This area of study uses basic science to measure human responses to internal and external stimuli (such as changes in activity levels, varying environmental conditions, and disease processes) and applies this knowledge to the promotion of human health.

A degree in this area prepares you to work in a hospital or corporate wellness program, or for nonprofit health agencies, commercial fitness enterprises, and federal and state health promotion agencies.

Why Study at Iowa

Degree programs in Iowa's Department of Health and Human Physiology are versatile and designed for students with widely varying academic objectives.

Faculty members place a high priority on teaching and research. Their areas of expertise include sensorimotor mechanisms, environmental stresses, movement control, thermoregulation, mechanical factors that regulate blood flow, blood flow in cardiovascular disease, aging, stem cells, behavioral medicine, and monitoring and tracking physical activity across lifespans and in relation to health outcomes. Many of them collaborate with faculty members in the university’s Carver College of Medicine and College of Public Health.

The department also offers a BS in Human Physiology for students who intend to pursue graduate study in the health sciences, such as medicine, dentistry, optometry, physician assistant, physical therapy, or podiatry.

Course Work

All undergraduate students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) must complete the requirements of the CLAS Core General Education Program.  

The health promotion track is a good choice if you are interested in careers that promote wellness in the community or the workplace through changes in lifestyle and environment. You should consider the health studies track if you would prefer to have a versatile health science background. The exercise science track is designed for students who have a focused interest in physical fitness, physical activity, and sport conditioning, including their relationship to health and performance outcomes.

All tracks offer flexible options in the high-demand area of bio-behavioral health. Whichever track you choose, you'll complete a set of common requirements plus requirements specifically for your track.

Students in all tracks take these required courses:

  • Human Anatomy
  • Fundamentals of Human Physiology
  • Nutrition and Health
  • Physical Activity and Health
  • A course in biology
  • A course in chemistry
  • A course in mathematics or statistics

Health promotion track students also complete these:

  • Health promotion core: five courses in health behavior and health promotion, health management and administration, health communication and coaching, health assessment, and health interventions
  • Health promotion electives: three additional courses in Health and Human Physiology

Health studies track students also complete these:

  • Health studies core: three courses in Health Services; Understanding Human Disease; and Policy, Environmental, and Social Determinants of Health 
  • Health studies electives: four additional courses in Health and Human Physiology

Exercise science track students also complete these:

  • Exercise science core: six courses in exercise physiology, psychological aspects of sport and physical activity, sport and exercise nutrition, exercise testing and prescription, and biomechanics
  • Exercise science electives: two additional courses in Health and Human Physiology

See Health and Human Physiology in the General Catalog for more information about this major, course requirements, and graduating with honors.

Minor in Human Physiology or Physical Activity & Nutrition Science

See Health and Human Physiology in the General Catalog for more information.

Admission Requirements

Students interested in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Students may earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in health and human physiology or a Bachelor of Science degree in human physiology, but not both. 

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 600 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple study abroad programs and undergraduate research opportunities

Faculty, Facilities, and Resources

The department’s proximity to the university’s health sciences campus and faculty connections with the Carver College of Medicine give health and human physiology students access to facilities affiliated with several of Iowa’s biomedical sciences departments.

The university's Student Health and Student Wellness, UI Wellness programs, and Recreational Services, as well as Johnson County Public Health, provide additional opportunities.


Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.


The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.

Application Process

Application Process Tabs

Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Health & Human Physiology (BA)
Physical Activity & Nutrition Science
Exercise Science
Health Promotion
Health Studies
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan


A Health and Human Physiology Major
A Health and Human Physiology Major