How to Learn R Programming

Discover how to learn R programming, from online courses to coding bootcamps. Find out what jobs you can do as an R programmer.
14 min read

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R is the most frequently used data science programming language, other than SQL. About 70% of data miners use R, making this an in-demand language for data science professionals. R is an open source language that supports both object-oriented and procedural programming.

Knowing R is an important skill to have if you are interested in data science. This guide covers how to learn R programming. It also lists the most common R programming jobs

This page can also help you decide which learning method is best for you: online course or coding bootcamp. We can even help you choose a coding bootcamp.

Coding Bootcamps

Coding bootcamps are intensive programs that prepare students for entry-level coding jobs. Most bootcamps take 3-4 months to complete, though some take six months or even longer. The average bootcamp costs $13,579, according to data collected by BestColleges in 2020.

For a full-time coding bootcamp, students can expect to dedicate at least eight hours per day for 3-4 months or longer. Students are often expected to complete homework assignments after class, too, often not leaving much time for anything else.

Part-time bootcamps offer shorter hours and evening and weekend classes. If you hold a job, a part-time bootcamp may suit you better.

It may be difficult to find an R programming bootcamp, since most bootcamps are job-focused rather than language-focused. However, many data science bootcamps include the R programming language as part of their curricula.

Find the Right Coding Bootcamp For You

Online Courses

Online courses provide a cheaper alternative to those who cannot afford coding bootcamps. Some courses are free, and others may exceed $1,000 in price. Most cost less than $200. The time commitment varies depending on the course.

Most classes are text-based, video-based, or a combination of both. Students can typically access the entire course at once and work through it at their own pace. This allows learners to plan their study schedule around work and other commitments.

These five online courses teach R programming:

  • R Programming Fundamentals: Stanford Online offers this self-paced course through the edX platform. This free class takes approximately six weeks to complete at a pace of 2-3 hours per week.
  • Data Science: Foundations Using R Specialization: Johns Hopkins University offers this course through Coursera. Students can get a free seven-day trial. After that, it costs $49 per month to continue. This course takes approximately five months to complete at a pace of eight hours per week.
  • Data Science and Machine Learning Bootcamp with R: This Udemy course created by Jose Portilla teaches students to use R for data science, machine learning, and data visualization. The course costs $84.99 and contains 17.5 hours of on-demand video, plus nine articles.
  • Learn R: This Codecademy course consists of 10 lessons and takes approximately 20 hours to complete. The course is free with a Codecademy membership, or you can join Codecademy Pro to earn a certificate of completion.
  • Introduction to R: Datacamp offers a free introductory R course that takes about four hours to complete, containing 62 exercises. The course is broken up into six chapters, covering vectors, matrices, factors, data frames, and lists.

Online Courses vs. Bootcamps

Pros Cons
Online Courses
  • Online courses are much cheaper than bootcamps. Many are even free.
  • Online courses are self-paced. You can complete them on your own schedule.
  • Many prestigious schools such as Harvard and Stanford offer online programming courses.
  • Your instructor may not be readily available to answer questions.
  • It's easy to procrastinate when taking a self-paced online course.
  • Online courses may not help you learn how to work as part of a team.
  • You have an instructor to help you when you get stuck.
  • A structured curriculum teaches you everything you need to know to gain employment.
  • Coding bootcamps often cost less than a four-year college education.
  • Coding bootcamps cost more than most online courses.
  • Most coding bootcamps require you to attend classes at specific times.
  • Full-time coding bootcamps typically last 3-4 months, during which students do not have time to work.

Coding Bootcamps to Learn R Programming

General Assembly

  • Location: Remote, Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, the District of Columbia, and other major cities.
  • Program Cost: Starting at $3,950
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time, Self Paced

Accepts GI Bill®
Career services
Evening and weekend opions

General Assembly offers a data science immersive program that takes 12 weeks to complete. The course requires 12 hours of pre-work in the form of online tutorials. The data science immersive is divided into five units:

  • Data science fundamentals
  • Exploratory data analysis
  • Classical statistical modeling
  • Machine learning models
  • Advanced topics and trends

General Assembly has over 70,000 alumni and works with more than 19,000 hiring partners worldwide, including Best Buy, Microsoft, PayPal, and Pfizer.


  • Location: Remote, Miami
  • Program Cost: Starting at $12,500
  • Learning Format: In Person, Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

Career services
Evening and weekend opions

Ironhack offers a data analytics bootcamp that takes just nine weeks to complete. Students learn Tableau, Python, SQL, and statistics. No previous coding experience is required. Students must complete 60 hours of pre-work before beginning the bootcamp.

The data analytics bootcamp is divided into three modules: introduction to data analytics and Python, advanced data analytics, and the fundamentals of machine learning. The last module includes a final project that challenges students' skills and makes a great portfolio addition.


  • Location: Remote
  • Program Cost: Starting at $7,000
  • Learning Format: Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

Accepts GI Bill®
Career services

Metis offers four data analytics and data science bootcamps. The data analytics bootcamp contains modules on exploratory data analysis, linear regression and web scraping, and business fundamentals for data practitioners.

Students can choose from a full-time live online format or a part-time online flex format. The live online course takes six weeks to complete, and the online flex course takes 12 weeks.

NYC Data Science Academy

  • Location: Remote, New York City
  • Program Cost: $9,995
  • Learning Format: In Person, Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

Career services
Evening and weekend opions

NYC Data Science Academy offers a data science bootcamp and a data analytics bootcamp. The bootcamp provider also offers a free intro to data science lesson. The data analytics bootcamp takes seven weeks to complete full time or three months part time. The curriculum covers R, Python, and SQL.

Students must complete 40 hours of pre-work before beginning the bootcamp. The pre-work includes statistics, calculus, Conda installation, Python, and R. The bootcamp itself is divided into five sections:

  • Data science toolkit
  • Data analytics with Python
  • Data analytics with R
  • Business cases in data science
  • Data analytics capstone project

The Data Incubator

  • Location: Remote, New York City, San Francisco, the District of Columbia
  • Program Cost: $10,000
  • Learning Format: In Person, Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

Career services
Start for free

The Data Incubator offers three programs: data science fellowship, data engineering fellowship, and data science essentials. The data science essentials course is a good starting point for those with limited data science skills.

This eight-week program teaches students to extract, clean, and analyze data from large data sets. Students learn to use Python to solve business problems. The course covers NumPy, pandas, and Scikit-learn. Students learn object-oriented programming, data transformation, classification, and clustering.

Get the Qualities You Want in a Bootcamp

We use icons to make browsing bootcamps easy for you. Use this breakdown to quickly identify program qualities you are looking for.

Accepts GI Bill®

Accepts the GI Bill® as funding for tuition.

Also Available In Person

This online bootcamp also offers in-person options.

Career Services

Offers career services to help you land your dream job after graduation.

CIRR Member

This bootcamp is a current member of the Council on Integrity in Results Reporting. Learn more at

Evening & Weekend Options

Bootcamps are offered during convenient evening and weekend hours.

Job Guarantee

Employment is guaranteed as soon as you finish your bootcamp.

Money-Back Guarantee

Tuition is refunded if you don't land a job within a given time frame after graduation. Visit the bootcamp website for terms and conditions.

Start for Free

No deposit is required to get started. Begin your bootcamp for $0.


Bootcamp Ranking Guidelines

At BestColleges, we believe the best bootcamp is the one that fits your schedule, your learning needs, and your career aspirations. That's why we often present our recommendations in alphabetical order -- because the real best bootcamp is the bootcamp that's best for you.

Our Methodology

The Bootcamp Team at BestColleges has collected data for over 150 bootcamps to help you find the best bootcamp.

At BestColleges, we believe the best bootcamp is the one that fits your schedule, your learning needs, and your career aspirations. That's why we often present our recommendations in alphabetical order -- because the real best bootcamp is the bootcamp that's best for you.

At this time, our recommendation round-ups feature only immersive bootcamps designed to prepare students for job placement upon graduation.

To be included on our lists, bootcamps must meet the following criteria:

  • Must offer at least one bootcamp in the United States.
  • Must offer at least one bootcamp that is a minimum of 4 weeks long.
  • Must require at least 15 hours of work per week if the bootcamp is part time.
  • Must encourage at least 10 hours of work per week if the bootcamp is self-paced.

Pricing disclosure: The prices listed were collected from product websites in 2022. However, given the dynamic, fast-paced nature of the tech space, prices are subject to change throughout the year. To get the most up-to-date information about pricing, contact providers directly.

Methodology for Recommending Cheap Bootcamps:

  • The bootcamp must meet all of the general criteria listed above.
  • The bootcamp must cost less than $8,000 if it is offered full time, and less than $5,000 if it is offered part time. These numbers were chosen based on data collected by BestColleges in 2020 that determined the average cost of a coding bootcamp is $13,580.

R Programming Jobs

R programmers often work in data science, data analytics, and statistics. Here are the top R programming jobs:

Data Scientist

Data scientists analyze data to find the answers to questions that need answering. They must be able to mine, format, and analyze large amounts of data. Data scientists need strong business acumen and technical skills. They must be able to communicate the results of their data analysis to decision-makers.

Median Annual Salary

R Programmer

R programmers use the R programming language to write programs that tell computers what to do. In addition to writing new programs, they also update existing code. Once the program has been written, they test it to make sure it runs properly and make corrections as needed.

Median Annual Salary


Statisticians work with data and formulas to help solve business, industry, government, and academia problems. They determine what data is needed to solve the problem, gather the data, and apply mathematical formulas or theories to the data. They must be able to communicate their analysis to others.

Median Annual Salary

Frequently Asked Questions About Learning R Programming

Is R programming easy to learn?

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Yes, R is relatively easy to learn. It is fairly simple to understand and use to write code. It's likely that once you get started, you will be able to write simple programs within a week. However, R is designed to do some pretty heavy lifting. You will likely need a background in mathematics or statistics to get the most out of this programming language.

As with most programming languages, the hard part is understanding what you want the computer to do and then translating that into code that the computer can interpret. The actual coding is the easy part.

Where can I learn R programming for free?

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There are plenty of free R programming courses online. Some were mentioned above, such as R Programming Fundamentals at edX and Learn R at Codecademy. Datacamp's Introduction to R course is a good starting point for those who want to learn R programming for free.

Dataquest also has some free data science tutorials, including installing R on your machine, which is the first step for every new R programmer. Udemy offers a free course called R Basics that teaches students how to navigate R Studio, make basic graphs, and use R packages.

What is the best way to learn R programming?

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For many students, a coding bootcamp's structured curriculum provides a great learning experience. Students learn what they need to do a specific job, and they can ask their instructor questions as necessary.

However, coding bootcamps can be expensive. A bootcamp is a big commitment, and if you're not ready for that, you can learn quite a bit through online courses. Many of these courses are free, and even premium courses cost less than most bootcamps. If you're an independent learner who is not prone to procrastination, online courses may be the best option for you.

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