Looking to jump into the field of immunology? In this guide, we’ve listed the best online immunology courses & certificates currently available.
Immunology is the study of the immune system. It is the study of how the immune system wards off infection and diseases. Immunology courses are common prerequisites for students in the healthcare profession.
Even though these are single courses, it is important to realize that you can apply for scholarships to cover their cost. One of the courses in the list is free. All are online course offerings, although one course has two in-person offerings as well. All offer immunology certificates.
The following are the five best immunology courses:
1. HMX Immunology from Harvard
Length: 10 weeks
HMX Immunology is a 10-week immunology course from Harvard Medical School. It is self-paced and leads to a certification of completion. Students need to budget three to six hours per week in order to complete the course.
The course is co-taught by Dr. Andrew Lichtman and Dr. Shiv Pillai, who are faculty members at Harvard Medical School. This course is considered an intermediate-level course and explains key foundational knowledge about immunology. Students rated it a 4.7 out of 5.
You will need to apply for the class and confirm that you have knowledge of the prerequisites: basic chemistry, physics and biology. There are concept videos and interactive graphics explain key concepts from the course. Assessments are provided. Students learn how two immune systems protect the body from disease and about diseases of the immune system.
- The two immune systems – The innate and adaptive immune systems
- Immunodeficiency and autoimmunity
- New therapies that use the immune system to heal the body
2. Fundamentals of Immunology Specialization (Coursera)
Length: 8 weeks
The Fundamentals of Immunology Specialization is a series of three courses provided by Rice University partnering with Coursera. The instructor is Dr. Alma Moon Novotny. The course is self-paced and takes about two months to complete. Students are recommended to slate about 10 hours per week in order to study the material.
This is an intermediate-level course designed to teach students foundational concepts and vocabulary related to immunology. There are no prerequisites in order to participate in the course. Students will also learn about the new immunological therapies that treat disease.
There are assigned videos and readings, quizzes, and graded assignments in the course. Students must complete a capstone project in order to receive the certificate of completion. A scholarship is available through Coursera. Students who reviewed the course were pleased with the rigor of assignments and assessments and believed it helped them to better master the material. They rated the course a 4.6 out of 5.
- Innate immunity and B-cell function
- T-cells and signaling
- How the innate and adaptive immune systems work
3. Viruses & How to Beat Them: Cells, Immunity, Vaccines from IsraelX (edX)
School: Tel Aviv University
Length: 7 weeks
No rating available
Viruses and How to Beat Them is a free immunology course provided by a partnership of EdX and Tel Aviv University. The instructor is Jonathon Gershoni. The course lasts for seven weeks. It is recommended that students budget about two to three hours per week to complete the course.
This is an introductory course in immunology which is designed to provide the basics of cell biology, immunology and virology in a manner that does not require any prior scientific background, so there are no prerequisites for this course.
This course is taught through lectures, laboratory demonstrations and interviews with top scientists in the field, including Nobel Prize winners. Upon completion of the course, students can pay $49 to receive a certificate of completion.
Overall, students were pleased with the easily comprehensible instruction and the instructor’s sense of humor. Some students were drawn to take the course in order to learn more about vaccination and how it might affect their children.
- Cell structure and function
- The viral infection process
- The operation of our immune system
- Pros and cons of vaccination
4. MCELLBI X110 Immunology from UC Berkeley
School: UC Berkely
Length: 45 Instruction Hours
The UC Berkeley offering on immunology is a formal, three-unit, 45 instruction-hour, semester-long course offered through their extension program. It is taught by Amy Morgan. The online version of the course can be begun at any time. There are also course sections offered in San Francisco and Berkeley, California.
The course is self-paced, and you will have a window of 90 to 180 days within which to complete the course. There is a required textbook along with other recommended study sources. The final examination is proctored.
A score of 70 percent or better on the final examination is the requirement for passing the course. The prerequisite is a year of general biology at the undergraduate level. This is a comprehensive introductory course in immunology. Students rated it as a 4.5 out of 5.
- Basic immunology principles
- Tissues and cells of the immune system
- Immunoglobulin structure and function and interaction with antigens
- Biotherapeutics, cancer, AIDS
5. Applied Immunology from UC San Diego
School: UC San Diego
Length: 4 Months
Applied Immunology is a course offered through the extension program at the University of California at San Diego. UCSD was a pioneer and continues to be a leader in online coursework. This is another three-unit offering, like the one from Berkeley, so it is a full semester-long course.
There is no textbook required. All of the lessons are conducted through the Blackboard platform, and the course is offered at different start times throughout the year. The instructor is Todd Braciak. The fee for the course is substantially less than for Berkeley’s three-unit offering. The course lasts for four months and was rated a 4.4 out of 5 by students.
The first few weeks of instruction build up the foundational knowledge and vocabulary. There are quizzes and demonstrations to make learning more active and engaging. Students need to pass each assessment with a higher score than the benchmark in order to earn a completion certificate.
The difference between this course and the one offered by Berkeley is that the emphasis is on the application of new techniques to modify the immune response in patients to help them recover from illness.
- Current principles and theories about the immune response and its modification
- Antibody function and structure
- Innate and adaptive immunity response
- Antigen-antibody reactions
- Antibody detection and how this aids medical diagnosis
Deciding which of these five immunology courses is best really depends upon what you are looking for. Starting at the most basic, interested laymen with no prior basic science background would likely be best served by the EdX course from Tel Aviv University.
If you don’t want a full three-unit course, then the Coursera offering from Rice University sounds best because it provides an opportunity for a lot of hands-on instruction and feedback with the capstone project. If you need or desire the rigor of the three-unit offerings, the Berkeley offering sounds a bit more rigorous than the UCSD offering, but it is close to twice the price.
Every one of these immunology courses offers immunology certificates, but one can clearly see that the certification means different things, based upon the rigor of the course.