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Field of Study: Physiology


Physiology programs teach people how animals move and breathe, how plants grow, and how both reproduce.



Physiology programs include topics such as:

  • Reproduction and growth
  • Vascular function
  • Homeostasis
  • Physical function and malfunction
  • Evolutionary physiology
  • Disease processes
  • Cell biology
  • Genetics

Community colleges and other 2-year schools offer associate degree programs. An associate degree usually takes two years to complete. After earning an associate degree students can transfer to a college or university for further study.

Few colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in physiology. A bachelor's degree usually takes about four years of full-time study.

Many universities offer graduate degrees in physiology. A master's degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master's degree.


College preparation

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

  • Pre-Calculus
  • English Composition
  • Biology
  • Advanced Biology courses
  • Chemistry
  • Physics


Graduate admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree (usually in biology, chemistry, or biochemistry), good grades, and good test scores.

Additional requirements at some schools include:

  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General
  • Letters of recommendation


Typical course work

A bachelor's degree program in physiology typically requires that you study courses such as the following:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Applied Calculus
  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Comparative Animal Physiology
  • Ecology
  • Elements of Physics
  • English Composition
  • General Biology
  • General Chemistry
  • Genetics
  • Introduction to Toxicology
  • Organic Chemistry

A graduate program in physiology typically includes courses such as the following:

  • Biochemistry
  • Biostatistics for Health Sciences
  • Lab Rotations
  • Metabolic Regulation/Molecular Endocrinology
  • Molecular/Cellular Physiology
  • Neurophysiology

In addition, graduate programs typically require the following:

  • Thesis (master's degree)
  • Preliminary exams (doctoral degree only)
  • Dissertation and dissertation defense (doctoral degree)

You may be required to teach biology to undergraduates.


Things to know

With a bachelor's degree you may work as a research assistant. You may go on to professional study in medical, dental, or veterinary school.


Similar fields of study

Careers you may qualify for

College Health Specialties Teachers
Medical Scientists



American Physiological Society
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Becoming a Scientist (Howard Hughes Medical Institute)

Schools that offer program

Click on the school name to see a list of their programs related to this field of study.

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities - Minneapolis, Located in Metro