Skip to main content

Learn about semiconductors with online courses and programs

Semiconductors control the flow of electricity, allowing electronics to switch on and off. They make up the building blocks of many of the electronics you use today, powering smartphones and other devices. Learn about semiconductors with courses on edX.

What are semiconductors?

A semiconductor can be thought of as a cross between a conductor and an insulator. Conductors allow for the free flow of electricity, while insulators act as barriers to that flow. Semiconductors allow for the flow to be turned on and off, similar to how a light switch functions.

This ability comes from the materials that semiconductors are typically made of. Through a process called doping, impurities are added to silicone, germanium, and compounds such as gallium arsenide. This changes their conductivity and enables the manipulation of electrical flow.Footnote 1

Some examples of semiconductors that you encounter every day include radios, televisions, computers, smart devices, and medical equipment. If you’re interested in working to develop the technology that powers modern technology, studying semiconductors can be a great place to start.

Semiconductors | Introduction Image

Maximize your potential

Sign up for special offers, career resources, and recommendations that will help you grow, prepare, and advance in your career.

Semiconductor course curriculum

Learners who want to pursue a career that works with electronics can benefit from learning about semiconductors. If you’re new to the subject, a beginner course can help you get up to speed on topics including:

  • Static electricity

  • Ionization

  • Good and poor materials for conduction

  • Electron emissions

  • Doping and conductivity

  • Silicone semiconductors

  • Solar cells

Introductory classes can help to prepare you for more advanced or specialized options. Once you have a basic understanding of how semiconductors work, you can apply your knowledge to other subjects. You might choose to learn about solar energy, nanoscience, circuits, or solid-state chemistry.

Start building the knowledge you need to work with semiconductors with online courses delivered on edX. From accelerated boot camps to comprehensive programs that allow you to earn a bachelor’s degree or (for more advanced learners) a master’s degree, there are many different learning formats available to fit your needs. Busy professionals can even take advantage of executive education courses tailored to those in leadership and management positions. Find the right course for you.

Explore semiconductor jobs

There are many professional opportunities for individuals with semiconductor knowledge. You can contribute to technological advancements in roles such as:

  • Semiconductor engineer: Designs, tests, and manufactures semiconductor devices and integrated circuits (ICs).Footnote 2

  • Research scientist: Works on the research and development of semiconductor devices and technologies.Footnote 3

  • Quality assurance engineer: Tests and ensures the quality of semiconductor devices before they are released to the market.Footnote 4

  • Application engineer: Integrates semiconductor products into new systems and troubleshoots any issues that may arise.Footnote 5

  • Instrumentation and control (IC) technician: Operates and maintains the equipment used in the semiconductor manufacturing process.Footnote 6

While many of these roles exist within similar industries, employment qualifications for careers that require knowledge of semiconductors differ based on the position and employer. Some roles may require an engineering degree, while others may only ask for a demonstration of skills that can be acquired in a boot camp, for example. 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.