Best Online Biology Courses for College Credit [2021]

Yes, you can take biology courses online for college credit!

I’ve researched the top courses that deliver exactly that and listed them in this article.

Here’s what else we’ll cover:

  • Accredited online biology courses from top colleges
  • Recommended free/cheap options
  • What to expect from studying biology online

Ready to learn more about what’s out there? Let’s go.

Best Online Biology Courses Listings

Here’s a quick overview of the recommended courses in this article: 

Course InstitutionLevelPrerequisitesLengthHoursCost
Biology I & II (incl. Lab)Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health SciencesUndergraduate (Credits: 3)Biology I for lab16 weeksSelf-paced $460/credit
Biology I Lecture & Lab University of New EnglandUndergraduate (Credits: 4) None16 weeksSelf-paced $1,510
General Biology IUniversity Of PhoenixUndergraduate (Credits: 4) None 7 weeksSelf-paced $1,592
Introduction to BiologyStraighterLineUndergraduate (Credits: 4) None 30 daysSelf-paced$59
Cell Biology Berkeley ExtensionUndergraduate (Credits: 3)1-year college-level general biology90-180 daysSelf-paced$1,200
Introduction to Genetics and EvolutionDuke University/CourseraCollege-levelNone11 weeksSelf-paced Free
Contemporary BiologyUniversity of North Texas/CourseraUndergraduateNone1 month Self-pacedFree
Cell BiologyHarvard University/edXUndergraduateNone4 weeks Self-paced Free
Introduction to the Biology of CancerJohns Hopkins University/CourseraUndergraduateNone6 weeksSelf-paced Free
Human Biology Online CourseCorexcelUndergraduate (11 CEU’s)None 6 monthsSelf-paced $325

Best Online Biology Courses For College Credit

The following online biology courses are offered by some of the leading universities in the US. You can pick up transferrable credits taking these!

1. Biology I & II (With Lab!) – Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) offers an online and self-paced biology course with lecture and laboratory components.

The lecture course emphasizes experimental approaches to understand basic and applied aspects of cellular and molecular biology. Biology I covers the following topics:

  1. Cell structure and function
  2. Metabolism
  3. The cellular and molecular base of development and heredity
  4. Healthcare applications of molecular biotechnology

The laboratory course has the same emphasis. It covers cell structure and function, biochemistry, genetics and heredity, and biotechnology.

MCPHS does not require an application process, and students can begin taking classes within two business days after registering.

Students will have the support of an instructor and 24/7 online tutoring as they progress through the course.

They also have online accredited courses in anatomy and physiology too.

Check out the video below for a brief primer on what to expect taking biology with MCPHS…

Details:

  • Name: Biology I – BIO 151E/BIO 150LE
  • Institution: Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • Level: Graduate
  • Credits: 3-credit lecture session and 1-credit laboratory session
  • Prerequisites: for Biology I Lab (BIO 150LE), it is necessary to conclude Biology I (BIO 151)
  • Length: 16 weeks
  • Hours: Self-paced
  • Website: mcphs.edu/biology
  • Price: $460 per credit hour (new students are eligible to receive a 50% reduction in the cost of tuition for one course)

2. Biology I Lecture & Lab – University of New England

University of New England’s (UNE) Biology I Lecture & Lab is a self-paced and entirely online course. It incorporates an at-home laboratory component.

Classes aim to provide students with a conceptual framework to understand the basics of modern biology and apply this knowledge in further studies.

After taking this course, students must be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the essential content of the discipline
  • Discuss and demonstrate how scientists solve problems in the discipline
  • Evaluate the validity of scientific arguments
  • Apply knowledge to scientific problems
  • Ask a question and develop a testable hypothesis
  • Plan and investigate to test a hypothesis
  • Analyze data and apply scientific ideas to evaluate the strength of a hypothesis
  • Communicate results of scientific experiments by basing conclusions on valid and reliable evidence

The exams are all taken online. The lab portion of the course sets assigned lab exercises almost every week.

The course begins every two or three weeks, and the student must register for the class by noon EST the Monday before it starts.

See the video below for an introduction to UNE’s online platform…

Details:

  • Name: Biology I Lecture & Lab – BIOL 1010
  • Institution: University of New England
  • Level: Upper-level undergraduate
  • Credits: 4-credit lecture/lab
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Length: 16 weeks
  • Hours: Self-paced
  • Website: online.une.edu/online-medical-biology
  • Price: $1,510

3. General Biology I – University of Phoenix

This biology course provides students with an in-depth knowledge of the principles and applications of biology.

It covers the following topics:

  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • The composition and function of molecules and cells
  • Metabolism
  • Energy transformation

Besides lectures and discussions, students will conduct experiments through virtual labs completion.

Students must face this course as the first half of the general biology sequence offered by The University of Phoenix. To complete the series, they must also take General Biology II – BIO/351.

See the video below for an introduction to their platform…

Details:

  • Name: General Biology I
  • Institution: University of Phoenix
  • Level: Undergraduate
  • Credits: 4 credits
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Length: 7 weeks
  • Hours: Self-paced
  • Website: phoenix.edu/bio350
  • Price: $1,592

4. Introduction to Biology – StraighterLine

This StraighterLine’s biology course is the low-cost way to take credits and provides biology college-level working knowledge in a self-paced and entirely online structure.

As an introduction to biological sciences, it covers the following topics:

  • Biological macromolecules
  • Cell biology and metabolism
  • DNA structure and genetics
  • Plant biology
  • Evolution
  • Anatomy and physiology of essential organ systems
  • Ecology
  • Behavior

StraighterLine also offers the Introduction to Biology Lab – BIO101L, a lab-only and 1-credit course designed to be a standalone addition to StraighterLine’s Introduction to Biology.

In this additional course, students will complete laboratory experiments, track and record results, and then take lab-based assessments to meet the lab requirement. It costs $49.

Details:


5. Cell Biology – Berkeley Extension

This Berkeley Extension’s Cell Biology course is self-paced and entirely online, allowing students to enroll anytime and progress through the curriculum at their schedule.

The classes will teach students how to understand cell biology from a molecular perspective and will cover the following topics:

  • Cell membranes
  • Organelles
  • Cytoskeletons
  • Cell growth and division
  • Cell communication
  • The mechanism underlying cellular events

Once started, students have 180 days to conclude the course, and it can not be complete before 90 days.

Details:

  • Name: Cell Biology – MCELLBI X116
  • Institution: Berkeley Extension
  • Level: Undergraduate
  • Credits: 3 credits
  • Prerequisites: 1 year of college-level general biology for majors
  • Length: 90-180 days
  • Hours: Self-paced
  • Website: extension.berkeley.edu
  • Price: $1,200.00

Free Online Biology Courses

The following psychology courses are either free/low cost with the option to receive paid certificates on the completion of the course.

1. Introduction to Genetics and Evolution – Duke University/Coursera

Duke’s Introduction to Genetics and Evolution gives a fundamental overview of the principles behind this important area of biology.

The course instructor is Dr. Mohamed Noor and covers the following topics through its 11 weeks length:

  • Evidence for Evolution
  • Genetics I
  • Genetics II
  • Genetics III
  • Heritability and Population Growth
  • Population Genetics I
  • Population Genetics II
  • Molecular Evolution
  • Adaptive Behaviors and Sexual Selection
  • Speciation and Phylogenetics
  • Applied Evolution

If students choose to purchase a Certificate, they will access all course materials and the graded assignments.

After completing it, Coursera will add an electronic Certificate to the Accomplishments page.

Students can audit it for free if they are not pursuing certification and only want to read and view the course content.

See the video below for a quick introduction to the course…

Details:

  • Name: Introduction to Genetics and Evolution
  • Institution: Duke University/Coursera
  • Level: College-level
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Length: 11 weeks
  • Hours: Self-paced
  • Website: coursera.org/genetics-evolution
  • Price: Free

2. Contemporary Biology – University of North Texas/Coursera

This University of North Texas’s biology course is an introduction to the topic. Within the Coursera platform, students will explore the interaction between science and self by a personalized case study of themselves and the environment.

In its four weeks, classes are going to cover the following topics:

  • Introduction to Cell Structures and Function
  • Energy Transfer & Flow
  • Eukaryotic Cells & DNA
  • Cell Division & Heredity

Details:

  • Name: Contemporary Biology
  • Institution: University of North Texas/Coursera
  • Level: Undergraduate
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Hours: Self-paced
  • Website: coursera.org/contemporary-biology
  • Price: Free

3. Cell Biology: Mitochondria – Harvard University/edX

Harvard designed this biology course to explore the fundamentals of cell biology.

Students will learn by exploring the function of the molecular components of cells and how these cellular components organize themselves in a complex hierarchy.

The course’s primary goal is to understand, from a human-centered perspective, that cells are evolving ensembles of macromolecules that turn form complex communities in tissues, organs, and multicellular organisms.

Details:

  • Name: Cell Biology: Mitochondria
  • Institution: Harvard University/edX
  • Level: Undergraduate
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Length: 4 weeks long
  • Hours: Self-paced
  • Website: edx.org/cell-biology-mitochondria
  • Price: Free

4. Introduction to the Biology of Cancer – Johns Hopkins University/Coursera

Hopkins’s Introduction to the Biology of Cancer introduces the molecular biology of cancer and its biological hallmarks.

The course’s instructor is Kenneth J. Pienta, M.D., and through its six weeks, classes will cover the following:

  • Incidence and Etiology of Cancer
  • Genetics of Cancer
  • Ten Cellular Hallmarks of Cancer
  • Metastasis: The Real Killer
  • Imaging in Oncology
  • Treatment

Like the other courses offered through Coursera, students can audit it for free if they are not pursuing certification. But if they choose to purchase a certificate, they will access all course materials and the graded assignments.

Check out the video below for an introduction to this course…

Details:

  • Name: Introduction to the Biology of Cancer
  • Institution: Johns Hopkins University/Coursera
  • Level: Undergraduate
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Length: 6 weeks
  • Hours: Self-paced
  • Website: coursera.org/cancer-biology
  • Price: Free

5. Human Biology Online Course – Corexcel

This online and self-paced Correxcel’s Human Biology course introduces the study of the human body.

It will give students an understanding of body structures and their functions and applies biological principles to real-world situations.

The course covers more than 25 topics and will teach cells, tissues, organs, diseases, and healthcare concepts.

Details:

  • Name: Human Biology Online Course
  • Institution: Corexcel
  • Level: Undergraduate
  • Credits: 11.0 Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Length: Students have full access to the course for six months
  • Hours: Self-paced
  • Website: corexcel.com/human-biology
  • Price: $325

Related Questions

What Are The Most Important Things To Look For In An Online Biology Course?

Learning biology online can give you structure and motivation to complete studies with the support of a community and real-life professors.

To choose the right course for you, you may want to consider some of the following questions…

  1. Structure: how well are the course goals defined and the curriculum laid out?
  2. Time commitment: does the course give you a rough estimate of how much time you’ll need to commit to it each week?
  3. Cost: does it fit your budget?
  4. Instruction: is the teaching professor suitably qualified and delivering the classes in an easy-to-understand format?
  5. Prerequisites: what level of knowledge should you have before starting the course?
  6. Support: once signed up, how much support is available to you to help meet your goals?
  7. Assessment: how is your knowledge and progress assessed?

Many of these questions are answered in the introductory table at the beginning of this article.

Anything else should be researched via your own criteria and the contact you make with course providers.

What Can I Expect Learning Biology Online?

There are a ton of resources you can use to learn biology online. Yet despite YouTube being packed with authoritative lectures, it can be lonely trying to study the topic without structure, deadlines, or the community of other students coming along for the journey.

Most courses will introduce you slowly to the topic, walking you through the basics before delving into more complex areas like genetics, evolution and the physiology of living things.

The video below is a good primer on what you can expect studying the subject online…


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