14 Great Free Online Courses for Learning Python – Online Course Report

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Python is a high-level programming language used mainly for app and web development. Users can also explore machine learning and data science with the program. Designed in the Netherlands by Guido van Rossum and first released in 1991, Python lets developers write programs with fewer lines of code than most other programming languages. Its syntax is similar to the English language, making it relatively easy to learn.

Python has seen several upgrades over the past decade, and the company kept publishing and improving both Python 2 and Python 3 simultaneously. However, they chose to sunset Python 2 on Jan 1, 2020. This means that although older versions of the program may still work, those who want to learn the Python programming language should take courses in the latest version to keep up with current technology trends.

Featured Programs

As the world’s top programming language, there is no shortage of free education when it comes to Python, so the challenge for us was to tease out the best courses and platforms we could find. In crafting our final list, we utilized a methodology we created to help you, the user, find the best free online courses for learning python.

Featured Programs

In this article, we will introduce you to our top choices for free online courses in Python in descending order, with the best in the number one spot. Does this mean number 14 is the worst? Absolutely not! We think all of the courses on this list have some fabulous things to offer to eager students.

Following the review, you will find a list of frequently asked questions about free Python courses.

Ranking 14 Free Online Courses for Learning Python

1. Python for Everybody

Offered by PY4E

While Python for Everybody is also offered on Coursera and edX, it can be accessed from this home page with the bonus features intact. These features include auto-graded assignments, a grade book, and a discussion forum. You can also earn free shareable badges, which is a plus for those who want to display their new skills on LinkedIn or their resume. Charles Russell Severance, clinical professor at the School of Information at the University of Michigan is the developer of the course.

Thorough and engaging, PY4E consists of free and open course materials, lessons, and videos that are also available under a Creative Commons License on GitHub. This means you can copy them, remix them, and use them however you want to create your own unique learning experience. You can even translate and publish the whole course in your own language if you choose.

In the free online Python course, you will learn how to:

• Describe the basics of the Python programming language

• Install Python and write your first program

• Use variables to store, retrieve and calculate information

• Utilize core programming tools such as functions and loops

There are 17 lessons in all, and you only need to sign into the course from a Google account, so it’s simple to access. The fact that this MOOC was independently created yet has all the features of paid platforms makes it our top choice for free online courses for learning Python.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes (Badge)

Time to Complete: Approximately 12 hours

Curriculum: Introductory to intermediate

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• Learn with an industry expert

• Go at your own pace

• Sign in with Google when accessed through the PY4E website

Cons:

• The website does not offer the same high-level user experience as the paid platforms, however, you get all the extras at no charge

2. Python Core and Advanced

Offered by Udemy

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The Python Core and Advanced Course in Udemy is fully updated and features 8.5 hours of on-demand video, full lifetime access, and downloadable resources. It’s also one of the few free online python courses with a certificate of completion, and that’s why it earns the number two spot on our list. There are 24 modules and 201 short lectures—enough to give anyone who wants to learn the program an ample start.

 During the course, you will learn:

• How to install Python and execute your first program

• Learn simple types and collection types

• Define logic by using conditional statements and looping constructs

• Use different types of operators

• See both the input and the output functions in action

• Pass Command line arguments

• Create and use functions

• Learn about Object Oriented Programming and the four OOP principles

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes

Time to Complete: 8.5

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

• Taught by best-selling instructor and IT architect Bharath Thippireddy

• Updated for 2020

• Free certificate of completion

 Cons:

• Some beginners have found the program to be more challenging than expected

3. Learn Python 3.6 for Total Beginners

Offered by Udemy

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This free Python 3.6 online course features 6.5 hours of on-demand video, lifetime access, eight downloadable resources, and can be accessed on your computer, TV, or mobile. As the course title suggests, it’s designed for total beginners. Upon completion, you will receive a shareable completion certificate.

Whether you are completely new to programming or migrating from another programming language, this course is packed full of helpful resources to get you up and running. During the 39 lectures, you will learn data structures, control flow, comprehension, functions, handling errors, and how to work with txt files.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes

Time to Complete: 6.5 hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• Certificate of completion is offered

• One of the only MOOC providers that offers both the free course and certificate

• Completed by over 60,000 students

 Cons:

• Some students found the course goes too fast

4. Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python

Offered by MIT through edX 

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Over one million students have enrolled in this highly-rated course offered through Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  If you have ever wanted to learn programming with one of the most prestigious tech Universities in the world, here is your chance to do it for free. Taught by three highly-respected instructors from the Institute, the 135 hour course is the first in a two-part series where you will learn:

•  A Notion of computation

•  The Python programming language

•  Some simple algorithms

•  Testing and debugging

•  An informal introduction to algorithmic complexity

•  Data structures

As with all edX courses, you can go through all of the classes at no charge, and for this particular course, an optional verification certificate will be included for a fee of $75. However, what ranks this as one of the best free online courses for learning Python is that with that verification you are also eligible for academic credit through Charter Oaks. While there is a fee involved ($100 per credit) it is substantially less than what students would pay to attend MIT in person and get this type of quality education.  

The second part of this course, Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science, can also be taken on the edX platform for free.

Please note that signing up for the paid mode is purely optional. Taking the courses will provide you with a wealth of knowledge and you can still exercise your bragging rights by letting current or potential employers know you completed the classes.

Cost: Free

Certificate: With a fee

Time to Complete: Nine weeks at 14 to 16 hours per week

Curriculum: Intermediate

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• Excellent user interface

• Comprehensive curriculum through MIT

• The only free accredited online course for learning Python on our list

Cons:

• Certificates of completion and college credit can only be obtained at the paid level of the course.

5. Introduction to Python

Offered by Data Camp

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In this free introduction to Python, you will study through one of the most popular platforms for programming—Data Camp. It’s interactive, so you will learn as you progress through each lesson. The course will walk you through the basics of Python and introduce you to some advanced topics like lists, functions, and packages. Upon completion, users can download a free statement of completion. 

Cost: Free

Certificate: Statement of Completion

Time to Complete: Four hours

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• One of the most interactive learning platforms available

• Excellent user experience

• The course is especially helpful for those who want to learn to analyze data

Cons:

• Certificate not offered, although you can obtain a statement of completion

Featured Programs

6. Computing in Python III: Data Structures

Offered by Georgia Institute of Technology through edX

edX Logo R Black

This 50-hour comprehensive course in data structures for Python 3 is for learners who already have some practical experience with conditionals, loops, and functions. In it, students will move on to more complex data structures, including strings, lists, dictionaries, and file input and output.

Organized into five chapters, the recommended duration is five weeks at nine to ten hours a week, however, students are welcome to go at their own pace. As with all edX courses, the lessons, exercises, and quizzes can be completed for free. If you want to obtain a certificate, you will have the option to sign up for the paid portion of the program.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with fee

Time to Complete: 50 hours

Curriculum: Intermediate

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• Taught by a Georgia Tech senior research associate

• Part of a professional certificate program if you choose to pursue more courses

• Sign up and start right away

Cons:

• Certificate only available with the paid program

7. Python Programming: A Concise Introduction

Offered by Wesleyan University on Coursera

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In this free online course in Python, offered by Wesleyan University, students will get a hands-on introduction to Python 3x. The four interactive modules feature short lessons followed by practical exercises to practice each new concept. During the four week program, you will:

• Use the Spyder development environment

• Work with lists and import libraries

• Learn the tupal and data dictionary.

• Learn to read and write text and CSV files

• Become familiar with functional values, sorting, formatting, statistics, and a menu-driven database program

The course is free to take in auditing mode, meaning that you can read the materials and complete the exercises at no cost. If you want to take part in a final graded project or get a completion certificate, you will need to upgrade to the paid version of Coursera. However, this is not necessary if learning Python is your only objective.

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with a fee

Time to Complete: Four weeks

Curriculum: Introductory to Intermediate

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Excellent

Pros:

• Taught by Associate Professor and Visiting Scholar Bill Boyd

• Go at your own pace

• Financial aid available for those who want the paid benefits but can’t afford the course

Cons:

• Some features are blocked behind the paywall

8. Google Python Class

Offered by Google for Education

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Google offers this free Python class created by one of their experienced programmers, Nick Parlante to anyone interested in learning the software. While the course has not yet been updated to Python 3, it can still be helpful for learning the program, since many of the concepts are interchangeable.

We included it on the list because of the simple and straightforward user experience, making it one of the top free online Python courses for beginners. On the left screen, you will find an outline of each module, followed by a list of video lectures, and ending with some practice exercises. The lessons themselves are written as text tutorials, and this makes the course ideal for those who learn by reading

The tech giant does a great job of teaching the basics, starting with setting up the software and moving on to strings, list, sorting, dicts and files, regular expressions, and utilities.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: Two days

Curriculum: Introductory

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

• Easy-on-the eyes and straightforward

• Work at your own pace

• Progresses in a logical sequence

 Cons:

• Course needs to be upgraded to Python 3

9. CS50’s Introduction to Artificial Intelligence with Python

Offered by Harvard University and edX

edX Logo R Black

This introductory level course on machine learning in Python teaches you about the rapidly growing field of AI. Taught by two Harvard professors, you will learn graph search algorithms and natural language processing.

EdX is a free learning platform with thousands of free courses available. While a certificate of completion requires students to pay for an upgrade, you can audit the course for free and have access to all the same material.  

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, with fee

Time to Complete: Seven weeks at 10-30 hours per week

Curriculum: Beginner

User Experience: Excellent

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

• Interface is well-organized and accessible

• Ideal for the those who have taken some beginner’s Python courses

• No advertisements

 Cons:

• Certificates offered through the paywall

10. Dive into Python 3

Offered by Mark Pilgrim

If you learn best by reading, this option may be ideal for you. Written by Mark Pilgrim, Dive into Python 3 is an eBook freely licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. You can access it directly from the page or download it in HTML or PDF format.

One of the great things about this free resource is that it covers all the differences between Python 2 and Python 3, something intermediate users may appreciate. You will learn how to install the software and create your first program, along with everything else you could possibly need to get started. We wouldn’t exactly say these are engaging lessons. Unless you have a serious passion for Python, this material can be dry and provides no interaction. However, if you want straight-up information, it’s the perfect choice to add to your digital library as it can be referenced over and over again with ease.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: Varies

Curriculum: Intermediate to advanced

User Experience: Fair

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

• Download and keep the materials forever

• Comprehensive and thorough coverage of the subject

• Read-only format may be preferable for some learning styles

Cons:

• Not interactive

11. Python 3 Tutorial Course

Offered by Bernd Klein at Python Course

This free online Python course was developed by computer scientist and Python lecturer Bernd Klein in 2010 and it has been going strong ever since. The website provides a wealth of information on all things Python, and beginners and experienced programmers alike will find tons of free resources and cool stuff here.

The Python 3 Tutorial features over 50 topics that can be found at the far left of the page. They are read-only, so this platform is perfect for those who learn best by seeing the information laid sequentially in front of them. The site is ad free and runs entirely on a donation basis, and you can jump in anytime you want with no need to register or provide personal information.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: Varies

Curriculum: Introductory to advanced

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

• Learn advanced topics, machine learning, and numerical programming as well

• Covers everything from beginner to advanced levels

• No signup necessary

 Cons:

• No certificate offered

12. Python from Scratch

Offered by University of Waterloo

This free course offered through the University of Waterloo opens directly onto a dashboard of step-by-step tutorials designed to help you learn Python from the ground up. Designed for the beginning programmer, it is recommended that you progress through them in order, especially if this is your first introduction to Python. The platform is quite basic, but it gets the job done. It also includes several free resources such as a glossary, recipes, a list of common error messages, reserved keywords list, and guide to all the features of the site.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: Varies

Curriculum: Introductory to intermediate

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

• Learn right from an easy-to-use course dashboard

• Progresses sequentially

• No signup necessary

 Cons:

• No certificate offered

13. Full Stack Python

Offered by Matt Makai

Full Stack Python is a super cool site that lets those with some Python learning under their belts explore further by working on real-time projects. Students will learn to create, deploy, and operate Python-powered applications. The program is an open book that can be accessed for free, although the more formatted version is available for purchase. If you are looking to get an idea of where you want to go next with your programming knowledge, this application can help you figure that out.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: Varies

Curriculum: Introductory to intermediate

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

• Learn by tackling hands-on projects

• Jump in wherever you like

• No signup necessary

 Cons:

• No certificate offered

 14. Invent with Python

Offered by Al Sweigart

Al Sweigart is a Python Udemy Course trainer and the author of six Python Coding books. While you can purchase his books for your own library, Al believes that programming is too important and valuable to horde and that students should be able to access learning resources for free. As a result, you can access all the author’s books on his site at no charge. The books feature practical learning and lessons and include:

• Automate the Boring Stuff With Python

• Coding With Minecraft

• Cracking Codes with Python

• Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python

• Scratch Programming Playground

• Making Games with Python and Pygame

While not courses, the books can be accessed digitally and are thorough and engaging enough to teach you everything you need to know about the listed subjects. The site also offers a blog, YouTube videos, and a Reddit forum to help you on your learning journey.

Cost: Free

Certificate: No

Time to Complete: Varies

Curriculum: Introductory to intermediate

User Experience: Good

Quality of Instruction: Good

Pros:

• Learn by reading

• Start on whichever book interests you

• No signup necessary

 Cons:

• No certificate offered

Frequently Asked Questions About Free Python Courses

With Python’s worldwide popularity, free classes and massive open online courses (MOOCs) have sprung up all over the web. It seems there is no end to the amount of information one can learn about the programming language, and the number of online sites teaching it is astounding.

For those who want to learn Python, this is great news. The big players like MIT and Google offer free online Python courses, but there are several smaller enterprises out there just itching to share their skills with those who are interested. If you are exploring the best online Python courses and feeling overwhelmed, our list of frequently asked questions might help you narrow down your choices.

Who Should Take Free Python Courses?

It is never too early to start learning Python, whether you are in grade school or your retirement years. With practice and dedication, nearly anyone can learn it. However, you should at least have an interest in Python if you intend to study it, as this in-depth language can be dry for folks who aren’t that into it. In short, you should take a free Python course if: 

• You are a student of any age who wants to learn Python

• You are a developer who wants to hone your Python skills

• You are a professional who wants to learn your own way around coding

• You are an experienced developer who wants to fill in missing knowledge gaps related to Python.

Learning Python can help you increase your marketability, add to your skillset, or help you get a promotion or new job. However, you don’t need a compelling reason to learn it, as sometimes simply obtaining new knowledge is a reward all on its own.

What Are the Requirements and Prerequisites?

There are generally no restrictions to take a free Python course, and even children are eligible for most of the ones on our list. However, you will find yourself frustrated if you don’t already have a solid foundation in computer skills. The classes in our review range from introductory to advanced, so if you are new to the programming language, start slow and move on to harder subjects as you build your skills.

Will I Earn College Credits by Taking an MOOC?

Typically not. However, one course on our list, Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python awards college credits for completion. You will need to check the details carefully to see what is required.  

How Long Do Free Online Courses Take?

All of the free Python courses on our list can be taken at your own pace, so the time for completion will vary. Some of them take only a few hours to finish, while others take a few months. Your schedule and level of commitment will dictate how long it will take you to complete each course.

Are Free Online Courses Graded?

Grading is typically a component of paid programs, so you should not expect to have an evaluation with an instructor or final graded exam unless the description in the course says otherwise. Occasionally, you might find auto-graded quizzes or projects, but these are generally for your own evaluation.  

Are There Specific Start Times and Deadlines for Free Online Classes?

The beauty of free online learning is that there are no set start and stop times. You can complete coursework wherever and whenever you would like. If you want to start taking a class at two am, you can do that. If noon works better for you, no problem. This flexibility allows students to work around their other responsibilities and learn when it feels best for them.

The Course I Want to Take Says It’s Free. Why Does It Look Like There Is a Fee Involved?

In some cases, graded components of a class or verification certificate are hidden behind a paywall. Some paywalls are free trial memberships, while others are fee-based extras you might want to add on to your free membership. All of the courses on our list can be completed at no charge. However, if you want to go further or obtain a certificate of completion, some courses will assess a fee for these additional features. 

If you need a certificate and can’t afford to pay, it’s worth noting that some platforms offer financial aid, discounts, or scholarships.

Are Free Python Courses Worth It?

If you have the time and dedication to commit yourself to learn Python, the courses are definitely worth looking into. There is simply no need to pay hundreds of dollars for a paid program when you can learn Python 100 percent free online. The skill is something you will use for the rest of your digital career, and in many cases, you will receive recognition that can be shared on your LinkedIn profile or marketing materials. 

OCR Staff

Updated March 2020

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