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The best online coding courses offer what is probably the most flexible and convenient way to learn coding skills. They can be the ideal solution if your location or other commitments don’t allow you to attend a coding course in person. And there’s such a wide variety of online coding courses available, that you’re almost guaranteed to be able to find one that suits you, whatever language you want to study and no matter whether you’re looking for a beginner course or to expand existing skills.
Online coding courses can vary hugely, though, offering very different quality and different levels of thoroughness in terms of the materials, support and opportunities to practice that they offer. This can make it difficult to know which online coding course to choose, which is why we’ve compiled this guide. We’ve evaluated and compared the providers of the best online coding courses we’ve been able to find.
You’ll probably recognise the names of some of the providers, while others may be new to you. Some of them specialise in coding, or particular areas of coding, while others offer huge catalogues of online courses of all kinds, including coding courses on different topics and for different levels. We’ve based our ratings based on our overall impression of each provider’s course structures, delivery methods, resources, expert knowledge and community support.
We find that paid-for coding courses do provide the most complete experience, but we’ve also included the best free online coding courses that feel able to recommend. These can be particularly useful as starting points for beginners who aren’t yet sure that coding is for them. You might take one of the best free coding courses as an introduction and then build on your new skills with a paid course. You might also want one of the best monitors for programming to help minimise eye strain while you work. We also have a guide to the best laptops for programming.
The best online coding courses to start today
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What code should I learn?
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.