Online Courses in the Physical Sciences: Course Descriptions

Several colleges offer physical science courses online. These are applicable toward degree programs in the sciences at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Basic physical science courses are also available online as part of the general education requirements for degrees in other fields.

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Online Physical Sciences Courses

Below are some of the online courses available in the physical sciences.

  • Chemistry Course: This course presents the basic principles of chemistry, including chemical reactions, naming systems and the physical properties of organic molecules. Students examine chemical bonding, stereochemistry and conformational analysis. Prerequisites for this course may include advanced college math and introductory biology courses.
  • Physics Course: This introduction to physics course examines the theories of energy, rotation, kinematics and momentum. Students conduct online research, complete lab assignments and participate in class discussions via the course website. Topics include Newton's three laws of motion, relativity and current studies in light speed. Prerequisites may include advanced algebra coursework.
  • Geology Course: The course offers an examination of the processes and materials which shape Earth's landscape. Classes examine the physical properties of Earth's crust, internal geologic events and the consumption of natural resources.
  • Physical Geography Course: This course focuses on Earth's physical environment, including weather systems, topography and geologic structures. Students discuss current theories on the physical processes that formed the ecosystem. Online lab assignments, Internet research and discussion groups are included in the course.
  • Astronomy Course: This introductory course discusses current knowledge and continuing research on the solar system and other known planetary systems. Students learn to use telescopes, conduct astronomical charting and examine the processes used by astronomers to form theories and conclusions.
  • Oceanography Course: This course outlines the chemical and physical properties of Earth's oceans and seas. Topics include marine geology and biology, atmospheric interactions and the continuing impact of human pollution and consumption. Students conduct online research, take part in online discussion groups and access the class website for assignments and exams.
  • Introduction to Thermodynamics Course: In this course, students learn about the basics of thermodynamics, which is the study of how energy is transferred between sources and states. This course is especially relevant for aspiring engineers and explores many common forms of energy systems, such as batteries, engines, solar panels and nuclear power plants. Topics include analysis of controlled systems, preservation of mass and energy, and characteristics of pure substances.
  • Physical Chemistry Course: In this course, students will learn about the history of quantum theory. Topics include particle and wave properties, atomic structure and chemical bonding.
  • Organic Chemistry Course: This course will focus on organic molecules with regard to their chemical structures and reactivity. The carbonyl group will also be featured in addition to aromatic compounds.

Program Information

Online physical science courses are typically available within science-related curricula for undergraduate and graduate students interested in becoming scientists, environmentalists, science teachers and health professionals. The courses analyze the characteristics of Earth's ecosystem and introduce chemistry, physics, astronomy and geology. While classes are typically offered for credit toward a degree, there are schools that offer individual physical science courses that can earn students a certificate. Free online courses also exist for those who are interested.

Online education in the physical sciences is available through degree and certificate programs and standalone courses. Areas of study include geography, geology, chemistry and thermodynamics, among others.

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