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Open Online Courses in Chemistry

What is Chemistry?

Chemistry is the study of chemical reactions at subatomic levels and online courses often teach principles that intersect with other natural sciences, such as biology and physics. Specifically, college chemistry programs and open courseware focus on how chemical and atomic bonding creating new forms of energy and change the physical properties of matter. Even further, online courses will also cover additional basic chemical principles such as chemical equilibriums, molecular activity, and balancing chemical equations.

What Can Online Courses in Chemistry Actually Teach Me?

Online chemistry courses can be offered at the undergraduate and graduate level so you will have the opportunity to earn professionally viable knowledge while gauging your interest in a number of chemical sub-disciplines. However, it is best that you refine your online courses to programs that are accredited by the American Chemical Society (ACS) since they regulate the standards for what is considered a quality chemistry education. If you restrict your online chemistry course selection to institutions with ACS accreditation, you can be assured that you will receive an equivalent education as those enrolled in on-campus programs. However, these courses – at the most – can only provide a suitable primer for degree programs and cannot substitute for professional credentials or a degree.

Online courses in chemistry are viable options to learn about disciplines such as organic chemistry, laboratory procedure, quantum mechanics, and biochemistry. During these online courses, you will likely ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do I balance a chemical equation?
  • What factors determine an element’s subatomic weight?
  • What are protons, neutrons, and electrons, and what are their distinct properties and charges?
  • What are the safety procedures for a lab setting?
  • How does atomic and molecular bonding explain physical reactions between two or more chemicals?

When choosing an online chemistry class, you should choose a school with regional, national, or ACS accreditation; but more specifically, you should research your intended college and find out if your instructor has their Ph.D. in chemistry or a related field. The ACS dictates that at least 75% of a department’s faculty should have their doctorate before a university can seek accreditation. Also, you should pay attention to the finer logistics of the course offerings, such as the amount of lab time and exams it requires. Many chemistry-related careers require professionals to invest time in laboratory study and research reporting so you will need these skills when you finally search the job market. Again, it should be stated that most of these positions will require you to have at least a bachelors so open online courses can only take you so far if you have career aspirations. However, these courses are useful because they introduce you to the work requirements of more strenuous undergraduate and graduate programs.

Free Online Courses in Chemistry From Around the Web

We have compiled relevant open courseware in chemistry and organized it in the directory below. Open courseware is simply a collection of online tests, video lectures, and related course materials from mostly prestigious universities around the world. While these materials are free to access, you will have to learn independently since you cannot interact with the professor of the course. However, these courses are excellent resources if you are considering an on-campus or online chemistry degree and want to gauge your interest in the subject matter.


Chemistry (9)

Chemical Principles IUMass Boston

Open Courseware

Physical Science, Science
Taught by: Professor Robert L. Carter, Ph.D.

Course Description:

This physical science online course, published in 2010, illustrates some of the basic concepts in chemistry and focuses on how chemicals interact with one another. Though this course is an introductory physical science course for undergraduate students, you should be sure you can follow the mathematical elements presented before looking at the provided lectures, assignments, and exams. You will need a PDF file reader to view any of the content presented for the course.

Chemistry 51A: Organic ChemistryUniversity of California, Irvine

Open Courseware

Organic Chemistry, Physical Science
Taught by: James Nowick

Course Description:

Chemical bonds, chemical structures, stereochemistry, and reaction mechanisms are some of the primary topics covered in this physical science online course, originally offered in the fall of 2009. The content is almost exclusively presented as a series of YouTube videos, so you should make sure to have the Flash plugin for your browser installed so you can see the content. Designed for students who already have a grasp of some physical sciences concepts, this course expects you to be able to keep up with the fundamentals of chemistry before beginning.

Frontiers of Biomedical EngineeringYale University


Biomedical Engineering, Science, Pharmacology, Biology
Taught by: Professor W. Mark Saltzman

Green ChemistryUniversity of California, Berkeley


Sustainability, Science, Biology
Taught by: Professor John Arnold

Astrophysical ChemistryThe Vega Science Trust


Astrophysics, Science, Cosmology
Taught by: Harry Kroto

General Chemistry IUniversity of California, San Diego


Taught by: Professor Christina Johnson

General Chemistry IIUniversity of California, San Diego


Taught by: Professor Carl Hoeger

Marine ChemistryMassachusetts Institute of Technology


Chemical Oceanography, Biogeochemical Cycling, Chemistry
Taught by: Dr. Dierdre Toole, Dr. Karen Casciotti, Dr. Meg Tivey, Dr. Scott Doney, Dr. William Martin

General Chemistry IIIUniversity of California, San Diego


Taught by: Professor Partho Ghosh