Unlock the Power of SQL with Harvard's Free Course: A Comprehensive Guide
Unlock the Power of SQL with Harvard's Free Course: A Comprehensive Guide

Unlock the Power of SQL with Harvard's Free Course: A Comprehensive Guide

Harvard University's renowned CS50 class has been a gateway into the world of computer science for learners globally. Taught by Prof. David J Malan, the course has various specialized tracks, including Python, AI, and more. The latest addition to this educational arsenal is an Introduction to Databases with SQL course, also known as CS50 SQL. This course aims to provide aspiring data professionals with a robust foundation in databases and SQL.

About the CS50 SQL Course

The course is structured into seven modules, each lasting a week. Carter Zenke is the instructor, and the course includes lectures and problem sets based on real-world datasets. The learning path is as follows:

  1. Watch the lectures
  2. Review the notes
  3. Try out the examples presented in the lecture
  4. Work through the problem set for the module

The course also offers a cloud-based version of VS Code adapted for CS50, allowing for a seamless learning experience.

Course Modules Explained

1. Querying Databases

The first module introduces the basics of querying databases with SQL. Topics covered include the SELECT statement, LIMIT and WHERE clause, understanding NULLs, LIKE keyword, ranges, ORDER BY, and aggregate functions.

2. Relating Database Tables

This module takes you beyond single database tables, teaching you to work with multiple tables and understand their relationships. Topics include entity relationship diagrams, relationship types, keys, subqueries, IN keyword, JOINs, and set operations like INTERSECT, UNION, and EXCEPT.

3. Designing Database Schemas

Learn how to design your own databases from scratch. This module covers creating database schemas, concepts of normalization, creating tables, data types, storage classes, and constraints on tables and columns.

4. Writing to Databases

This module teaches you how to insert records into databases, import data from CSV files, and update or delete records.

5. Viewing Database Tables

Dive deep into creating database views and understand their advantages. Topics include what views are, creating views, advantages of creating views, Common Table Expressions (CTEs), partitioning, securing databases, and soft deletions.

6. Optimizing Database Queries

Learn how to use indexes to speed up your database queries and understand the trade-offs associated with indexes. Topics include creating a database table index, creating indexes across multiple tables, space and time trade-offs, partial indexes, transactions, and race conditions.

7. Scaling Databases

The final module introduces you to MySQL and PostgreSQL, laying a foundation for these widely-used RDMSs. Topics include creating and altering tables, MySQL stored procedures, stored procedures with parameters, working with PostgreSQL, access control statements, and SQL injection attacks.


Harvard's CS50 SQL course is an excellent resource for anyone looking to build a solid foundation in databases and SQL. Mastering SQL is a continuous journey, and this course provides the perfect starting point.


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