Introduction to Programming Course Comparison

There are many courses available to help you learn how to program.

Here is a list of several available online, in no particular order. None of these courses assume you have previous programming experience.

DISCLAIMER: I receive no compensation for these summaries.

Automate the Boring Stuff (Udemy)

Cost: $10 for the Udemy video course if you go through the link at, otherwise $50.

Time to Complete: 9.5 hours

Summary: Comprehensive review of Python through video lectures. The author says the video course covers most of the same ground as the book, but the book’s probably a great alternative if you prefer that medium.

Free Programming Basics Course (Ministry of Test)

Cost: Free

Time to complete: a few hours.

Summary: No frills survey of programming concepts and tools. Course material is delivered by web content. There is no feedback or interaction with an instructor.

Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) (Coursera)

Cost: Free 7-day trial, $49/mo after trial ends.

Time to complete: 6 weeks, 2-4 hours/week.

Summary: Long distance entry level college course. Python is the language used to illustrate concepts with videos, web content, and proprietary courseware. Assignments are graded as pass/fail by a auto-grader process.

Programming Foundations with Python (Udacity)

Cost: Free

Time to complete: 6 weeks.

Summary: Self-paced low-level programming course with video instruction, proprietary courseware, discussion forums. Also features quizes and forum interaction for feedback. “Nanodegree” offered for completion of a curriculum group. Favors lecture format with worked examples by the instructor over interactive application of Python by the student.

Master Fundamentals of Programming for Beginners (Udemy)

Cost: $194.00

Time to complete: 13 hours.

Summary: Comprehensive programming course that introduces C and Python. Relies on video lectures and a “Q&A” feature to review and search questions submitted by other students. Little opportunity to write programs and get feedback.

Try Python (Code School)

Cost: $29/mo, but some courses free

Time to complete: 2-3 hours

Summary: Self-paced entry level programming course focused on Python basics. Features videos, slide downloads, proprietary courseware, and an interactive Python emulator.

Learn Python (Code Academy)

Cost: Free, optional upgrades ($19/mo and $199) for access to technical support, more lessons, and additional material.

Time to complete: 10 hours

Summary: Self-paced entry level programming course focused on Python basics. Features web content, proprietary courseware, and an interactive Python emulator.

Ruby in Twenty Minutes (

Cost: Free

Time to complete: 20 minutes

Summary: Very quick “up and running” tutorial. Assumes you have already installed Ruby and are comfortable with the command line. Nothing fancy here – just enough to wet the appetite for the language.

What is Programming? (Khan Academy)

Cost: Free

Time to complete: less than an hour

Summary: Similar to other Kahn Academy lessons, shows you the theory behind programs, and then begins to dig into some Javascript to manipulate images in an interactive emulator. A non-threatening introduction before getting into the deep end of the pool.

Introduction to Computer Science and Programming using Python (Edx/MIT)

Cost: Free. Optional certificate for $49.00, accredited tuition rate of $300. Textbook (available from is not included in the cost.

Time to complete: 9 weeks, 15 hours/week.

Summary: Self-paced college level course featuring introductory computer science concepts. Designed for students not majoring in CS or EE degree programs. Features lectures, interactive assignments, problem sets, and quizes. A certificate of completion is available (see Cost section). Credit hours available for qualified students.

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