few Syntax basics.  

Conclusion

Are you ready to start your online computer science training? 

To be a competent computer scientist, it’s important to start by learning essential programming basics before you get into some of the best computer science courses online for beginners. 

The Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) course is excellent if you’d like to start by learning Python programming. 

Python reads almost like plain English, and it’s great if you don’t have any programming background. 

If your programming interests aren’t language-specific, then the Computer Science 101: Master the Theory Behind Programming tutorial is an excellent option. 

This course teaches programming theory applicable in any programming class, including low-level languages like C++. 

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