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Learn about life sciences with online courses and programs

Life sciences study living organisms and the ways in which they interact with their environment. Rather than a singular focus, life sciences are made up of many subfields, such as biology, anatomy, and genetics. Learn more with online courses on edX.

What are life sciences?

The life sciences are a group of scientific disciplines that center around the origin, structure, function, growth, evolution, and interactions that make up life. It involves the study of living organisms from a molecular and cellular perspective, as well as assessing the ecological impact of various life processes.

Some of the key areas that make up the life sciences include:

  • Biology, the study of living organisms.

  • Anatomy and physiology, the study of the structure and function of living organisms.

  • Genetics, the study of genes, heredity, and the passing of traits.

  • Evolutionary biology, the study of how species change, diversify, and adapt over time.

  • Biochemistry, the combination of biology and chemistry to investigate living organisms’ chemical processes.

Studying the life sciences can lead to important developments in medicine, agriculture, and environmental conservation. It can also contribute to solving pressing global challenges like disease prevention, food security, and sustainability.

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Life sciences course curriculum

Learning about the life sciences allows you to dive deeper into a variety of topics that make up the field. You can explore courses that provide an introduction to subjects such as:

  • Molecular biology: DNA, RNA, proteins, and cellular processes

  • Cell biology: Nucleus, ribosomes, mitochondria, and other cell anatomy

  • Microbiology: Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms

  • Ecology: Ecosystems, populations and communities, and other environments

  • Biotechnology: Genetically modified organisms, vaccines, pharmaceuticals, and other useful products

If you want to dive deeper into a particular topic or focus, you can choose from advanced learning options on edX. Classes might include specialized curricula for learners interested in studying genome sequencing, biomedical imaging, environmental preservation, and bioconductors.

Learning about the life sciences can supplement your knowledge and help you stand out as a professional. edX offers a variety of educational opportunities for learners interested in studying these topics, as well as a host of other disciplines. A boot camp can provide flexible, hands-on learning for those who want to upskill quickly, while executive education courses are designed for busy professionals. You can also pursue a more comprehensive curriculum in a bachelor’s degree or, for more advanced learners, a master’s degree. Find the right learning path for you.

Explore life sciences jobs

By learning one or more of the life sciences, you can apply your knowledge toward a rewarding career in a variety of different fields. Some of the many options available to you include roles such as:

  • Biochemist: Analyzes organisms’ chemical processes and studies the structure and function of biological molecules.Footnote 1

  • Pharmacologist: Researches the effects of drugs and medications on biological systems.Footnote 2

  • Epidemiologist: Investigates patterns and causes of diseases in populations.Footnote 3

  • Zoologist: Researches animal behavior, physiology, and conservation needs.Footnote 4

  • Forensic scientist: Uses scientific techniques to investigate and solve crimes.Footnote 5

Some of these roles may require a higher level degree, while others may only ask for a demonstration of skills that can be acquired through additional field work. Before deciding on which learning path will work best for you, research potential roles you hope to pursue and align your coursework with your professional aspirations.