Udacity offers free university grade online courses

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 13, 2012
Updated • Dec 11, 2012

The Internet has made available a wealth of information to a worldwide audience. 20 or so years ago, your only hope of getting a college or university grade application was to spend two, three, four or even more years studying at your learning institute of choice. Depending on the country you have been living in back then, it may not even have been possible for you to get a university degree either because of lack of funding or options.

The rise of the Internet has changed that dramatically. First, only in form of tutorials and free single courses that were available to everyone. Then later on in the form of free university courses, online certification and free-for-all academies.

We have mentioned the excellent educational videos of the Khan Academy before for instance which has a focus on math and science.

Udacity uses a similar approach, but concentrates more on computer science and science in general. While that still means math most of the time, at least the beginning courses do not require any previous experience in the subject area.

As you can see on the screenshot above, taking classes and joining the community is completely free. If you have completed a class, you can optionall get certification for it which is available for e fee.

Here is a list of courses that are currently on offer:

  • Intro to Computer Science: Building a search engine (Beginner)
  • Intro to Physics: Landmarks in Physics (Beginner)
  • Intro to Statistics: Making Decisions based on data (Beginner)
  • Algorithms: Crunching Social Networks (Intermediate)
  • Logic and Discrete Mathematics: Foundations of Computing (Intermediate)
  • Web Application Engineering: How to build a blog (Intermediate)
  • Software Testing: How to make software fail (Intermediate)
  • Programming Languages: Building a web browser (Intermediate)
  • Design of Computer Programs: Programming Principles (Advanced)
  • Artificial Intelligence: Programming a robotic car (Advanced)
  • Applied Cryptography: Science of Secrets (Advanced)

You can either enroll into a course directly, or preview it for as long as you want. In fact, you can preview it from the beginning to the very end if you want without creating a free account to enroll in it.

Courses are a mixture of instructive videos and questions that you should use to test your knowledge up to that point. This includes multiple choice questions but also programming exercises.

All courses use the Python programming language. If you do not have experience in Python, you should begin with the Intro to Computer Science course as it also acts as an intro to Python of sorts. Each course consists of seven units, one per week, and a finally Exam at the end of the sevenths week.

free computer science course

All instructional videos include captions that can be activated to aid non-native speakers understand the lectures. If you have no troubles reading this blog, you should not really have issues understanding the videos either.

Each course makes available additional material in a Wiki, and a discussion forum where students and instructors can interact with each other directly. There are also sub forums for study groups, extra practice groups and tags for each unit of a class.

I personally like the idea a lot, especially since you can complete the classes in your own pace. Have you been to Udacity before? If so, what is your experience?


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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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