Online Computer Science Education

I have always had an inferiority complex as a software developer. I am self taught and I felt that I was missing a good base that people with a computer science degree have. I no longer feel as inferior as I use to because I have been doing this for 15 years and I am always able to hold my own. Yet, there are things that I don’t immediately understand that I think would be more clear if I had the grounding of a CS degree. But, I am not going to spend a bunch of money to do it and I don’t have the time to commit to school full time.

I am a Pluralsight junkie and YouTube computer science’y videos are  my TV. There are many top notch CS schools that have released lecture videos to the public for free. Why can’t I organize these videos into a curriculum and get a virtual CS education. I am constantly watching videos anyway. Well I ran across two posts that suggest that very thing.

Free Online CS Education

The MIT Challenge chronicles Scott Young’s quest to get the equivalent of a 4 year CS education from MIT in 12 months. I am not that ambitious, but I appreciate his journey and he is very thoughtful in providing some help in actually getting through the challenge.

$200K for a computer science degree? Or these free online classes? is a post by Andrew Oliver where he puts forth a sample CS curriculum made up of Coursera videos. He thinks these videos would be as good as a CS degree. He says he hasn’t watched all of the videos, but based on the overview of the videos he says he would hire someone who went through them and did all the associated course work.

aGupieWare: Online Learning: A Bachelor’s Level Computer Science Program Curriculum is a good post that breaks down what’s involved in a CS degree program. They put forth a good list of online classes to choose from. They received a good amount of responses and based on feedback they posted an improved expanded list Online Learning: An Intensive Bachelor’s Level Computer Science Program Curriculum, Part II.


I can’t say that I would do all of these, it’s a lot, but I am going to take a more focused approach to getting a more structured CS education. I need to shore up my basic understanding of CS. If I am able to stick to it, I will post the courses I do, but don’t count on it.

If you don’t have a CS degree, you can still get a very good CS education. Even if you are a seasoned developer, if you haven’t received a formal education in CS, why not expand your understanding of our profession and take advantage of some of the excellent, free, online CS learning.

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