How I Learned to Code with Harvard's CS50: A Detailed Roadmap


4 min read

In today's time-crunched, post-pandemic world brimming with MOOCs and coding boot camps, selecting a proven path to learn how to code can mean the difference between enjoying a rewarding journey or succumbing to frustration and premature burnout. That's why in this blog post, I'm going to unravel the roadmap I followed when learning to code with Harvard's CS50 in 2020.

We'll cover how you can take advantage of this program effectively to build a strong foundation in coding, build an attractive portfolio, and ultimately land your first job as a developer!

Why CS50?

CS50, hosted on, is one of the most highly regarded computer science courses available online. In my opinion, it's the best course for anyone wishing to rove the realms of computer science and programming.

Once you've completed all the programs and projects under CS50, not only will you have a comprehensive understanding of coding technologies and best practices, but you'll also have built an impressive portfolio. This portfolio could include all your assignments, which are essentially projects that can be showcased on your page or linked to your resume.

Setting The Right Foot Forward: Start With Python

Here's how I initiated my journey with CS50. I suggest starting with Python by diving into CS50's course 'Introduction to Programming with Python'. This course is especially recommended for beginners due to its slow pace and beginner-friendly content.

By the time you finish this course, you should be proficient enough to proceed to the more intense courses. Remember, the primary key here is consistent learning, and not rushing through the course.

After wrapping up the Python course, plunge into the main CS50 course by enrolling in 'CS50X'. This comprehensive course spans 10 weeks, and on successful completion, you can claim your free certificate from Harvard University.

By the end of CS50X, you'll have conceptual understanding and hands-on experience in building a full-stack application using Flask and Ginger, juxtaposing your theoretical knowledge with practical skills!

Pro Tip: If you find any lecture hard to comprehend, don't hesitate to pause, rewind, and replay. There is no rush, take your time in understanding the concepts thoroughly.

Level Up: Diving Deeper into Python and JavaScript

The next leg of this journey is the 'Web Programming with Python and JavaScript' course. This course plumbs deeper into Python, abstracts SQL, and introduces you to JavaScript as well.

The completion of this segment would typically indicate that you now possess a compelling portfolio substantiating your skillset and knowledge. Consequently, you could start applying for junior developer positions or work on your personal projects to further diversify your experience.

For those of you interested in Artificial Intelligence, CS50 also offers an 'Artificial Intelligence' course aimed at enhancing your proficiency in Python and algorithms.

Sure, it's an entirely optional course. Still, the knowledge gained from it will significantly amplify your understanding of object-oriented programming.

Extra Mile: Venture into Algorithms with Princeton

While CS50 offers a comprehensive suite of programming courses, I recommend complementing this with a dedicated algorithms course. The one I recommend is Princeton's 'Algorithms course'. However, please note that this is a premium course on Coursera.

Expanding your skillset into algorithms and data structures, and learning yet another language, can only add benefits to your developer portfolio. The more languages you're proficient in, the higher your chances of landing a promising job!

Never Stop Learning: A Constant Quest

After completing these courses, you should come out as a thorough, competent, and confident coder. However, learning is a journey that should never reach a destination. Like the Japanese concept of "Kaizen" suggests, one should relentlessly pursue improvement.

Whether it's a job, a personal project, or a new course, try to dedicate at least 2 hours per day to code – even if it's merely to hone your skills.

To sum up, this is the path I recommend:

  • Start with CS50's Introduction to Programming with Python

  • Then progress to the main course, CS50X

  • Take the Web Programming with Python and JavaScript

  • Optionally, enroll in the Artificial Intelligence course

  • Lastly, dip your toes into Algorithms, ideally via Princeton's course on Coursera.

Remember, the secret to success lies not in rushing through, but in enjoying the journey and celebrating minor victories along the way. Happy coding!

"I wanted to emphasize the obvious, and that is that once you start the learning path, do not deviate from it. If you don't understand something, what you need to do is continue to find the solution until you find it. Just because you feel frustrated now, you do not go now and start a new course."