7 Universities with Free Online Biology Courses

See our list of top free online biology courses. Learn about what courses are available, what topics they cover and whether you can use them to get college credit.

Online Biology Courses for Credit

There are a number of free biology courses available online, but many of these options do not provide credit. offers a way for students to work towards college credit in biology for a much lower cost than at a traditional college. Members can access short video lessons that teach concepts in a fun and engaging style as well as multiple-choice quizzes that allow them to test their comprehension of the material. Available online biology course options are listed below:

  • Biology 101: Intro to Biology - Chapters in this course cover science basics and provide an introduction to organic chemistry. Instructors also give an overview of topics ranging from cell biology and human body systems to ecology and social biology.
  • Biology 102: Basic Genetics - Study the biological basis of inheritance, gene transmission and evolution as well as DNA mutation, comparative genomics and DNA technology.
  • Biology 103: Microbiology - Instructors cover microbiology lab techniques and discuss types of viruses, fungal infections and protozoan diseases. They also address topics in immunology.
  • Biology 105: Anatomy & Physiology - Learn the components of the cardiovascular, respiratory, urinary, nervous, digestive and reproductive systems, among others. Early development stages and cell biology are also covered.
  • Biology 106: Pathophysiology - Chapters address the physiology of diseases associated with various human body systems and the test results used to identify certain conditions.

Free Online Non-Credited Biology Courses

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT's free courses in this field don't offer college credit. Students can choose the PDF files of study materials that they want to view or can download all of the course materials at once.

  • Genetics is an undergraduate course about the fundamentals of genetics as it relates to cells, molecules and multicellular organisms. Lecture notes cover the physical structure of the gene, tetrad analysis, human polymorphisms and the genetics of cancer, among other topics. Students will be able to look over old exams and assignments and see solutions for both.
  • Photosynthesis: Life from Light provides lecture summaries about the several reactions that take place during photosynthesis, including chemical, physical and biological. Students can see assignments that were used in the original class and can review a reading list.
  • Developmental Biology offers course materials from an undergraduate and a graduate level course focused on the molecular mechanisms that play a part in animal development. Students can access a list of recommended readings. The materials also include assignments, exams and solutions for students to view.
  • Graduate Biochemistry was originally offered in 2001. Course materials include lecture notes covering subjects such as kinetics, chemical thermodynamics and mystery protein.

Open University

The Open University's free course materials include specific units from full courses that were originally offered to regular students. Courses include lecture materials and a reference section, but the courses do not lead to credit.

  • Animals at the Extremes: Polar Biology is an intermediate level course that studies how animals that live in frigid environments are able to survive. Students can learn about the significant features of polar regions, the effects that the length of the day have on feeding and the biological adaptations of fish. Users will find images and questions within lessons.

Tufts University

Tufts OpenCourseWare doesn't require registration, but students can't earn credit for courses taken.

  • Microbiology teaches students fundamental tactics used to identify infectious diseases. Students learn about parasitic and microbial infections. Lecture slides and notes are available for most of the original lectures.

University of Massachusetts at Boston

OpenCourseWare at the University of Massachusetts at Boston can be accessed on most Web browsers, but students may need to have the most recent version of Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to view materials.

  • General Biology I has students examining life at the cellular and molecular level. Students can download lecture handouts and notes or access lecture videos. Selected portions of the course's lab manual and other lab materials are available to download. Topics of lecture handouts include chemistry, cell biology, cancer and genetics.

Yale University

Open Yale Courses are recorded lectures from past courses. Credit is not offered for these course materials, and students can complete a survey after completing the course.

  • Principles of Evolution, Ecology and Behavior focuses on the building blocks of ecology, evolution and behavior. Lecture topics include genomic conflict, sex allocation, coevolution, evolutionary medicine and ecological communities.

Duke University

Students looking to participate in innovative and free projects should consider Online Duke, a division of Duke University that offers a number of biology courses that can be completed entirely online.

  • Music as Biology: What We Like to Hear and Why attempts to scientifically explain why humans enjoy music. This course analyzes the relationship between the brain and music, with topics including tone combinations, musical scales and the emotions that music evokes.
  • Introduction to Genetics and Evolution provides a basic exploration of essential concepts in this area of biology. Students can learn about genome sequences, animal behavior, disease predispositions and evolution.

Carnegie Mellon University

CMU's Open Learning Initiative seeks to provide access to top-quality courses at no expense. The school offers one course related to biology.

  • Modern Biology provides an analysis of mildly advanced topics in biology such as biochemistry, cellular biology, genetics and molecular biology. This intermediate course is intended to provide students with the necessary background knowledge that will be needed in more advanced courses.
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The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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