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.

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Online Science Courses for Credit

Several schools offer free online science classes, such as OpenCourseWare programs that generally do not require students to register to gain access to course materials - but they also do not award college credit for completion. Study.com offers an affordable alternative to students who'd like to work their way toward real academic credit via online science courses covering microbiology, anatomy and physiology, basic genetics and more. Some of the courses offered include:

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Free Online Non-Credited Science Courses

African Virtual University

This international university offers several online courses in English for students from around the world.

  • Inorganic Chemistry 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 allows learners to study information 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 Science 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

Tufts University also offers multiple OCW courses related to the sciences. Students have access to an image gallery and PDF files while enrolled.

  • Agricultural Science and Policy I focuses on natural resource conservation, policy analysis, ecological agriculture and livestock production. Students can also complete assignments if they desire.
  • Histology: Study of Cells, Tissues and Organs allows students to look at the microscopic study of cells, in addition to various body systems.

Tulane University

  • Mineralogy 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.

  • General Biology I class provides access to pre-lab assignments, tests and lecture handouts. This course includes an overview of various life processes.
  • Introductory Oceanography 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.

Utah State University

This school also offers an array of courses in the science fields, including ecology, biology and physics.

  • General Ecology covers topics on natural selection, population dynamics, mutualism and food webs. The class includes access to 21 lectures, including audio lectures.
  • Quantum Mechanics teaches students how to comprehend quantum mechanics at a research level and provides 37 lectures in PDF format.

Yale University

Free online courses from Yale are available in the scientific fields like astronomy, ecology, chemistry, physics and geology.

  • 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.
  • 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.

Stanford University

Stanford offers a number of courses through two platforms, Coursera and Standord OpenEdX. Students who complete these courses will receive a statement of accomplishment.

  • Quantum Mechanics is a 9-week course designed for students with a moderate understanding of engineering and physical science. Students begin with an introduction to the concept of quantum mechanics, then move on to more complicated topics such as wave equations, Dirac notation, and uncertainty principles.
  • Computer Science provides instruction to students with no prior experience in fundamental topics in computer science. Students will learn about both basic and advanced topics such as computer terminology, software programs, computer coding, and digital images.

Carnegie Mellon University

CMU offers over 20 free online courses, a few of which are scientific in nature.

  • Biochemistry is designed for both chemical engineering and biology majors and provides entry-level instruction in topics such as protein functions, carbohydrate structure, lipids, biological membranes, and metabolisms.
  • Modern Biology aims to cover both general and advanced topics in biology. Students in this course will learn about genetics, molecular biology, and cellular biology.

University of California-Irvine

UC-Irvine features a web site that provides full courses for no charge. Courses are available in several subjects, including physical sciences.

  • Einstein's General Relativity & Gravitation examines the theories of Albert Einstein and also analyzes his field equations, astronomical tests, and gravitational waves.
  • Cosmology studies the universe itself, as students study models and come to understand the age and size of the universe, as well as its origins.
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