The goal of the Human Physiology major is to help students understand the function of individual human organ systems, appreciate the interdependence of organ system function and relate homeostatic regulation to health and disease in the human body. This knowledge is gained by pursuing systematic studies of cells, tissues, organs and animals. The Human Physiology program places an emphasis on understanding the underlying mechanisms of these systems within mammalian organisms in terms of the biological, chemical and physical laws that govern them. This integrative approach, spanning the basic science spectrum, places the discipline of human physiology at the forefront of the education of future health science professionals.
The Human Physiology major can accommodate students interested in any a variety of fields related to health and biological sciences. The flexibility of our course of study allows students to tailor their coursework to their academic and career interests. Our graduates can be found in graduate and professional degree programs across the spectrum of the basic and clinical sciences. We encourage you to explore our program and consider Human Physiology as you choose your undergraduate major. The major leads to a B.A. degree through the College of Liberal Arts.
- Vincent Barnett, Director of Undergraduate Studies
Declaring Your Major
Make an appointment
Advising appointments with Dr. Barnett can be scheduled at Human Physiology Major Advising. In preparation for your meeting, please complete our Education Background Form and bring a copy of it to the advising session. If you cannot find an advising appointment time slot that fits your schedule using the schedule site, please contact Dr. Barnett (firstname.lastname@example.org) to request a specific date and/or time. Requests for appointments that do not fit into the posted advising schedule will be accommodated when possible.
In addition, the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology would very much appreciate you filling out a short questionnaire rating your meeting(s) with Dr. Barnett. Thank you!
Dr. Barnett's Office Location:
3-136 Jackson Hall
Integrative Biology and Physiology Department
6-125 Jackson Hall
LATE POLICY: We will hold your appointment for five minutes, but if you miss your appointment, your time slot may be assigned to another student and you will have to reschedule.
The Human Physiology degree is intended primarily as preparation for graduate or professional study. If supplemented with several laboratory courses as well as laboratory experience, the B.A. degree may be adequate for obtaining an entry-level position such as a laboratory technician or research assistant. When combined with a degree in fields such as chemistry, electrical engineering, or computer science, the B.A. in Human Physiology could be helpful in obtaining positions in the biomedical industry.
The undergraduate major is flexible enough to allow the student to prepare for post-baccalaureate study in Physiology, Neuroscience, Biochemistry, Pharmacology, Cell Biology, and other areas of biomedical science.
The major is often chosen by students planning to continue their education in health fields including, but not limited to, medicine or dentistry. There is considerable overlap between the requirements for the physiology degree and the admission requirements of many professional schools.
Notes for Physiology Pre-Meds
Is medicine the right career for you?
Find out about medicine as a career and make a decision to apply to medical school based on your informed interest.
At a minimum, you should enjoy biology and have a real desire to be involved in the treatment of human disease. Clinical medicine involves dealing with people, often in situations that require great discipline but may sometimes lack glamour or even intellectual challenge. Medical schools will look for evidence that helping people with health and other problems is a natural part of your life. This is important not only for the quality of the contribution that you can make to medicine, but also for your own satisfaction with the career.
Do you qualify for medical school?
Develop excellent academic credentials. You must make very good grades. Take your courses very seriously from the beginning of your undergraduate experience. You should also structure your undergraduate program to include certain courses. There are two reasons for this. First, medical schools expect these courses to be on your transcript. Second, you need appropriate background to do well on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The coursework required for the physiology major is essentially a subset of "pre-med" courses, making the major an excellent choice for students who are interested in medical school.
Keep in mind that when you apply to medical school, you will also need letters from individuals who know you well and who can strongly support your application. Begin early to develop relationships with people who can provide this support. The best letters will come from well-respected individuals who are in a position to evaluate you critically and fully, who strongly believe in your potential, and who have experience and skill in writing letters of reference. A good example would be a class professor with whom you also did a special laboratory or library project. The longer and the more extensive your relationship, the more valuable his or her letter will likely be.
Have I done all I can do to prepare myself?
Get complete advice from the right sources as early as possible in your academic life.
Programs & Organizations
The Undergraduate Physiology Society (UPS) or (U-PHYS) was founded in 2009. We are student-governed, and affiliated with the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology, with Dr. Barnett as our advisor. Although many members are Human Physiology majors, this is not a requirement for membership, and we encourage non-majors to attend our meetings and events.
The American Physiological Society (APS) is a nonprofit devoted to fostering education, scientific research, and dissemination of information in the physiological sciences.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) is a nonprofit medical research organization that ranks as one of the nation’s largest philanthropies. HHMI plays a prominent role in advancing biomedical research and science education in the United States.
The Institute for Mathematics and its Applications connects scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in order to address scientific and technological challenges in a collaborative, engaging environment, developing transformative, new mathematics and exploring its applications while training the next generation of researchers and educators.
The Council of Graduate Students (COGS) is the student governance organization representing nearly 10,000 graduate students at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Its mission is to advocate on behalf of graduate students and for graduate education within the University community, and to ensure graduate students -- who are integral to the support of the research and teaching enterprises of the University -- are fully supported by their advisors, departments, colleges the Graduate School and the University at large.
The Science Coalition (TSC) is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization of 50 of the leading public and private research universities in the United States. TSC is dedicated to sustaining the federal government’s commitment to U.S. leadership in basic science.