Physics is one of the oldest academic disciplines and focuses on the study of matter as well as its motion through space and time. This area of study yields a particularly diverse list of online courses since it intersects with other natural science disciplines, such as chemistry and biology. Often, college physics programs will focus on the physical relation to one of these areas of study; thus establishing vital subfields such as quantum chemistry and electromagnetism, which are responsible for contextualizing the knowledge needed to advanced industrialism and modern technological convenience as it is known today.
Since physical principles are so intimately intertwined in nearly every natural science discipline, you will have the opportunity to choose from a number of online physics courses and truly tailor your class work to your academic interests. However, an online physics course can be offered at either an undergraduate or graduate level so you may need to earn an area-specific bachelors degree prior to enrolling in some courses. The open enrollment format for some online courses will not twist your arm to earn a physics degree, but understanding the advanced principles therein will be much simpler and streamlined with a strong background in physics and natural sciences. Additionally, there are no official accrediting agencies for open online courses in physics, which means there are no ironclad prerequisites for enrolling in online courses. However, it becomes your responsibility to assess the viability of these courses either by examining your professor’s credentials or reviewing the reactions of past students.
An online physics class is a viable tool to gain introductory knowledge in fields such as thermodynamics, string theory, relativity, and astrophysics. During these courses, you may find yourself asking some of the following questions:
Specifically, there is no one thing that will accurately assess the viability of an open online course, but you should note whether or not your prospective instructor has a Ph.D. in physics or a related subfield. This area of study is often regarded as arcane so you will need a professor with a full grasp on the subject matter. Also, you should make sure that you enroll in open courses provided by a regionally or nationally accredited university. While this is not required to actually enroll, completed courses from accredited institutions may be given more weight by future undergraduate and graduate admission boards should you decide to progress with your physics education.
We have compiled relevant open courseware in physics and organized it in the directory below. Open courseware is a collection of online tests, video lectures, and related course materials from mostly prestigious universities around the world. While these materials are mostly non-restrictive and free to access, you will have to learn independently since you cannot interact with the professor of the course. However, these courses can be excellent resources if you are considering an on-campus or online physics degree and want to gauge your interest in the subject and your ability to meet classroom requirements.