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Top 25 Free Online Public Health Courses to Take During a Pandemic
By Sam MacArthur

For those interested in taking a free online course on public health, you’re in good company. Given that the world is presently battling with the COVID-19, plenty of people want to learn more about public health to keep themselves safe as well as those around them. There’s no shortage of misinformation, disinformation, and plain old hooey, but public health professionals, healthcare professionals, policymakers, and others who need real facts have many free options available to them.

Here are 25 free public health courses from legitimate institutions, including some of the world’s finest, all related to pandemics, Covid-19, and epidemiology. Note: This is not a ranking; courses are presented in alphabetical order by institution.

1. Health Informatics and Technology in Decision Making

DoaneX — Doane University

Doane University’s free online course in public health, Health Informatics and Technology in Decision Making. In today’s ever changing times, security of patient records is more important than ever. Doane University’s course on informatics and technology teaches healthcare professionals how to use and store data in a way that keeps patients safe. Students will study health informatics and learn how the concept as a whole is being used to affect patient care around the world.

Doane University has repeatedly been recognized as the top learning institution in Nebraska. This private school consists of three colleges and prides itself on providing a large university education within a small school. The average class size at Doane is 11 students, making it easy for professors and their classes to get to know each other on a personal level. Doane University is known for it’s stellar continuing education programs that allow adults to learn in a way that makes sense for them.

2. U.S. Healthcare Systems

DoaneX — Doane University

U.S. Healthcare Systems is one of several free online courses on public health offered at Doane University. The structure of the United States healthcare system is a hot topic around the world today. This course delves into the concepts behind American healthcare, what’s working, and what isn’t. By the end of this course, students will be able to critique healthcare in the United States and make recommendations for positive change that improve patient outcomes.

Doane University encourages it’s students to study abroad, and recognizes that comparing systems in the United States to those around the world can be a valuable way to improve systems at home. Doane offers students who register as freshmen a $1,000 scholarship to use during study abroad experiences during their junior and senior years. While DoaneX offers many free courses, a completion certificate can be added for a small fee. This certificate can be a valuable addition to any healthcare resume.

3. Mechanical Ventilation for COVID-19

HarvardX — Harvard University

Mechanical Ventilation for COVID-19, a free online public health course from Harvard, this course is made for licensed non-ICU medical professionals who find themselves needing to understand ventilation fast in the wake of COVID-19. This course teaches the principles of mechanical ventilation, how to troubleshoot ventilation, how to monitor a patient who has been placed on a ventilator, how to evaluate when it’s time for a patient to come off of a ventilator, and how to remove the ventilator properly. These skills are in high demand, and this course is perfect for busy medical professionals to learn what they need to know to keep patients safe. The course also teaches about the special needs of COVID-19 patients on ventilators, and how those needs are different from standard ventilator patients.

The financial aid office at Harvard works hard to ensure that students who are accepted are able to afford their education. The school’s generous scholarship and grant program makes an Ivy League education possible for many students who would otherwise struggle to afford college. Harvard was established in 1636, making the school the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.

4. Strengthening Community Health Worker Programs

HarvardX — Harvard University

Harvard offers several free online courses on public health, including Strengthening Community Health Worker Programs. This program teaches students how to advocate for the importance of community health worker programs. These programs have been shown to save lives when properly implemented, and it’s vital that healthcare professionals are able to explain the importance of community health worker programs to others. This program teaches professionals how to design effective community health worker programs that allow entire communities to be positively affected by access to healthcare.

Students at Harvard get to enjoy the largest private library system in the world. Harvard’s dedication to research and providing students with the highest level of resources possible is clear the moment a student walks into the library. In addition to providing over 17 million volumes of resources in the library, Harvard’s professors are constantly available to work with students to help them develop their passions. Students who graduate from Harvard get the benefit of becoming a part of a vast alumni network, with more than 360,000 alumni around the world.

5. PredictionX: John Snow and the Cholera Epidemic of 1854

HarvardX — Harvard University

PredictionX: John Snow and the Cholera Epidemic of 1854 is a free online course in public health from Harvard University. PredictionX is a series of classes that analyzes attempts throughout history to predict the future. In 1854, cholera swept through London’s Soho neighborhood, killing more than 600 people. The disease seemed unstoppable, and many were unsure of how it would end. Dr. John Snow set out to prove that he understood how cholera had spread. His predictions and data forever changed our understanding of how disease moves from one person to another.

While Harvard is known for it’s commitment to stellar academics, the school also encourages students to take a broad worldview and participate in activities that push them outside of the classroom. The school boasts 450 extracurricular student organizations and 42 varsity sports, making it easy for students at the school to find their place both within and outside of their studies. Based in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard attracts top of the line faculty from around the world, providing students with an unmatched educational experience.

6. Foundations of Public Health Practice Specialization

Imperial College London

Imperial College London offers a free online public health course entitled Foundations of Public Health Practice Specialization. This course is designed for anyone who plays a role in public health, including managers, directors, politicians, practitioners, and more. This course teaches students why public health matters, and how to advocate for better public health programs around the world. When students finish the course, they’re armed with the information they need to make a difference in the world of public health.

At Imperial College London, the school works hard to make a great education accessible to students around the world. In addition to providing many free courses for students, the school also offers a President’s PhD Scholarship Scheme, a program which supports up to 50 students around the world. Selected students get to earn their PhD for free at Imperial College London. Imperial College London alumni enjoy connecting with a vast network of fellow graduates – over 190,000 alumni around the world.

7. Global Disease Masterclass Specialization

Imperial College London

Global Disease Masterclass Specialization is a free online course in public health offered at Imperial College London. In this class, students will learn about how global diseases develop, and the implications of these diseases on the world as a whole. Students will also discuss different ways that statistics and measurements can be taken for these diseases, and how those choices can impact the way the disease is viewed.

In today’s uncertain times, Imperial College London is working hard to stay at the forefront of COVID-19 research. The school’s esteemed faculty were recently a part of a large scale study that identified the points at which COVID-19 is able to enter the body. While the commonly known receptors of the eyes and nose were proven, research also showed COVID-19 receptors in the heart and intestines. Imperial College London is the only higher learning institute in the UK to focus exclusively on medicine, business, science, and engineering.

8. Science Matters: Let’s Talk About COVID-19

Imperial College London

Science Matters: Let’s Talk About COVID-19 is one of several free online courses on public health offered at Imperial College London. With all the news about COVID-19, it can be hard to track what’s real and what isn’t. This course teaches students how to decipher the news, how to choose what information to listen to, and how to read between the lines of statistics to get a get a solid picture of what’s actually going on with the disease. Students will learn how data is used to develop response at local and national levels.

At the forefront of medical research, Imperial College London is currently testing a COVID-19 vaccine. The testing will determine if healthy people are able to develop a resistance to the coronavirus after being vaccinated with a weakened form of the virus. This history making research could eventually put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. Imperial College London is dedicated to changing the face of education. Committed to improving education around the world, the school offers free resources for teachers and educators.

9. Foundations of Public Health Practice: The Public Health Approach

Imperial College London

Imperial College London is currently offering a free online course in public health: Foundations of Public Health Practice: The Public Health Approach is designed for students who are interested in learning more about the world of public health. The class teaches students through short videos, practitioner interviews, and more. This course is helpful for students who want to understand how the overall health of a population can be positively affected by public health initiatives.

Faculty at Imperial College are working diligently to stay at the forefront of research in today’s ever changing medical world. Chris Toumazou, professor of engineering at Imperial, is working with other healthcare professionals to develop a rapid COVID-19 test that can provide doctors with patient results in just one hour. #HerImperial is a movement designed by Imperial College London to encourage and support women who are taking leading roles in the science, medicine, engineering, and business fields.

10. Fighting COVID-19 with Epidemiology: A Johns Hopkins Teach-Out

Johns Hopkins University

Fighting COVID-19 with Epidemiology: A Johns Hopkins Teach-Out is a free online course on public health offered by Johns Hopkins University. The course attacks many basic questions that people are curious about, such as how we measure who has been infected, and how we use this information to protect ourselves going forward.

Johns Hopkins University is known for encouraging students to pursue their passions. Over 60% of students at the university pursue double majors or minors, allowing them to fully explore their areas of academic interest. With a faculty to student ratio of 7:1, Johns Hopkins allows students to get the attention they need to succeed. Johns Hopkins is currently ranked as the #10 university in the United States.

11. Foundations of Global Health Specialization

Johns Hopkins University

Foundations of Global Health Specialization is one of several free online courses on public health offered at Johns Hopkins University. This class is for students who want to learn more about how health is approached in other countries, and to study the changes that need to be made to positively affect the health of people around the globe.

Johns Hopkins is known as the first research university in the United States. In most schools, undergraduate students do not take part in research, but that’s not the case at Johns Hopkins. Many undergraduate students work with graduate students and faculty on research projects, and this experience can go a long way in setting them apart from others after graduation. Students are highly satisfied with their education at Johns Hopkins University – polls show that 97% of students would recommend the school to a friend.

12. Epidemiology in Public Health Practice Specialization

Johns Hopkins University

One of the many free online courses on public health offered by Johns Hopkins University, Epidemiology in Public Health Practice Specialization, is made for students who work or want to work in the healthcare field. This course explores the spread of disease, and how humans can contribute to or stop the spread.

While Johns Hopkins is primarily known for it’s world class research hospital and incredibly competitive admissions process, student life is also a top ranking hallmark of this Baltimore area gem. Students can participate in many opportunities for fun and socializing on campus, or venture into downtown Baltimore to see all that the city has to offer. From shopping areas to the Baltimore inner harbor, many students fall in love with Baltimore during their time at Hopkins and choose to make the city their forever home after graduation. Johns Hopkins is known for being incredibly selective, and accepts just 11% of applicants each year.

13. Systems Thinking In Public Health

Johns Hopkins University

Systems Thinking In Public Health is a free online course on public health from Johns Hopkins University. In today’s uncertain world, people are rethinking current systems more than ever. This class provides a deep dive into how systems have been formed, and how they need to be changed in order to meet the needs of today’s changing world.

Students who graduate from Johns Hopkins University with their undergraduate degree make a starting salary of $66,000 per year, which is quite high compared with the national average of $51,000 per year. There are several factors that go into higher starting salary offers for Hopkins graduates, including university prestige, internship experience, and work experience. 74% of classes at Johns Hopkins have fewer than 20 students, making the school a great fit for students who thrive in a small class environment.

14. Biostatistics in Public Health Specialization

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University is currently offering several free courses on public health, including Biostatistics in Public Health Specialization. This class teaches students how to interpret statistics in a way that makes them useful for informing public health decisions. This entry level class is perfect both for students who have studied statistics and those who have not, and will provide a basic understanding of how to decide if a statistic is significant enough to inform public health decisions.

While Johns Hopkins focuses heavily on it’s undergraduate and graduate students, they also have programs for high school students who are interested in furthering their education. Each summer, Johns Hopkins offers pre-college classes for students who want to expand their learning and give themselves a competitive edge in the college application process. Going the extra mile over the summer can go a long way for students who are working to wow admissions officers. 88% of undergraduate students at Johns Hopkins graduate within four years, a testament to the school’s commitment to student support.

15. Public Health in Humanitarian Crises 1

Johns Hopkins University

Public Health in Humanitarian Crises 1 is a free online public health course from Johns Hopkins University. This class doesn’t just cover the COVID-19 crisis – it covers other public crises as well, such as natural disasters, and studies how organizations respond to trying times. This class covers many topics, such as infectious disease, maternal and infant health, mental health, and humanitarian project design.

As one of the premier health research institutions in the world, faculty at Johns Hopkins have come together to take an interdisciplinary approach to attacking COVID-19. Scientists across all disciplines are working hard to study the spread of the disease and find an effective vaccine. Johns Hopkins works to make tuition affordable to all students, and meets 100% of need based tuition assistance with scholarships, grants, and loans.

16. Protecting Public Health in a Changing Climate: A Primer for City, Local, and Regional Action

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University is currently offering a free online course in public health entitled Protecting Public Health in a Changing Climate: A Primer for City, Local, and Regional Action. While the global focus is currently on COVID-19, climate change has been at the forefront of many lawmakers and activists for years. This course studies the basics of climate change, and discusses the changes that need to be made on each level of government in order to make an effective difference.

In order to support COVID-19 research efforts, Johns Hopkins has redirected over $6 million in research funding to go toward studying the spread of the disease and finding a cure. While the school is studying long term effects of the disease, their primary focus is to study how the can slow and eventually stop the spread of the coronavirus. Students at Johns Hopkins give their classes and teachers an average 5 out of 5 rating.

17. Epidemics – the Dynamics of Infectious Diseases

Penn State

Epidemics – the Dynamics of Infectious Diseases is a free online public health course offered by Penn State University. This course teaches students how our understanding of infectious disease has changed over time, and how developments in medicine have made it less and less likely that people will die of an infectious disease. This course looks at how disease spreads, and how disease can easily pass through networks of friends.

Total research expenditures at Penn State have been over $968 million each of the past four years. The school fosters an environment of collaboration with other universities, and works to ensure that students have access to the best research facilities in the world. This dedication to research attracts world class faculty, and allows students to learn from the best of the best. Penn State alumni never have to look far to find a fellow graduate – one out of every 100 college graduates in the United States went to PSU.

18. Stories of Infection

Stanford University

Stories of Infection is a free online course in public health offered by Stanford University. Students will work to solve authentic healthcare problems throughout the course with the guidance of their instructor.

While Stanford researchers work hard to contribute to the development of a coronavirus vaccine, they’re also working hard to understand the social implications of the virus. Psychology and social science researchers are studying why fake news about the virus is so appealing, and why it can be so tough to get the correct information to the public. Dubbed the Nobel Prize for computers, Stanford has received more Turing awards than any other university.

19. Writing in the Sciences

Stanford University

One of several free online courses on public health, Writing in the Sciences is currently being offered by Stanford University. Many scientists struggle to write in a way that makes their thoughts and ideas accessible to others. This course is perfect for scientists who want their writing to be more easily understood by others. This class takes scientists through how to write quickly, and how to ease their own anxiety about writing.

Stanford biologists are known for their innovation and creativity, and those qualities are shining through in the age of the coronavirus. The school is already working on social change models for what the new normal will be after the coronavirus begins to calm. These models are essential in predicting how to return to life as a functioning society. While Stanford takes academics seriously, they take sports seriously too – Stanford students won 16 medals at the 2012 Olympics, 12 of them gold.

20. Urban Water – Innovations for Environmental Sustainability

The University of British Columbia

Urban Water – Innovations for Environmental Sustainability is a free online course on public health currently being offered by The University of British Columbia. This course explores the global water crisis, and discusses how the water crisis relates to the spread of disease around the world.

Consistently ranked as one of the top 20 research institutions in the world, The University of British Columbia is dedicated to providing it’s students with the tools they need for success. The school is not only working hard to contribute to the development of the coronavirus vaccine – they’re also studying the psychology of how to effectively encourage people to participate in stay at home efforts worldwide. The University of British Columbia consistently ranks as one of the top three universities in Canada.

21. An Introduction to Global Health

University of Copenhagen

An Introduction to Global Health is a free online public health course offered by University of Copenhagen. This class is perfect for people who are just beginning to learn about how disease can spread, and the effect that disease can have on the world’s population as a whole.

University of Copenhagen is known for their excellence in research, and is currently working on artificial intelligence research that can predict a COVID-19 patient’s risk of needing a ventilator, helping healthcare institutions predict their need for ventilators ahead of time. Founded in 1479, University of Copenhagen is the oldest school in Denmark.

22. Disease Screening in Public Health

University of Geneva

Disease Screening in Public Health is a free online course in public health currently offered by University of Geneva. This course teaches students the basics of disease screening, as well as tactics to stop the spread of disease.

One of the top research institutions in Europe, University of Geneva is known for it’s commitment to teaching and community service. The school works to instill the importance of giving back into it’s students. Founded in 1559, University of Geneva has nearly half a millennia of a reputation of academic excellence.

23. Foundational Skills for Communicating About Health

University of Michigan

University of Michigan is currently offering a free online public health course entitled Foundational Skills for Communicating About Health. While students who study medicine are given a wide breadth of technical and scientific knowledge, few are taught how to effectively communicate with others. This course teaches medical professionals how to explain complicated medical concepts in a way that most people can understand, improving communication with others and patient outcomes.

Students who graduate from University of Michigan are set up for long term success, both due to their academic accomplishments and their ability to access a robust alumni network. The school is known for being a leader in both research and philanthropy, and the school works hard to instill these values in students. With a history of dedication to research, University of Michigan was the first school to develop it’s own chemistry lab in 1856.

24. Epidemics, Pandemics and Outbreaks

University of Pittsburgh

Epidemics, Pandemics and Outbreaks is a free online course in public health offered by University of Pittsburgh. This course studies what needs to be done by the healthcare community in order to stop infectious diseases from reaching the epidemic or pandemic stage. University of Pittsburgh has a long-standing history of victory against disease – a Pitt alum discovered the vaccine for polio.

University of Pittsburgh is dedicated to helping students get their education, regardless of financial circumstance. Over half of the undergraduate students at Pitt receive some type of financial aid package.

25. Essentials of Global Health

Yale University

Essentials of Global Health is a free online public health course offered by Yale University. This entry level course is perfect for students who are considering whether a career in global health may be a good fit for them. Students will learn about the top health conditions that affect people around the world, and the current barriers to care for these conditions.

Yale is a premier research institution that is working hard to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Like many top research institutions, Yale is taking a multidisciplinary approach to research tactics and therapies that could slow or stop the spread of the virus. Established in 1701, Yale is one of the oldest universities in the United States.

Why Should I Consider Free Online Public Health Courses?

Taking a free online course on public health can provide you with the following benefits:

  • Career Options: By taking free online courses on public health you will be opening up your job prospects and gain the ability to be hired for jobs of all kinds. Some of the most common jobs for those trained in public health are research analyst, health officer, community health worker, epidemiologist, health policy advisor, disease investigator, and many others. Additionally, you can work in sectors such as the local, state, and national government, nonprofit organizations, faith-based organizations, insurance companies, colleges and universities, and more.
  • Continuing Education: Given that the world is in the midst of one of the most massive outbreaks we have seen in quite some time, many employers are now requiring their employees to become trained in public health in order to help educate the public and reduce the spread of this potentially deadly virus. Those who work in positions such as nutritionists, social workers, physical trainers, and psychologists are encouraged to learn more about viruses such as coronavirus, how they spread, and what is needed to keep the public safe.
  • No Cost: One of the greatest benefits of taking a free online course in public health is that it is free of charge. Not only do you receive an array of benefits by taking these courses but you will not have to pay to learn this information.
  • Heal the World: Another major benefit of taking a free online course on public health is that you can literally help heal the world. Given that the entire world is being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be finding the best ways to eradicate viruses such as these. Studying public health makes you a vital part of the efforts that have been enacted to help the entire globe get rid of this virus for good.
  • New Specialized Skills: Lastly, one great reason to take a free online public health course is that you will be learning new speciali zed skills. If nothing else, this makes you more employable and a more valued employee across the board.

What Kinds of Free Online Public Health Courses Will Help Me Understand Pandemics?

Given the present coronavirus pandemic, many people are seeking taking free online courses on public health that teach about pandemics, in particular. The following is a list of courses that will help you do just that:

Biostatistics Courses Online Free: If you are interested in learning about pandemics, taking a free biostatistics course is one of the best ways to do so. These courses teach you how to read and respond to scientific literature. In particular, these courses teach you how to better understand the methods and results sections in medicine, biological science, and other related fields. Ultimately, you will finish a free biostatistics course online prepared to be a valued member of a research team that investigates the causes of viruses to help keep humanity safe overall.

Free Epidemiology Courses Online: Another great free online course in public health that can help you understand pandemics is epidemiology. A free online epidemiology course is the branch of medical science that studies diseases of all kinds. By taking a free online epidemiology course you will learn things such as how viruses are spread, the pros and cons of vaccinations, how viruses can be eradicated, the value of mechanical ventilators, and more. Additionally, these courses also teach about how the immune system functions and how it can keep us protected, what happens to the body once it becomes infected by infectious viruses, such as COVID-19, and how science can be used to develop better medications and diagnostic testing.

Infectious Disease Free Online Course: Lastly, if you are seeking the best free online courses on public health, an infectious disease course may be your best bet. An infectious disease free online course will teach you things such as the dynamics of viruses such as COVID-19 and the flu and why we should all be doing our part to prevent the spread of these viruses. Moreover, you’ll also learn about proper medical responses, laws, and policies that have been created to help prevent the flow of these viruses and diseases, quarantine laws, drug development policies, biodefense, bioterrorism, and more. Moreover, there are cutting-edge courses that focus on taking a patient-centered approach. These courses are dedicated to keeping the patient in mind while also encouraging those who take these courses to help further research in immunology, microbiology, and infectious disease.

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