Best online physics courses 2022: Learn physics at home from expert tutors

Take the best online physics courses today and learn from some of the top experts in the world – all from the comfort of your home and at your own pace. Topics range from introductory physics and classical mechanics to higher-level courses like quantum physics and string theory. 

Whether you’re a student wanting to get clarity on more complex areas of physics, or you want to learn from renowned professors and scientists at the top of their respective fields, these are the best online physics courses you can have at your fingertips. Pair this with the best physics books and you’ll be swimming in knowledge!

However, with thousands of resources on the internet, it can be tough to find the right one that matches what you’re looking for, and for the right price. We’ve done the research for you and have compiled a small collection of the best online physics courses currently available, so that you don’t have to spend your time sifting through the overwhelming amount of options out there.

Plus, it gets better! Having this knowledge doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, it doesn’t have to cost you a thing! There are courses that can feed into your love of physics and learning for little to no cost that are readily available and come with materials to help you get the most out of your experience.

Here is our top 10 list of the best physics courses to boost your knowledge of the study of energy, matter, its motion and behaviors through time and space, and the mystery of our known universe. 


(Image credit: University of Virginia via Coursera)

1. How Things Work: An Introduction to Physics

University of Virginia via Coursera

Specifications

Price: Free to enroll

Free trial?: No

Length: ~14 hours to complete

Reasons to buy

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You can go at your own pace

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No science background required

Reasons to avoid

Can take up to 8 weeks to complete the course

Video lengths can be long

How Things Work: An Introduction to Physics is everything the title promises it to be. This is a beginner’s course to the world of physics presented by Dr. Louis Bloomfield, who is entertaining and engaging as he gives examples and humorous anecdotes about the basic concepts in physics. 

Over the course of 14 hours, you’ll learn the primary principles of physics in a way that’s easy to understand. You can also unlock a quiz in order to get a certificate at the end of the course (although you have to pay for this feature). While we don’t recommend this course for our advanced physics learners, it’s perfect for those just getting started.


(Image credit: Yale University)

2. Fundamentals of Physics I

Open Yale Courses

Specifications

Price: Free

Free trial?: No

Length: ~48 hours for 24 video lectures

Reasons to buy

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Course materials provided

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All lectures accessible from the start, ready to view or easily downloadable

Reasons to avoid

Instructor not available to answer questions

Not for beginner students

The Fundamentals of Physics is a recorded course from Yale University taught by Professor Ramamurti Shankar. All lectures have been recorded and broken down into specific, organized sections. You’ll be able to download PDF worksheets (along with the answers!) to work alongside the course, just as if you were taking a live class. You can go at your own pace while watching these videos, and even take a final examination at the end to test the strength of your knowledge. 

This is perfect for those with a basic understanding of physics and mathematics who would like to sharpen their expertise. As these are recorded sessions, you won’t have access to the professor, but you will be able to hone your problem-solving and reasoning skills in the area of physics.


(Image credit: Udemy)

3. Physics: Intro to Electricity and Magnetism

Udemy

Specifications

Price: Free

Free trial?: No

Length: ~4 hours

Reasons to buy

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Short run time of less than 4 hours

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Intended to help boost student’s grades for exams

Reasons to avoid

No access to the instructor for messages or Q&A

No certification provided for completion

This quick and easy tutorial is best for students wanting to boost their grades, succeed in their exams, or understand a concept that’s been harder to follow in the classroom. This course goes over the basic principles of physics such as electric force, electric charge, and electric fields. Using clear and easy-to-follow explanations of the various concepts in what’s considered to be one of the most difficult subjects, you’ll gain a stronger understanding of electric charges and electric fields so you can step confidently into your next class. 

This is also a course intended for physics teachers who want to find a different way of teaching physics concepts to their students. It’s absolutely free and easy to fit into any schedule. If you want more content from this creator, however, you’ll need to sign up for their paid classes.


(Image credit: Australian National University via edX)

4. Astrophysics: The Violent Universe

Australian National University via edX

Specifications

Price: Free

Free trial?: No

Length: ~10 weeks/ 2-4 hours per week

Reasons to buy

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Taught by two distinguished instructors who are experts in their fields

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Access to technical support

Reasons to avoid

Only open for a limited time

Don’t get a certification at the end

If you’re interested in exploring the deepest parts of our universe and all the unsolved mysteries surrounding them, this is the course for you. You’ll find thoughtful discussions about the topic of astronomy including black holes, neutron stars, white dwarfs, supernovas, and how modern astrophysicists investigate these mysteries. 

While the course is free, a paid version is open to the public to get the most out of the experience. You’ll have access to both professors and will receive feedback on any applicable assignments. All are welcome, but a high-school level understanding of physics and astronomy is recommended. It’s only available for a short time (ends June 1, 2022)!


(Image credit: The University of Toronto via Coursera)

5. From the Big Bang to Dark Energy

The University of Toronto via Coursera

Specifications

Price: Free

Free trial?: No

Length: ~4 weeks/ 2-4 hours per week

Reasons to buy

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Quizzes available to supplement your learning experience

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Downloadable PDF sheets available to accompany lessons

Reasons to avoid

Must have some prior knowledge of physics and astronomy

More mathematical questions used throughout course

Taught by Professor Hitoshi Murayama, lessons are broken into weekly sessions followed by recommended readings and quizzes to enhance your learning experience about physics and astronomy. The course digs into the workings of everyday life and stretches all the way back to the birth of our universe. Covering immense topics such as dark matter, anti-matter, dark energy, inflation, and other relevant subjects, Professor Murayama will take you behind the scenes of our universe’s most incredible discoveries. 

This course is free, packed with supplemental course materials and quizzes to help retain your growing knowledge. The course is meant to be interactive, so to get the most out of the course, you’ll want to complete all the readings and quizzes offered!


(Image credit: Wondrium)

6. Physics and Our Universe

Wondrium

Specifications

Price: Annual, quarterly, and monthly membership options after trial period

Free trial?: 14-day free trial

Length: 60 lectures at ~30min each

Reasons to buy

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Manageable 30-minute videos available with demos

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Expansive lectures spanning a wide variety of physics topics

Reasons to avoid

Limited trial period to get through vast amount of lectures

Formulas used in the lectures are not recommended for beginners

Physics and Our Universe is a set of 60 lectures that serves as a course dedicated to a multitude of topics within the field of physics. Presented with demonstrations, animation, and graphs to complement his lectures, Professor Richard Wolfson visually breaks down complex topics into accessible content. From Newtonian mechanics and thermodynamics to optics and quantum relativity, you’ll receive bite-sized lessons that you can squeeze into your day. 

You’ll need to sign up for a free trial to get started, but if you like what you see, you can purchase a membership that best suits your needs so you can spend more time on the course!


(Image credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

7. Quantum Physics I

MIT Open CourseWare

Specifications

Price: Free

Free trial?: No

Length: 90-minute session 2x week

Reasons to buy

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Both graduate and undergrad levels available

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Quantum physics is MIT’s most visited physics course

Reasons to avoid

Must have taken a prior class (Physics III: Vibrations and Waves) as a prerequisite to the course

No access to the instructor

Quantum Physics I is a readily available course broken down into three parts, beginning with basic concepts and then branching off into more complex areas including: the Schrödinger equation for one-dimensional potentials, 3-dimensional scattering theory, the Townsend effect, and much more. Lecture notes are available as downloadable PDFs to accompany the video lectures. You can even complete assignments and exams to test your comprehension of the lessons. 

There is a prerequisite class for taking this course, so it might not be for everyone. However, we recommend that you take a look at the content yourself and decide if it’s a good fit for what you’re looking for.


(Image credit: UC Irvine)

8. Einstein’s General Relativity and Gravitation

UC Irvine

Specifications

Price: Free (except extra course materials)

Free trial?: No

Length: 10 weeks

Reasons to buy

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All recorded lectures available immediately in video format

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Free to access all 20 video lectures & 3 student presentations available

Reasons to avoid

Professor not available for questions

Course materials will have to be purchased separately

The University of California, Irvine, offers an extensive library of online courses available as free resources. Included in their expansive collection is a recorded lecture of Einstein’s General Relativity and Gravitation. Designed for undergraduates, this is an introductory course to Einstein’s theory of gravitation conducted by Professor Herbert Hamber. Alongside the video lectures, you can also view past student presentations to help you feel like you’re part of the class. 

This is a comprehensive and detailed course perfect for students – and any enthusiastic learner – who wants to expand their knowledge in the field of physics. While you won’t have access to the textbooks, you will still benefit from these informative sessions.


(Image credit: Stanford University via Coursera)

9. Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity

Stanford University via Coursera

Specifications

Price: Free

Free trial?: No

Length: ~81 hours

Reasons to buy

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Separate readings and quizzes available to accompany video lectures

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Course can be shared with friends and colleagues

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Receive a certificate after course completion

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Video subtitles available in different languages

Reasons to avoid

Very, very long

Workload can be overwhelming

Some people found that that the Instructor spoke a bit slowly

This course not only focuses on Einstein’s theory of relativity, but also takes a deep dive into Einstein himself, his predictions, and ideas that led to the creation of this special theory. Dr. Larry Lagerstorm of Stanford University has taught over 30,000 students worldwide, and his passion for Einstein has resulted in a published novel and a Tedx Video: “Young Einstein: From the Doxerl Affair to the Miracle Year.” 

In this course, you’ll explore topics such as the nature of Einstein’s genius, the meaning of relativity, and the nature of the fourth dimension. While the class is considered one of the longer free courses available, this is perfect for beginners looking for flexibility in their education and schedule.


(Image credit: Harvard University via World Science U)

10. Fundamental Lessons from String Theory

Harvard University via World Science U

Specifications

Price: Free

Free trial?: No

Length: ~2 hours

Reasons to buy

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Quick 10-15 minute lessons

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Beginners are welcome

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Organized summaries, office hours video, and discussion available to view

Reasons to avoid

No access to the instructor, but can interact with other viewers comments

If you’re looking for mini lessons from award-winning string theorist, Cumrun Vafa, this is the course for you! Videos only average 10-15 minutes in length, expertly breaking down the fundamentals of stringy theory. Not only do you get quick and approachable videos, you also have access to summaries that get straight to the point, office hours with designated questions that Vafa answers in recorded videos, and finally, a discussion section where you can interact with other physics learners. 

Easy to listen to and tightly organized, you can track your progress as you make your way through each module. These are not extensive lessons, so these modules are meant for those looking to gain more knowledge specifically in the area of string theory.

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