You are here

Computer Science 101 (Self-Paced)


CS101 now self paced!

The active course run for CS101 has ended, but the course is now available in a self paced mode. You are welcome to join the course and work through the material and exercises at your own pace. When you have completed the exercises with a score of 80% or higher, you can generate your Statement of Accomplishment from within the course.

The course will remain available for an extended period of time. We anticipate the content will be available until at least Sept 1, 2015. You will be notified by email of any changes to content availability beforehand.   

About CS101

CS101 teaches the essential ideas of Computer Science for a zero-prior-experience audience. Computers can appear very complicated, but in reality, computers work within just a few, simple patterns. CS101 demystifies and brings those patterns to life, which is useful for anyone using computers today.

In CS101, participants play and experiment with short bits of "computer code" to bring to life to the power and limitations of computers. Everything works within the browser, so there is no extra software to download or install. CS101 also provides a general background on computers today: what is a computer, what is hardware, what is software, what is the internet. No previous experience is required other than the ability to use a web browser.


  • The nature of computers and code, what they can and cannot do
  • How computer hardware works: chips, cpu, memory, disk
  • Necessary jargon: bits, bytes, megabytes, gigabytes
  • How software works: what is a program, what is "running"
  • How digital images work
  • Computer code: loops and logic
  • Big ideas: abstraction, logic, bugs
  • How structured data works
  • How the internet works: ip address, routing, ethernet, wi-fi
  • Computer security: viruses, trojans, and passwords, oh my!
  • Analog vs. digital
  • Digital media, images, sounds, video, compression

This July-2014 version is the newest edition of CS101, and it's now running on Stanford's own Stanford Online site. There was an older version we ran on Coursera, so you may see links pointing to the old version scattered around the internet.


Zero computer experience is assumed beyond a basic ability to use a web browser.


Nick Parlante

Nick Parlante has been teaching Computer Science at Stanford for over 20 years, and teaches programming best practices at Google. Nick has also produced the Google Python Class and code practice site, and the infamous Binky Pointer Fun video.