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How to Learn Immunology: Best Courses to Study Infectious Diseases and Immune Deficiency

Ojash Yadav - January 04, 2021


During this pandemic, doctors are advising us to keep a strong immune system. But have you wondered what exactly is an immune system? How does our body fight against so many tiny yet potentially deadly threats? The answer to this is found in the study of immunology.

Here we will guide you toward a career studying this important biological system and what you can expect as an immunologist.

What Is Immunology?

Immunology is the study of different bodily systems, including their cellular and molecular mechanisms, that are triggered during an immune response. These responses can occur in all organisms.

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What Is Immunology Used For?

Immunology is used in a wide range of disciplines including psychiatry , virology, bacteriology, and oncology. Below are some of the major immunology career choices.

  • Research and development. This area is one of the most interesting in immunology. Scientists can discover and cure common and deadly ailments through their rigorous research.
  • Physician. Doctors can treat problems associated with the immune system, such as allergies, in public hospitals, medical centers, or private offices.
  • Teaching. Professors of immunology help train the world’s next generation of researchers and doctors while contributing to this complex yet rewarding field.

Types of Immunology

Immunology includes many sub-categories and areas of study. Below we have provided some examples.

Molecular Immunology

This branch studies the immune system at a molecular level. Scientists here work on the level of molecular structures which includes receptors and mediators.

Cellular Immunology

This area focuses on components such as T cells and B cells. Researchers examine the general characteristics of cellular immune systems as well as the reproductive properties of cells.

Immunogenetics

This has become a very important branch. It deals with the genetic properties of diseases and helps determine the history of different illnesses.

Clinical Immunology

This field is all about the study of microbes and how immune systems respond to them. Clinical immunology looks at varied immune mechanisms, how they respond to different organisms in the body, and how immune cells react to toxic substances.

Learning Immunology

A close-up view of a person holding a vaccine.
Thank an immunologist for the new vaccine.

Learning immunology can be a difficult yet rewarding journey. Your success depends on a long road of consistent learning.

How Long Does It Take to Learn Immunology?

It can take around four years to finish your bachelor’s degree and just two years to obtain a master’s . But studying immunology is a lifelong endeavor. There are learning options other than in-person training, too. A detailed overview of the best online courses will be provided below.

How to Learn Immunology: Step-by-Step

Effectively learning immunology starts with a plan. Below we have a step-by-step guide to help.

  1. Introduce yourself to the subject. First, familiarize yourself with the opportunities and obstacles of this field.
  2. Explore courses. Research programs and courses that fit your interests and schedule. We have a list of courses to choose from below.
  3. Enroll. Don’t waste any time. Enroll in a course as soon as you’re able.
  4. Practice. Learn, practice, and learn more. There are lots of resources available to keep you studying.
  5. Get certified. There are many certifications in immunology available online to help you stand out from your peers.

The Best Immunology Courses and Training

A scientist holding a laboratory flask.
Immunology includes many sub-categories and areas of study.

Courses and training are essential. There are a number of classes available both in-person and online. Some of the best are listed below.

In-Person Immunology Classes

Below are several traditional in-person courses.

Stanford University

Stanford provides top tier education in this field including focuses on cellular immunology, molecular immunology, and clinical immunology.

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

This graduate degree has over 50 program faculty members and seven primary research areas across immunology. Areas taught include molecular biology , cell biology, genetics, and many more.

University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

This program provides research opportunities in bacterial pathogenesis, eukaryotic pathogenesis, virology, and immunology.

Online Immunology Courses

There are many online courses on immunology to choose from. Here are some of the best options.

Harvard University

This course provides detailed animations, illustrations, and videos of interactions between doctors and patients. The course also provides a free trial to explore.

Udemy

This course introduces you to the fundamentals of vaccine compositions, their applications, and their development. You’ll gain an in-depth insight into the importance of vaccines with this class.

Free Immunology Courses

There are a number of online courses available for free. Check them out below.

Coursera

This is a three-course specialization program that includes Innate Immunity and B-Cell Function, T Cells and Signaling, and Fundamentals of Immunology: Death by Friendly Fire. It requires the completion of a hands-on project for every specialization to earn your certificate.

edX

This course lets you explore the world of vaccines. It’s self-paced so you can complete it on your schedule.

Best Immunology Books

Immunology can of course be studied from numerous texts. We’ve compiled a list of the best books to check out.

HOW THE IMMUNE SYSTEM WORKS (THE HOW IT WORKS SERIES) by Lauren M. Sompayrac

How the Immune System Works (The How it Works Series)

This book provides a readable distillation of immunology. It’s perfect for someone just starting in the field. It also provides a generous amount of graphical representations and illustrations.

BASIC IMMUNOLOGY: FUNCTIONS AND DISORDERS OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM by  Abul K. Abbas, Andrew H. Lichtman and Shiv Pillai

This text provides an introduction to immunology. The writing is clear and easy to grasp for new students.

Immunology Certifications

Certifications can add a lot to your resume and help you further your career. See our picks below for the best certifications in immunology.

Immunology (UC Berkeley)

This certification, provided by UC Berkeley, is considered the gold standard. It provides great insight into the fundamentals of immunology.

Applied Immunology (UC San Diego)

This program will open doors for you in the field. Learn about general principles and theories including lessons on antibodies and antigens.

Online Immunology Resources

Online resources can be very helpful to reinforce your foundation in the subject. Here are some of the best online resources.

BiteSized Immunology

Provided by the British Society for Immunology, this website includes information about current trends and technologies in immunology. It’s portal is also very easy to use.

The American Association of Immunologists

This portal provides almost everything you wish to know about how the immune system functions. The site also provides introductory and advanced courses and includes resources for teachers.

Should You Study Immunology?

Now that you know more about immunology, don’t forget about other skills necessary to be successful in this field. For example, it helps if you work well with others and can maintain good relationships with patients. Also required is an unending curiosity concerning different diseases and pathogens.

Due to COVID-19, immunologists have never been in more demand. Don’t forget there are immunologists behind every new vaccine. So if you are interested in treating illnesses, helping people, and working hard, then immunology might be for you.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Ojash Yadav

About the author: Ojash is a writer at Career Karma, where he covers web development, tech careers, and trends in higher education. Ojash completed his degree in Digital Marketing from Digital Technology Institute and has taken on several online training programs where he learned web development and other vital tech skills. Ojash joined the Career Karma team in November 2020.

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