Data Science

Data Science: R Basics

Provided by Harvard University (HarvardX)
$49 USD
for a certificate
Study for free
See Prerequisites

Build a foundation in R and learn how to wrangle, analyze, and visualize data. This course covers common programming commands, how to operate on vectors, and when to use advanced functions such as sorting.

Part of Professional Certificate: Data Science
Course Format:Instructor-Led
Start Date:Apr 11, 2018

What you will learn

  • Introduction to basic R syntax
  • Basic R programming concepts such as data types, vectors arithmetic, and indexing
  • How to perform operations in R including sorting, creating or importing data frame creation, basic data wrangling using dplyr and making plots
  • How to perform basic programming with R.


The first in our Professional Certificate Program in Data Science, this course will introduce you to the basics in R programing. You can better retain R when you learn it to solve a specific problem, so you’ll use a real-world dataset about crime in the United States. You will learn the R skills needed to answer essential questions about differences in crime across the different states.

We’ll cover R's functions and data types, then tackle how to operate on vectors and when to use advanced functions like sorting. You’ll learn how to use general programming features like 'if-else,' and 'for loop' commands, and how to wrangle, analyze and visualize data.

Rather than covering every R skill you might need, you’ll build a strong foundation to prepare you for the more in-depth courses later in the series, where we cover concepts such as probability, inference, regression and machine learning. We help you develop a skill set that includes R programming, data wrangling with dplyr, data visualization with ggplot2, file organization with UNIX/Linux, version control with git and GitHub, and reproducible document preparation with RStudio.

The demand for skilled data science practitioners is rapidly growing, and this series prepares you to tackle real-world data analysis challenges.

HarvardX has partnered with DataCamp for all assignments. This allows students to program directly in a browser-based interface. You will not need to download any special software, but an up-to-date browser is recommended.

This class was supported in part by NIH grant R25GM114818.

Before you start

  • Instructor-Led: course contains assignments and exams that have specific due dates, and you complete the course within a defined time period.
  • Course ends: Nov 9, 2018

Meet Your Instructors


How often will the courses be offered?

Courses in the program are offered frequently, with overlap - so if now isn’t a good time for you to start one of the courses you need as a prerequisite or if you missed a deadline, there will be another offering of the course you need coming soon!

*please note that progress does not carry over from one offering to another.

Does the order of courses in the Professional Certificate Program matter?

Yes, the order does matter, particularly for the first four courses in the sequence. For the later courses, depending on your previous experience, you may be able to swap the sequence of some of the courses. The courses are designed to be taken in the following order:
  1. R Basics
  2. Visualization
  3. Probability
  4. Inference and Modeling
  5. Productivity Tools
  6. Wrangling
  7. Linear Regression
  8. Machine Learning
  9. Capstone
Do I need to register for all of the courses at once in order to be eligible for the Professional Certificate?

No, you can take courses individually. Once you have obtained an ID Verified Certificate in each course, you will be eligible for the Professional Certificate. If you choose to pre-pay for the entire program, you receive a discount on the total registration cost.

HarvardX Supplemental Policies

HarvardX requires individuals who enroll in its courses on edX to abide by the terms of the edX honor code. HarvardX will take appropriate corrective action in response to violations of the edX honor code, which may include dismissal from the HarvardX course; revocation of any certificates received for the HarvardX course; or other remedies as circumstances warrant. No refunds will be issued in the case of corrective action for such violations. Enrollees who are taking HarvardX courses as part of another program will also be governed by the academic policies of those programs.

HarvardX pursues the science of learning. By registering as an online learner in an HX course, you will also participate in research about learning. Read our research statement to learn more.

Harvard University and HarvardX are committed to maintaining a safe and healthy educational and work environment in which no member of the community is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination or harassment in our program. All members of the HarvardX community are expected to abide by Harvard policies on nondiscrimination, including sexual harassment, and the edX Terms of Service. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact [email protected] and/or report your experience through the edX contact form.

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