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 organism 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 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. They consistently rank among the top programs of their kind nationwide.

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 heath 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 BA in Health & Human Physiology for students who want to work in behavioral health. 

Course Work

The BS degree curriculum includes foundation courses in biology, mathematics, statistics, chemistry, and physics, plus courses in anatomy, physiology, and physical activity.

Elective courses provide in-depth study across a broad range of topics in human physiology, including those related to health and disease. Students also must complete the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences General Education Program. 

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

Minor in Human Physiology or Physical Activity & Nutrition Science

See Human Physiology in the General Catalog for details. 

Admission Requirements

Students interested in this major 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 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 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.


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.

A degree in human physiology 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. 

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 in the biomedical or physiological sciences to prepare for careers in research and/or college teaching.

Students who choose not to pursue advanced degrees are well qualified for employment in research or clinical laboratories.


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

Application Process

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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