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Mini Medical School is a Course

Mini Medical School

Ended Apr 3, 2017

Sorry! The enrollment period is currently closed. Please check back soon.

Full course description

Course Date:

Jan 23 - Apr 3, 2017


10 weeks


2-3 hrs/week



Course Type:



Free certificate


This course introduces the exciting basic science that underlies modern medicine, and shows how we use that knowledge to understand medicine today. The course is designed for the general public, including high school students, who are interested in learning more about how the body works. There are no prerequisites. We want to help people take a more active role in their own wellness, and talk effectively with their healthcare providers.

Many who have taken Mini Medical School have gone on to careers in the health care professions. It’s a chance to see how medicine is developing: what progress is being made, what the big challenges are that still remain, and the sort of subjects that are taught in a major School of Medicine. Read More.

The course is arranged in seven Modules. Most of us will be able to move through the course at the rate of one Module per week. The course will remain open for a few weeks after 3 April 2017 so people who joined late, or want to spend more time, will be able to complete it.

Each Module consists of 8 or 9 Units, video presentations which average about 6 minutes, so they easily fit into busy schedules. Complete transcripts of each Unit are provided; these are especially helpful for people whose main language is not English. There are links to fascinating (and sometimes very funny!) sites that may interest you. An optional quiz is available at the end of each Module.

All seven Modules will be available from the beginning, for those who wish to move faster than a Module a week, or want to look ahead. There will be a Discussion Forum for each Module where you can ask questions, make comments, and interact with your classmates and University of Colorado students and faculty. All Discussion Forums will be open, though most of the activity will, of course, be in the Forum relating to the current week’s content.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much time will the course require?

The total time for viewing the Units is about 50 minutes a week. Most people spend a total of 2 or 3 hours on the Units and optional interesting “Learn Mores.”

What Internet connections do I need?

The course can be viewed on a computer, tablet, and on some smartphones. The videos are high-definition and hosted on YouTube, so you need to be able to connect to YouTube (some countries block it and we are sorry but there’s nothing we can do about that).

Can I get a Certificate of Completion?

Yes! You have to visit each Unit; after that a Certificate will become available for download. Although quizzes are offered for each Module, they are optional and you can try them as often as you want.

Are the instructors involved in the course?

Very actively! We love to meet so many interesting people from all over the world!


Participants will learn that they can talk productively with a health care provider if they insist on a conversation in everyday language.

They will learn enough to help make well-informed decisions about illness, wellness, and life-style choices.

They will continue to seek out reliable and up-to-date information in order to make better decisions in the future.

They will become active in their communities in promoting decisions that increase wellness and appropriate health-care services.

Those who are thinking about careers in health care will have a better idea of the breadth, scope, and excitement of the field, to help them make their plans.

Course is offered by the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Course Instructors

J. John Cohen

J. John Cohen, MDCM, PhD

Professor of Immunology and Microbiology, and Medicine

JJ Cohen was born in Montreal, Canada and trained in science and medicine at McGill University there. He has been at the University of Colorado Medical School for many years. In 1989, he founded the CU Mini Med School, a live program that ran for 25 years; this online course continues that tradition. He has received many teaching awards, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for Public Engagement with Science. His group has done fundamental research in how cells make the decision to live or die.

Helen Macfarlane

Helen Macfarlane, MA

Assistant Professor, Director of Educational Technology

Helen Macfarlane trained as a medical illustrator at Johns Hopkins University. She leads a group supporting educational technology in the University of Colorado Medical School. Helen is the producer and designer of this online Mini Medical School, after years of involvement with the live version.