Chemistry is one of the oldest sciences and has been practiced and studied for thousands of years. In particular, chemistry deals with compounds and the changes they undergo as they interact with each other. It informs all the other scientific disciplines while simultaneously relying upon them.

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In this sense, chemistry is intimately connected to biology and physics, though it can also be studied in isolation.

Understanding chemistry is crucial for our modern society, as many health products, technologies and medicines are the product of chemical systems manipulated by experts. Additionally, our knowledge of our environment and the sustainability of our actions is contingent upon a solid understanding of chemistry.

In this article, we discuss the 6 best online chemistry courses for students interested in this field. We emphasize both beginner courses as well as more advanced courses, noting the advantages of each.

Chemistry: Concept Development and Application 

This online chemistry course was created by Rice University and is delivered by the online platform Coursera. It’s taught by John Hutchinson, a professor of chemistry at Rice University.  

This online chemistry course last 10 weeks and uses a free online textbook.

The Benefits of Studying General Chemistry

This course is the equivalent of a two-semester general chemistry course.

However, what makes this online chemistry course so unique is that it utilizes a specific method of teaching called the Concept Development Approach. In this method, experimental observations are emphasized and concepts are learned via scientific reasoning rather than mere memorization.

What makes this one of the best online chemistry courses is that it focuses on grounding student’s knowledge in observations first, and then generalizing from there. Many online chemistry courses start in the other direction, forcing students to memorize concepts and theories and only later proving these ideas through experiments and scientific reasoning.

This online chemistry course would be perfect for inductive learners who prefer to view learning as a kind of puzzle that must be solved. These kinds of learners don’t’ want to be given all the answers first. Instead, they would rather learn many of the counter-intuitive theories of chemistry by understanding where they came from. This helps these students accept these theories and also solidifies them as a deeper kind of memory.

online chemistry courses

Nanotechnology and Nanosensors, Part 1 

This online chemistry course was created by Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and is delivered by Coursera. It takes 5 weeks to complete and a verified certification is available for paying students.

This online course is taught by Hossam Haick, a professor who is an expert in the field of non-invasive disease diagnosis and nanotechnology.

The Benefits of Studying Nanotechnology and Nanosensors

This is one of the best online chemistry courses because it emphasizes the consequences of modern chemistry, specifically with regards to technological innovation.

For example, Nanotechnology is the study of compounds at the nanoscale and has led to the development of the portable electronics that we use on a daily basis.

Many online chemistry courses overemphasize concepts without showing students how these ideas apply to everyday life. But, this online chemistry course encourages students to think outside the box, and even requires students to apply their ideas to a topic of their choice.

This online chemistry course would be great not only for students interested in modern science but also for businessmen who are interested in the profitability of future electronics.

This is also the first part in a two-part series of courses, which allows interested students to get a taste of the field of nanotechnology. If students find that they love the material, they can deepen their studies with part 2 of this course, which is also 5 weeks long.

Furthermore, this online chemistry course would be great for anyone who is interested in the science that underlies the technology they use every day. This can result in a deeper appreciation for the world, which is important since many of us are so disconnected from the natural environment due to our sedentary lives. Being able to take a step back and understand on a micro level how the world works is an important skill to have in the 21st century.

online chemistry courses

Big Bang and the Origin of Chemical Elements 

This online chemistry course was created by Seoul National University and is delivered by edX. It takes 4 weeks to complete and requires 4-5 hours per week of effort.

The Benefits of Studying the Big Bang

Many people vilify the process of abstraction because they claim it separates us from the present moment. But, what these critics are usually referring to is a specific kind of abstraction that focuses on the immediate past or near future.

The antidote to this way of thinking is not to stop thinking abstractly, but to enhance your abstractions by thinking larger and more deeply with respect to time.

Studying the Big Bang Theory is one way to achieve this, as this theory is concerned with the origins of the universe and consequently the fate of the universe. This can be a mind-expanding experience for many students.

This is one of the best online chemistry courses because it guides students through these theories without overwhelming them with technical terms and mathematical concepts. This would be a good course for students looking for a gentle introduction to the subject, as the main source material is Nobel Prize Lectures, which are fairly readable.

This online chemistry course is split into 4 chapters and emphasizes the various compounds that likely existed at the beginning of the universe.

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The Science of Gastronomy 

This online chemistry course was created by The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and is delivered by Coursera. It requires 3-4 hours per week of study.

The Benefits of Studying Gastronomy

This is one of the best online chemistry courses because it focuses on a subject that is often understood on a purely intuitive level rather than a scientific level. In particular, this online chemistry course discusses the chemistry, biology, and physics of food preparation and nutrition.

This course is thus unique because it emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to eating rather than emphasizing a single field of science.

Additionally, this online chemistry course teaches students to appreciate the basis for recipes by also having them create these recipes and taste them. This is an important skill to have in the 21st century due to the diversity of foods available for eating. It’s more important than ever that customers read the ingredients of each product they purchase, especially when many modern ingredients include preservatives, syrups, and compounds grown from genetically modified organisms.  

This is one of the best online chemistry courses available because it offers such a balanced perspective on gastronomy. Other online chemistry courses that discuss the chemistry of cooking are too technical and end up alienating many potential students. This course, however, encourages students to appreciate the art of preparing meals, specifically what colors are used and how these colors are connected to the evolution of our senses.

The Quantum World 

This is one of the longest online chemistry courses available, taking about 26 weeks to complete. It requires about 3-5 hours per week of work, and awards paying students a verified certificate upon completion.

This online chemistry course was created by Harvard and is delivered through edX. Additionally, this is an advanced online chemistry course ideal for chemistry majors, physics and computer science majors, graduate students, or professional chemists wanting a review.

The Benefits of Studying the Quantum World

Quantum Mechanics is an intensely mathematical discipline that is rooted in physics. This online chemistry course discusses the basic principles of quantum mechanics while simultaneously emphasizing how these principles apply to chemistry.

Furthermore, this is one of the best online chemistry courses because it teaches students how to simulate quantum mechanics using the Python programming language. This part of the course will appeal to computer science students who have scientific interests.

online chemistry courses - the quantum world

Additionally, many chemistry students who are interested in the more practical applications of these concepts will love this element of the course.

Many computational chemistry labs across the world are using Python in order to study various molecules, and this can lead to insights and innovations in a number of industries. In this sense, this online chemistry course prepares students for many career opportunities by teaching them important skills for the 21st century.

Some online chemistry courses require rote memorization and can bore students, discouraging them from pursuing their interests any further. However, this online chemistry course is so practical and hands-on that many students take it to supplement a current course in quantum mechanics.

In this sense, this online chemistry course focuses on instilling a love of quantum mechanics by offering a holistic perspective on the subject.

The Chemistry of Life 

This online chemistry course lasts 13 weeks and requires 2-3 hours per week of effort. It was created by Kyoto University and is considered an introductory level course. It is delivered by edX.

The Benefits of Studying the Chemistry of Life  

This is one of the best online chemistry courses because it attempts to integrate biology and chemistry, which are usually taught as different subjects.

This course is ideal for students who have interests in both of these disciplines and want to deepen their understanding of the connection between the two. Many students who are currently taking a biology and chemistry course supplement their studies with this online chemistry course because it provides such a multidisciplinary approach.

This course also discusses the practical applications of this approach by teaching students how to generate ideas for business. Yet, this course also starts with the basics and teaches students how to read and write chemical structures and how to control biological events by chemical means.

online chemistry courses

Our Final Thoughts on Online Chemistry Courses

We think remote education is the future of education, and that online platforms like Coursera and edX will be pioneering this field in the future.

While all knowledge is important for creating a healthy, thriving society, we think the sciences are especially important given how many health crises our society has experienced recently.

In this regard, chemistry is an important discipline to master because it analyzes the microscopic particles that form the materials of life.

Yet, chemistry is not important only in isolation. Without understanding its connection to biology, physics, computer science, technology and even gastronomy, students will gain an imbalanced perspective on the natural world.

Consequently, we have emphasized online chemistry courses that offer an interdisciplinary perspective on chemistry concepts.

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The Future of Online Education

We think the main drawback of online education courses is the limited platform that delivers these courses. While watching online videos, reading online materials, and engaging in online discussion boards are certainly effective, we think this industry is still in its infancy.

We can imagine a future where classroom settings are imitated in our homes through technology that offers a holographic projection of professors. Many students have complained that spending all day watching lectures on their computer still does not beat the experience of hearing a professor speak in a lecture hall.

In this sense, future technology would offer the best of both worlds, allowing students to learn in the comfort of their own home while also experiencing lectures up close.

We can even imagine a future where enough professors exist that students are assigned a personal professor. This professor could be human or a representation of some artificial intelligence. Students would never have to wait to get their questions answered, which is often the case in tedious email correspondence or classroom settings. Instead, students could just summon their personal teacher in the blink of an eye.

This would change learning forever. We think online education is just the beginning of these trends and that future students will grow and develop in an unprecedented way.

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