Learning 4 Years of MIT in 12 Months

Starting October 1st, I’m embarking on a new challenge. Watch the video above or read below to find out more (if you’re reading this twice, don’t worry, I accidentally posted it before the video was finished)

The MIT Challenge — 4 Years of Learning in 12 Months

Over the next 12 months, I’m going to learn the entire 4-year MIT curriculum for computer science, without taking any classes.

Computers have always fascinated me. From finance to Facebook, algorithms are the hidden language that underlies most of our life. The largest transformations of our world are being written in code, and advancements in artificial intelligence allow us to use computers to understand what it means to be human.

Beyond the poetry of the machine, computer science is also immensely practical. Fortunes have been made and revolutions sparked on lines of code.

I’ve always wanted to speak that language. But, I didn’t want to invest four years of my life and hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn it.

I’m embarking on this experiment because I want to show that learning doesn’t require acceptance boards and SAT tests, thousands of dollars in debt, or even the 4-year pace most students assume is necessary to learn a subject.

Will I fail? It’s definitely a possibility—people a lot smarter than myself struggle through immense workloads at institutions like MIT, and I’m attempting to learn the same material at 4x the speed, without the benefit of instructors.

All I can promise is to share what I find with you. Listed here are all 33 classes I’ll be covering. For each of them, I’ll write the final exam and you can compare my answers to the MIT official solutions. I’ll also post any failures, so you can be sure I’m not omitting my mistakes.

Subscribe to my new YouTube channel as well, as I’ll be making regular video updates to the challenge as well as sharing insights in learning faster and self-education.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear what you think of the challenge in the comments!

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  • http://Msn Steve Schwartz

    I was interested by your article and endeavor because I am thinking along the same lines. I am self studying the MIT program for mechanical engineering . I am following the 4 year course of study for that program that MIT has published. I am buying used textbooks from EBAY that parallels the course requirements. I am paying about 5 dollars a book as compared to new book prices that are much more expensive. I am currently self studying engineering calculus for the equivalent of 3 required courses. This phase is the most important because engineering builds off of a firm math background.

    I believe that if a person pursues a self study program that mirrors a formal education, the benefits will be the same. The catch is that the person must be diligent and honest with him/her self. This means that all requisite courses must be studied and tested on to ensure that you receive the proper knowledge intended. The courses must be followed as the formal 4 year plan indicates since one requisite is usually built on a pre-requisite.

    The only downside to a self study program is that you get no degree but does it matter? The answer is a big NO. From my many years in the workforce, I have seen countless engineers that can not even grasp the most elementary concepts of engineering because they simply forgot their formal training. Knowledge is an ongoing thing for every day of your life. As a self taught engineer, you have the mindset to always regenerate your knowledge.

    I believe that being a self taught engineer carries more weight in the eyes of an employer. The employer sees such a person as one that is extremely motivated about his career. There are some that will say that you need a 4 year engineering degree to get an engineering job. That is not true because I have held the title of Engineer many times in the Civil Engineering field without a degree in Civil Engineering. I conveyed an image of professionalism to my prospective employers and they saw the potential I possessed. I was not able to be a PE but that is a small downside I could live with.

    I worked for Westinghouse some years ago and I can remember only a handful for engineers had a PE license. It depends on where you work if you need a PE license or not.

    learning takes time to comprehend so I am allowing myself at least 2 years to learn the course work of an undergraduate mechanical engineering degree. I am only interested in the technical courses and I am ignoring any liberal arts courses found in the 4 year program.

  • Bill

    Lol, I’ve been doing the same thing the last couple years. 8.01, 18.01, 18.02, 6.042j and 18.06 so far. I put all the videos on dvds and downloaded free e-books that either mimic or are the actual textbooks used in the course. That took a while because my isp limits me to 5gb a month and i’m a cheap bastard. It’s a great way to spend your free time imo. I’ve gained a real appreciation for math and physics. If someone says, “Hey, how do you calculate the magnetic field strength about a charged copper wire at an arbitrary point in space using Biot Savart formalism?” I just might know what they are talking about and maybe i smile and say to myself, ‘good luck with that buddy’. He, he, I’m in the middle of 8.02 right now, if you couldn’t tell! After that its onward to 18.03. Kinda weird to be quoting class course numbers to classes you never actually take? Anyway, my background is CPA auditor with b.a in economics. So I’m way out of my league here. But i have to admit, I’m thinking about career change. This is where the world needs to change imo. If i can learn it on my own, online, I should be able to test out of the subjects I know for nominal fee instead of having to re-enroll in college and go into tens of thousands of dollars in debt to do it all over again. Our whole education system needs an overhaul. Anyway, good luck to you!

  • Rajiv

    Hi Scott, I looked up online for the text books needed for the course but couldn’t find proper details on the books. Could you please share the list of the books that you bought for the MIT Challenge.