The fact that chemistry exists all around us is an undeniable fact—from the air that you breathe in, to the dishes you whip up in your kitchen, to even just the many functional aspects of your body, chemistry is an integral part of the world around and within us, making its relevance at all points of time unquestionable. Additionally, it is thanks to chemical reactions that we are being led to new discoveries each day—lab-grown meat, folks! Chemistry truly is the basis of all things, both organic and inorganic.
Whether you’re choosing to study this wonderful subject for a career in the sciences, are interested in a deeper-than-surface-level explanation of the way the world works, or even just want to learn the science behind brewing beer, there is a whole plethora of resources available to cater to your needs. The easiest, fastest, cheapest and most convenient of these resources being online courses. Let's take a look at the best online chemistry courses, so you can find the one that suits your needs.
Best Online Chemistry Courses
From learning about specific chemical reactions to learning about the applications of chemistry in the modern world, check out this list of courses to get your Chemistry 101!
Principles of Chemical Science—MIT OpenCourseware
Considering that MIT’s Department of Chemistry is one of the top chemistry departments in not just the nation but probably the world, this course was one of the most obvious choices to recommend.
An introductory course with 5 units, ‘Principles of Chemical Science’ provides an introduction to the chemistry between all things organic, inorganic and biological. In particular, students will study the basic tenets of molecular and atomic structures, catalysis, thermodynamics and chemical kinetics, to name a few. Additionally, the relationships between chemistry and other sciences, such as physics and biology, are also studied, as well as the applications of chemistry in electronic devices and environmental science.
Though there are no formal prerequisites, those enrolling for this independent-study course are expected to have completed a year of high school chemistry, as the course is taught exactly online as it is to freshmen on campus. All resources, such as videos, lectures, questions and exams are provided, apart from textbooks; students may buy these if required.
Offered by the University of Kentucky, this course takes approximately 22 hours to complete and is spread across 7 weeks, covering topics from advanced chemistry courses taught in high school, following the American Chemical Society’s recommendations and syllabus.
Topics covered include the electronic structure, how atoms combine to form ionic or molecular compounds, periodic trends, thermochemistry, bonding, stoichiometry and chemical equations and reactions. However, this course doesn’t carry any university credits.
Chemistry 101—Part 1 Principles of Chemistry—Udemy
A great course for beginners, this comprehensive course is aimed at students who need to prep for a career in the sciences, those who require additional support for a chemistry course they may already be doing, those prepping for upcoming exams and just those willing and interested in learning the subject!
Designed based on the International GCSE specifications, the course comprises 5 video lectures of around 20 minutes each, and introduces students to topics such as the atomic structure, states of matter, relative formula mass, chemical equations, chemical formulae, covalent and ionic bonding and metallic crystals and electrolysis.
Since this is an introductory course, there are no prerequisites to take the course; all students are taken through the content step-by-step.
Principles of Biochemistry—edX
Offered by Harvard, this course introduces students to macromolecular structure and approaches cellular function from a biochemical perspective. Topics covered in this course include studying how life’s chemical building blocks are structured and function, navigating protein structures with PyMOL, the role of enzymes, and all the components of cellular metabolism regulation, to name a few. Students will also develop analytical and problem-solving skills that are crucial to life sciences.
The course is spread over 15 weeks, with 4-6 hours of study recommended each week, and as indicated by the topics, is meant for intermediate-level students!
MicroMasters Program in Chemistry and Technology for Sustainability—edX
Safe to say, man-made pollution has driven to the world quite close to the edge, causing the extinction of many species as well as adversely impacting several human societies. This extremely relevant course, offered by the Wageningen University and Research, focuses on the need of the hour—sustainability—and takes students through how the transition from a fossil-fuel-dependant economy to a bio-dependant one can take place. This includes examining the challenges, identification of suitable resources, the creation of valuable new products, and the refining of biomass without damaging its inherent value, among other topics.
Since this is a MicroMasters Program, the course comprises 4 graduate-level courses and a capstone project; it’s an excellent option for those looking to advance their careers, especially those still holding a full-time job. Though it’s self-paced, it is recommended that you finish the course in 6 months with 14-21 hours of study a week.
This comprehensive course covers the A to Zs of high school chemistry, starting at atoms, compounds and ions and gradually progressing to kinetics, nuclear chemistry and alkanes, while covering everything in between such as acids and bases, the periodic table, gases, chemical bonds, and chemical equilibrium. The course also offers a separate section of free response questions to those studying for their AP Chemistry exams.
The course is completely self-paced and offers video lectures, quizzes and mastery points, making the learning journey challenging yet fun!
Introduction to Forensic Science—Coursera
If Bones ever held your fancy at any point in time, you’ll love this course offered by the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Students are taken through how forensic science really works and all the processes behind it with the help of several case studies. Some of the topics include the history of forensic science, its role in both criminal and non-criminal areas, finding traces of blood and its role in evidence, telling how long someone has been dead and more super-interesting sections on poisoning and whether Napoleon was killed by the British or his wallpaper!
The beginner-level course takes approximately 20 hours to complete, spread across 8 weeks.
Chemistry—Review of Stoichiometry—Open Learning Initiative
Offered by Carnegie Mellon University, this is a comprehensive course on chemical stoichiometry, with a special focus on the applications of stoichiometry in real-life situations. As difficult as a high school chemistry course, this course covers topics such as an introduction to stoichiometry, measuring arsenic in a lab, the basic tools of the field, testing water for arsenic, remediation, titration and mixture analysis, to name a few. Topics are divided into 2 units.
Freshman Organic Chemistry 101—Open Yale Courses
Though not a course in the traditional sense of the word, this is an excellent resource for a topic that is the stuff of nightmares for many chemistry students—organic chemistry! The first part of a 2-part course, this course covers the first semester of classes taught to freshmen on the Yale campus thrice a week. Topics covered include theories of structure, historical development and experimental observation in organic chemistry. Students also develop the skills required for creative research.
Learners have access to 37 lectures, 4 exams and downloadable material. Videos are from Fall 2008, though, so a few recent developments may not be examined.
Introduction to Physical Chemistry—Coursera
Offered by the University of Manchester, this introductory course to physical chemistry analyzes the causative force behind chemical reactions, especially at the atomic level. It covers 3 key concepts taught in the first year of undergraduate physical chemistry—thermodynamics, quantum mechanics and kinetics.
The 10-week self-paced course takes approximately 16 hours to complete.
The Bottomline: Best Online Chemistry Courses
With so many great courses on the internet, you’re spoilt for choice, but at the same time, don’t get confused by the many options! Your reason for studying chemistry is often a great way to decide which course to pick—the one that caters best to your needs. Whether you want to be the next Gil Grissom or ace your AP Chemistry or find a sustainable alternative to plastic or just better understand what goes into the products you use, these courses should have you covered.