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Learn R programming with online courses and certificates

For those pursuing a career in data analysis or statistics, learning R programming may be worthwhile. R makes understanding and using large, complex data sets easier. Explore online courses delivered through edX to help meet your goals.

What is R programming?

R is a language and environment used to mine, organize, manipulate, and display data. It includes a data handling and storage facility, operators for calculations, data analysis tools, and graphical facilities. As a programming language, R has conditionals, loops, user-defined recursive functions, and input and output facilities.Footnote 1

R helps analysts identify patterns within data sets and then develop visualization projects based on the patterns found. Occasionally, the R coding language is also used for general programming. R is open-sourced and freely available on most UNIX platforms, including Linux, Windows, and macOS. It also doesn’t require much storage on any of these platforms. As a result, R is a popular programming language for analysis and statistics.Footnote 2

R was first developed in 1993 by Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. R expanded on S, a statistical computing language from Bell Labs. R added lexical scoping to the capabilities of S, and was developed to be portable, versatile, and openly distributable.Footnote 3

The R Foundation is a not-for-profit organization and a core team of developers collaborating to support and maintain R. The team exists to preserve and improve R as open-source software. The graphics, interface, and accessibility of R are used by thousands of people who are learning R programming, elaborating on the R programming language, and improving its functions.Footnote 4

R programming | Introduction Image Description

Browse online R programming courses

Stand out in your field

Use the knowledge and skills you have gained to drive impact at work and grow your career.

Learn at your own pace

On your computer, tablet or phone, online courses make learning flexible to fit your busy life.

Earn a valuable credential

Showcase your key skills and valuable knowledge.

What is covered in an R programming tutorial?

R programming courses are available for beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners. Learners interested in R programming can find various R courses and R language tutorials online, many of which are part of a larger statistics or data science curriculum. These courses take learners through the fundamental programming concepts, analytical skills, and R basics needed to analyze data sets and create graphics with the R programming language. 

Some examples of the content covered in an online R course include:Footnote 5

  • Downloading, installing, and using the R environment

  • Key objects and object manipulation

  • Data structures (frames, lists, matrices, etc.)

  • Manipulating and preprocessing data

  • Plotting data

If students successfully complete an R language course, some courses may award an R programming certification.

Jobs that use R programming language

Jobs in data analytics and statistics may either require or recommend R coding experience. R experienced faster growth in demand during 2022 than languages like Python, Java, and SQL, according to HackerRank 2023 Developer Skills Report.Footnote 6

R programming jobs could include positions such as: data scientist, machine learning engineer, big data engineer, IT specialist, and database developer. Other R-specific job titles include R programmer, R analytics programmer, and R statistical programmer. Adding R coding language skills to your resume may help you in data specializations requiring mastery of statistical techniques, which can be learned on your own, through a boot camp, or a degree program.

How to become an R programmer online

If you’re interested in becoming an R programmer, it could be beneficial to acquire background knowledge of data science and statistical techniques before pursuing R. Every job is different and each company will have different hiring requirements, but a proven understanding of coding language learning is a basic expectation for most programming jobs. Learners can pursue this in many ways, including through a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in data science, as well as a boot camp in coding or data analytics. Many R programming courses provide R certification so learners can show potential employers their proficiency in R programming.

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