BS in Human Physiology

The Human Physiology major provides a broad background in science and health while simultaneously preparing students to analyze the functions of the human body in a variety of research and clinical settings. The major in Human Physiology includes the prerequisites for admission to graduate programs in medicine, dentistry, and other health professions, as well as in basic science research. Students are also well prepared for careers in the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industries, and for clinical or laboratory research.

Students take core courses in the sciences as well as BU Hub requirements during the first two years of the program. During the final two years of study, Human Physiology majors take advanced courses in gross human anatomy, exercise physiology, and other human health-focused electives. During their senior year, students complete an internship at one of the selected healthcare sites in the Boston area or at international sites through Boston University Study Abroad.

Students in the Human Physiology major are also eligible to apply for the accelerated five-year Bachelor of Science and Master of Science (BS/MS) in Human Physiology and the Bachelor of Science and Master of Public Health (BS/MPH), offered in conjunction with Boston University School of Public Health. Students in this major are eligible to apply for the Sargent College Thesis for Distinction.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate a robust understanding of human anatomy and human physiology.
    • Students will demonstrate a diverse understanding of human anatomy and human physiology by:
      • Discerning anatomical features/structures
      • Differentiating function and dysfunction of various body systems
      • Recognizing the interrelatedness of body systems
      • Applying this knowledge to real-world scenarios
  • Demonstrate practical skills for research, health, and the healthcare industry.
    • Students will be able to demonstrate practical skills by:
      • Developing a variety of diagnostic and research techniques
      • Making informed decisions based on individual evaluations
      • Understanding “best practices” of patient care in real-world, clinical settings
  • Exhibit social and cultural awareness.
    • Students will demonstrate cultural and social acumen via:
      • Developing effective interpersonal communication skills
      • Displaying the ability to collaborate and contribute to a team
      • Identifying instances of exclusion and marginalization in health, research, and medicine


All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in Human Physiology will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Quantitative Reasoning, Communication, Scientific and Social Inquiry, and some elements of the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major, or, in some cases, cocurricular experiences.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 128 credits is required for graduation. SAR HS 342, SAR HS 369, and SAR HS 410 and two elective courses from the list (SAR HS 331, SAR HS 340, SAR HS 341, SAR HS 361, SAR HS 370, or SAR HS 383) must be taken in the department. Each course (or transfer equivalent) specified in the curriculum below must be included in the 128 credits. A cumulative GPA of 2.0 must be achieved for graduation. This GPA must represent a record that contains no more than 16 credits of D grades. A course will not be accepted for external transfer if the grade is lower than a C. (A grade of C– is not acceptable.) For further information about the Human Physiology program, please visit the Bachelor of Science in Human Physiology page on the Sargent College website.


Each course carries 4 credits unless otherwise indicated.

First-Year Students

First Semester

  • CAS BI 107 Biology I
  • CAS CH 101 General Chemistry I
  • First-Year Writing Seminar (e.g., CAS WR 120)
  • CAS PS 101 General Psychology
  • SAR HP 150 First-Year Experience Seminar (0 cr)

Second Semester

  • CAS BI 108 Biology II
  • CAS CH 102 General Chemistry II
  • SAR HP 151 Introduction to Health Professions (2 cr)
  • Writing, Research, and Inquiry (e.g., CAS WR 151/152/153)
  • PDP electives (2 cr)
  • BU Hub elective

Sophomore Year

First Semester

  • CAS CH 203 Organic Chemistry I
  • CAS BI 203 Cell Biology (can be taken fall or spring)
  • CAS MA 121 Calculus
  • BU Hub requirements outside the major1

Second Semester

  • CAS CH 204 Organic Chemistry II or CAS CH 214+
  • CAS BI 315 Systems Physiology
  • CAS MA 122 Calculus (or MA 115)
  • BU Hub requirements outside the major2

1For a listing of BU Hub electives, click here.
+Students planning to take CAS CH 421 Biochemistry should take CAS CH 214 Organic Chemistry instead of CH 204.
2For students planning to apply to medical school, the department recommends taking CAS SO 100 Principles in Sociology or CAS SO 215 Sociology of Health Care to prepare for the MCAT exam.

Junior Year

First Semester

  • CAS CH 373 Principles of Biochemistry or CAS CH 421 Biochemistry I
  • CAS PY 105 Elementary Physics I
  • SAR HS 251 Human Nutrition Science
  • BU Hub requirements outside the major or HP 252 or HP 353

Second Semester

  • SAR HS 342 Exercise Physiology
  • CAS PY 106 Elementary Physics II
  • CAS PS 211 Introduction to Experimental Design
  • BU Hub requirements outside the major or SAR HP 252 or SAR HP 353

Senior Year

First Semester

  • SAR HS 369 Gross Human Anatomy
  • SAR HS 375 Cardiovascular Pathophysiology (fall) or SAR HS 371 Pulmonary Pathophysiology (spring)
  • SAR HS 410 Internship: Human Physiology or SAR HP 495 Thesis for Distinction (can be taken fall or spring semester)
  • BU Hub requirements outside the major and/or BU Hub electives (4–8 cr)

Second Semester

  • Two electives from the following list: SAR HS 331, SAR HS 341, SAR HS 362, SAR HS 370, SAR HS 371, SAR HS 375 (if both SAR HS 371 and SAR HS 375 are taken, one counts for the pathophysiology requirement and the other counts as BU Hub elective)
  • SAR HS 410 Internship: Human Physiology or SAR HP 495 Thesis for Distinction (can be taken fall or spring semester)
  • BU Hub requirements outside the major and/or BU Hub electives (4–8 cr)

Honors Requirements

Students are eligible to participate in the Sargent College Senior Thesis for Distinction. This experience provides a thorough understanding of the research enterprise. The thesis will develop your technical writing and oral presentation skills through interactions in the laboratory, writing a final report on your project, and summarizing your research in a final presentation to students and faculty. In addition, the dedication, creativity, and independence honed during your thesis experience will be invaluable in helping prepare you for graduate school. Successful completion of the Sargent College Senior Thesis for Distinction results in the designation “graduation with distinction” appearing on the student’s diploma and transcript.

Further information is available here.