The 8 Best Online Python Courses of 2020

Your next big project isn't far away with these classes

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Introductory Course: Codecademy

Codecademy

Codecademy 

What We Like
  • Interactive course

  • Great for beginners

What We Don't Like
  • Anything past the introduction requires a subscription

If you’re looking for a course to get started with Python, then Codecademy is your best bet. Although the newest version of their introductory Python course requires a subscription to Pro, the previous version is free to use. The course will take you through the basics of Python step by step, starting by teaching you the syntax and then moving through strings, conditionals, functions.

If you decide to go with a Codecademy Pro subscription, then you’ll have an even larger selection of courses. Once you’ve finished the introductory course, you’ll be able to deepen your knowledge with courses on sorting algorithms, recursion, and complex data structures, and even try out challenges to test your skills, such as creating a Pokémon simulator, creating data visualizations based on roller coasters or censoring sensitive parts of texts.

Best Short Course: Programming with Python: Hands-On Introduction for Beginners on Udemy

Udemy

Udemy 

What We Like
  • Teaches you how to install and work with an IDE (integrated development environment)

  • Great overview of Python basics (syntax, lists, conditionals, loops, functions)

  • Final project

What We Don't Like
  • Teaches nothing more than the absolute basics

This course is a great introduction to Python for anyone who doesn’t have much time on their hands. The total course length, until you get to the final project, is about three hours, although if you follow every step (including the helpful guide to installing an IDE for those who have never done so before) it might take a bit longer. This makes it a great introduction for anyone who has never programmed before and wants to try Python. 

Once you’ve watched the main bulk of the course, you can try your hand at the final project (in which you sort a list of students based on their marks, with special additions for especially high scores), and if you get stuck at any point in the project, you can just watch parts of the teacher’s video on how to solve it. 

Runner-Up, Best Short Course: Introduction to Python Programming on Udemy

Udemy

Udemy

What We Like
  • Easy to pick up for complete beginners

  • Short videos can be watched in an afternoon

What We Don't Like
  • Little to no depth

  • Few exercises

Some people don’t want a full introduction to every little detail Python has to offer, but instead just a short run-through of the basics. This course is perfect for anyone like that. Although the page says the course is four and a half hours long, that’s actually because it’s two different courses. You can watch the old series of videos, which comes up to three hours, or you can watch the new and improved series that totals at one and a half hours only. 

The new videos are a lot more condensed, but if you want a deeper look than just the one and a half hours (and exercises too), then you’ll be better off with the old series. Either way, though, this course is great for anyone who wants a glimpse at what Python can do.

Best Structure: Python for Everybody Specialization on Coursera

Coursera

 Coursera

What We Like
  • Extensive course leading to a capstone project

  • Completely free

  • Multiple languages (with subtitles)

What We Don't Like
  • It might be a commitment for some

This is probably the most extensive course on the list. The University of Michigan created this specialization, a series of five courses, to teach programming and data science in Python, and you can do it all at your own speed. You will have to sink time into this course, as it is suggested that you put twelve hours a week into it, and they say it takes approximately four months to complete, but if you want a thorough course that goes beyond just an introduction to Python, then this is exactly what you’re looking for. 

After the introductory course, you’ll go over data structures, accessing web data, accessing databases (including SQL basics), and a capstone project that puts all of this knowledge together.

Runner-Up, Best Structure: Introduction to Computer Science on edX

edX

 edX

What We Like
  • A detailed look at logical reasoning, deduction and induction

  • All the Python basics

  • Doesn’t take too much time

What We Don't Like
  • Few exercises to practice applying logic while programming

Microsoft’s three-course Introduction to Computer Science is a self-paced program that will take you two to four months, only requiring about three hours per week. If you’re looking for a computer science course that teaches you the basics of Python but won’t require too much of your time, then this is the perfect course. The courses cost money if you want a verified certificate, but otherwise, they’re completely free and great for beginners. 

The courses take you through the basics in three steps: first with input/ouput, functions, conditionals, and loops, then with strings, List manipulation, iteration, and interacting with files, and lastly, teaching you algorithmic thinking, logical reasoning and breaking problems down to bite-sized tasks.

Not only is it a great way to get started with programming, but it also prepares you to take down bigger challenges.

Best University Level Course: Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python on edX

edX

 edX

What We Like
  • On the same level as on-campus MIT course

  • Large amount of videos and exercises

What We Don't Like
  • Might be too difficult for those who just want a basic intro to Python

Although a lot of courses focus purely on programming and what to do, this course, which was created by MIT to have an online course that is on par with their on-campus course, also tries to teach you how it works.

The exercises that come with each of the nine weeks of content are a lot more challenging, though they’re never intended to turn someone off from the course. If you’re ever stuck, you can discuss the problems with other students or even the professors on Discord and Facebook. 

Although the bulk of the course content is free, if you choose to buy a verified certificate for the course (for $75), you can even take the midterm and final exams as well.

Best Splurge: Pluralsight

Pluralsight

 Pluralsight

What We Like
  • Large variety

  • Some interactive courses

  • Career-focussed

What We Don't Like
  • High price tag ($35 per month or $299 per year)

Pluralsight has a wide variety of courses and isn’t quite as focused on one specific area like DataCamp is, for example. Its Python Fundamentals course takes you through a whole series of important Python basics (and more) in just five hours and follow-up courses Python - Beyond the Basics and Advanced Python are just as short, detailing a variety of more complex topics in Python. 

However, those are just one of the available teachers’ courses. In fact, if you follow the Python skill path, you will be able to complete twelve courses, some of which are even interactive. Once you’ve finished the skill path, there are even more Python courses to watch, from game development to machine learning or function programing.

Runner-Up, Best Splurge: DataCamp

DataCamp

 DataCamp

What We Like
  • Short but in-depth course

  • Coding challenges

  • Mobile app for learning on the go

  • Free for school classes

What We Don't Like
  • Hefty price tag 

If you’re looking for a course focussed on data science, then Data Camp has exactly what you need. However, the courses are fit for anyone who wants to learn how to program with Python. They have a whole variety of courses, but the best ones for beginners are the four you can find in the so-called skill-track Python Programming.

Starting with an introduction to programming in Python and then moving on to data visualization and writing your own functions, DataCamp has everything you need for a thorough introduction to programming in Python in just 15 hours. 

The subscription to DataCamp isn’t the cheapest, at $400 yearly for the full selection, but it also gives you access to challenges and projects where you can test your knowledge, as well as the mobile app.