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Picture this: you’re at a family wedding, and a group of old relatives come up to you and start pinching your cheeks. You haven’t seen them in years, and all they can talk about is how much you look like your mom and dad.
They don’t realize that they’ve triggered a miniature existential crisis; you have no idea which parent you look like or take after.
We’ve all wondered about our genetics, where we come from, and how our genes make us who we are.
If you have been combing through the internet searching for the best genetics courses online, look no further! We’ve put together a list of the best Genetics courses available online.
We have ranked the following courses based on the highest number of 5-star ratings, student reviews, and instructor quality.
The Best Genetics Courses Online
1. Introduction to Genetics and Evolution (Coursera, conducted by Duke University)
This is the best genetics course online! We’ve ranked this course at #1 because of the detailed and extensive amount of material covered and several 5-star student reviews praising the instructor.
This course is perfect for students, amateur learners, and experts. Its introductory-level content provides Biology and Chemistry students and beginners alike with a solid foundation in the world of genetics and evolution.
Conducted by Duke University and taught by Dr. Mohammed Noor, this course has seen over 104,000 students. Both the course’s content and Dr. Noor have received excellent feedback about the quality of the materials and quizzes, as well as his simple teaching style. It is self-paced, 11 weeks, requiring 2-3 hours of study per week. Each module comes with reading material and two quizzes.
Please note: A shareable Certificate of Completion is available with Coursera Plus. Coursera Plus costs $388.65 a year, with a 14-day money-back guarantee. If you purchase the Coursera Plus, you will gain access to all the course materials and graded assignments. Once you have completed the course, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page, where you can print or add it to your LinkedIn profile.
If you’re looking to make a shift in your career, this course is definitely for you. 40% of learners started a new job after taking this course, while 26% of learners got a tangible career benefit. In addition to this, 14% of learners also got a promotion or a pay increase after completing this course.
Review by Shruti S:
“The course is great for students who are particularly interested in genetics and evolution. As the weeks go by, the lectures get trickier and more professional, but we just have to stick with it. Prof. Noor is a great teacher and will give analogies and metaphors to help explain the concepts better. The weekly quizzes are quite challenging, with the questions changing after every try. Aim at encountering newer questions than just passing. However, I would have really liked solutions for the quiz answers somewhere, perhaps at the end of the course after the grade is locked in. Overall, I had so much fun learning, and it has strengthened my will to make my career in it. Thank you, Prof. Noor and his staff!”
2. Learn Genetics Online (Harvard Medical School, Online Learning)
We would recommend this course if you work or in the field of science or medicine. We would also recommend it to those of you interested in an introduction to the main subjects taught in medical school and how you can apply the concepts taught in medical practice.
This course is taught by Dr. Christine Gennaro, a lecturer in Genetics at Harvard Medical School. She is joined by Dr. Robert C. Green, a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Carrie Blout, a senior Genetic Counselor and project manager at Brigham & Women’s Hospital.
The cost of this course is $800. It comes under the HMX Fundamentals section of Harvard’s online Medical school courses. You need to have a basic amount of knowledge in chemistry, biology, and physics to complete this course.
Features of the Course:
- Ten weeks long
- Detailed animations and illustrations of medical concepts
- Clinical application videos, including real doctor-patient interactions
- Ongoing assessments to ensure content mastery
Note: You will receive either a Certificate of Achievement or a Certificate of Completion from Harvard Medical School. Your scores and participation in the assessments throughout the course determine which Certificate you qualify for. You will not receive a letter grade (A, B, C, etc.). For more information, click here.
What You’ll Learn:
- The central dogma and genetic variation
- Chromosomal aberrations
- The genetics of cancer
- Common complex traits
- Human population genetics
- Genetics and precision medicine
Review by Jacques Balayla:
“I found that the way [HMX] organized the course was just the right approach; it makes sense cohesively without going into too much unnecessary detail or too much memorization. Though I was not completely new to the topic, it felt like I was learning again because of the way that it was provided.”
Click here to sign up.
3. Genomics: Decoding the Universal Language of Life
While this course is not about genetics specifically, it will provide you with knowledge about a concept necessary for understanding genetics: genomes. Genomes contain all the information a cell needs to develop, function, and reproduce. This course will teach you how scientists are deciphering the language of genomes to improve disease treatment and prevention, protect our environment, and develop sustainable food supplies.
This course is taught by Dr. Gene E. Robinson and conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Robinson is the Director of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois. His research goal is to discover how molecular mechanisms within the honey bee brain enable it to direct the bee’s behavior according to changes in the environment, the hive’s needs, and physiological state.
Dr. Robinson is also joined by several guest speakers from various backgrounds, including computer science, biology, and physics. While their research interests and goals differ, their passion and interest in genomic approaches are all shared.
We would recommend taking this course with the foundational knowledge of high school level biology and chemistry.
Features of the Course:
- Six weeks long
- Requires about 5-7 hours of study each week
- Subtitles available in Arabic, French, Portuguese (European), Italian, Vietnamese, German, Russian, English, Spanish, Romanian
- Certificate of Completion available with Coursera Plus
Please note: Coursera Plus costs $388.65 a year, with a 14-day money-back guarantee. If you purchase the certificate, you will gain access to all the course materials and graded assignments. Once you have completed the course, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page, where you can print it or add it to your LinkedIn profile.
What You’ll Learn:
- What a genome is
- What the first genomes were like
- How to read genomes
- How we can use genomes to understand the body and fight diseases
- How genomes might allow us to predict health problems before they occur
This course has seen over 26,000 students and has a 4.6-star rating on the Coursera website.
Review by Rebecca S.:
“This is the best course I have ever taken. The teachers talk like they are speaking to you and not as if they are reading off a PowerPoint (even though I’m sure some of them are). It makes the material soak in better instead of just saying intense information sentences after the other. The video editing is done in a way that keeps me engaged. The material is extremely interesting. The discussions challenge me. Everything about this course is awesome.”
4. Introduction to Genomic Technologies (Coursera)
This next course on our list is part of a Coursera Specialization on Genomic Data Science. The courses within the specialization are designed for learners searching for an introduction to genomic data science. It is also perfect for scientists working in the fields of biology, molecular biology, and genetics who want to gain familiarity in data science and statistical tools to interact with the data in their daily work.
‘Introduction to Genomic Technologies’ is the first course in the specialization. Conducted by John Hopkins University, this course is taught by Dr. Steven Salzberg and Dr. Jeff Leek. Dr. Salzberg is a Professor of biomedical engineering, computer science, and biostatistics at John Hopkins. His research focuses on developing new computational methods for the analysis of DNA from the latest sequencing technologies. Dr. Leek is an assistant professor of Biostatistics at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is recognized for his contributions to genomic data analysis and statistical methods for personalized medicine.
Features of the Course:
- Course 1 of 8 in the specialization
- 100% online
- Four weeks long
- 1-2 hours of study required per week
- Flexible deadlines
- Subtitles available in Arabic, French, Portuguese (European), Italian, Vietnamese, German, Russian, English, Spanish
Please note: A shareable Certificate of Completion is available with Coursera Plus. Coursera Plus costs $388.65 a year, with a 14-day money-back guarantee. If you purchase Coursera Plus, you will gain access to all the course materials and graded assignments. Once you have completed the Specialization, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page, where you can print or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to view this course’s content and read the material, you can audit the course for free. You will receive a Certificate of Completion ONLY if you complete the Specialization.
What You’ll Learn:
- The basic biology of modern genomics
- Experimental tools used to measure genomics
- The central dogma of molecular biology
- How next-generation sequencing can be used to measure DNA, RNA, and epigenetic patterns
- Introduction to computing and data science to understand how to handle data during the sequencing process
This specialization will cover the concepts and tools required to understand, analyze, and interpret data from next-generation sequencing experiments. You will be taught the most common tools used in genomic data science, including how to use Python, R. Galaxy, Bioconductor, and how to use the command line. Dr. Salzburg and Dr. Leek are joined by six other instructors, all of whom are professors at John Hopkins University. Their backgrounds range from biology and biostatistics to computer science, computational biology, and genetic health.
The Genomic Data Science Specialization has also seen over 37,000 students and has a 4.3-star rating. 27% of learners have started a new career after completing the courses in the Specialization.
Review by Talha I. for part one, the Introduction to Genomic Technologies course:
“This is my first course in Genomic Technologies (and one I completed overall). I was taking this course a bit lightly for it being the introductory/basic course, but I have since learned a number of new things: introduction to some statistics terms I overlooked/haven’t learned before like p-test and confounders, the incredible example of data-counterfeiting in academia and how PCR and next-generation sequencing technologies work. Although I couldn’t learn in-depth, which is obvious since it’s the first of the eight-course specialization, I am anxious to take the next course – this specialization is looking very exciting.”
5. Molecular Biology – Part 1: DNA Replication and Repair (edX)
Our next course is for advanced learners searching for a way to further their knowledge of genetics and explore how scientists deduce the details of their molecular models.
This course will provide you with a look at modern molecular genetics, from “the classic experimental events that identified the proteins involved in DNA replication to cutting edge assays that apply the power of genome sequencing.” The problems designed in this course will help you build your experimental design and data analysis skills.
Conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this course is taught by Stephen P. Bell, Tania A. Baker, Mary Ellen Wiltrout, Sera Thornton, and Nathaniel Schafheimer, members of the Department of Biology at MIT.
The prerequisites for this course are:
Features of the Course:
- Eight weeks long
- Requires 4-6 hours of study per week
- Led by an instructor on a course schedule
- Video transcripts available in English and Chinese
Please note: While the course itself is free, you can add a Verified Certificate for $98. This is a certificate signed by the instructors with the institution’s logo. It has the power to increase your job prospects and is also easily shareable; you can include it on your resume or CV or share it on your LinkedIn profile.
What You’ll Learn:
- How to compare and contrast the mechanisms of DNA replication in prokaryotes and eukaryotes
- How to analyze protein structures to infer functional information
- How to interpret data from DNA replication and repair experiments
- How to design methods for the best experiment to test a hypothesis related to DNA replication or repair proteins
Review by Emin Garbrielyan:
“This is a top-quality course. I just finished the last quiz of the last unit. It was intense but very, very interesting. The staff, community members, and all other students are very responsive, respectful, and interested in what they learn. Prof. Steve Bell and Prof. Tania Baker (last unit) are professionals and committed to top-quality teaching. The material is fascinating. The quizzes themselves are very educational and lead you to additional discoveries you did not learn directly in the videos of the lectures. Do not count to advance this course superficially. It requires a lot of attention. I have some scientific background, but I am not a biologist and have no experience in the lab, so for a biology student, the course should be slightly easier (but only slightly). If you do not have a background in biology, you still can follow this course, but you absolutely need to take introductory biology and biochemistry courses before. There are a lot of extraordinary assays, and I loved learning them and never ceased to be amazed how incredibly the secret processes of the enzymes are discovered and revealed by very simple but ingenious ideas. Quite proud to have completed this course. I recommend it!”
6. Professional Certificate in Data Analysis for Genomics (edX)
This next item on our list is a professional certificate in Data Analysis for Genomics. We’ve included this option for advanced learners, scientists, and geneticists searching for advanced training in high-throughput technology data.
Conducted by Harvard University, this certification is taught by Rafael Irizarry and Vincent Carey, Professors of Biostatistics and Medicine, respectively. It is also led by Michael Love, an Assistant Professor from the Departments of Biostatistics and Genetics at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
The cost of this Professional Certification is $446.
Features of the Certification:
- Includes three skill-building courses –
– Introduction to Bioconductor
– Case Studies in Functional Genomics
– Advanced bioconductor
- Three months long
- Requires 2-4 hours of study per week
- Self -paced
What You’ll Learn:
- Advanced techniques to analyze genomic data
- How to analyze data from several experimental protocols,
- How to use the open-source software, R and Bioconductor.
- How to bridge diverse genomic assay and annotation structures to data analysis and research presentations via innovative approaches to computing
- How to structure, annotate, normalize, and interpret genome-scale assays.
We were unable to find any reviews for this course. In place of the reviews, we’ve included some statistics and facts about the job outlook.
- R (a software taught in the course) is listed as a required skill in 64% of data science job postings and was Glassdoor’s Best Job in America in 2016 and 2017. (source: Glassdoor)
- Companies are leveraging the power of data analysis to drive innovation. Google data analysts use R to track trends in ad pricing and illuminate patterns in search data. Pfizer created customized packages for R so scientists can manipulate their data.
- 32% of full-time data scientists started learning machine learning or data science through a MOOC, while 27% were self-taught. (source: Kaggle, 2017)
- Data Scientists are few in number and high in demand. (source: TechRepublic)
7. Bioethics: The Law, Medicine, and Ethics of Reproductive Technologies and Genetics
The final course on our list is not about the science of genetics but the legalities, medicine, and ethics of reproductive genetics and technologies.
This introductory level course includes interviews with bioethicists and journalists studying the ownership and use of genetic information within human tissue. It also includes interviews with medical professionals who are experts in current reproductive technologies, like IVF (In Vitro Fertilization). In addition to these interviews, Harvard colleagues will also share their thoughts with you on topics such as disability law as it relates to reproductive technology.
Conducted by Harvard University, I. Glenn Cohen instructs this course. He is a Professor at Harvard Law School and is one of the world’s leading experts on the intersection of bioethics and the law, along with health law.
Features of the Course:
- Ten weeks long
- Requires 1-2 of study per week
Please note: While the course itself is free, you can add a Verified Certificate for $148. This is a certificate signed by the instructors with the institution’s logo. It has the power to increase your job prospects and is also easily shareable; you can include it on your resume or CV or share it on your LinkedIn profile.
What You’ll Learn:
- Ethical and legal issues raised by human enhancement
- About the ownership of human tissue and its underlying genetic information
- The law and ethics of mixing human and animal genetic material
- The law and ethics of sperm donation
- How the reproductive technology industry works
- About issues raised related to buying and selling human reproductive materials.
Review by Ana Maria Vargas on coursetalk.com:
“I would really like to thank the whole team for such a wonderful course. Professor Cohen has got me thinking a lot about the ethics of reproductive technologies and the law, mainly in the US. The course structure and depth and the course materials were great. In addition, the discussion groups made it possible to reflect upon the different ideas and theories discussed in every single lesson. I can only recommend this course to anybody interested in life and the human person! My special thanks to Professor Cohen.”
Here are some FAQs about a course in Genetics
What is a course in Genetics all about?
Genetics are a branch of biology that deals with an organism’s complete set of DNA that is otherwise known as a genome in the scientific community – containing all the genes that get passed down to it, and that are eventually inherited by its offspring. The genes contain all the information necessary to reproduce and develop a functioning plant, person, or animal.
A course in genetics can be used to explore the genetically determined similarities and difference between humans and other animals. The studies within this branch are important in finding answers to questions in regards to the inheritance and development of different human phenotypes. By identifying genetics variants, you will be led to an understanding of disease development, thus moving research and science closer to treatments and cures.
Is Genetics a good career?
The field of genetics is constantly evolving. Therefore, there are plenty of opportunities that you can explore after completing a course or degree in it. Jobs that are directly related to your course or degree in Genetics include:
- Academic researcher
- Clinical research associate
- Clinical scientist, genomics
- Clinical scientist, immunology
- Genetic counsellor
- Plant breeder/geneticist
- Research scientist (life sciences)
- Research scientist (medical)
Additionally, if you are interested in the technical field of Engineering and want to combine with the medical domain of Genetics, you could also go into the field of Biomedical Engineering, and apply for jobs in that area. These are some of the areas that it covers:
- Animal sciences
- Genetics testing labs
- Healthcare centres
- Animal breeding industry
How much do Geneticists make?
The average salary for a Geneticist is between $34,000 and $79,000 a year.
Genetics is an exciting field that has many possible applications and career options. Click on one of the links above to expand your knowledge and boost your career today!