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.
Online Microbiology Courses for Credit
The free online courses included in the section below can be completed at a self-directed pace, though they do not award grades or academic credit.
Students looking for an online option that can be applied to a degree program might want to consider the Biology 103: Microbiology course available from Education Portal. The free lesson transcripts allow students to work at their own pace, as do the videos and self-assessment quizzes available to registered members. These course materials can be used to earn real college credit for far less time and expense than it would take to complete a class through your typical postsecondary institution. Some of the chapters included in the microbiology course are listed below:
- Microbiology Basics - Review cell structure before exploring the characteristics of bacteria, protozoa, algae and fungi.
- Microorganisms and the Environment - Identify the role of microorganisms in the nitrogen cycle and discover which types of bacteria live in anaerobic environments and deepwater vent ecosystems. Learn about procedures used to control the microbial contamination of drinking water.
- The Disease Process - Examine the types and causes of microbial infection and disease as well as routes of transmission. Differentiate between endemics, epidemics and pandemics.
- Fungal Infections - Instructors cover infections caused by Cryptococcus, Histoplasma capsulatum, Candida albicans and other fungi.
- Food and Industrial Microbiology - Learn the role of microbes in fermentation and cheesemaking and explore their uses in industry, medicine and bioremediation.
Free Online Non-Credited Microbiology Courses
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.
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.