In a world of Big Data, companies need people who have the ability to analyze and reach conclusions from the reams of data they collect about customers. But data science extends far beyond the corporate. Any industry that uses data (i.e., practically all of them) needs data-minded people who can use the latest AI-driven tools to help them scour large datasets.
That’s where you come in. As a potential data scientist, you’ll enter an industry that’s experiencing enormous growth to the point where it will be worth $103 billion (approx. €96.37 billion) by 2027. That market growth translates into demand for talented data scientists, which is already seen today as Coresignal’s data – 8,000 available job postings across eight leading positions in the first five months of 2022 alone – demonstrates.
So, the benefits of earning a free data science certification are obvious – you’re entering a growing industry with huge demand that leads to a better salary. But you need to know which courses will help you break into that industry. This article highlights four of the best free data science courses around.
Top Four Free Data Science Courses
As wonderful as the word “free” may be to budget-conscious students, you still need to know that you’re getting something of value from your data science course. The following options deliver a stellar educational experience and leave you with a qualification that employers recognize.
An Introduction to Data Science (Udemy)
Every journey starts with a first step, and it’s crucial that you take the first step into data science with a course that covers the basics and lays a foundation on which you can build. An Introduction to Data Science does just that by teaching you what data science is and how it applies to the modern world.
That teaching starts with a history lesson that shows how interactions with data (and data collection methods) have evolved over the years. From there, you’ll learn how data science applies in modern industry and discover the difference between actual valuable data and the oodles of “noise” that are in datasets.
It’s a quick and easy course, weighing in at 43 minutes spread across six video lectures, so you don’t have to make a huge time commitment. It’s delivered online by a Google Certified Python Expert named Kumar Rajmani Bapat and is ideal for getting the basics of data science down before you move on to a more intensive or focused course.
But the focus on the basics is also the biggest issue with this course. Rather than showing you the techniques a data scientist uses, the course focuses on what data science is and offers a roadmap for getting into the industry. It’s more about “what” than “how,” which may make the course too rudimentary for people who already have some knowledge of the subject. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t one of those free data science courses with certificate, as you’ll need to pay for an Udemy subscription to get your hands on a certificate of completion. You can still watch the videos and complete the course for free, though.
Introduction to Data Science (SkillUP)
With a similar name to the above Udemy course, you’d be forgiven for assuming that SkillUP’s Introduction to Data Science program teaches the same stuff. Though the course is aimed squarely at beginners, it takes a more in-depth approach that makes it the ideal follow-up to Udemy’s offering.
You start with the basic spiel about what data science is and how it applies to modern industry. But from there, the course tips into actual application by demonstrating some of the best Python programming libraries to use in the field. You’ll also dig deep into the algorithms used in data science, with linear regression analysis, confusion matrices, and logistic regression all getting some time to shine.
Given this higher focus on the skills you’ll need to learn to become a data scientist, the course is longer than Udemy’s offering. It clocks in at seven hours of videos and tutorials, all of which you access online and work through at your own pace. The course also expects you to have a solid grasp of math and programming (some experience with Python is a must) so this isn’t ideal for complete beginners to computer science.
This is a data science free online course with certificate, though there is a caveat. SkillUP only provides 90 days of free access to the course. If you feel it will take longer than that to get through the seven hours of tutorials, you’ll need to enroll in a paid subscription. The best approach here is to only start the course when you’re confident that you can block out the time needed to wrap it up within 90 days.
IBM Data Science Professional Certificate (Coursera)
Aimed squarely at the career-focused individual, IBM’s data science course is all about building the skills that set you on the right path to a career in the field. It takes a more practical approach, starting you off with the fundamentals before pushing you into a project where you’ll work with a real-world dataset and publish a report that’s analyzed by stakeholders simulating what you’ll experience in the working world.
The good news is that you don’t need to know anything about data science to get started with the course. It holds your hand as you learn the basics of what data science is (including what a data scientist actually does) and teaches you about the tools and programming languages you’ll use in the field. Once you have a grasp on the fundamentals, you’ll learn how to analyze and visualize data, in addition to creating machine learning models using Python, before wrapping up with the previously mentioned project.
The IBM Data Science Professional Certificate is a more intensive course than the others on this list. It’s essentially a mini degree, requiring you to invest 10 hours per week for five months into your learning. However, the course is provided entirely online, allowing you to schedule that learning time as you see fit. You’ll work through 10 modules as part of the certificate.
That time commitment may be a downside for those who can’t put 10 hours per week into a course, though that downside is outweighed heavily by the fact that you come out with an IBM certification. Having one of the leading names in computing on your certificate is enough to make any employer sit up and take notice.
Data Analysis With Python (freeCodeCamp)
The Python programming language (along with SQL and a few others) underpins almost everything that the modern data scientist does. Data Analysis with Python takes that concept and runs with it by providing a course that digs into using Python to read, analyze, and visualize data.
Along the way, you’ll learn about the basics of both Python and data analysis, though the real highlight comes from the many libraries and tools the course introduces. You’ll use Seaborn, Numpy, Mayplotlib, and Pandas during the course. All of which are libraries used by professionals to extract and visualize data. The course wraps up with a series of five projects, each testing a different set of skills learned via the modules, with your certification coming after you’ve completed all five.
This is one of those free data science courses that’s entirely self-paced and there are no time constraints or commitments involved. Once you’ve signed up for freeCodeCamp, you can save your progress through the course at any point and return whenever you’re ready. Theoretically, this means you could start the course, save your progress, and then return to it months later, though that isn’t recommended if you want to keep the information fresh in your mind. All told, the course contains 37 modules, plus the five projects required for certification, making it one of the most in-depth Python courses around.
The focus on Python is great for those who are unfamiliar with the language, though it also creates some issues. Namely, this isn’t the right course for those who don’t understand data science fundamentals. It jumps straight into analyzing datasets using Python, so those who don’t really understand what datasets are or how they apply to the modern world should start with a more beginner-oriented course.
Tips for Choosing the Right Data Science Course
You get the same benefit from all of the listed data science online courses – free entry. But each course offers something different. Use these tips to determine which is the right choice for you:
- Assess your current skill level to pick a course that delivers what you need to know right now rather than a course that forces you to run before you can walk.
- Determine your learning goals so you can see how the course fits into your roadmap for becoming a data scientist.
- Consider the course’s format and duration as both will play a huge role in how you schedule your learning around your other commitments, be they work-related or personal.
- Look for courses that offer hands-on project work once you’ve moved beyond learning the basics of data science.
- Read reviews and testimonials from other students to see if people in your position get actual value from the course.
Start Your Journey With Free Data Science Courses Online
Every journey starts with a first step, and that first step could take you into a career that has massive potential for growth if you opt for the data science path. The four courses listed here each offer something different, from exploring the basics of what data science is to digging deep into the programming tools you’ll use to conduct data analysis and visualization. Completing one of the four sets you on the right path, though completing all four gives you a solid grounding (and a set of certifications) that make you immensely attractive to employers.
Soon, we will be launching four new Degrees for AY24-25 at OPIT – Open Institute of Technology
I want to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the Product Definition process that has shaped these upcoming programs.
🚀 Phase 1: Discovery (Late May – End of July)
Our journey began with intensive brainstorming sessions with OPIT’s Academic Board (Francesco Profumo, Lorenzo Livi, Alexiei Dingli, Andrea Pescino, Rosario Maccarrone) . We also conducted 50+ interviews with tech and digital entrepreneurs (both from startups and established firms), academics and students. Finally, we deep-dived into the “Future of Jobs 2023” report by the World Economic Forum and other valuable research.
🔍 Phase 2: Selection – Crafting Our Roadmap (July – August)
Our focus? Introducing new degrees addressing critical workforce shortages and upskilling/reskilling needs for the next 5-10 years, promising significant societal impact and a broad market reach.
Our decision? To channel our energies on full BScs and MScs, and steer away from shorter courses or corporate-focused offerings. This aligns perfectly with our core mission.
💡 Focus Areas Unveiled!
We’re thrilled to concentrate on pivotal fields like:
- Advanced AI
- Digital Business
- Metaverse & Gaming
- Cloud Computing (less “glamorous”, but market demand is undeniable).
🎓 Phase 3: Definition – Shaping the Degrees (August – November)
With an expert in each of the above fields, and with the strong collaboration of our Academic Director, Prof. Lorenzo Livi , we embarked on a rigorous “drill-down process”. Our goal? To meld modern theoretical knowledge with cutting-edge competencies and skills. This phase included interviewing over 60+ top academics, industry professionals, and students and get valuable, program-specific, insights from our Marketing department.
🌟 Phase 4: Accreditation and Launch – The Final Stretch
We’re currently in the accreditation process, gearing up for the launch. The focus is now shifting towards marketing, working closely with Greta Maiocchi and her Marketing and Admissions team. Together, we’re translating our new academic offering into a compelling value proposition for the market.
Stay tuned for more updates!
Far from being a temporary educational measure that came into its own during the pandemic, online education is providing students from all over the world with new ways to learn. That’s proven by statistics from Oxford Learning College, which point out that over 100 million students are now enrolled in some form of online course.
The demand for these types of courses clearly exists.
In fact, the same organization indicates that educational facilities that introduce online learning see a 42% increase in income – on average – suggesting that the demand is there.
Enter the Open Institute of Technology (OPIT).
Delivering three online courses – a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and two Master’s degrees – with more to come, OPIT is positioning itself as a leader in the online education space. But why is that? After all, many institutions are making the jump to e-learning, so what separates OPIT from the pack?
Here, you’ll discover the answers as you delve into the five reasons why you should trust OPIT for your online education.
Reason 1 – A Practical Approach
OPIT focuses on computer science education – a field in which theory often dominates the educational landscape. The organization’s Rector, Professor Francesco Profumo, makes this clear in a press release from June 2023. He points to a misalignment between what educators are teaching computer science students and what the labor market actually needs from those students as a key problem.
“The starting point is the awareness of the misalignment,” he says when talking about how OPIT structures its online courses. “That so-called mismatch is generated by too much theory and too little practical approach.” In other words, students in many classes spend far too much time learning the “hows” and “whys” behind computerized systems without actually getting their hands dirty with real work that gives them practical experience in using those systems.
OPIT takes a different approach.
It has developed a didactic approach that focuses far more on the practical element than other courses. That approach is delivered through a combination of classroom sessions – such as live lessons and masterclasses – and practical work offered through quizzes and exercises that mimic real-world situations.
An OPIT student doesn’t simply learn how computers work. They put their skills into practice through direct programming and application, equipping them with skills that are extremely attractive to major employers in the tech field and beyond.
Reason 2 – Flexibility Combined With Support
Flexibility in how you study is one of the main benefits of any online course.
You control when you learn and how you do it, creating an environment that’s beneficial to your education rather than being forced into a classroom setting with which you may not feel comfortable. This is hardly new ground. Any online educational platform can claim that it offers “flexibility” simply because it provides courses via the web.
Where OPIT differs is that it combines that flexibility with unparalleled support bolstered by the experiences of teachers employed from all over the world. The founder and director of OPIT, Riccardo Ocleppo, sheds more light on this difference in approach when he says, “We believe that education, even if it takes place physically at a distance, must guarantee closeness on all other aspects.” That closeness starts with the support offered to students throughout their entire study period.
Tutors are accessible to students at all times. Plus, every participant benefits from weekly professor interactions, ensuring they aren’t left feeling stuck on an educational “island” and have to rely solely on themselves for their education. OPIT further counters the potential isolation that comes with online learning with a Student Support team to guide students through any difficulties they may have with their courses.
In this focus on support, OPIT showcases one of its main differences from other online platforms.
You don’t simply receive course material before being told to “get on with it.” You have the flexibility to learn at your own pace while also having a support structure that serves as a foundation for that learning.
Reason 3 – OPIT Can Adapt to Change Quickly
The field of computer science is constantly evolving.
In the 2020s alone, we’ve seen the rise of generative AI – spurred on by the explosive success of services like ChatGPT – and how those new technologies have changed the way that people use computers.
Riccardo Ocleppo has seen the impact that these constant evolutions have had on students. Before founding OPIT, he was an entrepreneur who received first-hand experience of the fact that many traditional educational institutions struggle to adapt to change.
“Traditional educational institutions are very slow to adapt to this wave of new technologies and trends within the educational sector,” he says. He points to computer science as a particular issue, highlighting the example of a board in Italy of which he is a member. That board – packed with some of the country’s most prestigious tech universities – spent three years eventually deciding to add just two modules on new and emerging technologies to their study programs.
That left Ocleppo feeling frustrated.
When he founded OPIT, he did so intending to make it an adaptable institution in which courses were informed by what the industry needs. Every member of its faculty is not only a superb teacher but also somebody with experience working in industry. Speaking of industry, OPIT collaborates with major companies in the tech field to ensure its courses deliver the skills that those organizations expect from new candidates.
This confronts frustration on both sides. For companies, an OPIT graduate is one for which they don’t need to bridge a “skill gap” between what they’ve learned and what the company needs. For you, as a student, it means that you’re developing skills that make you a more desirable prospect once you have your degree.
Reason 4 – OPIT Delivers Tier One Education
Despite their popularity, online courses can still carry a stigma of not being “legitimate” in the face of more traditional degrees. Ocleppo is acutely aware of this fact, which is why he’s quick to point out that OPIT always aims to deliver a Tier One education in the computer science field.
“That means putting together the best professors who create superb learning material, all brought together with a teaching methodology that leverages the advancements made in online teaching,” he says.
OPIT’s degrees are all accredited by the European Union to support this approach, ensuring they carry as much weight as any other European degree. It’s accredited by both the European Qualification Framework (EQF) and the Malta Qualification Framework (MQF), with all of its courses having full legal value throughout Europe.
It’s also here where we see OPIT’s approach to practicality come into play via its course structuring.
Take its Bachelor’s degree in computer science as an example.
Yes, that course starts with a focus on theoretical and foundational knowledge. Building a computer and understanding how the device processes instructions is vital information from a programming perspective. But once those foundations are in place, OPIT delivers on its promises of covering the most current topics in the field.
Machine learning, cloud computing, data science, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity – all valuable to employers – are taught at the undergraduate level. Students benefit from a broader approach to computer science than most institutions are capable of, rather than bogging them down in theory that serves little practical purpose.
Reason 5 – The Learning Experience
Let’s wrap up by honing in on what it’s actually like for students to learn with OPIT.
After all, as Ocleppo points out, one of the main challenges with online education is that students rarely have defined checkpoints to follow. They can start feeling lost in the process, confronted with a metaphorical ocean of information they need to learn, all in service of one big exam at the end.
Alternatively, some students may feel the temptation to not work through the materials thoroughly, focusing instead on passing a final exam. The result is that those students may pass, but they do so without a full grasp of what they’ve learned – a nightmare for employers who already have skill gaps to handle.
OPIT confronts both challenges by focusing on a continuous learning methodology. Assessments – primarily practical – take place throughout the course, serving as much-needed checkpoints for evaluating progress. When combined with the previously mentioned support that OPIT offers, this approach has led to courses that are created from scratch in service of the student’s actual needs.
Choose OPIT for Your Computer Science Education
At OPIT, the focus lies as much on helping students to achieve their dream careers as it does on teaching them. All courses are built collaboratively. With a dedicated faculty combined with major industry players, such as Google and Microsoft, it delivers materials that bridge the skill gap seen in the computer science field today.
There’s also more to come.
Beyond the three degrees OPIT offers, the institution plans to add more. Game development, data science, and cloud computing, to name a few, will receive dedicated degrees in the coming months, accentuating OPIT’s dedication to adapting to the continuous evolution of the computer science industry. Discover OPIT today – your journey into computing starts with the best online education institution available.