Do you want to learn quantum computing? With the rise of cloud quantum computing systems, it means that you can connect to a real quantum chip from wherever you are in the world. But, how do you learn about quantum computing without going back to college and getting a PhD. There’s many excellent online courses to help get you started with the fundamentals of quantum computing.Here's the list, and I'll talk about all of them below.
- UC Berkeley's Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Computation on EdX
- Delft's The Quantum Internet and Quantum Computers: How Will They Change the World?
- Delftx Professional Certificate Quantum Computing and Quantum Internet
- MITxPro Professional Certificate in Quantum Computing
- MIT Quantum Information Science I from EdX
- Purdue Micromasters Introduction to Quantum Technology from EdX
- Introduction to Quantum Computing from Keio University on FutureLearn
- Квантовые вычисления Russian language Quantum Computing Course from Coursera
Quantum Mechanics Courses
- Stanford Quantum Mechanics for Scientists and Engineers Part 1
- Exploring Quantum Physics from the University of Maryland on Coursera
- Quantum Mechanics: A First Course from MIT on EdX
Quantum Machine Learning Course
I’m going to cover some of the top rated quantum computing courses from EdX, Coursera, FutureLearn, and the MITx Pro professional certificate, both short courses and courses that can get you actual credit hours towards a masters degree.
One of the best short courses out there on introduction to quantum computing for everyone is called “The Quantum Internet and Quantum Computers: How Will They Change the World?” from Delft. It’s 6 weeks long and will take you about 2-3 hours per week. What I really like about this course is that it’s accessible to anyone, with no technical background necessary. It mostly covers the impact of quantum computing and quantum telecommunication, and talks about the applications of the field, such as chemistry, machine learning, and security where quantum computing could play a big role. The course is free to see the content, and a verified certificate is 50$. By the way, the big difference between the free and paid tracks is access to the graded assignments and you will not earn a certificate at the end of the course if you’re on the free track. Now you can always try the course before you pay, start with the free content, and then add the verified certificate later, and this is true for almost all the courses on the edX platform.
There’s another introductory course in quantum computing from Berkeley on EdX. It’s 10 weeks long and will take you 5-12 hours per week. This course really focuses on quantum gates, circuits, and implementing quantum algorithms.
The professor also holds office hours when there are running sessions over zoom, so you can get help from the instructors themselves!
If you want to go deeper, you can check out the Professional Certificate on EdX from Delft and QuTech. QuTech is a quantum computing research centre with a lot of amazing professors and researchers dedicated to studying and teaching quantum phenomena.
There are two courses in this certificate, one is The Hardware of a Quantum Computer, and the Second is Architecture, Algorithms, and Protocols of a Quantum Computer and Quantum Internet. Both courses ask you to commit about 6-8 hours a week for 6 weeks, so a total of about 3 months to finish the professional certificate. The cool thing about the edX courses is that you can do the courses separately and then stack them together. So if you’re not sure you want to commit to a whole certificate now, you can take one course, take a break, and finish the other one later. And, they are self-paced, so you can take as long as you need to finish them.
What stands out to me about this certificate is the focus on hardware. Many textbooks in quantum computing cover the hardware only lightly. This first course dives into the implementations of four different types of qubits: Silicon spin qubits, diamond NV center qubits, superconducting qubits, and topological qubits.
Now, MIT has released their own professional Certificate program in Quantum Computing. This is the pricier of all the programs on this list. The first certificate is Quantum Computing Fundamentals. There are two courses, with 4 weeks per course, with about 4-6 hours a week of work. There’s also a Quantum Computing Realities program, with two additional courses, 4 weeks per course, and 3-5 hours per week of work. The courses include:
- Introduction to Quantum Computing
- Quantum Computing Algorithms for Cybersecurity, Chemistry, and Optimization
- Practical Realities of Quantum Computation and Quantum Communication
- Requirements for Large-Scale Universal Quantum Computation
The price for each of these programs is $2,149, which means almost $4300 for both programs. I actually have completed both of these programs, but the disclaimer here is I did NOT pay for these courses myself. I already am in the quantum field, so I don’t know if this program can help you find a job. I think one of the most important part is for you to evaluate whether it’s worth you spending this money, or if there are scholarships or your work can sponsor you to take it. If your goal is to get a job in the quantum field, chat with people who have taken this certificate and see what their experience was like job hunting and see if this professional certificate helped them get a job in the field.
What I did find different were the assignments. There are coding exercises, using the IBM Quantum Experience, and quizzes and problem sets, of course, but also essays to truly understand the state of commercial quantum computing and be able to articulate the value. For example, one assignment asks you to write an essay comparing different types of qubit modalities and talk about which you think will be the first to support a functional quantum computer. Another essay asks you to write about different country’s strategies and reasons for building quantum networks. This is something I haven’t really seen in any other course.Because this program is pricey, unfortunately there is no auditing of these courses for free.
There’s a mix of videos - some short videos that are produced specifically for this course, other videos, like Peter Shor’s lectures, are a video set up in the classroom at MIT, so the production value really varies between videos. Of course, these courses are taught by some of the top quantum computing professors in the world - Isaac Chuang, William Oliver, and Peter Shor himself. There’s no professor interaction with this course, but it’s not self-paced, so if you take this, make sure you can commit to the schedule. I had to do these courses while I was traveling and at conferences, but I planned for that beforehand to make sure I got all my assignments in on time.
To me, this program felt best for highly technical strategic management, someone who is a technical leader and needs an understanding of the business and but also the deeper technical implications of quantum computing.
This is an MIT edX course by some of the same instructors who teach the Professional Certificate program.
Purdue has also released a Micromasters program on EdX. I have not taken this myself, but I thought I’d let you know about it as well and link it in case you wanted to explore it.It’s also a bit expensive, with the program costing $4725, however, the micromasters program actually gives you credit towards a Masters Degree. For someone who is considering going back to school and maybe get a degree, this MicroMasters lets you get some credits in before committing to a full masters program. It’s a fairly deep program - it has 5 total courses, that takes a total of about 9 months to complete, so about the amount of time you’d spend taking 2 semester long courses at University. In general, this program felt to me best for someone who already has a bit of background in quantum mechanics and linear algebra. And remember, you can always audit the courses for free to understand more about the content before you commit to paying for a verified certificate.
There’s a fantastic short course from Rod Van Meter from Keio University on FutureLearn, called “Understanding Quantum Computers”. The course is free, 4 weeks long, but $69 if you want a verified Certificate. While the course is taught in English, there are also subtitles for the videos, in Japanese and Thai, and the articles and text have downloads and translations in Thai and Japanese as well!
For Russian learners, there’s amazing highly rated Quantum Computing course Квантовые вычисления on Coursera. It’s also about 4 weeks long, and takes about 14 hours to complete. Remember, for all the Coursera courses, if you can’t afford the certificate, you can audit the course, or apply for financial aid from Coursera. Don’t let that stop you from learning! Now if you don’t feel ready to take a quantum computing course and need a little extra background knowledge, you should take a quantum mechanics course for background.
Edit: 01/07/22 - Coursera removed all Russian courses from the platform
One of my top recommendations is the Quantum Mechanics for Scientists and Engineers from Stanford. It’s a 9 week course. It covers the basics of quantum mechanics, Schrodinger's equation, operators, the hydrogen atom, eigenvalues and eigenfunctions.It also has an introductory section on the math background you need to know to be successful in quantum mechanics. It’s optional, so if you have that math background, you can skip it, but if not this course is very self contained for newcomers to quantum mechanics!
The syllabus closely follows the book by the same name, so if you want to get the companion textbook, you can find the link below. It’s not required, but it has more practice problems and covers more fundamentals of quantum mechanics if you want to go more in depth.Companion Textbook to Quantum Mechanics for Scientists and Engineers
There is also a part 2 to the course! Between these two courses, that contains a semester long course in quantum mechanics to prep you for quantum computing courses.
If you want another option, there is a Coursera Course called “Exploring Quantum Physics” from the University of Maryland. While it’s only a 4 week course, it’s a lot of content. It’s not for complete beginners, but if you took the previous course already or have a strong math background or maybe have taken quantum mechanics a long time ago, this can get you back up to speed quickly.
Another option for a more advanced course is MIT’s “Quantum Mechanics: A First Course” on EdX.
There is a fantastic “Quantum Machine Learning” course from Peter Wittek at University of Toronto on edX. Unfortunately, Peter Wittek disappeared in September 2019 when an avalanche hit their camp during an expedition on Mount Trishul. He has positively impacted so many people, was always optimistic about the future of the field, and will be really missed by everyone in the quantum computing community. His course still is available on the edX platform.