The Student Room Group

Is CS50 worth it for a CV/ Personal Statement?

Hi,
I've recently been looking at courses to help give me a stable foundation for general computer science (I'm interested in pathways like software engineering, data science and cyber security). I found the Harvard CS50 course which looks really useful, but I was pondering if it looks good on a PS/CV, especially the latter. If it is I was thinking I might save up to get the certified certificate, otherwise I'll just do the free version. As a school leaver looking at universities or apprenticeships, does CS50 look good or is it not specialised/deep enough?
I hope this is the right forum, kinda applied to several. Thanks.
Original post by {Moss}
Hi,
I've recently been looking at courses to help give me a stable foundation for general computer science (I'm interested in pathways like software engineering, data science and cyber security). I found the Harvard CS50 course which looks really useful, but I was pondering if it looks good on a PS/CV, especially the latter. If it is I was thinking I might save up to get the certified certificate, otherwise I'll just do the free version. As a school leaver looking at universities or apprenticeships, does CS50 look good or is it not specialised/deep enough?
I hope this is the right forum, kinda applied to several. Thanks.


I have heard it's a very good course for computer science, and a lot of graduates who haven't done computer science use it to get their foot in the door. However, I don't necessarily think it's that much of a big deal to have it on your CV.

For one, it's specifically a certificate for completing the course (see the following for example: https://cs50.harvard.edu/x/2022/certificate/); there's no proctor exam or any means of testing your knowledge. All you have to do is sit through the course, submit projects, and you get a certificate. If you go through courses on online learning platforms, you would notice a number of them offer certificate upon completion of the course. It means very little, other than saying you did this course at one point.
Second, it's not a professional qualification that is either used in the workplace nor does it specify your skills. Professional qualifications require the candidates taking the qualification to meet certain standards and adhere to certain professional requirements in order to be a recognised member of the professional body e.g. medicine, law, accounting. The above certificate does not offer anything of such.
Third, it's not likely to be widely known to UK employers what the course is or what it's about. If you want to include it in your personal statement for university applications, then yes I can see it being valuable and relevant (because academics are likely to recognise it). For apprenticeships though, I don't think it's likely. You might want a second opinon on this though.

By all means, do the course. I would recommend it, since the information you learn would be invaluale. However, I don't necessarily think the certificate would be that much of a deal

If you're looking for a cybersecurity qualification, I would recommend you look at the following:
https://www.itgovernance.co.uk/blog/what-are-the-best-qualifications-for-a-career-in-cyber-security
https://uk.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/security-certifications
https://firebrand.training/uk/blog/10-best-cybersecurity-certifications
https://entrepreneurhandbook.co.uk/cyber-security-certifications/
https://www.eccouncil.org/cybersecurity-training-and-certification-uk/
https://hackr.io/blog/best-cybersecurity-certification
Personally, I am a fan of CompTIA (recognised internationally), but you can easily go into SSCP and GIAC. These certificates will likely boost your chances of a job in cyber security as opposed with just a CS50 certificate or IT degree.
I don't know which specific role in cyber security you're interested in, so I have included the following links:
https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-profiles/it-security-co-ordinator
https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-profiles/cyber-intelligence-officer
https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-categories/computing-technology-and-digital
https://www.careerpilot.org.uk/job-sectors/data-network/job-profiles
https://www.careerpilot.org.uk/job-sectors/data-network/job-profile/cyber-intelligence-officer
https://www.careerpilot.org.uk/job-sectors/data-network/job-profile/it-security-co-ordinator

In terms of data science, I have bad news: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhiw8ftAFZk
By all means, data science as a degree is useful should you wish to go into academic research, but you might have issues getting work in industry. However, that's only one opinon on the issue and others may disagree.

Software engineering will require an IT related degree, but it's often said you're better off doing a degree apprenticeship where possible.
Reply 2
Original post by MindMax2000
I have heard it's a very good course for computer science, and a lot of graduates who haven't done computer science use it to get their foot in the door. However, I don't necessarily think it's that much of a big deal to have it on your CV.

For one, it's specifically a certificate for completing the course (see the following for example: https://cs50.harvard.edu/x/2022/certificate/); there's no proctor exam or any means of testing your knowledge. All you have to do is sit through the course, submit projects, and you get a certificate. If you go through courses on online learning platforms, you would notice a number of them offer certificate upon completion of the course. It means very little, other than saying you did this course at one point.
Second, it's not a professional qualification that is either used in the workplace nor does it specify your skills. Professional qualifications require the candidates taking the qualification to meet certain standards and adhere to certain professional requirements in order to be a recognised member of the professional body e.g. medicine, law, accounting. The above certificate does not offer anything of such.
Third, it's not likely to be widely known to UK employers what the course is or what it's about. If you want to include it in your personal statement for university applications, then yes I can see it being valuable and relevant (because academics are likely to recognise it). For apprenticeships though, I don't think it's likely. You might want a second opinon on this though.

By all means, do the course. I would recommend it, since the information you learn would be invaluale. However, I don't necessarily think the certificate would be that much of a deal

If you're looking for a cybersecurity qualification, I would recommend you look at the following:
https://www.itgovernance.co.uk/blog/what-are-the-best-qualifications-for-a-career-in-cyber-security
https://uk.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/security-certifications
https://firebrand.training/uk/blog/10-best-cybersecurity-certifications
https://entrepreneurhandbook.co.uk/cyber-security-certifications/
https://www.eccouncil.org/cybersecurity-training-and-certification-uk/
https://hackr.io/blog/best-cybersecurity-certification
Personally, I am a fan of CompTIA (recognised internationally), but you can easily go into SSCP and GIAC. These certificates will likely boost your chances of a job in cyber security as opposed with just a CS50 certificate or IT degree.
I don't know which specific role in cyber security you're interested in, so I have included the following links:
https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-profiles/it-security-co-ordinator
https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-profiles/cyber-intelligence-officer
https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-categories/computing-technology-and-digital
https://www.careerpilot.org.uk/job-sectors/data-network/job-profiles
https://www.careerpilot.org.uk/job-sectors/data-network/job-profile/cyber-intelligence-officer
https://www.careerpilot.org.uk/job-sectors/data-network/job-profile/it-security-co-ordinator

In terms of data science, I have bad news: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhiw8ftAFZk
By all means, data science as a degree is useful should you wish to go into academic research, but you might have issues getting work in industry. However, that's only one opinon on the issue and others may disagree.

Software engineering will require an IT related degree, but it's often said you're better off doing a degree apprenticeship where possible.

Wow, thank you so much! I don't think I could have asked for a better response, I really appreciate the time you must have put into this. I'll definitely take your advice and thank you once more for the brilliant help!
Reply 3
Original post by MindMax2000
I have heard it's a very good course for computer science, and a lot of graduates who haven't done computer science use it to get their foot in the door. However, I don't necessarily think it's that much of a big deal to have it on your CV.

For one, it's specifically a certificate for completing the course (see the following for example: https://cs50.harvard.edu/x/2022/certificate/); there's no proctor exam or any means of testing your knowledge. All you have to do is sit through the course, submit projects, and you get a certificate. If you go through courses on online learning platforms, you would notice a number of them offer certificate upon completion of the course. It means very little, other than saying you did this course at one point.
Second, it's not a professional qualification that is either used in the workplace nor does it specify your skills. Professional qualifications require the candidates taking the qualification to meet certain standards and adhere to certain professional requirements in order to be a recognised member of the professional body e.g. medicine, law, accounting. The above certificate does not offer anything of such.
Third, it's not likely to be widely known to UK employers what the course is or what it's about. If you want to include it in your personal statement for university applications, then yes I can see it being valuable and relevant (because academics are likely to recognise it). For apprenticeships though, I don't think it's likely. You might want a second opinon on this though.

By all means, do the course. I would recommend it, since the information you learn would be invaluale. However, I don't necessarily think the certificate would be that much of a deal

If you're looking for a cybersecurity qualification, I would recommend you look at the following:
https://www.itgovernance.co.uk/blog/what-are-the-best-qualifications-for-a-career-in-cyber-security
https://uk.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/security-certifications
https://firebrand.training/uk/blog/10-best-cybersecurity-certifications
https://entrepreneurhandbook.co.uk/cyber-security-certifications/
https://www.eccouncil.org/cybersecurity-training-and-certification-uk/
https://hackr.io/blog/best-cybersecurity-certification
Personally, I am a fan of CompTIA (recognised internationally), but you can easily go into SSCP and GIAC. These certificates will likely boost your chances of a job in cyber security as opposed with just a CS50 certificate or IT degree.
I don't know which specific role in cyber security you're interested in, so I have included the following links:
https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-profiles/it-security-co-ordinator
https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-profiles/cyber-intelligence-officer
https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-categories/computing-technology-and-digital
https://www.careerpilot.org.uk/job-sectors/data-network/job-profiles
https://www.careerpilot.org.uk/job-sectors/data-network/job-profile/cyber-intelligence-officer
https://www.careerpilot.org.uk/job-sectors/data-network/job-profile/it-security-co-ordinator

In terms of data science, I have bad news: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhiw8ftAFZk
By all means, data science as a degree is useful should you wish to go into academic research, but you might have issues getting work in industry. However, that's only one opinon on the issue and others may disagree.

Software engineering will require an IT related degree, but it's often said you're better off doing a degree apprenticeship where possible.


My apologies for possibly bothering you again (if you're watching the thread), but I just valued your help so much before that I was wondering if I could ask a couple more questions. I'm struggling to find anything credible online and you seem to know a lot haha

I've done some research into CompTIA and it looks really good. I understand security + is mean to be very nice for cyber security, the problem is it recommends that you do both networks and a+ too, presumably so you have enough knowledge. Do you think it's possible to just do security +, or would you need both predecessors/other courses first?
Lastly, are there any programming languages you'd recommend me to learn? I'd consider myself good at Python but the main reason I looked at CS50 was to broaden my knowledge, would you recommend any specifically for cyber security or software? The internet gives me very varying results.
Thanks again, my apologies for this
Original post by {Moss}
My apologies for possibly bothering you again (if you're watching the thread), but I just valued your help so much before that I was wondering if I could ask a couple more questions. I'm struggling to find anything credible online and you seem to know a lot haha

I've done some research into CompTIA and it looks really good. I understand security + is mean to be very nice for cyber security, the problem is it recommends that you do both networks and a+ too, presumably so you have enough knowledge. Do you think it's possible to just do security +, or would you need both predecessors/other courses first?
Lastly, are there any programming languages you'd recommend me to learn? I'd consider myself good at Python but the main reason I looked at CS50 was to broaden my knowledge, would you recommend any specifically for cyber security or software? The internet gives me very varying results.
Thanks again, my apologies for this


I wouldn't consider myself an expert.

According to their website: https://www.comptia.org/certifications/security#overview, you don't need to have done A+ as well. A+ introduces you to the basics of computing. I haven't done it myself, but from what I have heard about it it's good for tech support roles. Security+ is an entry level qualification anyway, so there are no prerequisites and you can do it without A+. I won't know whether A+ would help and how much help it would be with your Seucirty+ exam though

I don't work in cybersecurity, so I shouldn't comment on the languages that would be useful. The language you would learn would depend on the specialism you want to go into in cybersecurity (because hackers can target in more than one way and in more than one area), as well as which areas your employer wants you to go into. If you want to specialise in backend stuff, you would be looking at PHP, SQL, Python, etc. If you want to focus on front end stuff, Javascript, Python. If you want to focus on both areas, Python. There are other languages. You might want a second opinon from those who work in the industry.

For software, Python alone would take you a long way. C++ would be the second language that I would look into. C# would be another good alternative, but it's a pain to learn compared to C++. Java is also commonly used in a number of areas, and is also used in academia. The list of recommended languages to learn would vary from year to year (due to developments and changes in the sector), and you would often find yourself relearning a language on a regular basis.
There are languages that are used for specific purposes becuase how well they perform for specific areas e.g. Kotlin, Swift are good for apps; Python, C++, C#, Ruby, Java are good for pretty much everything; Javascript is usually for front end web development; Mathlab, Python, R for maths and stats.
See the following:
https://distantjob.com/blog/programming-languages-rank/
https://statisticstimes.com/tech/top-computer-languages.php
https://pypl.github.io/PYPL.html
https://bootcamp.berkeley.edu/blog/most-in-demand-programming-languages/

I would however recommend learning about DevOps since it pretty much lays out the process for software development.
Reply 5
Original post by MindMax2000
I wouldn't consider myself an expert.

According to their website: https://www.comptia.org/certifications/security#overview, you don't need to have done A+ as well. A+ introduces you to the basics of computing. I haven't done it myself, but from what I have heard about it it's good for tech support roles. Security+ is an entry level qualification anyway, so there are no prerequisites and you can do it without A+. I won't know whether A+ would help and how much help it would be with your Seucirty+ exam though

I don't work in cybersecurity, so I shouldn't comment on the languages that would be useful. The language you would learn would depend on the specialism you want to go into in cybersecurity (because hackers can target in more than one way and in more than one area), as well as which areas your employer wants you to go into. If you want to specialise in backend stuff, you would be looking at PHP, SQL, Python, etc. If you want to focus on front end stuff, Javascript, Python. If you want to focus on both areas, Python. There are other languages. You might want a second opinon from those who work in the industry.

For software, Python alone would take you a long way. C++ would be the second language that I would look into. C# would be another good alternative, but it's a pain to learn compared to C++. Java is also commonly used in a number of areas, and is also used in academia. The list of recommended languages to learn would vary from year to year (due to developments and changes in the sector), and you would often find yourself relearning a language on a regular basis.
There are languages that are used for specific purposes becuase how well they perform for specific areas e.g. Kotlin, Swift are good for apps; Python, C++, C#, Ruby, Java are good for pretty much everything; Javascript is usually for front end web development; Mathlab, Python, R for maths and stats.
See the following:
https://distantjob.com/blog/programming-languages-rank/
https://statisticstimes.com/tech/top-computer-languages.php
https://pypl.github.io/PYPL.html
https://bootcamp.berkeley.edu/blog/most-in-demand-programming-languages/

I would however recommend learning about DevOps since it pretty much lays out the process for software development.


Thank you so much once more, that's amazingly helpful. I really appreciate it
If you do decide to do CS50 and the price is an issue, you can apply for a scholarship. My son got 90% discount.The application is very easy to complete and you get a reply within a few days.
https://support.edx.org/hc/en-us/articles/215167857-How-do-I-apply-for-financial-assistance-
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 7
Original post by rizvani04
If you do decide to do CS50 and the price is an issue, you can apply for a scholarship. My got 90% discount.The application is very easy to complete and you get a reply within a few days.
https://support.edx.org/hc/en-us/articles/215167857-How-do-I-apply-for-financial-assistance-


Ah right that's really good to know, thank you very much!
Original post by {Moss}
Hi,
I've recently been looking at courses to help give me a stable foundation for general computer science (I'm interested in pathways like software engineering, data science and cyber security). I found the Harvard CS50 course which looks really useful, but I was pondering if it looks good on a PS/CV, especially the latter. If it is I was thinking I might save up to get the certified certificate, otherwise I'll just do the free version. As a school leaver looking at universities or apprenticeships, does CS50 look good or is it not specialised/deep enough?
I hope this is the right forum, kinda applied to several. Thanks.

I realise I'm a bit late on this, but I'll add my input for future readers:

Generally, with what we call 'MOOCs' (A MOOC stands for massive open online course, it's basically an online course with a lot of people taking it), such as the course CS50, can be useful to obtain some skills, but they cannot be used to add on to a CV.

So, what are MOOCs used for?
- To obtain a set of skills or knowledge in a particular area

What are MOOCs bad for?
- Showing an employer or university that you have a certain skill or knowledge because you took a MOOC in a course.

Taking a MOOC in a subject does not prove that you have that ability or skill. Hence, if you added that MOOC onto your CV the only prospect it would demonstrate is your passion and interest with the subject/topic. It does not show your proficiency or understanding in that topic.

So, the next question is why wouldn't a MOOC show that you have proficiency in a particular area?
Suppose that a student completed all assignments and exams in the CS50 course and obtained 85-90% as an average, there are two issues:

1. MOOCs are watered-down versions of the original course, removing mathematical details to simplify the course.
2. There is no way to verify the integrity of each assignment score/exam.

You could have copied the answers from someone else, and obtained a high score. Thus, there is no way to prove that you fairly completed the course.

So, what should MOOCs be used for?
- Use a MOOC to obtain skills/knowledge to then build yourself a program/application from the skills you've learned from that course. The program you made from the skills obtained from that course should go on the CV; you should never mention that you took a MOOC because it adds no value to a CV; it doesn't prove anything whatsoever, so only mention the programs you've made yourself from the skills you've learned.

Hope that helps
(edited 1 year ago)

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