Human Biology B.A.

Human Biology provides a holistic view of the human species, with a focus on our biology. This major gives you a solid grounding in the scientific understanding of human biology, emphasizing the ways it is shaped by, understood, and interpreted within social and cultural contexts.

The Human Biology Program is part of the College of Arts and Sciences. When pursuing a major in Human Biology, you work with faculty members from many top Indiana University academic departments.

Students pursuing the Human Biology B.A. take innovative core courses in the major, co-taught by faculty in the life sciences, social sciences, and humanities. You choose an area of concentration for additional coursework, providing an in-depth study of a topic of interest.

The Human Biology program has two degree options: the Bachelor of Arts in Human Biology (B.A.) and the Bachelor of Science in Human Biology (B.S.). With both degrees, you choose a concentration area most suited to your interests. If you want to study human biology primarily at the organismal level, investigating human biology with a broad interdisciplinary lens, the B.A. major in Human Biology may be the best option. The B.A. degree allows for breadth, flexibility and the possibility of pursuing a double-major.

The Human Biology B.S. extends the study of human biology to the sub-cellular and molecular level, examining the details of human biology within the larger context of biological mechanisms common to all life.

With the Human Biology curriculum, students often complete requirements for a wide variety of health professions programs and graduate programs. If you want a more science-rigorous curriculum to help prepare you for professional programs such as medical school or other science-related careers, the Human Biology B.S. degree may be the best option for you.

The Human Biology program also offers a Certificate in Human Biology. This provides students an introduction to the biological sciences, while considering ethical issues related to human biology.

Coursework

Getting started

The flexible and diverse nature of the Human Biology B.A. gives you the opportunity to examine different areas within the field, while also exploring other academic disciplines. You take upper-level courses that shape your degree to your own specific interests.

All Human Biology majors choose a specific concentration in one of the following areas:

Each concentration area has a list of corresponding courses divided into three categories (Life Sciences Perspectives courses, Lecture/Laboratory courses, and Historical, Social, Arts, and Humanities Perspectives courses). Students select their concentration area and take courses in each of the three categories.

Tracks and concentrations

The flexible and diverse nature of the Human Biology B.A. gives you the opportunity to examine different areas within the field, while also exploring other academic disciplines. You take upper-level courses that shape your degree to your own specific interests.

All Human Biology majors choose a specific concentration in one of the following areas:

Each concentration area has a list of corresponding courses divided into three categories (Life Sciences Perspectives courses, Lecture/Laboratory courses, and Historical, Social, Arts, and Humanities Perspectives courses). Students select their concentration area and take courses in each of the three categories.

Upper level coursework

All Human Biology majors complete the HUBI-B 300 and HUBI-B 400 core courses. Several other upper-level courses, such as BIOL-P 451 Integrative Human Physiology, ANAT-A 480 Anatomy for Medical Imaging, BIOL-L 350 Environmental Biology, and HPSC-X 340 Scientific Methods, are options in the Human Biology B.A. core curriculum.

You also take a minimum of nine upper-level credit hours from within your chosen Human Biology concentration area. Take a look at the concentration area course lists to get a better idea of all of your options.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

Human Biology B.A. majors often have double (and sometimes triple) majors as well as other minors or certificates. With help from your academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest, providing you with valuable skills to complement your major. Human Biology students have combined their coursework with majors and minors in: 

Students majoring in other schools at Indiana University, such as the Kelley School of Business or the School of Public Health, may also be interested in pursuing a Human Biology major. The academic advisor will help you find out if it is possible to combine your first degree with a concurrent second degree in Human Biology.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

While working towards a degree in Human Biology, you have the opportunity to study with faculty from the many academic areas that make up the field. Take advantage of office hours and other opportunities to talk to instructors about the content of assignments, your performance in class, and to help you more fully realize how a course helps you toward your goals.

Faculty in the Human Biology program come from many IUB departments. Many are involved in cutting-edge research and work with undergraduate assistants. In research labs, you can explore your research interests, build relationships with faculty members, and learn how scientific research is done at the university level. To consider the possibilities, visit the websites of departments and faculty members conducting the kind of research that interests you.

Research opportunities are available at IU facilities such as the Indiana Molecular Biology Institute, the Biocomplexity Institute, the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior (CISAB), and the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics.

Field research in ecology and environmental issues can be conducted at the IU Research and Teaching Preserve, one of the nation's most outstanding forest preserve areas adjacent to a university campus.

You are encouraged to apply to become an undergraduate teaching assistant (UTA) for the Human Biology core courses. This gives you with experience grading papers, assisting faculty, and tutoring your peers.

You can receive academic credit for research by registering for HUBI-B490 Undergraduate Research in Human Biology, which in some cases can count towards Human Biology degree requirements.

Undergraduate Research Programs such as Integrated Freshman Learning Experience (IFLE), Science, Technology, and Research Scholars (STARS) give students interested in research the opportunity to work in a lab as early as their freshman year. Students in IFLE begin research the summer before their freshman year.

Honors

High-achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Hutton Honors College students can take honors sections of HUBI-B200 and HUBI-B300, meeting the honors course requirement of the Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

The following programs and scholarships are available to incoming freshmen interested in research:

Other financial aid resources include:

Internships

Internships offer the opportunity to develop technical and transferable skills while making professional contacts with others in your field of interest. It is never too early to begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships

Human Biology majors have found internship opportunities with the following firms and agencies, as well as many others:

Learn more about internships through the Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you have access to resources for finding both domestic and international internships. It may be possible to earn academic credit for an internship by enrolling in ASCS-Q398.

Foreign language study

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 82 languages.

A Human Biology B.A. major must demonstrate fourth-semester proficiency in a foreign language. This coursework fulfills both the College of Arts and Sciences Foreign Language and the IUB General Education World Languages and Cultures requirements.

Below is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington.

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education and experience. Human Biology students often pursue coursework and language study through IU-sponsored and co-sponsored semester programs and summer programs in countries throughout the world.

Some Human Biology majors choose a study abroad program where they find science courses that can be used to fulfill major requirements. They also use study abroad as a way to earn credit toward an additional language major or minor.

Others choose to take courses while they are abroad that will fulfill IUB General Education or College of Arts and Sciences requirements. Learn about overseas studies programs that match your interests and goals through the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Many Human Biology majors join the Future of Human Biology Club, organizing benefit events and activities to support many worthy causes.

Examples of other student associations on campus include:

  • American Academy of Optometry
  • Best Buddies
  • Biology Club
  • Environmental Law Society
  • Environmental Management and Sustainable Development Association
  • Global Environmental Brigades: Panama
  • Global Medical Brigades
  • Hoosier Dentist
  • Intra-Collegiate Emergency Medical Service
  • Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students
  • Pre-optometry Club
  • Pre-Pharmacy Club
  • Timmy Global Health

Residential Programs and Services at IU offers a number of learning communities, where students live among peers with a common interest. Learning communities of interest to Human Biology majors include:

For a complete list of Living Learning Centers, Academic Communities, and Thematic Communities, visit Residential Programs and Services.

Check out beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that exist at the IUB campus, or start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The Human Biology program actively encourages community involvement. Students may have the opportunity for service learning in an HUBI core course

The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Students and alumni who wish to get involved with a professional organization may be interested in the Human Biology Association and the American Institution of Biological Sciences.

Use the Indiana University Library system to search Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, and nonprofit organizations.

Build your skills

Through the major

The Human Biology program learning goals are designed to help develop skills and qualities that are critical to many areas of advanced study and work. These learning goals are:

  • Scientific reasoning
  • Knowledge of human biological processes
  • Interdisciplinarity and synthesis
  • Collaborative problem-solving
  • Communication and writing
  • Ethical reasoning
  • Civic engagement

The Human Biology B.A. degree also provides students with transferable skills for advanced study and careers, including experience in:

  • Using the scientific method to learn, think about, and examine questions and problems related to human biology from multiple perspectives
  • Learning modern lab techniques
  • Designing experiments, collecting data, and using quantitative reasoning to analyze, interpret, and present data
  • Participating in collaborative interactions to analyze data and solve problems
  • Finding and critically evaluating information on questions related to human biology and communicating that information to diverse audiences in both written and oral form
  • Developing expertise in a particular area of human biology

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following abilities, as identified by the 11 Goals of the College of Arts and Sciences:

  • Achieve the genuine literacy required to read, listen, speak and write clearly and persuasively
  • Learn to think critically and creatively
  • Develop intellectual flexibility and breadth of mind
  • Discover ethical perspectives
  • Cultivate a critically informed appreciation of literature and the arts
  • Practice and apply scientific methods
  • Learn to reason quantitatively
  • Develop historical consciousness
  • Investigate and study the international community
  • Develop and practice communication skills in public settings and in the study of at least one foreign language
  • Pursue in-depth knowledge of at least one subject

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following abilities are sought in the job market across many employment sectors:

  • Communicate effectively with persons both inside and outside the organization
  • Work in a team structure
  • Make decisions and solve problems
  • Plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Obtain and process relevant information
  • Analyze quantitative data
  • Create and/or edit written reports

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic and career advisors about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career advisor can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good career exploration starting point is an appointment with the Natural and Mathematical Sciences career advisor.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume and prepare for job interviews, too.

Use the IU Career Guides to determine if the path you are considering aligns with your short- and long-term goals. These offer information about each field's preferred educational preparation, employment opportunities, insider tips, industry-related interview questions, and more.

The job market

A major in Human Biology prepares students for work in a vast variety of industries and work environments, including the health professions, a fast-growing and stable job outlook pathway. Understanding the holistic needs of humans can prepare Human Biology students for many career fields.

Students with the Human Biology B.A. degree are well prepared to work in education, research and academia, pharmaceuticals, health care, government, nonprofit organizations, and business.

Graduates with the Human Biology B.A. have become researchers, educators, pharmaceutical technicians, physicians and health care professionals, laboratory technicians, social services providers, and consultants, among other careers.

Talk with Human Biology faculty, the academic advisor and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of the Human Biology Program and the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers. Talk with your career advisor and use these and other resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals:

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary post-graduate opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund graduate school. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profit, and government organizations.

Resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you’ll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

A Human Biology B.A. degree will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as medicine, law, occupational and physical therapy, research, counseling, public health, and more. Graduate school can prepare students for advanced positions in the life sciences fields.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions.

You might consider these Indiana University graduate opportunities:

Alumni connections

Connect with IU Human Biology alumni and receive email updates.

The IU College of Arts and Sciences organizes Alumni and Friends events. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join and use the IU Alumni Association to remain in touch, network directly, follow careers, and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

The Human Biology B.A. attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:

  • Enjoy diverse interests and aspire to explore multiple academic disciplines
  • Appreciate the natural world, and human history, culture, and social interactions
  • Display intellectual curiosity and imagination
  • Show an aptitude for quantitative and scientific reasoning
  • Desire to think critically and ethically about human biology, improving the human condition, and life science research and its societal impact
  • Value flexibility and choice in major requirements
  • Aspire to the health professions or graduate school, while embracing many possible career options

Learn more

Contact the Human Biology academic advisor to make an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address
ajruff@indiana.edu