Online College Science Courses: Where to Find Them-- Starting at MIT

Chances are, if you're a chemical engineer who loves the profession and the whole science life style, then you love exploring new science domains. It's often difficult, however, to fit an extra college commute into your schedule. Don't live near a good university? Forget about it.

Besides, at your age (if you've been in your job a while), trying to skateboard across campus is a one-way ticket to the emergency room; and your non-peer-group's inappropriate questions from the back of the lecture hall will provoke panicky head-turns, "narc!" and "stalker!" stares. And don't be shocked when their concern turns to dismay after they've seen your elbow-patched, herringbone sports coat and pernicious case of early-onset, male pattern baldness. Thank God, you left your grad-student smoking pipe at home.

Before shelling out for implants, why not go virtual? You won't be able to re-experience the sensuous pleasure of walking across an ivied quad, but some of the world's best universities now offer online science courses for obsessive learners. And there's an upside: you'll never have to get up for an early morning class; watch your drunken roommate vomit into his bed at 3AM; or endure fraternity hazing-- Swat! Thank, you, sir...

So if you're looking for something outside your discipline, something other than the huge archive of chemical engineering webinars and lectures at ChemE on Demand, there's everything from Astronomy to Environmental Health to Agricultural Science and even Yale Humanities courses, hold on, we're going cross-discipline, cross-training, baby.

1. MIT OpenCourseWare (

MIT, an early online pioneer, published their first batch of courses online in 2002. In 2005, they formed the OpenCourseWare Consortium with other universities to bring education via the internet. Courses and lectures are available various formats: audio, video or lecture notes. MIT has hundreds of undergraduate and graduate science courses available. Each includes lectures or lecture notes, assignments and exams. And you can now download an app for your iPhone or iPad.

2. Carnegie Mellon University--

Carnegie Mellon's Open Learning Initiative provides a wide variety of available online science courses and course material. Videos, text, tutors, virtual lab activities and interactive exercises allow you to take entire courses in an online format.

3. University of California, Berkeley (

UC Berkeley first launched an audio podcast program in 2006. The school now provides nearly 100 full courses. Science offerings include courses in biology, microbiology, chemistry, physics, animal behavior and astronomy. Lectures are recorded in mp3 and real media video.

4. Tufts OpenCourseWare (

Tufts University also makes their world-renowned courses available through an OpenCourseWare program. Science offerings include everything from physics to microbiology. Courses can be viewed in slides or PDF format.

5. University of Southern Queensland (

The University of Southern Queensland in Australia offers a general science course as part of the USQ Tertiary Preparation Program (TPP). The course includes study modules, reading lists, assignments and online tests and examinations.

6. Dixie State College of Utah (

Dixie State College of Utah offers a science course focusing on methods. The course is designed for teachers who want to learn more about teaching strategies and national, state, and local standards in science education.

7. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's OpenCourseWare project offers access to the school's most popular graduate level health science courses. All courses include lecture materials, reading lists and more.

8. University of California, Irvine (

The University of California, Irvine offers a wide range of course materials to educators, students, and self-learners. Courses consist of easy-to-follow slides and other education materials.

9. Open University (

Britain's Open University offers an extensive collection of science technology courses, with an emphasis on science and nature. Most courses are at the introductory or intermediate level. Course materials include both text and multimedia elements.

10. Open Yale Courses--

Mark Saltzman, Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, introduces topics ranging from cell communication to tissue enginering. Case studies of drugs and medical products illustrate the product development-product testing cycle, patent protection, and FDA approval. This is a great course for ChemE's who aren't specialists in the field-- but would enjoy a good overview.

Open Yale Courses also provides open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. The courses range widely from the modern American novel, the Old Testament, Roman Architecture and The Civil War.

Enjoy and explore the preceding 10 online universities. For more information:

Another post will explore online courses way off the beaten path.

Have you already tried online courses? Your favorites?

Photo: Lecture Hall- Tungsten-- wikicommons
photo: computer keyboard-- Gflores --wikicommons


Douglas Clark's picture

I did an entire semester of psychology with Yale online. Very interesting lectures, and at the time, they offered more video than most others online.

Kent Harrington's picture

they have great production values. I'm going to hunt around for the next post and find the best videos.