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List of Free Online Microbiology Courses and Training Options
See our list of the top free online microbiology courses. Learn about what courses are available and what topics they cover to find the course that's right for you.
Info on Free Online Courses in Microbiology
Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, and it often encompasses topics like infectious disease and pathology. The free courses below can be completed at a self-directed pace and do not award grades or academic credit. Laboratory components are included in some of the courses, but students without access to a lab may find these exercises difficult to complete. Some of the courses have free software downloads for programs that are necessary to view videos or content on the course site, and others have recommended textbooks that must be purchased separately.
Environmental Microbiology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Students participating in this graduate-level course at MIT can read lecture notes to learn about biosynthesis and fueling, cell biology, genetics, metabolic diversity and applied environmental microbiology. It's recommended that students complete readings from the textbook Brock Biology of Microorganisms (10th edition) by Madigan, Martinko and Parker, which can be purchased through a link on the site. All available course materials can be downloaded as ZIP files. This free, non-credit course is also translated into Chinese.
General Microbiology from University of Wyoming
The University of Wyoming provides this website for the school's General Microbiology course; it can be used by anyone. The course is broken into two types of classes - lectures and labs - and a site is included for each. The lecture site includes PDFs, while the lab site, called The Virtual Edge, includes lecture notes and lab instructions. Step-by-step video tutorials that teach students how to do the labs are available. Free downloads of the Shockwave Player and QuickTime are needed to view the video tutorials.
Introduction to Microbiology Culture Techniques from University of California - Davis
This lecture, found on YouTube, was given by a Ph.D. candidate at UC - Davis. It covers pathological microbiology topics that include blood, urine and tissue cultures; culture collection processes; gram stains and negative stains; and other staining procedures. The instructor also discusses viruses and fungi, including the H1N1 influenza.
Microbiology from Tufts University
This microbiology course emphasizes pathobiology and covers topics such as malaria, enteric bacteria, normal flora and host parasite interactions. Lectures and student notes are included in the course. Recommended readings are taken from the textbook, Mechanisms of Microbial Diseases (3rd edition), by Schaechter, Medoff and Eisenstein, which would need to be purchased.
Systems Microbiology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology
This undergraduate course covers such topics as genomics, microbial diversity and population dynamics. Some specific case studies on the course site include tuberculosis, plagues, vaccines and Helicobacter pylori. The course includes assignments and exams, which are downloadable as ZIP files from the course site, but they don't include solutions. Students can purchase the textbook Brock Biology of Microorganisms (11th edition) by Madigan, Michael and Martinko through the course website to fully learn from the course.
Microbiology and Infectious Disease Courses
Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases from Johns Hopkins University
This course was originally offered through Johns Hopkins University's Department of Epidemiology. The online version includes lectures, links to readings and an assignment; all but one of the 20 lectures are available. Some of the topics include an overview of microbiology, outbreaks and disease, lab diagnosis, molecular epidemiology and transmissions, with case studies that include hepatitis, HIV, malaria and acute respiratory infections.
Infectious Disease and Microbiology at University of Michigan
This course was originally taught to first-year medical students at the school. Some of the topics covered in lectures include respiratory viruses, parasitology, HPV, HIV and biopreparedness. Student notes are available as well. Students can also download an interactive module on vaccines, which is available as a link on the site. All available course materials can be downloaded as a ZIP file, and as of December 2012, new materials were still set to be added to the course. Online students who would like to benefit from this course as much as possible can purchase two textbooks.
Pathophysiology of Infectious Diseases from Tufts University
This medical microbiology course surveys such contagious illnesses as meningitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis and hospital infections. Students also study the role of microorganisms in chronic disease. Quizzes and exams, lectures and HIV case study questions are available. Additional readings are found in several recommended textbooks, which can be purchased separately.