Best Coursera Programming Courses

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Contributor, Benzinga
July 13, 2020

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Programming is an in-demand skill in many industries. You can take an online course to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to excel in the field. But how? 

Coursera features a variety of free programming courses for all skill levels. It’s easy to register and you can get started right away. 

If you have programming experience under your belt, a Coursera programming course can help position you for career advancement opportunities. 

Benzinga is here to help you find a course that works for you. 

Quick Look: Best Coursera Programming Courses

Here’s a sneak peek at Benzinga’s top picks:

What Makes a Coursera Programming Course Great?

Coursera features several programming courses but how do you know which are worthwhile? Keep these considerations in mind as you evaluate your options to find the best fit. 

Taught by an Experienced Developer

The best Coursera programming courses are led by seasoned developers who have extensive teaching experience. They should possess the ability to effectively communicate the material. Take a look at reviews from past and current students to get a glimpse into their teaching style. 

Hands On

You want a course that’s hands on and features real-life demonstrations of critical programming tactics in action. Review the module descriptions to confirm the class is interactive.

Includes Supplementary Material

Only consider Coursera programming courses that offer supplementary material to help you comprehend the core concepts introduced in the lessons. Readings, quizzes and class projects are most ideal.

Our Top Picks

We’ve compiled a list of the best Coursera programming courses. Our top picks are categorized by skill level — beginners, intermediate students and advanced students. You will also find the enrollment fee and description for each class to facilitate the decision-making process. 

Coursera Programming Courses for  Beginners

These beginner courses provide solid foundational programming knowledge. 

1. Programming Fundamentals by Duke University 

Who it's for: Beginners 

Price: Free

Considering a career in software development or a related field? This free introductory course is worth considering. It’s a part of the Introduction to Programming in C Specialization from Duke University.

Programming Fundamentals includes 4 modules:

  • Introduction
  • Reading Code
  • Types
  • Project

Each module features a series of video lectures, readings and quizzes. You will also be tasked with taking quizzes to test your comprehension of the critical concepts introduced in the lessons. 

Expect to spend 12 hours working through the material. 

The class is co-facilitated by Andrew D. Hilton, associate professor, Genevieve M. Lipp, assistant professor of the practice in the electrical and computer engineering department at Duke University. Anne Bracy, senior lecturer in the computer science department at Cornell University, also helps provide instruction.

2. Learn to Program: The Fundamentals by the University of Toronto

Who it's for: Beginners 

Price: Free

Learn to Program: The Fundamentals covers the essential building blocks of programming. You will also learn how to write programs in Python that are both fun and effective. 

Associate professors Jennifer Campbell and Paul Gries teach the course through video lectures, readings and quizzes. Here’s a breakdown of the segments:

  • Python, Variables and Functions
  • Strings and Designing Functions
  • Booleans, Import, Namespaces and If Statements
  • For Loops and Fancy String Manipulation 
  • While Loops, Lists and Mutability
  • For Loops Over Indices, Parallel and Nested Lists, Strings and Files
  • Tuples and Dictionaries 

Enrollment is free, and it takes 25 hours to reach the finish line. 

3. Code Yourself! An Introduction to Programming by the University of Edinburgh  

Who it's for: Beginners 

Price: Free

Offered by The University of Edinburgh, Code Yourself! An Introduction to Programming teaches the essentials of programming in Scratch. You will also be introduced to core computing principles so you can approach projects like professional software engineers.

This introductory course takes 13 hours to complete and includes 5 segments:

  • Your First Computer Program
  • Code Gone Loopy!
  • Remixing Games
  • Reusing Your Code
  • Think Like a Software Engineer

The course is led by Dr. Areti Manataki, teaching and research fellow at the Centre for Medical Informatics and Inés Friss de Kereki, Ph.D., from the Engineering School at the Universidad ORT Uruguay.

Intermediate Coursera Programming Courses

Want to dive deeper into programming methods and languages? Consider these intermediate courses. 

4. Computer Science: Programming with a Purpose by Princeton University 

Who it's for: Intermediate students 

Price: Free

Computer Science: Programming with a Purpose introduces programming from a scientific perspective. This intermediate course begins with a refresher on programming basics before transitioning to functions, like code reuse, modular programming and recursion. It also covers object-oriented programming and the Java programming language. 

Professor Robert Sedgewick and Senior Lecturer Kevin Wayne categorize the lessons as follows:

  • Basic Programming Concepts
  • Conditionals and Loops 
  • Arrays
  • Input and Output 
  • Functions and Libraries
  • Recursion 
  • Performance 
  • Abstract Data Types
  • Creating Data Types
  • Programming Languages

Prepare to spend at least 88 hours viewing video lectures, reading supplementary material and taking module quizzes. 

5. Python Programming: A Concise Introduction by Wesleyan University 

Who it's for: Intermediate students

Price: Free

Bill Boyd, visiting associate professor and scholar, draws from his personal experience to bring you this course on the fundamentals of Python Programming. Upon enrollment, you will receive hands-on instruction to help you install and effectively use Python Version 3.x. 

Python Programming: A Concise Introduction can be completed in 4 weeks. Here’s an overview of the course components:

  • Beginning to Program in Python
  • Working with Lists and Importing Libraries. The Random Library
  • Tuples, Data Dictionaries, Text and CSV Files
  • Functional Values, Sorting, Formatting, Statistics and a Menu Driven Database Program

Register today to access the course videos, readings and quizzes. 

6. R Programming by John Hopkins University

Who it's for: Intermediate students 

Price: Free

R Programming is a part of the Data Science and Data Science: Foundations Using R Specializations from John Hopkins University. You will learn how to program in R, utilize R loop functions and debugging tools, configure statistical programming software, collect data using R profiler, perform data analysis and more. 

Here’s what you can expect from the course each week:

  • Week 1: Background, Getting Started and Nuts and Bolts
  • Week 2: Programming with R
  • Week 3: Loop Functions and Debugging
  • Week 4: Simulation and Profiling

This 58-hour program boasts impressive outcomes. Over 30% of students began a new career or received a viable career benefit from the course. 

It is led by Roger D. Peng, Ph.D., Jeff Leek, Ph.D. and Brian Caffo, Ph.D., associate professors of biostatistics at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

Advanced Coursera Programming Courses

Career professionals and students who have programming experience will find these courses useful. 

7. Programming for Level Design by Unity Technologies

Who it's for: Advanced students 

Price: Free

Seeking a course that prepares you for the Expert Gameplay Programmer Certification from Unity? Look no further than this free course. 

Programming for Level Design is the second component of the Unity Expert Gameplay Programmer Certification Preparation Specialization. It caters to professional game developers with 2 or more years of Unity game development experience. You will also need to be proficient in the C# programming language to successfully complete this course.

Senior Technical Artist and Adjunct Instructor Dustin Carroll leads the course. It entails 5 modules:

  • Configuring Physics
  • Spawning Runtime Prefabs and Effects 
  • Level Logic and Behavior
  • Loading and Unloading Scenes 
  • Cinematics

Instruction is provided through videos, readings and quizzes. It takes 20 hours to reach the finish line. 

8. Object-Oriented Programming in Java by Duke University

Who it's for: Advanced students 

Price: Free

Whether you’re an aspiring software developer or currently work in the field and want to level up your skills, this course may be a good fit. Object-Oriented Programming in Java walks you through the process of creating a Java program from scratch. 

This 6-week course includes these modules: 

  • Welcome and Project Overview: Visualizing Data
  • Memory Models, Score and Starting the Project 
  • Graphical Output: Creating GUIs and Displaying Data
  • Inheritance
  • GUIs: Responding to User Events
  • Searching and Sorting: From Code to Algorithms

You will walk away with extensive knowledge on Object-Oriented Programming and the expertise to develop an advanced Java program. 

Have computer science or software development experience before you register. 

9. Parallel Programming in Java by Rice University

Who it's for: Advanced students 

Price: Free

Parallel Programming in Java is the first course in the Parallel, Concurrent and Distributed Programming in Java Specialization from Rice University. It features 19 hours of instruction on parallel programming in Java 8 and is a good fit for both students and industry professionals. 

Below are the course segments: 

  • Welcome to the Course!
  • Task Parallelism
  • Functional Parallelism
  • Talking to Two Sigma: Using It In the Field
  • Loop Parallelism
  • Data Flow Synchronization and Pipelining
  • Continue Your Journey with the Specialization “Parallel, Concurrent and Distributed Programming in Java”

When you register, you will be tasked with viewing a series of video lectures and supplementary readings. Students are also required to take quizzes while working through each segment to assess their comprehension of the material. 

Instructor Vivek Sarkar is a professor in the department of computer science. 

Get Started With a Coursera Programming Course

Coursera programming courses are an excellent way to learn the basics or enhance your knowledge. Start with our top recommendations when you’re ready to take the first step. They’re all led by experienced instructors who weave demonstrations and supplementary resources into their lesson plans. 

Southern New Hampshire University Online

SNHU Online Offers:

  1. Flexible schedules
  2. Affordable tuition
  3. Online tutoring
  4. Access to electronic research materials
  5. Specialized academic advising
  6. Supportive online community