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Learn MERN stack with online courses and programs

The MERN stack refers to a set of tools used to build powerful web applications from end to end. It includes MongoDB, Express, React, and Node.js, and is useful in many development roles. Learn MERN stack with online courses delivered through edX.

What is MERN stack?

The MERN stack is a collection of technologies that comprise a full-stack capable of building applications with JavaScript. Because JavaScript is a front-end programming language, developers need additional tools in order to ensure functionality on the back end. MongoDB, Express, React, and Node.js are among the tools used by developers today.Footnote 1 These tools make up the MERN stack.

MongoDB provides developers with a database they can connect to, while Express builds the back-end framework. The React library allows them to add interactive elements to their applications, and Node.js enables applications to run outside a user’s browser. 

By using these technologies together with JavaScript, developers can rapidly build robust web applications with minimal effort. It is used for everything from social media sites to complex enterprise solutions.Footnote 2

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MERN stack tutorial curriculum

Learners who choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related topic may encounter the MERN stack in their coursework. For individuals interested in learning the MERN stack in a shorter time frame, a coding boot camp may also cover MongoDB, Express, React, and Node.js.

A comprehensive MERN stack tutorial will equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to develop modern, feature-rich web applications. The curriculum for a MERN stack tutorial will typically be divided into four key areas: 

1. MongoDB: a document database used for data modeling and schema design, writing queries using the Mongo Shell, creating CRUD operations, connecting to applications using a driver library, using the Mongoose ODM framework, indexing strategies, and sharding data clusters. 

2. Express.js: a web framework used for server-side rendering and middleware composition. Learners can gain experience building server-side APIs using the Express framework and securing API endpoints using authentication and authorization protocols. 

3. React: a client-side web framework used for developing user interfaces, such as state management, virtual DOM manipulation, and components design pattern. It is also involved in debugging production deployments with React Developer tools, routing in React Applications, and integrating UI libraries into React applications.

4. Node.js: a server environment used for organizing project structure, package dependencies management, and CI/CD pipeline automation, and other development needs. 

Learning the MERN stack can give you practical hands-on experience building web applications from scratch. MERN stack tutorials can be helpful educational options for those who want to become a JavaScript developer or full-stack developer. 

Explore MERN stack developer jobs

MERN is a versatile technology stack used in various positions to create web applications from front to back. Some standard job titles for positions that use the MERN stack include:

  • MERN stack developer: a full-stack developer specializing in building web applications using MongoDB, Express, React, and Node.js. Developers in this role are responsible for using this stack to design and implement the user interface, write server-side code to define the application's logic, and integrate the application’s front and back ends. They may also be responsible for testing, debugging, and deploying the application.Footnote 3

  • JavaScript developer: a developer who specializes in creating applications using the JavaScript programming language. JavaScript developers are responsible for building and maintaining web applications and websites using JavaScript in conjunction with HTML, CSS, and various JavaScript libraries and frameworks. They may work on the front end, back end, or both.Footnote 4

  • Full-stack developer: a developer who has the knowledge and skills to work on all layers of a web application or software project. This includes the front end (client side), back end (server side), and database. Full-stack developers may work on tasks such as designing and implementing the user interface, writing server-side code to define the application's logic, and integrating the front and back ends of the application.Footnote 5

In order to successfully use the MERN stack in any of these roles, it’s important to also have foundational JavaScript knowledge. Gaining experience in general web development concepts can also help to make you a more attractive candidate when applying for jobs that use the MERN stack. 

You can acquire these skills in various ways, including boot camps or as part of a bachelor's degree program or master's degree program. The individual job requirements will depend on the role and employer, so make sure to research the professional position you hope to apply for before setting down a specific learning path.

How to become a MERN stack developer online

Taking online web development courses can help to prepare you for a range of roles that rely on the MERN stack. You may choose to enroll in a comprehensive program that teaches all four technologies, or you may opt for an a la carte learning path. 

No matter what you choose, you’ll need to ensure that the curriculum includes hands-on practice using JavaScript, MongoDB, Express, React, and Node.js. In addition to these subjects, it's also necessary for MERN stack developers to have a strong understanding of web development concepts such as HTML and CSS. Familiarity with other technologies and frameworks commonly used in web development, such as Git, VS Code, Angular, and Vue.js, can also be beneficial.

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