FAQs

Email heads@cs50.harvard.edu with any other questions!

Credit

Does CSCI S-50 count for CS concentration credit at Harvard College?

Yes.

Does CSCI S-50 count for degree credit at Harvard College?

Yes.

Curriculum

Which languages will I learn?

Rather than teach just one language, CS50 introduces students to a range of “procedural” programming languages, each of which builds conceptually atop another, among them Scratch, C, Python, SQL, and JavaScript. In the course’s final weeks will students also learn a bit of HTML and CSS (which are languages but not programming languages). The goal, ultimately, is for students to feel not that they “learned how to program in X” but that they “learned how to program.”

Why does CS50 use C?

See this answer on Quora!

Prior Experience

Does CS50 have any prerequisites?

No, CS50 does not assume any prior CS or programming experience. In fact, 66% of Fall 2018’s students had never taken a CS course before!

Should I skip CS50 if I already took AP CS A?

Probably not. Most students who have taken AP CS A still take CS50 as it tends to fill in gaps in their knowledge and also introduces them to C (and more!).

Semesters

When is CS50 offered?

CS50 is offered primarily in fall term. All students, including concentrators and non-concentrators, are encouraged to take CS50 in fall term. However, concentrators and secondaries unable to take the course in fall term may take the spring or summer version of CS50.

How do spring term (at Harvard College) and summer term (at Harvard Summer School) differ from fall term (at Harvard College)?

In fall term, students are expected to attend live lectures as well as live, TF-led sections. In spring term and summer term, students are expected to watch lectures on video (produced in fall term) and attend live, preceptor-led classes.

Academically, the terms are equivalent, but the fall version of CS50 includes cultural traditions as well.

  Fall Spring Summer
CS50 Fair    
CS50 Hackathon    
CS50 Lunches    
CS50 Puzzle Day    
Enrollment Unlimited Limited Unlimited
Final Project
Grading Basis SUS or LG LG LG
Lectures Live Video Video
Meetings TF-led sections Preceptor-led classes Preceptor-led classes
Meetings per Week 1 1 2
Office Hours
Problem Sets
Quizzes
Simultaneous Enrollment    
Supersections    
Test
Tracks    
Tutorials