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

Open Source Society University (OSSU)

Open Source Society University

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

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!  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 version8.0.0 (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 coveredsimple programs simple data structures

Python for Everybody10 weeks10 hours/weeknonechat

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 coveredcomputation imperative programming basic data structures and algorithms and more

Introduction to Computer Science and Programming using Python (alt)9 weeks15 hours/weekhigh school algebrachat

Core CS

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

Core programming

Topics coveredfunctional 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

The How to Code courses are based on the textbook How to Design Programs. The First Edition is available for free online and includes problem sets and solutions. Students are encouraged to do these assignments.

How to Code – Simple Data7 weeks8-10 hours/weeknonechat
How to Code – Complex Data6 weeks8-10 hours/weekHow to Code: Simple Datachat
Programming Languages, Part A5 weeks4-8 hours/weekHow to Code (Hear instructor)chat
Programming Languages, Part B3 weeks4-8 hours/weekProgramming Languages, Part Achat
Programming Languages, Part C3 weeks4-8 hours/weekProgramming Languages, Part Bchat
Object-Oriented Design4 weeks4 hours/weekBasic Java
Design Patterns4 weeks4 hours/weekObject-Oriented Design
Software Architecture4 weeks2-5 hours/weekDesign 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 covereddiscrete mathematics mathematical proofs basic statistics O-notation discrete probability and more

Calculus 1A: Differentiation (alt)13 weeks6-10 hours/weekThe alternate covers this and the following 2 courseshigh school mathchat
Calculus 1B: Integration13 weeks5-10 hours/weekCalculus 1Achat
Calculus 1C: Coordinate Systems & Infinite Series6 weeks5-10 hours/weekCalculus 1Bchat
Mathematics for Computer Science (alt)13 weeks5 hours/week2015/2019 solutions 2010 solutions 2005 solutions.Calculus 1Cchat

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 coveredterminals and shell scripting vim command line environments version control and more

The Missing Semester of Your CS Education2 weeks12 hours/weekchat

Core systems

Topics coveredprocedural 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

CoursesDurationEffortAdditional Text / AssignmentsPrerequisitesDiscussion
Build a Modern Computer from First Principles: From Nand to Tetris (alt)6 weeks7-13 hours/weekC-like programming languagechat
Build a Modern Computer from First Principles: Nand to Tetris Part II6 weeks12-18 hours/weekone of these programming languages, From Nand to Tetris Part Ichat
Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces10-12 weeks6-10 hours/weekstrong C programmingchat
Computer Networking: a Top-Down Approach8 weeks4–12 hours/weekWireshark Labsalgebra, probability, basic CSchat

Core theory

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

Divide and Conquer, Sorting and Searching, and Randomized Algorithms4 weeks4-8 hours/weekany programming language, Mathematics for Computer Sciencechat
Graph Search, Shortest Paths, and Data Structures4 weeks4-8 hours/weekDivide and Conquer, Sorting and Searching, and Randomized Algorithmschat
Greedy Algorithms, Minimum Spanning Trees, and Dynamic Programming4 weeks4-8 hours/weekGraph Search, Shortest Paths, and Data Structureschat
Shortest Paths Revisited, NP-Complete Problems and What To Do About Them4 weeks4-8 hours/weekGreedy Algorithms, Minimum Spanning Trees, and Dynamic Programmingchat

Core security

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

Cybersecurity Fundamentals8 weeks10-12 hours/weekchat
Principles of Secure Coding4 weeks4 hours/weekchat
Identifying Security Vulnerabilities4 weeks4 hours/weekchat

Choose one of the following:

Identifying Security Vulnerabilities in C/C++Programming4 weeks5 hours/weekchat
Exploiting and Securing Vulnerabilities in Java Applications4 weeks5 hours/weekchat

Core applications

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

Databases: Modeling and Theory2 weeks10 hours/weekcore programmingchat
Databases: Relational Databases and SQL2 weeks10 hours/weekcore programmingchat
Databases: Semistructured Data2 weeks10 hours/weekcore programmingchat
Machine Learning11 weeks4-6 hours/weeklinear algebrachat
Computer Graphics6 weeks12 hours/weekC++ or Java, linear algebrachat
Software Engineering: Introduction6 weeks8-10 hours/weekCore Programming, and a sizable projectchat

Core ethics

Topics coveredSocial Context Analytical Tools Professional Ethics Intellectual Property Privacy and Civil Liberties and more

Ethics, Technology and Engineering9 weeks2 hours/weeknonechat
Introduction to Intellectual Property4 weeks2 hours/weeknonechat
Data Privacy Fundamentals3 weeks3 hours/weeknonechat

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 covereddebugging theory and practice goal-oriented programming parallel computing object-oriented analysis and design UML large-scale software architecture and design and more

Parallel Programming4 weeks6-8 hours/weekScala programming
Compilers9 weeks6-8 hours/weeknone
Introduction to Haskell14 weeks
Learn Prolog Now! (alt)*12 weeks
Software Debugging8 weeks6 hours/weekPython, object-oriented programming
Software Testing4 weeks6 hours/weekPython, programming experience

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

Advanced systems

Topics covereddigital 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

Computation Structures 1: Digital Circuits alt1 alt210 weeks6 hours/weekNand2Tetris IIAlternate links contain all 3 courses.
Computation Structures 2: Computer Architecture10 weeks6 hours/weekComputation Structures 1
Computation Structures 3: Computer Organization10 weeks6 hours/weekComputation Structures 2

Advanced theory

Topics coveredformal 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

Theory of Computation (Lectures)8 weeks10 hours/weekdiscrete mathematics, logic, algorithms
Computational Geometry16 weeks8 hours/weekalgorithms, C++
Game Theory8 weeks3 hours/weekmathematical thinking, probability, calculus

Advanced Information Security

Web Security Fundamentals5 weeks4-6 hours/weekunderstanding basic web technologies
Security Governance & Compliance3 weeks3 hours/week
Digital Forensics Concepts3 weeks2-3 hours/weekCore Security
Secure Software Development: Requirements, Design, and Reuse7 weeks1-2 hours/weekCore Programming and Core Security
Secure Software Development: Implementation7 weeks1-2 hours/weekSecure Software Development: Requirements, Design, and Reuse
Secure Software Development: Verification and More Specialized Topics7 weeks1-2 hours/weekSecure Software Development: Implementation

Advanced math

Essence of Linear Algebrahigh school mathchat
Linear Algebra14 weeks12 hours/weekcorequisite: Essence of Linear Algebrachat
Introduction to Numerical Methods14 weeks12 hours/weekLinear Algebrachat
Introduction to Formal Logic10 weeks4-8 hours/weekset theorychat
Probability24 weeks12 hours/weekDifferentiation and Integrationchat

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):

Fullstack Open12 weeks15 hours/weekprogramming
Modern Robotics (Specialization)26 weeks2-5 hours/weekfreshman-level physics, linear algebra, calculus, linear ordinary differential equations
Data Mining (Specialization)30 weeks2-5 hours/weekmachine learning
Big Data (Specialization)30 weeks3-5 hours/weeknone
Internet of Things (Specialization)30 weeks1-5 hours/weekstrong programming
Cloud Computing (Specialization)30 weeks2-6 hours/weekC++ programming
Data Science (Specialization)43 weeks1-6 hours/weeknone
Functional Programming in Scala (Specialization)29 weeks4-5 hours/weekOne year programming experience
Game Design and Development with Unity 2020 (Specialization)6 months5 hours/weekprogramming, 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! 
    • Markdown: [![Open Source Society University - Computer Science](](
    • HTML: <a href=""><img alt="Open Source Society University - Computer Science" src=""></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
  • 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.


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