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, 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

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
  • Nutrition and Health
  • Physical Activity and Health
  • A course in biology
  • A course in chemistry
  • A course in mathematics or statistics
  • A course in human physiology
  • A course in exercise physiology

Health promotion track students also complete these:

  • Health promotion core: five courses in exercise testing and prescription, health behavior and health promotion, community and worksite health promotion, health interventions, and nutrition interventions
  • Health promotion electives: three courses in areas such as global health, health education, health communication and media, human disease, human development and aging, and substance abuse, as well as practicum experiences

Health studies track students also complete these:

  • Five or more courses on topics such as health coaching, human disease, human growth and development, physiology of nutirition, and psychological aspects of health, sport, and physical activity 

Exercise science track students also complete these:

  • Exercise science core: six courses in psychological aspects of sport and physical activity, sport and exercise nutrition, exercise testing and prescription, human disease and biomechanics
  • Exercise science electives: three courses in areas such as coaching, leadership, training for elite performance, clinical exercise physiology and motor learning

See Health and Human Physiology in the General Catalog for more information about this major 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

All applicants need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to nearly 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Living-Learning Communities, Study Abroad Programs, and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Students in this major enjoy the Health Sciences Living-Learning Community or the Well Beings Living-Learning Community in the UI residence halls.

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 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
Pre-Child Life
Sport & Recreation Management
Therapeutic Recreation
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan


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