Human physiology is the science of how the human body functions in health and disease.  

A degree in human physiology provides excellent preparation for careers in the health professions and/or biomedical research.

Students examine human physiological systems from the molecular and cellular levels to the human body as a whole. 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. 

Human physiology is an ideal major for students who plan to pursue graduate work in physiology or related disciplines or advanced degrees in medicine, dentistry, optometry, physician assistant, physical therapy, or podiatry.

Why Study at Iowa

Degree programs in the 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 faculty collaborate with faculty members in the university's Carver College of Medicine and College of Public Health. 

The department also offers a BA in Health & Human Physiology for students who want to work in behavioral health. 

Course Work

The BS degree curriculum includes courses in human anatomy, physiology, and physical activity along with foundational course work in the sciences: biology, mathematics, statistics, and chemistry. 

Elective courses provide in-depth study across a broad range of topics in human physiology, including those related to health and disease. 

Students in this major also must complete the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences General Education Program. 

See Human Physiology in the General Catalog for more information about required course work and graduating with honors.

Minor in Human Physiology or Physical Activity and Nutrition Science

See Human Physiology in the General Catalog for details. 

Admission Requirements

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

Students majoring in human physiology (BS) may not earn a second major in health and human physiology (BA).

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

Health and Human Physiology faculty are highly invested in providing an excellent undergraduate experience for our majors. Courses are designed using a variety of teaching methodologies to enhance student learning.

Dedicated anatomy and physiology teaching labs provide "hands on" opportunities for every student to establish an integrated understanding of human function.

The department’s proximity to the university’s health sciences campus and faculty connections with the Carver College of Medicine give students access to facilities affiliated with several of Iowa’s biomedical sciences departments. These departments include anatomy and cell biology, internal medicine, neurology, orthopaedic surgery, and free radical and radiation biology.


The Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

Human physiology majors often continue their studies in health professional programs to become physicians or surgeons, physical therapists, physician assistants, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, or similar professionals. Others pursue graduate degrees (MS and/or PhD) in the biomedical or physiological sciences to prepare for careers in research and/or college teaching.


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, declaring human physiology as your major for advising assignments and assistance with course selection upon admission.


Human Physiology (BS)
Human Physiology
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan