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Course Review

CS50 and CS50 Web

CS50

Here is our in-depth review of CS50 and CS50 Web, based on hours of rigorous testing and evaluation.

Updated: November 29, 2023

Bottom Line

The gold standard of open online courses, Harvard's CS50, provides one of the best ways for programmers to learn programming as well as the basics of full stack web development. Probably not enough to land a job as a fullstack engineer, but probably enough to start freelancing on smaller projects.

This Course is Great For

  • Beginners and Novice Programmers Alike
  • Stellar Lectures
  • Frequent Coding Challenges

Fast Facts

CS50 and CS50 Web

CS50 and CS50 Web

CS50

By David Malan and Brian Yu

πŸ’° $199 per course for certificate (Free to audit) πŸ•— 6 months at 10 hours per week
πŸ‘©β€πŸ’» Videos, Projects

#5 in The Best Self-paced Courses for Learning Fullstack Development in 2024

Our recommendation is a two-course series from CS50. In the Intro to Computer Science course, you'll learn the essentials of programming. The second course, Web Programming with Python and JavaScript, picks up where CS50 ends and focuses on teaching you how to build full stack web applications.

These courses are quite rigorous, just what you'd expect from Harvard. Each module contains one video lecture supplemented by detailed lecture notes and a project. You'll need the lecture notes as reference when completing the projects, along with supplemental resources from around the web as well, particularly documentation.

CS50's Web Programming with Python Course

We absolutely love the rigor of the projects. The projects are mostly building full-featured clones of well-known websites, like a front-end for Google Search, a Wikipedia-like online encyclopedia, and an eBay-like e-commerce auction site.

Each project assignment includes specs that your deliverable needs to meet in order to receive credit. If submitting your project for credit, you’ll also need to record a 5-minute screencast demonstrating the functionality of your project.

The course is designed to fit a wide range of learners. If you're not already familiar with some of the concepts, the course starts from scratch, but you may need to spend a little extra time, as it covers a lot of ground fairly quickly.

CS50 also includes one of the most robust and active communities around an online course. There are tens of thousands of active members on the Discord, and if you have a question, you typically don't have to wait long to get a solid answer.

Before You Buy

If you're already familiar with one programming language, you can consider skipping straight to the Web Programming with Python and JavaScript course. But before skipping, we recommend trying a few of the problem sets from the Intro to Computer Science, to make sure you really know the material.

You won’t be eligible for a certificate until you complete the entire path, and you must receive 70% on all projects.

Note: the Web Programming course materials were created in 2020. While the foundations haven't changed, the course doesn't teach some of the latest features of React. So you'll want to supplement with at least some additional review of each technology's documentation.

Go to Course

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#1 in The Best Self-paced Courses for Learning Fullstack Development in 2024

The best self-paced full stack program money can buy. It's expensive, but well worth the cost for the quality of instruction and the quality of feedback on your work. The emphasis on practice exercises and real-world hands-on projects are standout features.

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App Academy Open

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#2 in The Best Self-paced Courses for Learning Fullstack Development in 2024

Tremendous free curriculum for learning the foundations of fullstack software development, from one of the top-rated coding bootcamps. Not as seamless an experience as our other recommendations, and lacks assessments and feedback on your work, but it's an excellent option.

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An impressive free, text-based curriculum developed in partnership with tech companies, that offers feedback on coding exercises and certificates of completion.

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Full Stack Engineer Career Path

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Codecademy

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#4 in The Best Self-paced Courses for Learning Fullstack Development in 2024

Solid hands-on learning option for the core concepts of fullstack development. Also a good option for supplemental practice or knowledge checks. Probably not enough to land a job as a fullstack engineer, but probably enough to start freelancing on smaller projects.

Read Our Full Review

Why You Should Trust Us

Our course reviews are conducted by a team of technical professionals, course developers, and lifelong learners.

The lead of this project, Brian Green, has worked in developer education since 2009. He built the content development teams at Pluralsight and Udacity, implementing quality standards and tutorials to improve course quality and working with hundreds of authors to create courseware. Most recently, he built the product team at App Academy. As of writing, he estimates he has spent nearly a year of his life taking or reviewing online courses, on topics ranging from Web Development, Networking, Server Administration, DevOps, Cybersecurity, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence.

How We Tested

Evaluation Criteria

We reviewed this course using the following criteria:

  1. Outcomes: The course needs to cover the essentials for someone to start working with Fullstack Developer in a professional capacity or on a professional-grade project. That means covering the right topics and not going beyond the scope of the course objectives.
  2. Learning Features: Real skill development happens with fingers on keys, particularly for learners moving from novice level. We looked for courses with more than just videos; exercises and projects were essential.
  3. Production Quality: The course should include polished and professional course materials. In 2024, the table stakes of even an average course are professional video production, uniform sound levels and noise-free audio, and course materials that are free of typos. Videos should also be captioned and transcribed.
  4. Real World Application: A great course teaches you enough to work on a production application. We looked for examples and best practices from professional experience, not just basic examples of how something works on a toy application.
  5. Support and Community: Learning is better together! We promote courses with thriving communities and rapid, helpful support for learners, and tend to rate courses lower if they lack community or if the community isn't valuable.

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