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🎓 Path to a free self-taught education in Computer Science!

OSSU 2023 Survey

Hi OSSUnians, OSSU is conducting our first census. Will you take 15 minutes to fill out the survey? Your responses will help us understand your learning context and needs. All responses are anonymous. All responses shape the future of OSSU. The survey will be open for 2 weeks.

Open Source Society University (OSSU)

Open Source Society University

Path to a free self-taught education in Computer Science!

Awesome Open Source Society University - Computer Science



The OSSU curriculum is a complete education in computer science using online materials. It's not merely for career training or professional development. It's for those who want a proper, well-rounded grounding in concepts fundamental to all computing disciplines, and for those who have the discipline, will, and (most importantly!) good habits to obtain this education largely on their own, but with support from a worldwide community of fellow learners.

It is designed according to the degree requirements of undergraduate computer science majors, minus general education (non-CS) requirements, as it is assumed most of the people following this curriculum are already educated outside the field of CS. The courses themselves are among the very best in the world, often coming from Harvard, Princeton, MIT, etc., but specifically chosen to meet the following criteria.

Courses must:

  • Be open for enrollment
  • Run regularly (ideally in self-paced format, otherwise running multiple times per year)
  • Be of generally high quality in teaching materials and pedagogical principles
  • Match the curricular standards of the CS 2013: Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Degree Programs in Computer Science

When no course meets the above criteria, the coursework is supplemented with a book. When there are courses or books that don't fit into the curriculum but are otherwise of high quality, they belong in extras/courses or extras/readings.

Organization. The curriculum is designed as follows:

  • Intro CS: for students to try out CS and see if it's right for them
  • Core CS: corresponds roughly to the first three years of a computer science curriculum, taking classes that all majors would be required to take
  • Advanced CS: corresponds roughly to the final year of a computer science curriculum, taking electives according to the student's interests
  • Final Project: a project for students to validate, consolidate, and display their knowledge, to be evaluated by their peers worldwide

Duration. It is possible to finish within about 2 years if you plan carefully and devote roughly 20 hours/week to your studies. Learners can use this spreadsheet to estimate their end date. Make a copy and input your start date and expected hours per week in the Timeline sheet. As you work through courses you can enter your actual course completion dates in the Curriculum Data sheet and get updated completion estimates.

Cost. All or nearly all course material is available for free. However, some courses may charge money for assignments/tests/projects to be graded. Note that both Coursera and edX offer financial aid.

Decide how much or how little to spend based on your own time and budget; just remember that you can't purchase success!

Process. Students can work through the curriculum alone or in groups, in order or out of order.

  • We recommend doing all courses in Core CS, only skipping a course when you are certain that you've already learned the material previously.
  • For simplicity, we recommend working through courses (especially Core CS) in order from top to bottom, as they have already been topologically sorted by their prerequisites.
  • Courses in Advanced CS are electives. Choose one subject (e.g. Advanced programming) you want to become an expert in and take all the courses under that heading. You can also create your own custom subject, but we recommend getting validation from the community on the subject you choose.

Content policy. If you plan on showing off some of your coursework publicly, you must share only files that you are allowed to. Do NOT disrespect the code of conduct that you signed in the beginning of each course!

How to contribute

Getting help (Details about our FAQ and chatroom)


  • We have a discord server! Discord This should be your first stop to talk with other OSSU students. Why don't you introduce yourself right now? Join the OSSU Discord
  • You can also interact through GitHub issues. If there is a problem with a course, or a change needs to be made to the curriculum, this is the place to start the conversation. Read more here.
  • Subscribe to our newsletter.
  • Add Open Source Society University to your Linkedin profile!
  • Note: There is an unmaintained and deprecated firebase app that you might find when searching OSSU. You can safely ignore it. Read more in the FAQ.


Curriculum version: 8.0.0 (see CHANGELOG)


  • Core CS assumes the student has already taken high school math, including algebra, geometry, and pre-calculus.
  • Advanced CS assumes the student has already taken the entirety of Core CS and is knowledgeable enough now to decide which electives to take.
  • Note that Advanced systems assumes the student has taken a basic physics course (e.g. AP Physics in high school).

Intro CS

Introduction to Programming

If you've never written a for-loop, or don't know what a string is in programming, start here. This course is self-paced, allowing you to adjust the number of hours you spend per week to meet your needs.

Topics covered: simple programs simple data structures

Courses Duration Effort Prerequisites Discussion
Python for Everybody 10 weeks 10 hours/week none chat

Introduction to Computer Science

This course will introduce you to the world of computer science. Students who have been introduced to programming, either from the courses above or through study elsewhere, should take this course for a flavor of the material to come. If you finish the course wanting more, Computer Science is likely for you!

Topics covered: computation imperative programming basic data structures and algorithms and more

Courses Duration Effort Prerequisites Discussion
Introduction to Computer Science and Programming using Python (alt) 9 weeks 15 hours/week high school algebra chat

Core CS

All coursework under Core CS is required, unless otherwise indicated.

Core programming

Topics covered: functional programming design for testing program requirements common design patterns unit testing object-oriented design static typing dynamic typing ML-family languages (via Standard ML) Lisp-family languages (via Racket) Ruby and more

Courses Duration Effort Prerequisites Discussion
How to Code - Simple Data (textbook) 7 weeks 8-10 hours/week none chat
How to Code - Complex Data 6 weeks 8-10 hours/week How to Code: Simple Data chat
Programming Languages, Part A 5 weeks 4-8 hours/week How to Code (Hear instructor) chat
Programming Languages, Part B 3 weeks 4-8 hours/week Programming Languages, Part A chat
Programming Languages, Part C 3 weeks 4-8 hours/week Programming Languages, Part B chat
Object-Oriented Design 4 weeks 4 hours/week Basic Java
Design Patterns 4 weeks 4 hours/week Object-Oriented Design
Software Architecture 4 weeks 2-5 hours/week Design Patterns

Core math

Discrete math (Math for CS) is a prerequisite and closely related to the study of algorithms and data structures. Calculus both prepares students for discrete math and helps students develop mathematical maturity.

Topics covered: discrete mathematics mathematical proofs basic statistics O-notation discrete probability and more

Courses Duration Effort Notes Prerequisites Discussion
Calculus 1A: Differentiation (alt) 13 weeks 6-10 hours/week The alternate covers this and the following 2 courses high school math chat
Calculus 1B: Integration 13 weeks 5-10 hours/week - Calculus 1A chat
Calculus 1C: Coordinate Systems & Infinite Series 6 weeks 5-10 hours/week - Calculus 1B chat
Mathematics for Computer Science (alt) 13 weeks 5 hours/week 2015/2019 solutions 2010 solutions 2005 solutions. Calculus 1C chat

CS Tools

Understanding theory is important, but you will also be expected to create programs. There are a number of tools that are widely used to make that process easier. Learn them now to ease your future work writing programs.

Topics covered: terminals and shell scripting vim command line environments version control and more

Courses Duration Effort Prerequisites Discussion
The Missing Semester of Your CS Education 2 weeks 12 hours/week - chat

Core systems

Topics covered: procedural programming manual memory management boolean algebra gate logic memory computer architecture assembly machine language virtual machines high-level languages compilers operating systems network protocols and more

Courses Duration Effort Additional Text / Assignments Prerequisites Discussion
Build a Modern Computer from First Principles: From Nand to Tetris (alt) 6 weeks 7-13 hours/week - C-like programming language chat
Build a Modern Computer from First Principles: Nand to Tetris Part II 6 weeks 12-18 hours/week - one of these programming languages, From Nand to Tetris Part I chat
Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces 10-12 weeks 6-10 hours/week - Nand to Tetris Part II chat
Computer Networking: a Top-Down Approach 8 weeks 4–12 hours/week Wireshark Labs algebra, probability, basic CS chat

Core theory

Topics covered: divide and conquer sorting and searching randomized algorithms graph search shortest paths data structures greedy algorithms minimum spanning trees dynamic programming NP-completeness and more

Courses Duration Effort Prerequisites Discussion
Divide and Conquer, Sorting and Searching, and Randomized Algorithms 4 weeks 4-8 hours/week any programming language, Mathematics for Computer Science chat
Graph Search, Shortest Paths, and Data Structures 4 weeks 4-8 hours/week Divide and Conquer, Sorting and Searching, and Randomized Algorithms chat
Greedy Algorithms, Minimum Spanning Trees, and Dynamic Programming 4 weeks 4-8 hours/week Graph Search, Shortest Paths, and Data Structures chat
Shortest Paths Revisited, NP-Complete Problems and What To Do About Them 4 weeks 4-8 hours/week Greedy Algorithms, Minimum Spanning Trees, and Dynamic Programming chat

Core security

Topics covered Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability Secure Design Defensive Programming Threats and Attacks Network Security Cryptography and more

Courses Duration Effort Prerequisites Discussion
Cybersecurity Fundamentals 8 weeks 10-12 hours/week - chat
Principles of Secure Coding 4 weeks 4 hours/week - chat
Identifying Security Vulnerabilities 4 weeks 4 hours/week - chat

Choose one of the following:

Courses Duration Effort Prerequisites Discussion
Identifying Security Vulnerabilities in C/C++Programming 4 weeks 5 hours/week - chat
Exploiting and Securing Vulnerabilities in Java Applications 4 weeks 5 hours/week - chat

Core applications

Topics covered: Agile methodology REST software specifications refactoring relational databases transaction processing data modeling neural networks supervised learning unsupervised learning OpenGL ray tracing and more

Courses Duration Effort Prerequisites Discussion
Databases: Modeling and Theory 2 weeks 10 hours/week core programming chat
Databases: Relational Databases and SQL 2 weeks 10 hours/week core programming chat
Databases: Semistructured Data 2 weeks 10 hours/week core programming chat
Machine Learning 11 weeks 9 hours/week Basic coding chat
Computer Graphics 6 weeks 12 hours/week C++ or Java, linear algebra chat
Software Engineering: Introduction 6 weeks 8-10 hours/week Core Programming, and a sizable project chat

Core ethics

Topics covered: Social Context Analytical Tools Professional Ethics Intellectual Property Privacy and Civil Liberties and more

Courses Duration Effort Prerequisites Discussion
Ethics, Technology and Engineering 9 weeks 2 hours/week none chat
Introduction to Intellectual Property 4 weeks 2 hours/week none chat
Data Privacy Fundamentals 3 weeks 3 hours/week none chat

Advanced CS

After completing every required course in Core CS, students should choose a subset of courses from Advanced CS based on interest. Not every course from a subcategory needs to be taken. But students should take every course that is relevant to the field they intend to go into.

Advanced programming

Topics covered: debugging theory and practice goal-oriented programming parallel computing object-oriented analysis and design UML large-scale software architecture and design and more

Courses Duration Effort Prerequisites
Parallel Programming 4 weeks 6-8 hours/week Scala programming
Compilers 9 weeks 6-8 hours/week none
Introduction to Haskell 14 weeks - -
Learn Prolog Now! (alt)* 12 weeks - -
Software Debugging 8 weeks 6 hours/week Python, object-oriented programming
Software Testing 4 weeks 6 hours/week Python, programming experience

(*) book by Blackburn, Bos, Striegnitz (compiled from source, redistributed under CC license)

Advanced systems

Topics covered: digital signaling combinational logic CMOS technologies sequential logic finite state machines processor instruction sets caches pipelining virtualization parallel processing virtual memory synchronization primitives system call interface and more

Courses Duration Effort Prerequisites Notes
Computation Structures 1: Digital Circuits alt1 alt2 10 weeks 6 hours/week Nand2Tetris II Alternate links contain all 3 courses.
Computation Structures 2: Computer Architecture 10 weeks 6 hours/week Computation Structures 1
Computation Structures 3: Computer Organization 10 weeks 6 hours/week Computation Structures 2

Advanced theory

Topics covered: formal languages Turing machines computability event-driven concurrency automata distributed shared memory consensus algorithms state machine replication computational geometry theory propositional logic relational logic Herbrand logic game trees and more

Courses Duration Effort Prerequisites
Theory of Computation (alt) 13 weeks 10 hours/week Mathematics for Computer Science, logic, algorithms
Computational Geometry 16 weeks 8 hours/week algorithms, C++
Game Theory 8 weeks 3 hours/week mathematical thinking, probability, calculus

Advanced Information Security

Courses Duration Effort Prerequisites
Web Security Fundamentals 5 weeks 4-6 hours/week understanding basic web technologies
Security Governance & Compliance 3 weeks 3 hours/week -
Digital Forensics Concepts 3 weeks 2-3 hours/week Core Security
Secure Software Development: Requirements, Design, and Reuse 7 weeks 1-2 hours/week Core Programming and Core Security
Secure Software Development: Implementation 7 weeks 1-2 hours/week Secure Software Development: Requirements, Design, and Reuse
Secure Software Development: Verification and More Specialized Topics 7 weeks 1-2 hours/week Secure Software Development: Implementation

Advanced math

Courses Duration Effort Prerequisites Discussion
Essence of Linear Algebra - - high school math chat
Linear Algebra 14 weeks 12 hours/week corequisite: Essence of Linear Algebra chat
Introduction to Numerical Methods 14 weeks 12 hours/week Linear Algebra chat
Introduction to Formal Logic 10 weeks 4-8 hours/week Set Theory chat
Probability 15 weeks 5-10 hours/week Differentiation and Integration chat

Final project

OSS University is project-focused. The assignments and exams for each course are to prepare you to use your knowledge to solve real-world problems.

After you've gotten through all of Core CS and the parts of Advanced CS relevant to you, you should think about a problem that you can solve using the knowledge you've acquired. Not only does real project work look great on a resume, but the project will also validate and consolidate your knowledge. You can create something entirely new, or you can find an existing project that needs help via websites like CodeTriage or First Timers Only.

Students who would like more guidance in creating a project may choose to use a series of project oriented courses. Here is a sample of options (many more are available, at this point you should be capable of identifying a series that is interesting and relevant to you):

Courses Duration Effort Prerequisites
Fullstack Open 12 weeks 15 hours/week programming
Modern Robotics (Specialization) 26 weeks 2-5 hours/week freshman-level physics, linear algebra, calculus, linear ordinary differential equations
Data Mining (Specialization) 30 weeks 2-5 hours/week machine learning
Big Data (Specialization) 30 weeks 3-5 hours/week none
Internet of Things (Specialization) 30 weeks 1-5 hours/week strong programming
Cloud Computing (Specialization) 30 weeks 2-6 hours/week C++ programming
Data Science (Specialization) 43 weeks 1-6 hours/week none
Functional Programming in Scala (Specialization) 29 weeks 4-5 hours/week One year programming experience
Game Design and Development with Unity 2020 (Specialization) 6 months 5 hours/week programming, interactive design


Upon completing your final project:

  • Submit your project's information to PROJECTS via a pull request.

  • Put the OSSU-CS badge in the README of your repository! Open Source Society University - Computer Science

    • Markdown: [![Open Source Society University - Computer Science](https://img.shields.io/badge/OSSU-computer--science-blue.svg)](https://github.com/ossu/computer-science)
    • HTML: <a href="https://github.com/ossu/computer-science"><img alt="Open Source Society University - Computer Science" src="https://img.shields.io/badge/OSSU-computer--science-blue.svg"></a>
  • Use our community channels to announce it to your fellow students.

Solicit feedback from your OSSU peers. You will not be "graded" in the traditional sense — everyone has their own measurements for what they consider a success. The purpose of the evaluation is to act as your first announcement to the world that you are a computer scientist and to get experience listening to feedback — both positive and negative.

The final project evaluation has a second purpose: to evaluate whether OSSU, through its community and curriculum, is successful in its mission to guide independent learners in obtaining a world-class computer science education.

Cooperative work

You can create this project alone or with other students! We love cooperative work! Use our channels to communicate with other fellows to combine and create new projects!

Which programming languages should I use?

My friend, here is the best part of liberty! You can use any language that you want to complete the final project.

The important thing is to internalize the core concepts and to be able to use them with whatever tool (programming language) that you wish.


After completing the requirements of the curriculum above, you will have completed the equivalent of a full bachelor's degree in Computer Science. Congratulations!

What is next for you? The possibilities are boundless and overlapping:

  • Look for a job as a developer!
  • Check out the readings for classic books you can read that will sharpen your skills and expand your knowledge.
  • Join a local developer meetup (e.g. via meetup.com).
  • Pay attention to emerging technologies in the world of software development:
    • Explore the actor model through Elixir, a new functional programming language for the web based on the battle-tested Erlang Virtual Machine!
    • Explore borrowing and lifetimes through Rust, a systems language which achieves memory- and thread-safety without a garbage collector!
    • Explore dependent type systems through Idris, a new Haskell-inspired language with unprecedented support for type-driven development.

keep learning

Code of conduct

OSSU's code of conduct.

How to show your progress

  1. Create an account in Trello.
  2. Copy this board to your personal account. See how to copy a board here.

Now that you have a copy of our official board, you just need to pass the cards to the Doing column or Done column as you progress in your study.

We also have labels to help you have more control through the process. The meaning of each of these labels is:

  • Main Curriculum: cards with that label represent courses that are listed in our curriculum.
  • Extra Resources: cards with that label represent courses that were added by the student.
  • Doing: cards with that label represent courses the student is currently doing.
  • Done: cards with that label represent courses finished by the student. Those cards should also have the link for at least one project/article built with the knowledge acquired in such a course.
  • Section: cards with that label represent the section that we have in our curriculum. Those cards with the Section label are only to help the organization of the Done column. You should put the Course's cards below its respective Section's card.

The intention of this board is to provide our students a way to track their progress, and also the ability to show their progress through a public page for friends, family, employers, etc. You can change the status of your board to be public or private.