I'd like to know the workload of this course. I mean, not the amount of time spent on assignments.


3 Answers 3


Harvard's online course catalog lists CS50 as a "half course." To understand what this means in relation to how credit is counted at other schools, refer to the undergraduate handbook section, "Rate of Work:"

The normal rate of work is four half-courses per term, at least one of which must be taken for degree credit and a letter grade and offered by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. ... Ordinarily, students may take five half-courses each term. Any student wishing to take more than five half-courses in a term must obtain the approval of his or her Resident Dean. Any freshman who wishes to take more than four half-courses in his or her first term must obtain the approval of his or her Resident Dean of Freshmen. Students may not enroll in more than six half-courses in one term without Administrative Board approval.

Ordinarily, no student may work at a rate less than necessary to maintain a yearly average rate of four full courses passed (i.e., by the end of freshman year, at least four full courses completed; by the end of sophomore year, at least eight full courses completed; and by the end of junior year, at least twelve full courses completed).

The actual number of credits this represents is only meaningful in the context of a particular school's system for counting students' progress toward curricular requirements. For example, here is how a "full course" for Harvard College undergraduates translates into the credit systems of the various Harvard University graduate schools (according to the conversion guide given in the catalog):

Credit in Faculty of Arts and Sciences is equivalent to:
                     3 credits    Harvard Business School - MBA Program
                          Half    Harvard Divinity School
                       4 units    Harvard Graduate School of Design
                     4 credits    Harvard Graduate School of Education
                      1 credit    Harvard Kennedy School
Contact HLS Registrar's Office    Harvard Law School
                   2-3 credits    Harvard Medical School
                   5.0 credits    Harvard School of Public Health
                     4 credits    Harvard School of Dental Medicine

This applies to the live, in-person version of the course, CS50; the version offered on edX (CS50x) offers no credit at all and the version offered through the Extension School (CSCI E-50) is worth 4 credits in the Extension School's system.


You'll watch two 40-minute lectures for each of the 9 weeks (3 break weeks) Each problem set equates to around 2-10 hours of work (averaged at around 5/pset) There is one pset per work week excluding week 5 (8 psets) And a final project which should take around 12 hours. There are also sections, walkthroughs, and shorts which you should watch around 1/4 of. Total, those account for only around 2 hours of content.

(40*9)+(300*8)+720+120 = 360+2400+720+120 =

~3600 minutes, or 60 hours of work in one year.

Divide that by 12 and you get 5 hours per month.


If you were a student at Harvard, this course would give you 4 credits. A typical full time undergraduate takes 32 credits per year (8 half-year courses). So, this represents 1/8 of a full time year if you need to convert it to a system you know.

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