College Grads Need Code Skills, But You Can Learn Online for Free

The Best Free Places to Learn Code Skills

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Coding is an important career skill – regardless of whether students are pursuing a degree and subsequent career in information technology.  In an analysis of 26 million online job postings, roughly half of the higher paying jobs required at least some level of computer coding skills, according to a Burning Glass study.

In fact, companies are now seeking coding ability in jobs ranging from scientists to marketers. And in a LinkedIn post, Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric, wrote that the company’s young workers need to learn how to code. “It doesn’t matter whether you are in sales, finance, or operations. You may not end up being a programmer, but you will know how to code,” Immelt wrote.

In other words, everyone,regardless of major, needs coding skills. However, it can be quite a challenge for college students to take additional courses to learn coding skills. Tuition is high enough for the courses that are required for graduation, and depending on the major, computer courses may not be on the list of approved electives.  

Fortunately, there’s a way for students to learn coding skills without breaking the bank. Below are some of the best free, online options, and also options at $30 or less.    


MIT Open Courseware

As a part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT Open Courseware is the standard-bearer in online learning. MIT is routinely ranked in the top 10 universities, both in the U.S. and in the world. In the past 15 years, MIT has offered over 2,300 courses online, covering topics ranging from business to engineering to health and medicine.

MIT Open Courseware is so highly rated because the program includes audio and video lectures, lecture notes, and online textbooks from actual MIT professors and courses. The courseware also includes interactive simulations and assessments.

The school offers several types of introductory programming classes, categorized as general courses, language-specific courses, and also follow-up courses. Some of the introductory courses include the following:

  • Introduction to Computers and Engineering Problem Solving
  • A Gentle Introduction to Programming Using Python
  • Introduction to Programming in Java
  • Introduction to C and C++

After users have become comfortable with the introductory courses, they can also take follow-up classes that include:

  • Elements of Software Construction
  • Introduction to Algorithms


Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a nonprofit organization with over 100 full-time staff members and thousands of subject matter experts. The site’s interactive activities provide a personalized experience, and users can set goals and track their level of mastery through dashboard analytics (for example, “33% mastered”).  Also, after users have mastered one level, they receive customized recommendations for the next instructional video or exercise.

Some of the introductory computer programming classes include:

  • Introduction to JavaScript: Drawing and Animation
  • Introduction to HTML/CSS: Making webpages
  • Introduction to SQL: Querying and Managing Data
  • HTML/JavaScript: Making Webpages Interactive

Some of the many advanced courses include:

  • Advanced JavaScript: Games and Visualization
  • Advanced JavaScript: Natural Simulation


Free and Minimally-Priced Courses



Udemy offers a plethora of online coding classes for free, and others are offered at very reasonable prices. The classes are taught by expert instructors and also rated by users, which can help students who are trying to decide which courses to take. Some of the introductory offerings include:

  • Learning HTML Programming from Scratch
  • Java Tutorial for Complete Beginners
  • Java Basics: Learn to Code the Right Way
  • Live Code: One Code to Rule Them All

At the time of publication, the titles and fees for some of the other courses include:

  • Pre-Programming: Everything You Need to Know Before You Code - $15
  • The Ultimate Python Programming Tutorial - $15
  • Bootstrap 4 Beginners: Code a Responsive Landing Page - $15
  • Introduction to Coding with Ruby - $15

Although it’s not free, all of the courses on are available in one of two standard price packages. For an average monthly cost starting at $20, users have the ability to view unlimited classes. However, they need to choose the monthly plan that starts at $30 to access the project files, practice coding, and take quizzes to assess their progress. The company also provides a 10-day free trial, which allows users to take a test drive before making a commitment.

While does not provide user reviews, it does track user views, which can help students determine the most popular offerings. Some of the introductory coding videos and courses include:

  • C# for Unity Game Development
  • Cocoa with Swift 3 Essential Training
  • Computer Science Principles Lab: Java
  • Scratch Programming Language: The Basics
  • Ruby Essential Training also offers intermediate and advanced programming courses.  In addition, users can choose to take “paths.” For example, on the Front-End Web Developer path, users view 41 hours of videos on HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and jQuery. Then the users practice what they’ve learned, and they can even receive certification of their mastery.

These are just some of the online sources that offer students a way to gain coding experience. While some of the specific offers and methods may vary, each one shares the goal of equipping students with the skills necessary to meet the growing demand for employees with basic coding knowledge.