The best online coding courses can be one of the best ways to learn to code. They’re convenient, flexible, making them a great way to master in-demand skills if have other commitments that you need to work around. Whether you plan to develop a career in programming or web design or just want to have a basic knowledge to add an extra string in your bow, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Various online coding schools offer flexible programs of study, which are often more convenient and affordable than studying at a physical location – there are even free online coding courses to get you started. And the number and range of online coding courses available means there’s almost bound to be one to meet your needs, teaching the language you want to learn at an appropriate level and workload that suits you.
It can be hard to decide where to start, so we’ve selected our own pick of the best online coding courses that we’ve found to help you narrow down your search. We’ve compared the curriculums, materials and student reviews offered by a range of online coding schools. We’ve noted the pros and cons of each and provided links to their sites where you can find out more and see the full range of courses they offer.
Many of the best coding schools offer several courses in different types of coding and for different levels, so rather than evaluate a specific course, we’ve provided our overall impression of the structure and depth of their courses, the delivery methods and resources, expert knowledge provided, community support and student feedback.
If not sure how to choose the best online coding course or the best free online coding course for you, take a look at the questions section at the bottom. Once you’ve chosen an online coding school, you might want to make sure you have one of the best monitors for programming to help minimise eyestrain while you study. We also have a guide to the best laptops for programming. And if you’re looking to gain new knowledge and skills in other high-demand areas, check out our essential online UX design course.
The best online coding courses to start today
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For a well-regarded, academically rigorous coding course, we highly rate Coursera. The site was founded by Stanford professors, and continues to work with universities, colleges and corporations to offer a comprehensive suite of courses, degrees and specialisations. And while it might come as a surprise, Coursera has a good number of free coding courses on offer (though you’ll generally have to pay if you want to receive the final certificate).
The platform has almost 300 online coding courses, from Python and Java to C and C++. There are some good beginner-level coding courses – we’d recommend looking at ‘Web Design for Everybody: Basics of Web Development & Coding’ from the University of Michigan if you’re starting from scratch. More advanced users may want to try something like IBM’s ‘Applied AI with Deep Learning’ course. Wherever you are on your coding journey, we’ve found Coursera to be a superb choice for learning new coding skills.
Of all the providers in our guide to the best online coding courses, Pluralsight may strike you as having the most attractive site. We love the platform’s clear, easy-to-use layout. Course content is also top-notch in our experience. You can set up a ‘path’ through a number of different courses to give yourself a comprehensive grounding in multiple subjects, or just opt for a single course on one topic.
We also rate the videos, which have a kind of quirky charm to them. Some users have compared the experience to watching Bill Nye, which is a solid recommendation in our book. It certainly beats a lot of the quite dry resources offered by many online course providers. The way it works is pretty simple – you view the video, then work on your tasks, checking back in with the video for pointers if needed. There’s also a system whereby you can earn points in classes to ‘buy’ answers, providing a handy lifeline if you get truly stuck.
While the vast number of courses available (over 183,000 at the time of writing) does make it tricky to dig out the good stuff, if you have a little patience and willingness to sift through what’s there, you’re highly likely to find something that fits what you’re looking for. The price range is as broad as the range of courses, running from free to hundreds of dollars, so there’s something for every budget, although of course how much you pay will often show in the completeness of the course.
The ‘2022 Complete Python Bootcamp From Zero to Hero’ (opens in new tab) is particularly recommended for anyone wanting to get up and running in what is the most popular coding language today. Delivered by instructor Jose Portilla, it costs just $84.99 and covers use of Python for both personal projects and professional games and app development in a BootCamp format.
One of the best resources for those who want to learn to code without spending anything, Free Code Camp is a non-profit interactive learning platform. It offers more than 6,000 tutorials, and the people behind the site claim that it has more than 40,000 graduates working at tech firms, including giants like Microsoft and Google.
Shaw Academy offers a suite of coding courses, and they’re pretty popular – the Web Design course has more than a million graduates. Certified by Austin Peay University, the academy’s courses are mainly pitched at beginners, and they’re well placed for anyone who’s just starting out on their coding journey. There are courses in Python programming and even a coding for kids course.
If you want to take an accredited coding course from a highly regarded institution, they don’t get much more widely recognised than the MIT. This is an online coding course with set start and completion dates, so it’s not as flexible as some options on our list, but it gets you a recognised name for your CV and a thorough grounding in full-stack development.
This online coding school is hosted by Emeritus, who provides the career preparation part of the programme. There’s a part-time certificate (15 to 20 hours per week) and a full-time professional certificate (35 to 45 hours per week), both taking 16 weeks to complete at 15 to 20 hours per week. They’re not cheap, at $6,950 for the part-time MERN Certificate and $9,500 USD for the full-time professional certificate, but it’s reasonably priced considering how much a course at MIT can cost. If you’re in US, there’s a range of financing options.
If you’re looking for something more specific, Skillshare is a subscription-based service that offers thousands of courses in different subjects. Many of its best coding courses are taught by world-class web developers such as Rachel Andrew, Christian Heilmann, and Jenn Lukas. Courses come complete with supplementary materials created by the instructors, and they include projects for you to apply your new skills to. There’s also an iOS (opens in new tab) or Android (opens in new tab) app, which we’ve found to be a convenient option to stream courses on the go.
There are some free courses, and you can get a premium subscription for free for a month, but there’s a monthly fee of $32 after that.
Prefer the idea of live coding workshops? It might sound like an anomaly these days, but General Assembly organises livestreams, ranging from ‘Intro to coding’ to ‘Python Programming Crash Course’. Some of them are free but most are paid for. To access them, you need to buy an e-ticket and then log in to the live stream when it starts (just be aware of timezone differences!).
For those who lack the motivation to learn at their own pace, live workshops offer a good way to ‘force’ yourself to learn. On top of that, having something in the calendar means you’re more likely to find the time to do it. If you do miss the class, however, you’ll usually be able to get hold of a recording later.
Udacity offers solid guides on many different subjects, with a big selection of free courses. It also has a range of ‘nanodegrees’, which cover in-demand skills. One part of the structure that we’ve found very useful is that all of Udacity’s coding courses are summarised before you begin, outlining the difficulty level, why the course is important, any prerequisites for taking it and the project you’ll complete at the end. It’s good knowing exactly what to expect.
Treehouse aims to make learning fun. The structure is simple: learn from the video courses (which are regularly refreshed to reflect industry changes), practise your new skills through quizzes and challenges, and earn badges to reflect the skills you’ve already mastered. We found this gamification is actually very well designed and can really help to motivate learning.
It also has one of the most comprehensive libraries of educational materials on this list. Not only does it offer a large variety of coding courses, but it also includes ‘workspaces’ where you can try out new projects in your own time and a library with videos of talks from industry professionals. It offers an iPad app to continue your learning there, too.
Codecademy is another fun option. It’s a free source of coding courses that’s easy to set up, and it allows you to create goals for yourself and find the skills you want to learn. These may range from applicable things like creating a portfolio site to silly, fun things like animating your name or building a CSS galaxy. There’s also a paid Pro version, which gives you access to exclusive quizzes, projects, and customised learning paths.
Mijingo is an online learning resource that features step-by-step video tutorials for both web design and development. Be warned, its online coding courses aren’t for beginners: they’re specifically aimed at helping web professionals get up to date with the latest developments.
Courses focus on topics including Git, Craft, ExpressionEngine, Twig. Alternatively, you can pick a lesson on a small, specific element of a broader topic. Stream the videos or download them to any device to watch at your leisure. We’ve found the courses to be cohesive and thorough, and some offer transcripts, starter files and other resources.
EDX brings together coding courses from top universities such as MIT, Georgia Tech, UC Berkeley, and Harvard, as well as A-list companies like IBM, Microsoft, W3C and Linux, for you to learn online. There are a number of free coding courses to get you started and help you choose your path for future learning, although you’ll need to pay to get a validated certificate upon completion.
Harvard’s popular CS50 Introduction to Computer Science is available for free (or $199 if you want a certificate of completion). It includes video recordings of each lecture, with extra supporting videos to back up certain concepts, and there’s an assignment for each unit. You can check your code before you submit it by using the cloud-based IDE, and there’s decent community support.
If you have kids between the ages of six and 11 that are interested in learning to code, BT has found a way of teaching online coding in a way that’s great fun for youngsters. At Code A Cake, a colourful website created by AnalogFolk (opens in new tab), you create a robot-staffed bakery in order to bake a cake, using the art of coding.
Yes, it sounds strange, but we think this is a clever way to get kids interested in picking up some basic coding skills. Parents may well learn a thing or two along the way, too.
How do I choose the best online coding course for me?
To choose the best online coding course for you we recommend considering your personal learning style (for example, verbal, visual, auditory or kinesthetic). A mix of all four is often the most effective route; for example, a video-based course that has transcripts you can read with diagrams and images and practical tasks that you have to complete. App-based courses are often good for achieving this mix.
You should also look at whether course includes dedicated mentorship. Since you’ll be studying remotely, you can’t go and knock on the door of a teacher when you have questions, but some online coding courses will give you a dedicated mentor to contact when needed or occasional opportunities for a one-on-one to ask questions.
Another thing to look out for is whether the coding course offers opportunities for real problem-solving. A lot of video courses have you coding along with an instructor but don’t challenge you with the kinds of real problems you would have to solve in on a job – things like analysing cause and effect, debugging, and refactoring.
Finally, look at whether the course you’re considering has a community where you can ask and respond to questions from other students. Sometimes you can learn as much from the community of other students since this provides opportunities to share problems and queries and reinforce learning with the help of others.
Some of the names on our list of the best coding schools above are likely to be familiar to you, while others are less known but have interesting offerings. Some specialise specifically in coding courses – sometimes even in particular niche areas of coding, while others are more general course providers with online study programs on all kinds of topics. Some of the better-known providers often have larger community support, but smaller providers may be able to cater to specific niches that you want to develop.
Should I consider one of the best free online coding courses?
We’ve found that paid-for coding courses usually offer a much more thorough grounding and better support than free coding courses, but we’ve included the best free online coding courses that we’ve been able to find too since these offer an entry point for beginners who aren’t yet ready to commit to a paid course. You can always take a paid course afterwards once you know you want to take your coding further.
What code should I learn?
There are many coding languages, frameworks and tools, so it can be hard to know where to begin if you’re just starting out learning to code. Many online coding schools focus on frontend development as an accessible way into web development – after all this covers the visible part of websites that people are most familiar with and interact with every day
However, companies in many sectors are looking for programmers who can work across front and backend, so a full-stack development programme could win you more employment options. The course will take longer to complete but you should finish it with a fuller range of skills.
Ultimately what code you choose to learn from the best online coding courses will depend on the area you want to work in. Python is number one programming language today, used by around 80% of developers. It can do virtually anything and has good collections of APIs and libraries.
Do I need coding certification?
Certification is another factor to consider when choosing the best coding course. It can be very beneficial to have evidence of your study that you can take to interviews or add to your LinkedIn profile. Whether you need certification to prove your new skills might depend on where you want to work since qualifications are more likely to be requested if you’re applying for an in-house position.
Most courses will offer some sort of validation to certify that you’ve completed their syllabus, but, how much that is worth can depend on how recognised the course provider is, which is why we’ve been sure to include some highly recognised online coding course providers in our list above.
Do I need to learn to code to build a website?
No, there is certainly no need to learn to code to build a website. If you’re not sure about taking the plunge into coding and want to get a website up and running as quickly as possible, you can do that with one of the best website builders together with the best web hosting and get online in no time at all with no coding necessary.
Web builders provide templates that you can then customise to suit your needs. Of course, how much you can customise the site is limited. And while web builders are getting better all the time, knowing at least something about html and CSS will certainly be useful if you want to do anything beyond the most basic customisations to get your site how you want it.
You might find some web design inspiration in our selected examples of great CSS animation, and parallax scrolling and our recommended steps to achieve the perfect website layout.
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