10 Universities Offering Free Science Courses Online
Free online courses in science are offered by real schools. Learn which science courses are available, what topics they cover and which ones lead to real college credit.
Online Science Courses for Credit
Schools with free online science classes, such as though offered through OpenCourseWare programs, do not generally require students to register in order to gain access to course materials, but they also do not award college credit for completion.
Education Portal offers an affordable alternative to students who'd like to work their way toward real academic credit via online courses covering microbiology, anatomy and physiology, basic genetics and more. All classes include free lesson transcripts and are taught by experienced instructors who use a teaching style that makes the material approachable. Registered members who pay a small fee can also access short video lessons and self-assessment quizzes. Some of the courses offered include:
- Science 101: Intro to Natural Sciences - Lessons cover an array of subjects, including human anatomy, basic mechanics, ecology and thermodynamics.
- Biology 102: Basic Genetics - Instructors discuss RNA and DNA replication, gene transmission and causes of genetic mutation. They also introduce topics of concern in human genetics research and comparative genomics.
- Chemistry 101: General Chemistry - Lessons introduce students to the periodic table, atomic structure, chemical bonds, stoichiometry and nuclear chemistry.
- Geology 101: Physical Geology - Forces shaping the Earth's surface and its features are covered alongside rock types, soil structure and atmospheric science.
- Environmental Science 101: Environment and Humanity - Lessons explain the interactions occurring among an ecosystem's organisms and the environmental impact of humans' resource consumption.
Free Online Non-Credited Science Courses
African Virtual University
This international university offers several online courses in English for students from around the world. The Inorganic Chemistry course includes QuickTime videos and PDFs of lecture notes to teach students about the configuration of elements and the periodic table of elements.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The OCW initiative at MIT includes dozens of undergraduate and graduate-level courses related to science. Many of the courses include lecture notes, assignments, exams and video clips. Organic Chemistry I is an undergraduate course where users learn about the structure of organic molecules, in addition to organic chemistry vocabulary. Students learn how to write transformations and how to draw structural representations and aromatic compounds. The course includes exams and their solutions for students to look over if they wish.
The Rise of Modern Technology studies the history of science while examining philosophy, social structure, magic and folk knowledge. The course includes readings from Aristotle, Einstein, Darwin and Freud. Students must purchase the majority of these works, but some readings are available for free download. Lecture notes and information on the class assignments are available on the course website
Tufts University also offers multiple OCW courses related to the sciences. Students have access to an image gallery and PDF files while enrolled in Agricultural Science and Policy I. The course is focused on natural resource conservation, policy analysis, ecological agriculture and livestock production. Students can also complete assignments if they desire. Students can look at the microscopic study of cells, in addition to various body systems, while enrolled in the Histology: Study of Cells, Tissues and Organs course.
The online science course in Mineralogy from Tulane includes PDF files of lecture notes for students to use as they learn about atom arrangements and how to identify different minerals. The course also includes a list of links to websites related to mineralogy.
University of Massachusetts at Boston
UMass Boston offers OCW courses in several areas of the sciences, including biology, chemistry, and the environmental, ocean and earth sciences. Online materials vary by course; for instance the General Biology I class provides access to pre-lab assignments, tests and lecture handouts. This course includes an overview of various life processes.
The Introductory Oceanography course teaches students about the history and the geographical context of oceans. Students learn about continental shelves, slope types, marine ice and types of tides. Lecture notes, images and a final exam are provided online.
University of Southern Queensland
The University of Southern Queensland is located in Australia but offers several free online courses to students from around the world. Its General Science course is a preparatory class that teaches students about the fundamentals of science, scientific measurements, the human body, science safety and the scientific method. Modules are used in the class, each with their own set of objectives, key concepts, topics and tests.
University of Texas at Austin
Field Techniques is intended for advanced geography students looking to learn how to compile field data. Online students learn about the different levels of supervision, how to make professional judgments and environmental data. Notes are included on hand leveling, describing soils, vegetation and hydrology. Students have access to a number of additional readings on a variety of topics.
Utah State University
This school also offers an array of courses in the science fields, including ecology, biology and physics. Its General Ecology course covers topics on natural selection, population dynamics, mutualism and food webs. The class includes access to 21 lectures, including audio lectures. It's physics course in Quantum Mechanics teaches students how to comprehend quantum mechanics at a research level and provides 37 lectures in PDF format.
Free online courses from Yale are available in the scientific fields like astronomy, ecology, chemistry, physics and geology. Its course on The Atmosphere, the Ocean, and Environmental Change includes video and audio elements available through YouTube. Lecture topics include the hydrostatic balance, the greenhouse effect, convective storms and ocean currents. Lecture videos for the course last anywhere from about 5-50 minutes.
One of its physics offering, the Fundamentals in Physics I, is intended for students who have been properly prepared in mathematics and physics. They'll learn about quantitative reasoning and Newtonian mechanics, gravitation and waves. Parts of the course are available on YouTube and iTunes, and students are allowed to join virtual study groups. Lecture topics include the laws of motion, relativity, harmonic motion, fluid dynamics and parallel axis theorem.