Man standing in a machine
Degrees Offered: BA IBA MS PhD

Physiology is the science of function in living organisms. The mission of the Department of Integrative Physiology is to discover and promote knowledge of how humans and other animals function at the level of cells, organs and systems.

The program emphasizes: the role of physical activity in human health, function across the lifespan and the responses of different organisms to various forms of stress. The department’s multidisciplinary teaching program requires students to take foundational courses in anatomy, mathematics, physics, physiology and statistics. With this basic knowledge, students can undertake a flexible curriculum that includes the study of biomechanics, cell physiology, comparative physiology, endocrinology, exercise physiology, immunology and neurophysiology. The department also encourages student participation in research.

Undergraduate Opportunities

The integrative physiology program leads to a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. The program allows the student to learn the accumulated scientific knowledge about the human body and its responses to physical activity. IP students spend a significant portion of their freshman and sophomore years taking prerequisite course work in biology, chemistry, human anatomy and human physiology, physics and statistics.

In their junior and senior years, students take at least three of the six core courses: biomechanics, cell physiology, endocrinology, immunology, exercise physiology and neurophysiology. In addition, a number of elective courses are offered to complete the degree including independent study, internships and honors work with individual faculty members.

Because of its emphasis on the natural sciences, many students select integrative physiology as a pre­medical degree since it provides the type of course work required for advanced training in areas such as health, wellness and medicine.

The program provides students with the knowledge, skills and expertise required for advanced training in fields like physical therapy, medicine, osteopathic medicine, dentistry, exercise management, nursing and physiological sciences. A degree in IP also qualifies graduates for other career possibilities in cardiac rehabilitation, chiropractic, geriatrics, physical fitness programming (industrial and corporate) and further scientific training in graduate school.

Graduate Studies

The department is internationally recognized in several areas of research. The research activities of the faculty are broadly categorized into two areas: lifespan physiology and stress physiology. Those faculty studying lifespan physiology address questions related to reproduction, development and aging. In contrast, those faculty studying stress physiology answer questions about the adaptations exhibited by the human body when its integrity is challenged by stress.

The Department of Integrative Physiology offers a variety of graduate study opportunities that range from a course­work­only option to a research­intensive option. To facilitate maximal flexibility in the design of a student's program, the department has established a minimum number of required courses that must be completed by all graduate students and the remainder of the program can be individualized to meet the long­term goals of the student. A graduate degree in integrative physiology provides opportunities for careers in academia, industry and the health professions. 

The graduate degrees offered are concurrent bachelor’s/master’s degrees (BA/MS), a Master of Science degree (MS) and a Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD). The concurrent BA and MS degree program is a five­year program of study. Interested students should attend the informational meeting in the fall of their junior year. The program is structured to ensure that students finish both degrees within the five­year period.