17 MIT computer science classes you can take online for free

17 MIT computer science classes you can take online for free

May 24, 2021

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  • edX is an e-learning platform founded by MIT and Harvard that offers free and affordable classes.
  • There are 211 MITx courses you can take, including ones that offer certificates or college credit.
  • EdX features 17 MIT computer science classes you can browse for free.

edX, an e-learning non-profit founded by MIT and Harvard, offers free and affordable online classes to improve education accessibility to 25 million students.

The site is partnered with more than 90 of the world’s leading universities, non-profits, and NGOs to offer courses from Java programming to the Science of Happiness for free. Students also have the option of paying for a certificate of completion (usually $40-$300) that they can add to their CV, resume, and LinkedIn page. The site also has budget-friendly options for Professional Certificates, MicroBachelors, MicroMasters, and Master’s programs. 

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As one of its founding universities, MIT has 211 classes available on edX, including 17 computer science courses. Below, you can browse and audit free courses on everything from an introduction to computer science to quantum information science to the intersection of philosophy and mathematics. You can also take advantage of MIT’s OpenCourseWare, where they publish virtually all MIT course content for the public. 

You can browse all computer science classes on edX here.

17 MIT online computer science courses you can take for free:

Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python

Enroll for free

Length: 9 weeks

Certificate cost: $75 (College credit also offered through Charter Oak State College)

This course is the first part of an introduction to computational thinking, programming, and computer and data science. Without any prior experience in computer science or programming, you should be able to exit the course with both an understanding of how to think computationally and write programs to tackle problems. 

The class focuses on breadth rather than depth. You’ll learn about Python, simple algorithms, testing and debugging, and data structures. You’ll also get an informal introduction to algorithm complexity.

*This course begins on June 2, 2021, but enrollment is currently open.

Machine Learning with Python: from Linear Models to Deep Learning

Enroll for free

Length: 15 weeks

Certificate cost: $300

This course offers an in-depth introduction to the field of machine learning. Students cover topics from linear models to deep learning and reinforcement learning through hands-on Python projects. It’s also the last course in the MITx MicroMasters program in Statistics and Data Science.

*This course begins on September 6, 2021, but enrollment is currently open.

Computation Structures 1: Digital Circuits

Enroll for free

Length: 10 weeks

This is part one of a three-part series on digital systems. It’s based on a course offered by the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and covers topics like digital encoding of information, principles of digital signaling, combinational and sequential logic, implementation in CMOS, and more. 

Using your browser for design entry and simulation, you’ll get to design and debug circuits at both the transistor- and gate-level, culminating in the creation of a 32-bit arithmetic and logic unit. 

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

Computation Structures 2: Computer Architecture

Enroll for free

Length: 10 weeks

This course covers topics like the design of a processor instruction set architecture, how to translate high-level programs into sequences of computer instructions, the design of the datapath and control logic for a 32-bit processor, and the role of caches in the memory hierarchy.

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

Computation Structures 3: Computer Organization

Enroll for free

Length: 10 weeks

This interactive course teaches students how to turn a processor into an entire computer system. You’ll learn virtualization as a way to share a single processor, along with the basic organization of a simple time-shared operating system, appropriate techniques for parallel processing, and how to use pipelining to increase a processor’s throughput.

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

Circuits and Electronics 1: Basic Circuit Analysis

Enroll for free

Length: 5 weeks

Certificate cost: $169 

This course teaches students foundational techniques for designing the microchips used in smartphones, self-driving cars, computers, and the internet. 

Circuits and Electronics 2: Amplification, Speed, and Delay

Enroll for free

Length: 5 weeks

Certificate cost: $169 

Slightly beyond the Level 1 class, this course teaches students how to speed up digital circuits and build amplifiers in the design of microchips used in smartphones, self-driving cars, computers, and the internet. 

Circuits and Electronics 3: Applications

Enroll for free

Length: 7 weeks

Certificate cost: $169 

Students learn about cool applications, op-amps, and filters in the design of microchips used in smartphones, self-driving cars, computers, and the internet.

Principles of Synthetic Biology

Enroll for free

Length: 15 weeks

This introductory synthetic biology course brings together computer science, engineering, design, biotechnology, genetic engineering, and biology. Students learn how to engineer biological systems and program organisms to perform novel tasks.

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

Paradox and Infinity

Enroll for free

Length: 12 weeks

In “Paradox and Infinity,” you’ll be introduced to highlights from the intersection of philosophy and mathematics. You’ll learn about infinity, time travel, and free will, as well as computability and Gödel’s Theorem.

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

Software Construction in Java

Enroll for free

Length: 12 weeks

This course is part one of two courses focused on writing good software using modern engineering techniques.

Students learn how to write programs that are safe from bugs, easy to understand, and ready for change. They learn about Java programming, software testing, code specifications, and abstract data types.

It takes 12 weeks to complete. 

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

Advanced Software Construction in Java

Enroll for free

Length: 10 weeks

This is the second course on writing good software. It digs deeper into what makes good code “good.” Students also explore two paradigms for modern programming: grammars, parsing, and recursive datatypes; and concurrent programming with threads.

It should take students ten weeks to complete. 

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

Discrete-Time Signal Processing

Enroll for free

Length: 4 weeks

This course is designed to focus on the theory behind modern discrete-time signal processing systems and applications. Each topic includes a set of automatically-graded exercises for self-assessment to help digest concepts and preview topics. 

It should take students four weeks to complete. 

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

Global Health Informatics to Improve Quality of Care

Enroll for free

Length: 13 weeks

Learn how to leverage IT to design health information and communication technology (ICT) solutions for the developing world. This course especially highlights how to design in resource-constrained settings. Students also learn about global health burdens, health informatics, design thinking, evaluation and monitoring, and the software development process. 

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

Quantum Information Science I, Part 1

Enroll for free

Length: 5 weeks

This class is part of a three-course series that teaches students about quantum bits, quantum logic gates, quantum algorithms, and quantum communications. It helps build foundational knowledge to understand what quantum computers can do, how they work, and how you can contribute to discovering new things and solving problems.

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

Quantum Information Science I, Part 2

Enroll for free

Length: 5 weeks

The second part of Quantum Information Science builds on the foundational introduction provided in the first course and explores simple quantum protocols and algorithms, including quantum teleportation and superdense coding, Deutsch-Jozsa and Simon’s algorithms, Grover’s quantum search algorithm, and Shor’s quantum factoring algorithm.

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

Quantum Information Science I, Part 3

Enroll for free

Length: 7 weeks

The third and final course in Quantum Information Science is an introduction to the theory and practice of quantum computation. It builds on the previous courses’ foundational knowledge and the simple quantum protocols learned during the second course. Students learn about formal models for quantum noise and quantum communication channels, simple quantum error-correction codes, including the quantum Hamming code, quantum key distribution protocol, and distributed quantum protocols and algorithms.

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

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