The Department of Integrative Physiology studies organisms as functioning systems of molecules, cells, tissues, and organs. This emphasis on whole-body function and its applications to human health and disease has made Integrative Physiology the second-largest undergraduate major at CU Boulder.

Their diverse faculty include several who have joint affiliations with the Institute for Behavioral Genetics and the Center for Neuroscience, as well as clinical divisions at the CU Anschutz medical campus.

My time in the IPHY department really prepared me for a multi-disciplinary scientific landscape. I have no doubt that I will continue to use the skills that I acquired at CU Boulder throughout my life—and I can’t wait to find out what the future holds."

— Ashley Bolden, graduate student

The integrative physiology program at CU Boulder is the first in the nation—literally. When the program was created, it was the first such program in the United States, and has maintained an excellent reputation since through its award-winning programs, well-established and knowledgeable faculty, and an unmatched educational experience.

Integrative Physiology undergraduates take a variety of core and elective laboratory courses that emphasize student-developed and -designed independent projects. Students are encouraged to form research collaborations with faculty as they pursue senior thesis projects, and many additional research, internship and industry co-op experiences are available. 

Thanks to this multi-disciplinary approach, more students with degrees in integrative physiology go on to medical school than any other program at CU Boulder.

The Integrative Physiology department is nationally and internationally recognized in several areas of research, ranking 14th nationally in faculty research grants. 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.

Their diverse faculty include several who have joint affiliations with the Institute for Behavioral Genetics and the Center for Neuroscience, as well as clinical divisions at the CU Anschutz medical campus.

For the undergraduate students pursuing a degree in integrative physiology, there are a number of research opportunities beyond just class work:

  • Integrative Physiology students have many opportunities to work on research projects with faculty, either in independent study or through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). For more information, call UROP at 303-492-2596 or visit the UROP website.
  • Students may also seek honors in integrative physiology, which results in the designation of cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude at graduation. Honors work usually involves special coursework and a senior honors research project. Look into this program early because it involves securing a faculty sponsor and developing an individual project.
  • Students may want to consider study abroad at some point during your years as an integrative physiology major. Study abroad provides you with the opportunity to study, live, and travel in a foreign country from a few weeks to an academic year, depending on the program selected. The university offers approximately 100 programs throughout the world. These programs enable you to earn credit as if you had taken courses on the Boulder campus, sometimes fulfilling major and core requirements. Language study is a prerequisite for participation in many programs, so early planning for study abroad is essential. Further information about study abroad is available from Education Abroad, 303-492-7741 or on the education abroad website.

The program provides you with knowledge, skills, and expertise required for advanced training in many areas such as physical therapy, medicine, osteopathic medicine, dentistry, exercise management, nursing, immunology and physiological sciences. A degree in integrative physiology also qualifies you for other career possibilities in cardiac rehabilitation, chiropractic, geriatrics, physical fitness programming (industrial and corporate), and further scientific training in graduate school.

Career Services offers free services for all CU Boulder degree-seeking students, and alumni up to one year after graduation, to help students discover who they are, what they want to do, and how to get there. They are the bridge between academics and the world of work by discussing major and career exploration, internship or job searching, and graduate school preparation. 

Without an advanced degree, according to the 2017-18 College Salary Report by PayScale Human Capital:

  • the median salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and 0-5 years of experience is $38,800;
  • median salary for 10-plus years of experience, $61,900.

Estimated IPHY Salary Info

At CU Boulder, Integrative Physiology graduates earn more than the nationwide average of comparable majors as reported by PayScale. CU Boulder alumni in this discipline earn an estimated annual salary of $71,922, based on a pool of 1317 alumni who graduated between 2005 and 2018. This amount, however, is lower than the average for all CU Boulder graduates with a bachelor's degree, according to a survey by Esmi Alumni Insight of 25,000 alumni who graduated during the same stretch.

Job growth for exercise physiologists with a bachelor’s degree for 2016-2026 is projected to be 13 percent—faster than average for all job categories, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The integrative physiology department has an extensive alumni network, working in a variety of industries across the globe. Some alumni of the program include:

  • Brooke Tata (MS 2010) is a L’Oréal-UNESCO fellow and postdoctoral researcher at Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Université Lille, France who researches female infertility.

  • Allen Lim (PhD 2004) is founder of Scratch Labs, which makes training foods and sports drinks for high-performance athletes.

  • Jinger S. Gottschall (PhD 2000) is associate professor of kinesiology at Pennsylvania State University and founder and co-owner of FITOLOGY, a Les Mills™ group fitness and cycling studio in State College, Pennsylvania.

  • Erik McCarty, MD (BS 1988) is associate professor of Orthopedics and chief of Sports Medicine and Shoulder Surgery at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine.