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 during the first two years of the program, in addition to courses in the humanities and social sciences, included in the BU Hub requirements. During the final two years of study, Human Physiology majors take advanced courses in gross human anatomy, exercise physiology, neuroanatomy and neurophysiology, and cardiopulmonary pathophysiology. Many students choose electives in neurobiology, muscle biology, vascular physiology, endocrinology, histology, and other health sciences fields. 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 in Human Physiology (BS/MS) 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

  1. Demonstrate the skills required to pursue advanced degrees in the clinical, biomedical, or basic sciences or to directly enter into employment in the biomedical field.
  2. Apply principles and generalizations learned via coursework to novel problems and situations in clinical and/or research environments.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively.
  4. Demonstrate skilled use of the materials, tools, and/or technology of the biomedical field.
  5. Show initiative, and the ability to work both independently and as part of a team.
  6. Employ professional behavior in clinical and/or research settings.


All students entering as freshmen in Fall 2018 and after will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, a general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements are flexible and can be satisfied in many different ways, through coursework in and beyond the major and, in some cases, through co-curricular 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, co-curricular experiences.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 128 credits is required for graduation. SAR HS 342, SAR HS 369, SAR HS 370, SAR HS 375, and SAR HS 410 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 12 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.

Freshman Year

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 Freshman 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 150/151/152)
  • PDP electives (2 cr)

Sophomore Year

First Semester

  • CAS CH 203 Organic Chemistry I
  • CAS BI 203 Cell Biology
  • CAS MA 121 Calculus
  • BU Hub requirements outside the major1

Second Semester

  • CAS CH 204 Organic Chemistry II+
  • CAS BI 315 Systems Physiology
  • CAS MA 122 Calculus
  • 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
  • BU Hub requirements outside the major
  • SAR HS 251 Human Nutrition Science

Second Semester

  • SAR HS 342 Exercise Physiology
  • CAS PY 106 Elementary Physics II
  • CAS PS 211 Introduction to Experimental Design or 
  • CAS MA 113 Elementary Statistics
  • BU Hub requirements outside the major

Senior Year

First Semester

  • SAR HS 369 Gross Human Anatomy
  • SAR HS 410 Internship: Human Physiology3 (HS 410 can be taken either Fall or Spring Semester)
  • BU Hub requirements outside the major and/or general electives (4–8 cr)

Second Semester

  • SAR HS 370 Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology
  • SAR HS 375 Cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology
  • SAR HS 410 Internship: Human Physiology3 (HS 410 can be taken either Fall or Spring Semester)
  • BU Hub requirements outside the major and/or general electives (4–8 cr)

3Students who register for the Senior Thesis for Distinction may substitute SAR HP 495 for SAR HS 410.

Honors Requirements

Human Physiology students are eligible to participate in the Sargent College Senior Thesis for Distinction. This experience offers 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 poster presentation to students and faculty. It will help prepare you for graduate school where the dedication, creativity, and independence honed during your thesis experience will be invaluable. Successful completion of the Thesis will result in the designation of “graduation with distinction” appearing on your diploma and transcript.

Further information is available here.