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Physiology Degree

Physiology is a branch of science that studies the mechanisms of living beings. Physiology students learn about the molecular basis, cell functions, tissues, and human interaction with the environment. The field helps us understand the human body and how we react to different environments. Here are a few disciplines that stem from physiology:

  • Developmental physiology
  • Human and animal physiology
  • Microscopic physiology
  • Practical physiology
  • Comparative physiology
  • Clinical physiology

Physiology can open doors to many career opportunities in the field of medicine, ecology, pharmacology, zoology, agriculture, and more. The applications of physiology can be seen in numerous areas of medical and scientific research as well. With such diverse career options, many students are opting for a college degree in physiology.

Physiology Classes at Undergraduate Level

Physiology can be pursued as a major at undergraduate level. Students can combine this academic discipline with other areas such as healthcare, medicine, kinesiology, etc. Physiology is offered as a course by many accredited institutions. Here are some of the physiology-related classes you can study:

Human physiology
This course studies the biological functions of the human body. Students will thoroughly learn about tissues, organ systems, cell structure, and overall mechanism of the human body. The course will help students learn how diseases affect the body and what preventive measures can be taken.
Medical physiology
Medical physiology emphasizes on the functions and interactions of the human body. Students will learn how various factors impact human health. The course may include lab training and experimentation, depending upon the institute offering the course.
Exercise physiology
This course highlights the performance of the human body and exercise. Students will learn how exercise and athletic activities affect the body functions. Topics such as oxygen transportation, joint movement, and muscle contraction will be covered in this course.


Master’s Degree in Physiology

This is a graduate program designed for students who want to prepare for a career in the medical field. The program will help students learn about the functioning of the human body and its various mechanisms. Students will gain an in-depth understanding of all facets of physiology. The coursework includes classroom learning and lab training. During the initial semesters of the program, students will cover fundamental areas and build a strong theoretical base.  Some of the courses covered in the program are:


  • Research techniques in physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cardiovascular physiology
  • Neuroscience
  • Human embryology and physiology
  • Medical physiology

Further in the program, a few courses will be covered in the labs. Practical learning is an important part of the program and aims at skill development.  Students will also have to complete all assignments, exams, and research projects that are a part of the curriculum.

PhD in Physiology

A PhD in physiology is the highest qualification offered in this field.  It is designed for students interested in research and advanced job positions.
The program consists of coursework, research, and a dissertation. PhD students will undergo a thorough study of courses relevant to the field.  Here are a few subjects one is most likely to encounter in the program:


  • Cell biology
  • Biostatistics
  • Human physiology
  • Research methods
  • Human molecular genetics
  • Endocrinology
  • Experimental physiology

The curriculum may also include workshops and seminars, depending upon the institute offering the program. Further in the program, students will participate in research projects and practical learning. This section of the program is designed to increase a student’s research ability and practical knowledge of the field. Students can choose electives that fit their interest and career goals. The research project is supervised by a faculty member.
The last few years of the program are dedicated to the completion of a dissertation. Students must comprehensively compose a dissertation that reflects their research findings and conclusions. The requirements for dissertation may vary from college to college.

Program Outcomes

  • Acquire important research skills
  • Understand the applications of physiology in various sectors
  • Build strong problem solving and analytical skills
  • Identify various aspects of physiology and its processes
  • Learn how to work in teams and display strong communication skills

How to Enroll

The enrollment criteria will vary from college to college. Students enrolling in physiology graduate programs must have completed a bachelor’s degree in the same or a similar field. On the other hand, a master’s degree will be required to qualify for admission in a PhD program. Students may also have to meet a minimum CGPA requirement and provide letters of recommendation.


Study Physiology Online

Physiology programs can also be pursued online. The growing popularity and demand of online learning has encouraged many institutes to add physiology courses to their program offerings. In a physiology online course, the coursework can be completed through videos and online lectures. Some schools may provide a hybrid online physiology course. Online learning can be cost-effective as students save on transportation, food and lodging expense.



The duration will vary from program to program. Typically, a master’s degree in physiology takes around 2 years to complete whereas a PhD program can take 4-8 years.
Undergraduate short courses in physiology can be completed in 6-12 months, depending upon the institute. These courses are typically career-oriented and are designed for students seeking entry-level knowledge or career skills needed for a specific career.


Career Prospects  

Career Prospects Physiology is a broad field that gives students a diverse range of career choices. Physiology applications can be seen in numerous industries. With a degree in physiology, one can work in the agriculture, medical research, biotechnology, food industry, forensics, and public health sectors, and many more.
The exact career path chosen by a student will reflect his or her area of specialization and interest. For example, individuals who specialized in exercise physiology can opt for a career as an exercise physiologist. According to O*NET OnLine, the median annual wage of exercise physiologists was $46,270 in 2014.



Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:Can you tell me about the degree requirements of a PhD in physiology?

A:To successfully earn a PhD in physiology, students must complete all the program components. These typically include: coursework, qualifying examination, independent research study, thesis or dissertation. The degree requirements may vary from college to college. You can check with prospective schools to learn more about this program and the course components.

Q:What specializations are available in physiology graduate programs?

A:A graduate program in physiology could be a masters, doctorate or a professional degree. There are a variety of specialization offers within this field, including cellular physiology, protein-protein interactions, organization of the frontal cortex, mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases and preterm labor, cardiovascular disease, effects of aging on muscle physiology and function and so on.

Q:Can you tell me about the masters degree in physiology?

A:A master's degree in physiology will allow you to select an area of specialization according to your preferences. You will, typically be given the independence to design your curriculum, based on your own academic background, career objectives and professional experiences. A faculty advisor will be appointed to help you out with the entire process, as per the university's policy.

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