The best resources to learn to code for FREE

The best resources to learn to code for FREE


We live in the age of democratized learning. It’s not difficult for anyone to find plenty of learning resources on any topic after a search through the web. This is especially true for learning to code. You can find thousands of courses, tutorials, and exercises online to show you how to become a self-taught programmer .

And the best news is that most of these resources are completely free. That’s why we compiled a list of websites that let you learn to code for free, so you don’t miss out on taking advantage of them. With over 15 websites listed here, you’ll be able to find materials that cover different study areas in programming like web development and data science.


Multi-Domain

Websites listed in this section offer courses, tutorials, or learning paths that cover multiple programming domains. They are diverse enough to have something that fits your requirements, whether you are looking for introductory or more advanced content.

Codecademy

Codecademy offers free courses that walk you through beginner/intermediate level programming concepts using interactive lessons. It allows you to learn by doing, giving an immediate understanding of how to apply theories in actual code.

Its courses currently cover over 12 languages, including Python, Java, Javascript, HTML, and CSS.

However, the more advanced courses that take you through a specific career path, like full-stack engineering, are only available to the website’s Pro users. Even with access to only the free material, Codeacademy is still a great resource to learn the basics and get a comprehensive introduction for beginners.

Coursera

Coursera is an excellent place to find programming courses taught by academics and industry experts in almost all domains. It also offers specialization paths to gradually build your knowledge in a particular area through a set of courses.

For example, this two-part algorithms and data structures course offered by Princeton University is one of the best resources you can find on the subject.

While not all courses on the website are completely free, most give you the option to audit the course. Auditing blocks your access to quizzes, assessments, and the final certification otherwise available to paid learners. But it still allows you to learn from the video lectures and reading material in the curriculum at no cost.

If you choose to audit a course on Coursera, you’ll find an array of high-quality learning resources like the Meta’s Front-End Developer Professional Certificate . IBM also provides several specializations with auditable courses, including this popular Data Science Certificate .

edX

edX is another platform that hosts online courses from universities around the world. It has partnered with world-famous universities like Harvard and MIT to provide well-designed, university-level curriculums for programming-related topics.

One of the best offerings on edX, Harvard’s CS50 program has introductory courses to computer science or specific domains like web development and game development. If you’re looking for a learning path that focuses heavily on understanding fundamentals, CS50 can be an excellent place to get started.

Other great programming courses available on edX include Linux Foundation’s Introduction to Linux and Harvard’s Data Science programs

Similar to Coursera, edX gives you an option to audit courses if you are not worried about receiving the final certification.

Udacity

Udacity has nanodegree programs that allow learners to develop different professional skills. Programming is one of them. Every nanodegree comprises a set of courses, each with a curriculum spanning 2-3 months. This format of structuring courses builds a clear learning path that gradually develops your skills.

If you feel overwhelmed by how diverse programming can be, these nanodegrees can help you find clarity on which way to go after reaching a milestone.

Unlike edX and Coursera, however, most Udacity nanodegrees don’t come with an audit option. But you can still find an impressive collection of free programs from industry experts and top universities. This GitHub repository by mikesprague gives a quite helpful breakdown of some free nanodegrees available on the platform.

Udemy

Despite being another online course hosting platform, Udemy is a little different from its peers. It allows virtually any private contributor to create their own courses and start selling them through the website. This policy has helped Udemy to amass over 185,000 video courses on various subjects.

Having that many courses on a platform can be a curse and a blessing. Their quality can be a hit or a miss. In fact, Udemy already has plenty of low-quality courses that might end up wasting your time. But if you do proper prior research and pay attention to student reviews, you won’t fail to find the good ones in the midst.

Most courses on Udemy require you to spend $10-$20 on a flash sale to get enrolled. But there are also many free ones that you can join without spending a dime. If you visit the site at the right time, you may even find some priced courses being offered for free for a limited time. Some of the best free programming content available on Udemy include:

Hackr.io

Hackr.io is like a search engine for finding online programming learning resources. It aggregates video tutorials and ebooks hosted on different websites, like YouTube, Udacity, and Udemy, and ranks them based on community votings. It helps you discover content that actual learners found useful on many programming languages and domains.

The website lists both paid and free content. But it gives you the option to filter only the free ones. You can also check the reviews others have left on each tutorial to figure out if it fits your bill.

You’ll have more success on this website if you search for resources on a popular topic. For example, the top tutorial in Python currently has 1228 votes. But in a less popular case, like for data science, the top-voted tutorial has only 13 votes. So, it might not be the best fit for all your resource needs. Still, it’s a good place to start looking for tutorials when you need help to learn something new.

MIT Open Courseware

MIT Open Courseware is an open publication of learning material from MIT courses. It includes video lectures, online textbooks, and hands-on activities like assignments and exams from the curriculum taught to MIT students. Some of the videos available are recordings of classroom lectures themselves. OCW gives free access to all these priceless resources to any learner.

It has a number of high-quality programming courses like Introduction to Computer Science and Programming in Python and Introduction to Algorithms . They are designed to familiarize you with computer science, emphasizing the fundamental and theoretical side more compared to a regular programming curriculum.

If you’re interested in understanding the theoretical aspects of programming, you’ll love these OCW courses and their way of teaching the subject.


Web development

So far, we have focused on a set of websites that provides learning resources on various programming domains from beginner to a more advanced level. Now, we turn to a few websites that specifically serve those who want to learn web development. These websites prioritize learning by doing, with interactive curriculums that motivate you to build things as the primary way of learning.

freeCodeCamp

freeCodeCamp is one of the go-to web development learning resources on the internet. It starts from the basics and continues to more advanced topics throughout ten certification programs that amount to a total of 30000 hours.

Even absolute beginners to programming can follow its curriculum that covers different web development topics, including:

  • Responsive web design with HTML and CSS
  • Javascript data structures and algorithms
  • Frontend libraries like React and Redux
  • Backend development and APIs with Node/Express

Later certifications also introduce topics like data analysis and machine learning, giving you an understanding of how to incorporate these technologies to build websites.

freeCodeCamp uses an interactive teaching method that encourages people to learn by running code. The website provides a built-in IDE where you can write and run code without additional setup as you go through lessons. Its curriculum also prompts students to complete several small development projects to earn each certification.

freeCodeCamp’s curriculum is an excellent resource for learning different web development aspects while gaining actual coding experience. Though this website alone won’t be enough to truly master the subject, it’ll give you a clear roadmap for the path you should follow.

Odin Project

Odin Project is another wonderful web development curriculum that provides a clear roadmap to becoming a good developer. However, its teaching model is quite different from the freeCodeCamp’s.

It starts preparing you for working as a developer from the beginning. For example, it teaches you how to set up a local development environment and Git basics before writing actual code. It also uses written, tutorial-style lessons. They come with additional links to videos or articles on other websites to help you learn the concepts well.

The course also has many assignments and projects that encourage you to build things on your own. They sometimes span topics that the curriculum doesn’t explicitly cover. This teaching method prompts students to find answers to questions independently without relying on course material.

If you follow Odin Project, you can choose one from two learning paths. After completing the web development basics, including introductions to HTML, CSS, and Javascript, you can learn backend development using either Ruby on Rails or Node. The teaching model of the course, however, remains unchanged despite the path you choose.


Algorithms & data structures

Algorithms and data structures is one of the programming topics that intimidate a lot of learners. But, today, many websites make this somewhat daunting subject quite enjoyable and more straightforward to learn. In this section, we will look at several websites that let you practice and play with algorithms and data structures through challenges and games.

Hackerrank

Hackerrank is a website that programmers can use to test and practice their problem-solving skills. It contains challenges and problems that often require algorithms and data structures knowledge to find the answers. The website supports code in a number of languages, including Java, Javascript, and Python.

The best thing about Hackerrank is how it ranks problems based on difficulty. It allows you to start with the easier problems and progress to more difficult ones as you develop the mindset and knowledge required to solve them.

Hackerrank also hosts competitions organized by different parties. You can participate in them and win prizes if you manage to get to the top. Some organizations even use Hackerrank competitions as a way of screening interviewees.

LeetCode

LeetCode is more or less similar to Hackerrank in functionality. It offers problem-solving challenges of different difficulty levels. The site allows users to submit their answers in nearly 20 programming languages.

One aspect that sets LeetCode apart from Hackerrank is its active community. The website has set up numerous discussion boards—like Study Guide, Interview Question, and Career—to let users share their experiences and help each other. If you get stuck trying to solve a problem, you’ll find a friendly community on these discussion boards to help you get back on track.

Leetcode also hosts weekly and biweekly contests if you want to test your competitive genes using algorithms and data structures knowledge.

CodeWars

Despite being another website that hosts problem-solving programming tasks, CodeWars is a little different from Hackerrank and Leetcode. It uses a more collaborative approach to encourage you to participate in challenges.

CodeWars calls each problem a “Kata,” a name borrowed from a Japanese martial arts form. These Kata’s are submitted by other users in the community.

The website lets you view the code others used to solve the problem after completing a Kata. It gives you the opportunity to learn from how others write their solutions. This practice also leads to further discussions in the community on best practices of writing code and finding better techniques to get to the solution.

CodinGame

CodinGame provides a fun way to solve problems compared to other websites in this section. It uses a game-based learning format to engage you with the topic. Every lesson is designed as a multiplayer game where players take turns trying to outdo the others. Its curriculum takes you through an increasingly-advancing set of problems to help you gradually become familiar with writing algorithms to win the games.

CodinGame also contains individual problems called puzzles. They prompt you to create algorithms to solve some exciting tasks like landing a Mars rover. If you find yourself intimidated by the traditional approaches to learning algorithms and data structures, this site might help you make that process more enjoyable.


Data science

Data science has now become one of the hot topics in programming. Its growing popularity has resulted in many new websites on the topic in recent years. This section lists some of the best data science learning websites you can find today.

Kaggle

Kaggle is like LeetCode for data scientists. It hosts data science and machine learning competitions, provides public datasets for training new models, and fosters discussions in the community on related subjects. All these attributes have made Kaggle a staple among data science learners and professionals.

Kaggle comes with an in-built development environment for developing and training machine learning models. The site gives access to over 100,000 public datasets to explore and experiment with. It also allows you to upload new public or private datasets to use in projects. And you get access to all these features of Kaggle for free.

Moreover, Kaggle offers several courses that explain the data science process through practical exercises for those just starting out.

Google AI

Google AI offers a number of courses and guides on machine learning taught by Google experts. They are relatively short, usually lasting 5-10 hours, but packed with valuable, practical information on running ML pipelines.

Google AI courses cover material relevant to learners of beginner to advanced levels. They primarily use video and written teaching material to walk you through core concepts. They also incorporate Colab coding exercises to give you hands-on experience on how to work with data and build well-performing models.

If you’re looking for a quick overview of different machine learning-related topics, you’ll find these Google AI resources a perfect place to get started. For this, you can consider courses like:


Other

Besides the teaching-targeted websites we discussed so far, you can also find communities and resources to help your learning process in different parts of the web. We will look at two such websites that would be invaluable when learning to code on your own.

Reddit

Reddit is a network of communities that gives people of different interests a place to gather and share their ideas, experiences, and stories. The programming community on Reddit is particularly vibrant, and you can find groups of like-minded people on a variety of topics under subreddits.

For example, r/learnprogramming is full of people who are willing to help you find answers to any of your programming-related questions. Whether you want help with technical questions, finding resources, or reviving your motivation, the subreddit can be a massive advantage to all self-learners. If you are looking for someone to partner with for building a project, taking a course, or sharing knowledge, r/ProgrammingBuddies could be the community for you.

Reddit also has many other niche programming communities if you want to connect with a more specific group of people. r/webdev , r/machinelearning , and r/python are only a few examples of these. You can ask for advice, share your progress, and get feedback on your projects from fellow learners and professionals on these subreddits.

GitHub

GitHub is the world’s largest Git repository hosting platform. It contains over 100 million public repositories, including some of the biggest open-source projects like React, Flutter, and Apache Spark.

Having open access to such large-scale programming projects is a gold mine for those learning to code. It gives you a platform to read high-quality code and observe how projects are developed over time from their early days.

GitHub is also a place that leads you to even more resources to help your learning process. The site has a large number of repositories that compile lists of books, tutorials, and articles on almost any topic with contributions from other programmers.

For example, this Project-Based Learning repository lists tutorials on how to build any type of application from scratch. It has projects in over 20 languages and tutorials that go from the beginner level to a more advanced level. A similar repository, Build your own X, contains step-by-step guides for recreating some popular technologies like Git or Docker.

If you spend some time searching through GitHub repositories, you’ll find even more awesome resource compilations like these to help you improve as a programmer.