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Human Anatomy
The study of human anatomy is fundamental to understanding virtually all of the clinical and functional aspects of the human body. Regardless of what your future health profession aspirations are, we have an online course with content relevant to you.

About the Human Anatomy courses

The Human Anatomy series is a completely asynchronous online offering, comprised of an array of seven individual courses. Each course integrates anatomy with the embryology, histology, and imaging of organ systems and structures, with reference to their clinical and functional implications.

Each course is:

  • Developed by the Innovation Center for Online Medical Education (ICOME) in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (PSOM)
  • Taught by an award-winning PSOM anatomy instructor
  • Delivered for University of Pennsylvania credit by the College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS)
  • Asynchronous (no required meeting times) and completely online

The Human Anatomy courses are ideal for medical, dental, or nursing school applicants and first-year students as well as graduate students and professionals seeking high-quality human anatomy educational content with a clear emphasis on functional and clinical relevance.

The Human Anatomy courses are offered year round with limited enrollment.

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Contact us to receive additional information about the Human Anatomy courses.

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Courses

This course, covering anatomy, embryology, histology, and imaging of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, prepares students to:

  • Define and discuss the structures that participate in the process of respiration
  • Compare and contrast the structures situated in the chest (thorax and mediastinum)
  • Describe anatomic differences of the right versus the left lung, structures in each lung, and how each lung functions
  • Summarize the anatomic differences in the atria and ventricles of the heart and how these chambers contract, resulting in the opening and closing of the atrioventricular and semilunar valves
  • Compare and contrast the histology of the heart, bronchi, bronchioles, and lung alveoli
  • Analyze and identify anatomic structures in plain films and other imaging modalities
  • Discuss the embryology of the heart and lungs, including fetal and postnatal circulation and common congenital heart malformations

Course features

  • 1/2 c.u.
  • Offered in summer 2021 term

Instructor

James S. White, PhD

This course, covering anatomy, embryology, histology, and imaging of the digestive system, prepares students to:

  • Define the embryological basis for the formation of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Define and discuss the anatomic structures that make up the digestive system, including the mouth, larynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, and biliary tract
  • Compare and contrast the arterial blood supply and the functional and histologic differences in various parts of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Analyze and identify anatomic structures in plain films and other imaging modalities

Course features

  • 1/2 c.u.
  • Offered in summer 2021 term

Instructor

James S. White, PhD

This course, covering anatomy, embryology, histology, and imaging of the musculoskeletal system, including the limbs, vertebral column, and back, prepares students to:

  • Discuss the anatomic structures that make up the major parts of the musculoskeletal system, which are the vertebral column and back, upper limbs, and lower limbs
  • Identify the blood supply, innervation, and musculature of the upper limbs, including the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand
  • Identify the blood supply, innervation, and musculature of the lower limbs, including the hip, knee, ankle, and foot
  • Define the components of the nervous system that affect the musculoskeletal system, limbs, vertebral column, and back and discuss nerve lesions
  • Discuss how herniated disks, fractures of the upper and lower limbs, and impingement of nerve roots can result in musculoskeletal abnormalities
  • Analyze and identify anatomic structures in plain films and other imaging modalities

Course features

  • 1 c.u.
  • Offered in summer 2021 term

Instructor

James S. White, PhD

This course, covering anatomy and physiology, development, histology, imaging, and molecular mechanisms of the endocrine and reproductive systems, prepares students to:

  • Define the mechanisms of hormonal signaling
  • Describe the anatomic relationships and gross structure of major endocrine and reproductive organs, including the hypothalamus, pituitary glands, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, pancreas, adrenal glands, gonads, breasts, and male and female reproductive systems
  • Characterize the microscopic anatomy of major endocrine and reproductive organs
  • Assess the regulation of major hormonal axes and intuit pathophysiologic effects of hormonal dysregulation
  • Explain the effects of significant hormones on their respective target tissues
  • Trace the embryologic origins of the endocrine and reproductive organs, including the pharyngeal apparatus

Course features

  • 1/2 c.u.
  • Offered in summer 2021 term

Instructor

Alexander S. R. Macnow, MD

This course, covering anatomy, embryology, histology, and imaging of the head and neck with emphasis on the cranial nerves and their distribution, prepares students to:

  • Identify the major bone and cartilage components of the neck and skull and how they develop
  • Describe the sources of innervation to the face, cranial nerves V and VII
  • Name the cranial nerve innervations of the extraocular muscles of the eyes
  • Name the major elements that make up the naso-, oro-, and laryngeal pharynx
  • Name the cranial nerves involved in swallowing
  • Identify the signs and symptoms of lesions of each of the cranial nerves
  • Identify the structures of the head and neck on CT and plain film imaging 

Course features

  • 1/2 c.u.
  • Offered in summer 2021 term

Instructor
James S. White, PhD

This course, covering the anatomy, development, and cytology of the central nervous system, including a detailed examination of the functional and clinical neuroanatomy of the spinal cord, prepares students to:

  • Compare and contrast the differences in how the neural tube and neural crest develop and list their postnatal derivatives
  • Compare the malformations that result in open versus closed neural tube defects, including the ability to distinguish the different forms of spina bifida
  • List the major excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters used by neurons in the central and peripheral nervous system
  • Compare the functions of Schwann cells and oligodendrocytes in forming myelin and the differences in autoimmune diseases (e.g., multiple sclerosis and Guillain Barré syndrome) associated with each
  • Recall the basic anatomy of the spinal cord including the vertebral level where the cord end and meninges end, what makes up the conus medullaris and cauda equina, and which cord segments innervate the upper and lower limbs
  • Contrast the two divisions of the autonomic nervous system in terms of locations of pre- and post-ganglionic neuron cell bodies, neurotransmitters utilized, and receptors that they bind to
  • Describe the names and locations of the two neurons that generate voluntary versus reflex contractions of skeletal muscle, and be able to draw and label a cord section with these neurons
  • Recall the differences between the myotatic and inverse myotatic reflexes
  • Describe how these two sensory systems utilize three neurons to process sensory information
  • Draw out the three neurons that are components of the DCML system and label the modalities of their dorsal roots, their course, and sites of termination
  • Draw out the three neurons that are components of the anterolateral system and label the modalities of their dorsal roots, their course, and sites of termination
  • Summarize the major signs and symptoms of the seven common spinal cord diseases and clinical conditions including polio, tabes dorsalis, ALS, subacute combined degeneration, syringomyelia, anterior cord syndrome, and Brown-Séquard syndrome

Course features

  • 1 c.u.
  • Offered in summer 2021 term

Instructor
James S. White, PhD

This course, covering the anatomy of the central nervous system, including a detailed examination of the functional and clinical neuroanatomy of the brainstem, cerebellum, diencephalon, visual system, auditory system, and cerebral cortex, prepares students to:

  • Describe the cerebellar connectional anatomy that permits the right side of the cerebellum to promote fine-tuning of skeletal muscles on the right side of the body
  • Recall how cerebellar lesions cause tremor with movement and how hemisphere lesions of the cerebellum differ from vermis lesions
  • Identify which lesions result in dysmetria, dysdiadochokinesis, and gait ataxia
  • Describe the major components of the direct and indirect basal ganglia pathways, the neurotransmitters that they use, and their roles in initiating movement or suppressing unwanted movement
  • Contrast the signs and symptoms of those with a direct (Parkinson’s) and indirect (Huntington’s) basal ganglia disease and how each causes different forms of resting tremors
  • Name the four major tracts that traverse the brainstem and the signs and symptoms if each is lesioned
  • Discuss how motor and sensory nuclei of brainstem cranial nerves are organized into functional longitudinal columns in the brainstem and note how this organization correlates with the entry and exit points of cranial nerves
  • Distinguish the gaze malfunctions that result from lesions to the frontal eye field, PPRF, and MLF
  • Trace the path of a visual stimulus from the nasal and temporal parts of the retina to the cuneus and temporal gyrus of the visual cortex
  • Draw out the different visual field deficits and the causes evident in lesions to the optic nerve, optic chiasm, optic tract, optic radiations, and visual cortex
  • Describe the three components of the ear and how the organ of Corti transduces mechanical energy into generator potentials 
  • Distinguish between the lesion sites and causes of a sensorineural versus a conductive hearing loss and how one uses the Weber and Rinne tests to determine the nature of the hearing loss
  • Differentiate the major nuclei of the thalamus and their functions
  • Describe the different embryonic origins of the pituitary and the nuclei in the hypothalamus that control or contribute to the functional activity of each pituitary component
  • Name the lobes that make up the cortex and distinguish the vascular territories of the anterior, middle, and posterior cerebral arteries
  • Describe how the dominant hemisphere differs functionally from the nondominant hemisphere
  • List four different lesion sites in the dominant hemisphere that result in aphasia and list the signs and symptoms of that aphasia
  • Name the major components of the Papez circuit and how they contribute to memory consolidation
  • List the signs and symptoms of lesions to each of the cranial nerves
  • Distinguish the signs and symptoms of various lateral versus medial brainstem vascular lesions, the vessels involved, and the cranial nerves affected

Course features

  • 1 c.u.
  • Offered in summer 2021 term

Instructor

James S. White, PhD

Semester dates

FALL 2020
Sep. 1 – Dec. 10
Course registration is now open.
SPRING 2021
Jan. 13 – April 28
 

Tuition and fees

Your tuition for courses at the University of Pennsylvania is calculated at a per course unit (c.u.)* rate based on the number of course units for which you register, unless otherwise indicated. All tuition and fee charges are subject to the approval of the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and may change without notice.

Fall 2020

For 1 c.u. courses:

Tuition General fee Tech fee
$3,340 per c.u.* $281 per c.u. $112 per c.u.

For ½ c.u. courses:

Tuition General fee Tech fee
$1,670 per ½ c.u.* $140.50 per ½ c.u. $56 per c.u.

Spring 2021

For 1 c.u. courses:

Tuition General fee Tech fee
$3,472 per c.u.* $326 per c.u. $112 per c.u.

For ½ c.u. courses:

Tuition General fee Tech fee
$1,736 per ½ c.u.* $163 per ½ c.u. $56 per c.u.

*Academic credit is defined by the University of Pennsylvania as a course unit (c.u.). A course unit (c.u.) is a general measure of academic work over a period of time, typically a term (semester or summer). A c.u. (or a fraction of a c.u.) represents different types of academic work across different types of academic programs and is the basic unit of progress toward a degree. One c.u. is usually converted to a four-semester-hour course.

How to apply

The Human Anatomy courses are open to anyone with a high school diploma. Successful students have usually completed one year of college-level introductory biology.

Enroll in one or more courses relevant to your field of interest to take advantage of this unique online educational opportunity. Students considering these courses are strongly encouraged to have completed one year of college-level introductory biology for an optimal experience.

If you are not already enrolled in a program or degree at Penn, there are two ways to apply:

  • For fall and spring terms, complete a traditional application through the Penn Post-Baccalaureate Studies program, where you will be asked to provide transcripts, your resume, and application essays
  • For the summer term, you can take advantage of open admission and enroll in Penn Summer Sessions as a visiting student without completing a full application

Apply now >

For Penn Alumni

To register for Human Anatomy courses, alumni should take advantage of the Penn Alumni Program, which offers automatic acceptance and no application fee for enrollment. If you are already enrolled in the Penn Alumni Program, you can register for Human Anatomy courses now through Penn InTouch—no additional enrollment form is necessary.

Requirements for international students

A strong command of the English language is necessary for successful study at Penn. Applicants whose native language is not English must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores to demonstrate English proficiency. Please note that the TOEFL is rarely waived; therefore, we encourage applicants to take the test to avoid delays in completing the application. The minimum TOEFL scores required for admissions consideration are 100 (iBT), 250 (CBT), or 600 (PBT). The TOEFL must be sent from ETS using the institutional code 2986. To locate a testing site near you or schedule an exam, visit the TOEFL website. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is also accepted, and the minimum score for consideration is a 7. You may upload a copy of your IELTS test to the standardized test score section of the application.

Flexibility for international applicants: We recognize that there may be limited testing opportunities for the GRE, GMAT, IELTS, and TOEFL exams in your home country and some applicants will not be able to report scores by the application deadline. If this pertains to you, we encourage you to complete the application to the best of your ability and to include a supplemental statement that explains your circumstances. Your information will be provided to the appropriate admissions committee and your admissions decision will be based on the materials available at the time of review. Please note, the College of Liberal and Professional Studies is accepting at-home GRE and TOEFL test scores and the IELTS Indicator exam scores through the 2020-2021 admissions year. Please visit the specific standardized testing websites for exam options in your home country.

Frequently asked questions

The Human Anatomy courses were created using a robust and interactive learning platform that facilitates asynchronous learning, meaning that you can engage with course material or complete assignments at times of day that suit your schedule. The courses feature video lectures by renowned Penn instructors that include illustrations and animations of systems and structures; formative quizzes; discussion board participation, including clinical vignettes; and a proctored final exam. Most course activities can be performed in standard desktop or laptop web browsers; some activities can be performed on mobile devices.

Academic credit is defined by the University of Pennsylvania as a course unit (c.u.). A course unit (c.u.) is a general measure of academic work over a period of time, typically a term (semester or summer). A c.u. (or a fraction of a c.u.) represents different types of academic work across different types of academic programs and is the basic unit of progress toward a degree. One c.u. is usually converted to a four-semester-hour course.

Transfer credits are awarded at the discretion of the receiving institution. Students should affirm transfer acceptance from their home school prior to registering for the course.

No. However, it is important to check with your financial aid advisor to determine if the ANAT course will affect your current funding situation.

The Human Anatomy courses are available only to students who are currently enrolled in the Penn Alumni Program, the Post-Baccalaureate Studies program, or one of Penn LPS’s Pre-Health Post-Baccalaureate programs. If you have already confirmed your enrollment in one of these programs, you can register for Human Anatomy courses now through Penn InTouch—no additional enrollment form is necessary.

If you are not already a Penn student or enrolled in the Penn Alumni Program, you must apply to the Penn Post-Baccalaureate Studies program (for fall and spring terms) or enroll in the Penn Summer program as a visiting student (for summer terms). Detailed instructions may be found under How to apply on this page.