Start CS50: Harvard’s Free Computer Science Course

4 minutes read

Are you interested in the art of programing?

Are you interested in taking a free computer science course with Harvard University, a university that produced the likes of Mark Zuckerburg and Bill Gates?

Do you fancy the chance of gaining a certificate in Computer Science from Harvard University?

If your answers are yes, then you’re in the right place. In fact, you’d be able to do all these within the comfort of your home (online).



I want to introduce you to CS50 (Computer Science 50). CS50 is Harvard University’s introduction to the art of computer science and programming. As of fall 2014, 12% of Harvard University’s students registered for the on-campus version, making CS50 the largest course in Harvard.

Computer Science

Source: Flickr (

CS50 teaches you how to think and solve problems like an experienced programmer (algorithmically and efficiently). It’d give you the opportunity to engage with a vibrant community of like-minded learners from all levels of experience. Problem sets are inspired by real-world domains of biology, cryptography, finance, forensics, and gaming.

CS50 is for everyone

  • It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a business, arts, or health related field.
  • It doesn’t matter if you’re in Harvard or not.
  • It doesn’t matter whether you’ve had a prior programming knowledge or not.
  • CS50 has no prerequisites and is free.


Topics to be covered

  • Abstraction
  • Algorithms
  • Data structures
  • Encapsulation
  • Resource management
  • Security
  • Software engineering
  • Web development

Languages include:

  • C
  • PHP
  • JavaScript
  • SQL
  • CSS
  • HTML

CS50 is self-paced on edX

There’s no start date or end date. You can start taking CS50 anytime you like, and at your own schedule.

Other benefits of taking CS50

Apart from the knowledge benefits, CS50 sets you on the path to build the next big app, software, or website. You can apply the knowledge you gain from CS50 to good use, e.g. you can tutor other students. You’d be able to add your certificate of completion (assuming you pass the course) to your CV, resume or post it directly on LinkedIn.

CS50 is free, but

CS50 is free. However, to receive an honour certificate from HarvardX, you are required to earn a satisfactory score on 9 problem sets (i.e. programming assignments) and a final project.

To receive a verified certificate, you’re required to pay $90.

CS50 reviews and social following


Website Rating Votes 4.8/5 90 4.5/5 70

Here are what some CS50 student had to say about the course:

CS50x isn’t just the quintessential Harvard course; it’s now the quintessential online course. — Ezix


As an aspiring mathematician and scientist with an interest in tech, I have always wanted to learn computer science and programming in my free time, but to this day I have signed up for and given up on countless online courses due to a lack of motivation. Then I found edX, and then I found CS50x. I signed up just to try it, but halfway through the first lecture I was hooked and knew that I was going to complete this course no matter what it takes. I am not fully done with it yet, but so far David J. Malan has been an incredibly great speaker, a fun teacher, and every lecture has made me wish I was studying at Harvard. There is an energy to the entire course that just makes you want to keep fighting even when the problems get particularly hard to crack. It’s very challenging, which makes it even more fun. And the best thing is that if you didn’t understand something in the lecture, you can rewatch it, or you can watch a walkthrough for that program, or you can watch the section for that week, or you can watch a walkthrough, OR you can go to the Facebook group/Stack Exchange and ask the community of students to help you. There is an incredible amount of material available for this course, which I am very grateful for. This is the first MOOC I will have ever completed, and I thank the Harvard staff for that. — Sofia Zaleeva


Best goddamn course ever! Malan is great at explaining and there is so much material (shorts, problem sets etc.) plus the CS50 staff has a lot of humor :D-Axel Kennedal

CS50 has an impressive amount of social media following. CS50’s Facebook group has over 60k members, and its page has over 45k likes. This shows it’s highly respectable.

CS50 Facebook Group image

CS50 Facebook page image

Extra information on CS50

Course instructors:

  • David J. Malan
  • Rob Bowden
  • Zamyla Chan
  • Allison Buchholtz-Au

Level: Introductory

Effort: 9 problem sets (10 to 20 hours each), 1 final project

Institution: HarvardX

Languages: English

Platform: edX

How to register for CS50: Enrol here.

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Giovanni O.C Olakunori

Giovanni Chinecherem Olakunle Olakunori(commonly known as Giovanni Olakunori) is an aspiring data scientist at heart, business developer and educator with a deep interest in ancient philosophy, healthy living, and developing economies. He’s the founder of LarnEdu, a community that inspires and supports lifelong learning especially in underdeveloped nations. He currently lives in the UK after living in 4 other countries across Europe and Africa. You can read more about him or follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to see his public posts about how much he loves hot Kenkey and Jolof rice.

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