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Harvard Medical School Launches First Online Certificate Program

Gordon Hall of Medicine, an administrative building at Harvard Medical School, sits overlooking the Quadrangle at the Longwood campus.
Gordon Hall of Medicine, an administrative building at Harvard Medical School, sits overlooking the Quadrangle at the Longwood campus.
By William L. Wang, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard Medical School will launch its first online certificate program this summer for people considering health careers, offering four paid courses on topics in medicine.

The program, titled “HMX Fundamentals,” will be open to the public through a brief application and includes courses in physiology, immunology, biochemistry and genetics. Upon completion of a course, students will receive a PDF certificate which will not count for academic credit at Harvard.

Unlike Harvard’s edX and HarvardX platforms, which offer their online classes for free, access to HMX Fundamentals will come at a cost. Tuition will cost $800 for a single HMX Fundamentals course, $1,000 for two courses, and $1,800 for all four.

Harvard Medical School.
Harvard Medical School. By Megan M. Ross

Medical School Associate Dean for Online Learning Michael J. Parker said that the course is designed for students considering a career in medicine, and aims to lay a foundation in “topics that are important to the future of medical care.”

“We first really started speaking three years ago to talk about how to influence student preparation and what comes before medical school,” Parker said. “Part of the thinking was that we get students of all sorts of backgrounds, so it was important to think about how to level the playing field before they reach this stage of training.”

Last summer, Khon Kaen University in Thailand participated in the pilot program for HMX Fundamentals. The school has since renewed its participation in the program.

“We’ve already been working with them essentially with pilot versions of these courses and have some of their students use the course,” Parker said. “It’s been a wonderful way to refine and improve the courses and we think that the courses at this point are ready to launch to the broader public and are very mature to be used.”

Parker said that the HMX program is designed for a wide range of people, from advanced high school students to professionals seeking medical training.

Each HMX course was developed “from scratch” in collaboration with Harvard lecturers, clinical faculty members, and the HMX teaching staff, according to Parker. The courses will emphasize clinical applications as well as interactive learning.

Students will be exposed to medical scenarios filmed in Harvard-affiliated hospitals, allowing them to work through real-life applications of concepts.

“We’re not just teaching foundational science,” Parker said, “but we’re also showing how it really applies in real life by giving access to how a doctor thinks and how they apply foundational knowledge in practice.”

Parker said that each course will include “a high degree of assessment” and an interactive forum for students to ask teaching staff questions about the content.

—Staff writer William L. Wang can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @wlwang20

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