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Open Online Courses in Pharmacology

What is Pharmacology?

Pharmacology is a part of the biological and medical science fields and focuses on the study of drug interactions, as well as how medication affects the human body. All pharmacology disciplines focus on key concepts like interactions between drugs, their composition, and medical applications for certain drugs. The study of pharmacology is divided into two main areas: pharmacodynamics (the study of drug effects on biological systems and how those systems receive chemicals) and pharmacokinetics (the study of the effects of biological systems on drugs, as well as how these chemicals move into, through, and out of the body).

Other divisions within pharmacology focus on specialized knowledge about applications of pharmacology. Some of these include neuropharmacology (the use of drugs that affect the nervous system), psychopharmacology (the effects of medication on the brain), pharmacogenetics (testing of genetic dispositions to drug reactions), toxicology (the study of harmful drugs), and posology (how to determine effective doses of medicines).

What Can Online Courses in Pharmacology Actually Teach Me?

Although there is no programmatic accreditation agency specifically for college pharmacology programs, which are different from pharmacy practice programs, you may want to search for programs that are accredited by an organization like the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education. Seeking accredited online courses is a good idea if you want to take online pharmacology courses to fulfill continuing education requirements. Online courses in pharmacology can work well for certain elements of the field, but advanced courses are better taken at facilities with lab access and faculty supervision rather than as online courses.

An online pharmacology course can teach you about therapeutic treatment, pharmacology law, drug action mechanisms, and basic principles of pharmacology. By taking an online pharmacology class at an accredited university, you can prepare yourself to answer questions such as:

  • How do commonly used drugs actually work?
  • How do drugs work in animals and microorganisms?
  • What are some of the most dangerous drug interactions?
  • What are the various drug classes?
  • How are drugs tested for effectiveness?

You should be sure to closely examine the college you wish to attend before you enroll in online pharmacology courses. By making sure the program is accredited and its courses are taught by experienced faculty with a Ph.D. in pharmacology, you can ensure you receive a quality, up-to-date education. You should also consider looking up reviews of courses and professors to make sure their teaching style is compatible with your learning style.

Free Online Courses in Pharmacology From Around the Web

The following is a education directory we have compiled including pharmacology open courseware from several top universities and colleges. Open courseware can include video lectures, lecture notes, student assessments, and other course material. Although this information is offered for free, it does not afford you the opportunity to work directly with a professor. These courses can be a good choice, however, for those who are unsure if they are interested in pharmacology and would like to learn more.


Pharmacology (4)

Fundamentals of Clinical TrialsUniversity of California, Irvine

Open Courseware

Clinical Medicine, Medical Research
Taught by: Nancy Ann Schwartz

Course Description:

Designed for students studying medicine, medical assistance or related health care fields, this course will introduce you to the procedures and regulations involved in performing clinical trials of medications and treatments. Clinical trials are an essential part of the process of developing new drugs that are then used to fight a variety of diseases, but they are also highly regulated and involve many technical and ethical aspects. In this course you will cover such topics as FDA regulation of clinical trials, protocol development, HIPPA, best practices as well as how the media affects public perception of clinical trials. This online course is also available for credit from UCI.

Medical Product Quality SystemsUniversity of California, Irvine

Open Courseware

Clinical Medicine, Medical Research

Course Description:

This online course, which is also available for credit from UCI, is designed for medicine and medical assistance students interested in the process of drug development, trials and quality assurance. The main focus of the course is Quality System Regulations and Good Manufacturing Practices as they relate to the field of medicine and pharmaceuticals. During the class you will mainly examine how the U.S. FDA regulates the production and testing of drugs, learn the main regulations relating to drug development, and also see how these quality systems are applied on the global scale.

Zoo Med 2008: Laboratory Animal MedicineTufts University

Open Courseware

Research, Clinical Medicine
Taught by: Gretchen Kaufman

Course Description:

Through lectures, readings, and other supplementary material, this online course can teach you about the medical challenges faced in research and laboratory settings when working with animals. Topics covered in this course, designed for advanced undergraduate and graduate students, include animal medicine for several different species of animal and techniques for working with research specimens. These materials were originally from a course offered in 2008, and require some knowledge of medical terminology to understand.

Regulatory Requirements for Pharmaceutical ProductsUniversity of California, Irvine

Open Courseware

Quality Assurance, Medicine

Course Description:

Structured as a series of lessons on topics like strategic planning for health products and clinical trials, this online course is a good starting point for learning the ins and outs of the legal side of pharmacology. This course not only offers lecture notes and topic coverage, but also provides self-assessments and lesson summaries to make sure you understand the material presented. The course is designed for undergraduate students, though some background on clinical research, medical law, and business can help you get more out of the course.