When you hear functional programming (FP), it almost sounds obvious. After all, shouldn’t all programming be functional? Shouldn’t it always work?
While creating a working program or product is the goal, functional programming delves much deeper than that. Not a type, but a way, of coding that focuses on producing pure functions and creating cleaner codebases so editing and troubleshooting down the line is easier.
Functional programming is becoming more and more valuable as companies search for effective coding thinkers, not just pure computer scientists. Beyond the constraints of any single coding language, FP becomes a way of thinking, problem-solving, and creating reliable outcomes.
This means your input will always have the same output, your programs are easier to debug, and offers more efficient testing.
Ultimately, it’s a coding lifestyle that will affect the way you interact with coding for the rest of your career. And what’s even better is everyone can learn functional programming! Not only are languages becoming easier to understand, but FP further simplifies your interaction with your code.
So, get yourself ready, because you’re headed to the big leagues as a functional programmer. If you work with code, then this list is for you. We’ll cover course structure, curriculum, price points (if any), why we picked each option as one of the best functional programming courses around.
What Makes a Great Functional Programming Course?
Learning functional programming is different than learning a particular language because it’s almost completely conceptual. Some toolsets and programs aid in functional programming, but it’s mostly about changing the way you think and write code.
That’s why on top of the needing to cover functional paradigms and concepts, a great course must have interactive learning. Understanding concepts is one thing, but putting them into practice is another. Plus, it’s a proven fact that learning by doing increases information retention and overall makes the course more fun.
However, if you truly enjoy lecture-focused learning, or are looking for a quick refresher, then we have courses for you too.
1. Qvault: Introduction To Functional Programming — best online functional programming course overall
- Interactive coding — complete coding challenges to learn functional programming
- Try for free — see if you enjoy the course before upgrading
- Some will prefer lecture-based content rather than the coding lessons/challenges
The course features five modules:
- Pure functions
- Data structures
- First-class and higher order functions
As with all Qvault courses, if you want to dip your toe into learning functional programming, you have full free basic access to the entire course catalog. You also get feedback and full access to all Qvault Pro tools for the first six lessons, after which you’ll need to upgrade to Qvault Pro for feedback on your code — but with access to Qvault’s entire course range at just $6 per month, it’s well worth it.
Overall, for would-be functional programmers looking to revamp their code and programming philosophy, Qvault’s online functional programming course is a fantastic online course. All the exercises are interactive, so you actually learn functional programming by coding and completing the code challenges in each lesson, making for a more effective learning experience as well as making it much funner course to take.
2. Pluralsight – Functional Programming Course for Python
- A non-traditional approach to FP
- The platform itself has great features
- Python isn’t a functional programming language
- More expensive than competitors, costing $30 a month
Pluralsight is a company’s best friend, as they pride themselves on their ability to keep tech teams up to date and challenged with the latest advancements in computer science. But amongst their team-based learning, they offer a range of singular courses for individuals.
The Functional Programming with Python course by Gerald Britton, an award-winning programmer and educator, sits high on our list for its uniqueness.
Python is not a functional programming language, but the use and demand for this language are growing steadily, so this course is ahead of its time. It’s made up of 7 lessons each containing a group of small four-minute videos.
Because you’re applying functional programming methods and thinking to a non-functional language, the curriculum is different than those that follow. You’ll learn the six paradigms of FP, how to use them in Python, how to recognize functional problems and create functional solutions, and how to implement these professionally.
You won’t learn about specific tools, but you’ll learn a grander understanding of what it means to be a functional programmer, and how to use that style of thinking to improve your coding across the board.
This is a great theory class for any Python programmer out there, but if you’re looking to gain practical experience, then we suggest the course above.
3. Udemy – Fast and Easy Functional Programming Course
- Offers a variety of functional programming courses
- Affordable one-time payment
- No interactive learning aspect/practice using functional programming
Udemy is a one-of-a-kind site where individuals and companies can post their online courses, and users like us can buy them for a wallet-friendly price. They offer courses across multiple industries, but have gained popularity for their coding courses.
The course is comprised of 13 sections, 58 lectures in total, and takes approximately 5.5 hours to complete. You’ll learn about popular functional concepts, immutable data structures, pure functions, and how to eliminate and control side effects.
While it is for beginners, intermediate and advanced coders can also benefit from this as a refresher course.
Overall, it’s a fast and straightforward course that focuses on the necessary aspects of functional programming but lacks practice-based learning and the deeper themes of FP.
Other Udemy courses include:
- Learn Java Functional Programming with Lambdas & Streams by in28minutes Official
- Functional Programming Using C++ by Tobias Hermann
4. Coursera – Intermediate Functional Programming Specialization
- University taught courses
- Free to enroll
- Limited free access to features
Known for their easy access to higher-education classes, Coursera lets you learn about coding and programming at a university level – without the university price.
Coursera offers both a specialization and a course on functional programming.
Their specialization, Functional Programming in Scala by École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, is a five-part program that teaches you how to master the language, Scala. You’ll learn from professors at Carnegie Mellon and top researchers at Oracle.
Scala is an updated version of Java that cuts out unnecessary code, and is both an object-oriented and functional programming language.
The program starts with focusing on functional paradigms and how to solve small problems, then ends with analyzing datasets, like parallel programming on multicore architecture and using Apache Spark to distribute programming on a cluster.
You can start the course at any time and it’s free to enroll. It takes 7 months to complete if you stick with the recommended 7 hours of weekly work. It can take shorter or longer depending on your pace and if you decide to take all the courses.
If you want access to graded assignments and the certificate, then you’ll have to pay, but financial aid is available.
There’s also the Programming Languages, Part A course from the University of Washington, which is a more dialed back option.
It has four separate courses labeled part A to D. Functional programming is covered in part A, so you don’t have to take part B-D. However, functional programming is only a fraction of what is covered in part A. It also includes pattern matching, recursion, and higher-order function.
In general, this is a better choice for those that want less of an initial commitment.
Both of these courses suit intermediate users, and they focus more on the theoretical application of functional programming rather than practical.
5. Treehouse – The Latest Functional Programming Toolsets for Java
- Learn about the newest updates for functional programming in Java
- Offers a 7-day free trial
- Membership costs $40 a month for access to all their resources
- Not a complete overview of functional programming
Treehouse is a tech-focused online learning site that offers computer science courses and their personally formulated “Techdegrees”. They aim to build diversity and inclusion in the tech industry by bringing industry-standard knowledge and practices to everyone.
And you can see this in action with their Introduction to Functional Programming course.
This Java course covers all the latest functional programming toolsets first introduced with Java 8. You’ll learn about declarative syntax, streams, functional programming concepts, and higher-order functions and closures.
The emphasis on updated toolsets is a testament to their focus on giving people access to the newest methods used by professional functional programmers.
It contains 4 sections, with around 10 “steps”, or lessons, each. Along with watching lecture-based videos, you’ll answer multiple-choice questions after completing the steps.
You can download the videos and watch them offline, but that requires a premium subscription. And if you want to participate in the Techdegrees, then the subscription shoots up to $199 a month.
This course is best suited for intermediate programmers that already have an idea of what functional programming is, as there’s little focus on the fundamentals and practice, and those who benefit from their other courses due to the price point.
6. Future Learn – Learn Functional Programming in Haskell
- University taught courses
- Join the course for free
- Have to pay for the certificate and lifetime access to the course
Future Learn, like Coursera, offers access to university-taught courses without the stress or commitment of going to university. They have a range of styles of learning, from individual courses to earning complete online degrees.
On top of computer science subjects, they also offer courses on creative, business, and medical subjects.
However, we’re here to learn about the Functional Programming in Haskell: Supercharge Your Coding course from the University of Glasgow. This is the actual birthplace of the Haskell language, so you can expect to receive amazing insight in this course.
Created by two professors at the university, a few of the topics you’ll cover are: evaluation vs expression reduction, recursion, data structures, and the principles of Lambdas calculus.
By the end, you should feel confident applying functional methods, interpreting data structures, and developing, modifying, and exploring code using Haskell tools.
This lecture-based course takes place over 6 weeks, with at least 4 hours of weekly study time, but you can do the course at your own pace. It’s free to enroll, but to have lifetime access and certification, it costs a one-time payment of $62. Or, for unlimited access to all courses on Future Learn, it costs $199 a year.
This is a great course for anyone with a specific interest in Haskell, and possesses knowledge of either Java or Python.
7. edX – Honorable Mention
- The course is free
- Learn from a professor of computer science
- The course is currently unavailable
We want to give an honorable mention to edX, a trustworthy and reliable source of free online courses. Following along with Coursera and Future Learn, they offer university-accredited courses and have partnerships with many reputable tech schools.
You’ll learn how to think like a “fundamentalist” and how to apply functional programming concepts. It lasts 4 weeks with 4-6 hours of study a week. It’s completely free, but to receive a professional certificate costs $35.
While it is lecture-based, it’s also instructor-led, so the course is not immediately available or able to complete at your own pace. Currently, the course remains archived, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for any openings.