15 Universities Offering Free Online Science Courses

Published Sep 15, 2008

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Free science courses are a great way to prepare for college or review what you have already learned. They also serve as a valuable resource for self-learners who want to increase their science knowledge without the standard out of pocket expense. There are a number of elite universities that offer free science courses online. Examples include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Notre Dame and the Delft University of Technology.


1. Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University's OLI project seeks to make free education available to everyone through the World Wide Web. Self-learners can take advantage of three free science courses--all of which provide a wide range of instructional components. Some of the materials available through the courses include interactive case studies, virtual laboratories and hands-on experiments.

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

There are a lot of wonderful universities on this list, but the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the best. You can find hundreds of free science courses through the school's OpenCourseWare site. All of the courses are high quality. The majority include lectures, assignments and exams. Many of the science courses are project based and include labs that self-learners can complete at home.

3. University of California, Berkeley

  • Free Biology Course
  • Free Chemistry Course
  • Free Physics Course

If you would rather watch or listen to lectures than do homework assignments, the free science courses offered through the University of California, Berkeley are for you. Each course features a full set of lecture podcasts or webcasts. You can take as many courses as you want to with no out of pocket expense.

4. The Open University

  • Free Science and Nature Courses

There are more than two dozen free science courses that can be accessed online through the UK's Open University. Courses can be taken at the introductory, intermediate or advanced level and include a wide range of multimedia elements.

5. Tufts University

Tuft University's School of Arts and Sciences provides a wealth of opportunity to self-learners. Right now there are only three free science courses available, but they are all very good. (More courses are expected to be added soon.) The courses that are available include lectures, assignments, quizzes, exams and other useful content.

6. University of Akron

If you are looking for free chemistry courses, look no further than the University of Akron's Virtual Classroom. The Classroom provides 10 free chemistry courses that can be taken online. Other free features for self-learners include a scientific calculator, a hazardous chemicals database and an interactive periodic table.

7. University of Utah

  • Free Physics Courses
  • Free Chemistry Courses
  • Free Biology Courses

The University of Utah provides a nice selection of free science courses. Topics include chemistry, biology and physics. Most courses include lectures, assignments and other study materials that are beneficial to self-learners.

8. Utah State University

Utah State University offers a number of science courses that can be taken online for free. All of the courses are modeled after campus-based courses and include a wide range of quality learning materials.

9. University of Southern Queensland

Self-learners who are looking for a general science course should be quite happy with the free course offered though the University of Southern Queensland. The course is designed to offer an overview of general science. Students gain an understanding of topics through real world applications. Materials that would useful to online students include a study schedule, manageable study modules, suggested readings and self-assessments.

10. University of Notre Dame

Most of the courses offered for free by the University of Notre Dame focus on culture and humanistic studies, but there are a couple of high-quality physics courses that can be taken for free. The courses are designed for non-science majors and include lectures and other helpful resources.

11. Capilano College

You can't take traditional science courses through Capilano College for free, but you can take two free computer science courses online. The first course is an overview of topics in computer science; the second focuses on robotic programming. Capilano provides all of the necessary materials to complete both courses--all you need is a computer with speakers.

12. Delft University of Technology

The free courses offered through the Delft University of Technology are best suited for engineers, but there is one course on the site that may be of interest to science buffs. The course is devoted to NanoScience. Course materials include lectures, readings, exams and student activities.

13. John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

The John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health makes its most popular courses available for free online. Science offerings include population science courses and environmental science courses. Self-learners can also benefit from the many health and health policy courses that the school offers. Most courses provide access to a wide range of study materials, including lectures and assignments.

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