7 Universities with Free Online Biology Courses
See our list of top free online biology courses. Learn about what courses are available, what topics they cover and whether you can use them to get college credit.
Online Biology Courses for Credit
Online courses leading to college credit provide a relatively inexpensive option to students who'd like to scale down the cost of their education by earning alternative credit in lieu of enrolling in traditional classes.
Education Portal offers such a resource through biology courses paired with exams that allow students to earn transferable college credit if they pass. Registered members who pay a nominal fee can access short video lessons that teach concepts in a fun and engaging style as well as multiple-choice quizzes that allow them to test their comprehension of the material. All lessons also include free written transcripts. Available biology courses are listed below:
- Biology 101: Intro to Biology - Chapters cover science basics and provide an introduction to organic chemistry. Instructors also give an overview of topics ranging from cell biology and human body systems to ecology and social biology.
- Biology 102: Basic Genetics - Study the biological basis of inheritance, gene transmission and evolution as well as DNA mutation, comparative genomics and DNA technology.
- Biology 103: Microbiology - Instructors cover microbiology lab techniques and discuss types of viruses, fungal infections and protozoan diseases. They also address topics in immunology.
- Biology 105: Anatomy & Physiology - Learn the components of the cardiovascular, respiratory, urinary, nervous, digestive and reproductive systems, among others. Early development stages and cell biology are also covered.
- Biology 106: Pathophysiology - Chapters address the physiology of diseases associated with various human body systems and the test results used to identify certain conditions.
Free Online Non-Credited Biology Courses
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT's free courses in this field don't offer college credit. Students can choose the PDF files of study materials that they want to view or can download all of the course materials at once. Genetics is an undergraduate course about the fundamentals of genetics as it relates to cells, molecules and multicellular organisms. Lecture notes cover the physical structure of the gene, tetrad analysis, human polymorphisms and the genetics of cancer, among other topics. Students will be able to look over old exams and assignments and see solutions for both. Photosynthesis provides lecture summaries about the several reactions that take place during photosynthesis, including chemical, physical and biological. Students can see assignments that were used in the original class and can review a reading list.
Developmental Biology offers course materials from an undergraduate and a graduate level course focused on the molecular mechanisms that play a part in animal development. Students can access a list of recommended readings. The materials also include assignments, exams and solutions for students to view. Graduate Biochemistry was originally offered in 2001. Course materials include some lecture notes covering subjects such as kinetics, chemical thermodynamics and mystery protein.
The Open University's free course materials include specific units from full courses that were originally offered to regular students. Courses include lecture materials and a reference section, but the courses do not lead to credit. Animals at the Extremes: Polar Biology is an intermediate level course that studies how animals that live in frigid environments are able to survive. Students can learn about the significant features of polar regions, the effects that the length of the day have on feeding and the biological adaptations of fish. Users will find images and questions within lessons.
Tufts OpenCourseWare doesn't require registration, and students can't earn credit for courses taken. Microbiology teaches students fundamental tactics used to identify infectious diseases. Students will learn about parasitic and microbial infections. Lecture slides and notes are available for most of the original lectures.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Courses at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia do not offer academic credit, nor are students required to register to enroll in OpenCourseWare. The Cellular and Molecular Biology course utilizes PowerPoint presentations for students to learn about DNA transmission and the connection between function and structure in molecular biology. Lecture topics include the difference between DNA and RNA, polypeptide bonds, prokaryotic replication and the different types of mutation.
University of Massachusetts at Boston
OpenCourseWare at the University of Massachusetts at Boston can be accessed on most Web browsers, but students may need to have the most recent version of Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to view materials. General Biology I has students examining life at the cellular and molecular level. Students can download lecture handouts and notes or access lecture videos. Selected portions of the course's lab manual and other lab materials are available to download. Topics of lecture handouts include chemistry, cell biology, cancer and genetics.
Open Yale Courses are recorded lectures from past courses. Credit is not offered for these course materials, and students can complete a survey after completing the course. Principles of Evolution, Ecology and Behavior focuses on the building blocks of ecology, evolution and behavior. Lecture topics include genomic conflict, sex allocation, coevolution, evolutionary medicine and ecological communities.