25 Free Open Courseware Classes About Your Health


Do you want to know more about your health, but were afraid to ask? You can learn more about what affects your health (and, how your health affects others) in a variety of free open courseware classes, offered by some of the major universities throughout the U.S. Although you cannot gain credits for taking these courses, you can increase your knowledge at your own time, pace and well within budget.

The following twenty-five free open courseware classes are define by categories that cover chronic and infectious disease, public health and mental health and environmental health issues. Each link to a course within those categories is listed alphabetically to show readers that we do not value one course over another.

Chronic Disease

  1. Cardiovascular Pathophysiology: Learn the spectrum of coronary disease and cardiomyopathies as well as the basics of vascular diseases. You also are introduced to the pathophysiologic basis for common cardiovascular diseases. [Tufts]
  2. Fundamentals of Oncology for Public Health Practitioners: After completing this course, you should be able to describe the manner of disease presentation and treatment approaches for major cancers as well as explain the major differences in prevention studies as compared to treatment studies. You also learn how to define controversies in treatment, screening, and risk assessment and learn how to assess whether science is making progress against cancer. [Johns Hopkins]
  3. Pathophysiology of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism: Learn more about the endocrine system and new hormones and complex endocrine pathways that have been discovered that have increased understanding of normal human physiology and behavior and provided insights into the pathophysiology of various diseases. [Tufts]
  4. Tumor Pathophysiology and Transport Phenomena: This is a graduate course the focuses on how tumor pathophysiology plays a central role in the growth, invasion, metastasis and treatment of solid tumors. [MIT]
  5. Understanding cardiovascular diseases: An easy-to-understand primer on cardiovascular diseases, risk factors, treatments and preventative care. [Open University]


  1. Chemicals in the Environment: Toxicology and Public Health: This course covers the qualitative and quantitative health risk assessment methods used in the U.S. as bases for regulatory decision-making about epidemiological approaches to understanding disease causation; biostatistical methods; evaluation of human exposure to chemicals and their internal distribution, metabolism, reactions with cellular components, and biological effects. [MIT]
  2. Environmental Health: Topics include how the body reacts to environmental pollutants; physical, chemical, and biological agents of environmental contamination; vectors for dissemination (air, water, soil); solid and hazardous waste; susceptible populations; biomarkers and risk analysis; the scientific basis for policy decisions; and emerging global environmental health problems. [Johns Hopkins]
  3. Health and environment: This course can help you understand the importance of environment on health, and illustrates an interdependence between environment and humankind. [Open University]
  4. Impact on Human Health: This module studies how degraded environmental conditions affect human health. [Rice University Connexions]
  5. Radiation Terror 101: This topic introduces you to general radiation principles, radiation safety and protection, and the basic types of radiological terror, and also provides practical guidance on acute response techniques and general countermeasures. The OCW version of this presentation comprises slides only. A full version, including synchronized audio is available at no charge by visiting the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Preparedness (registration required). [Johns Hopkins]

General Public Health

  1. Designing and Sustaining Technology Innovation for Global Health Practice: Each week, the course features a lecture and skills-based tutorial session led by industry, non-profit foundation, technology, and academic leaders to think outside the box in tackling and solving problems in innovation for global health practice through the rationale design of technology and service solutions. [MIT]
  2. Impact of Pandemic Influenza on Public Health: This training focuses on the path of avian influenza and examines how it could impact world health. The OCW version of this presentation comprises slides only. A full version, including synchronized audio is available at no charge by visiting the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Preparedness (registration required). [Johns Hopkins]
  3. Introduction to Technical Communication: Perspectives on Medicine and Public Health: Explore writings by physicians and other health practitioners on medicine and public health issues such as AIDS, asthma, malaria control, and obesity. [MIT]
  4. Population Medicine: Directed to future physicians, this course examines the connection that these doctors will make with patients, and how that connection affects public health issues. [Tufts]
  5. The History of Public Health: This material seeks to reveal how the organization of societies facilitates or mitigates the production and transmission of disease. The concentration is from 1750 to today and it omits detailed examination of public health in antiquity and the middle ages (although these time periods will be alluded to frequently). [Johns Hopkins]

Infectious Disease

  1. Contagious diseases: Tuberculosis, cholera, HIV and AIDS are covered in this module along with directions on how to purify water. [Rice University Connexions]
  2. Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases: Learn about the basic methods for infectious disease epidemiology and case studies of important disease syndromes and entities. Case-studies focus on acute respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, hepatitis, HIV, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, malaria, and other vector-borne diseases. [Johns Hopkins]
  3. Medical Anthropology: Culture, Society, and Ethics in Disease and Health: Instead of focusing on the disease alone, this course ventures into connections among disease, health, body and mind in Western medicine, and how these topics articluate with national and international institutions.
  4. Pathophysiology of Infectious Diseases: This course provides an introductory background into the clinical and pathophysiologic aspects of infectious disease of organ systems. [Tufts]
  5. Sexual Health, HIV/STI, and Human Rights: Responses that address human rights may improve STI prevention and control, and better human rights contexts for those at risk. Learn more about human rights and how reactions to these rights may affect sexual and reproductive health outcomes, including STI and HIV. [Johns Hopkins]

Mental Health

  1. Challenging ideas in mental health: Accept the invitation to challenge ideas in relation to mental health. You will examine the definitions of mental health, learn the boundaries and discover more about the ‘business of madness.’ [Open University]
  2. General Psychology: These lecture archives offer an introduction to the principal areas, problems, and concepts of psychology. [University of California Berkeley]
  3. Introduction to Mental Health and Disaster Preparedness: Learn more about the topics of disaster mental health services, mental health surge capacity and psychiatric first aid. The OCW version of this presentation comprises slides only. A full version, including synchronized audio is available at no charge by visiting the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Preparedness (registration required). [Johns Hopkins]
  4. Mental health practice: Learn how to define and understand mental health and illness, about social work’s role in mental health services and stigma and discrimination in mental health. [Open University]
  5. Substance Abuse and the Family: This course focuses on family members of substance abusers, and shows ways in which these families function. You can learn methods and resources available for helping such families. [UMass Boston]
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