Algorithms for Beginners – Top Places To Learn

Learning algorithms is one of the best ways to develop your programming skills. An algorithm is a set of instructions that a program uses to complete tasks. Algorithms provide rules that a computer uses for solving problems or performing calculations. They are the key to how computers analyze data and automate decisions.

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Best courses on algorithms

There are plenty of options when it comes to online courses to learn about algorithms. While there are paid courses, you don’t need to spend a fortune to learn. Many free programs exist at all levels, with many geared toward beginners. Most online courses allow you to learn at your own pace by following along with videos, recorded lectures, and readings. Let’s take a look at some of the best algorithm courses being offered this year.

Algorithms, Part I

One of the highest-rated courses available online is this free algorithms class offered by Coursera. With over 9000 reviews, this course is rated an astonishing 4.9 out of 5! Coursera has partnerships with over 200 companies and universities and this particular course is offered in collaboration with Princeton University. With over 87 million users, Coursera is an extremely popular option when it comes to online learning.

This course focuses on applications and scientific performance analysis of Java implementations. You will learn about stacks and queues, elementary sorts, mergesort, elementary symbol tables, and more. This course runs for a total of 54 hours and consists of a combination of videos, readings, quizzes, and exams. Learn about how to implement algorithms and data structures, as well as how to apply them to a domain. Programming assignments give you an opportunity to test out your new skills. This class would be a great choice for someone who has a background in Java.


Khan Academy offers this free introductory course on algorithms. Just right for a beginner, it provides an overview of key topics like binary search, asymptotic notation, and selection sorting. You will also learn about graph representation, breadth-first search, and recursive algorithms. This class is taught by professors at Dartmouth College and allows you to learn at your own pace. Gain knowledge through a range of articles, visualizations, and quizzes, then test your learning with various coding challenges.

Data Structures and Algorithms

Udacity offers this in-depth course, taught by a software engineer. Udacity suggests that students can complete the class in 4 months, however, many reviewers shared that it was much more time-consuming. With over 750 reviews, learners rate this course 4.7 out of 5. It is recommended that users have some knowledge of basic algebra and Python programming prior to starting this class.

In addition to learning about different data structures and the methods used to manipulate them, you will also review searching and sorting algorithms. Evaluate and assess algorithms for problems, then learn how to implement solutions. This course provides a lot of hands-on practice, project-based learning, and personalized feedback. It is a great option for someone who is looking to improve their software engineering skills and prepare for job interviews. Access to this course is offered at $529 per month or a flat, discounted rate of $1796 for 4 months.

Introduction to Algorithms

Another excellent free option is this introductory course offered through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Their OpenCourseWare has learning material from over 2500 courses, including video lectures and extensive notes. Learners are provided with several assignments and exams to complete, along with solutions to verify the answers. This course has 9 sets of problem sets for you to practice your skills. The focus of this class is to highlight the relationship between algorithms and programming. You will learn basic performance measures as well as analysis techniques. Other topics include dynamic arrays, linear sorting, and binary trees.

Data Structures and Algorithms Bootcamp

This basic boot camp is offered through Skillshare and is geared to beginner programmers. Another extremely popular platform, Skillshare has millions of users and thousands of classes available. With their 7-day trial, you can access this and other courses at no cost. Over 1000 students have completed this class, which consists of 18 brief video lessons taught by a web developer. Topics include graphs, stacks, arrays, queues, dynamic programming, and more.

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MicroMasters Program in Algorithms and Data Structures

For learners who want to immerse themselves in algorithms and data structures, this program through edX is a fantastic option. Through a partnership with the University of California in San Diego, edX offers this graduate-level program consisting of 8 courses. Expect to spend 8 to 10 hours a week on these courses over a period of 9 months. You will learn how to use algorithmic techniques to solve problems, as well as pattern matching and string processing. This is one of the few online programs that have a passing requirement; you must achieve 70 percent or higher to complete each class. The total cost for all 8 courses is $1332.

Data Structures + Algorithms Bootcamp

This boot camp is an excellent choice, with almost 3000 reviews and a rating of 4.8 out of 5. Offered by Udemy, another popular platform with over 44 million learners. Each Udemy course has a 30-day money-back guarantee. The cost of this course is 119.99, however, there are frequent promotions to take courses for as little as 14.99. Consisting of over 7 hours of video, this class is taught by a senior software engineer and creative full-stack developer. 91 short lectures cover topics including arrays, trees, graphs, stacks, and queues.


With such a wide array of beginner algorithm courses available online, you’re sure to find one suited to you. Many of the platforms offer the ability to search by length of the course, rating, and cost. You can start with a short 2-hour class or dive right into a month-long course. At the end of these classes, you’ll have a thorough understanding of algorithms and be better prepared to ace the interview for that programming job!

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