What is Human Biology, Health and Society?
The Human Biology, Health, and Society (HBHS) major, only offered through the College of Human Ecology, helps students to view human health issues from a broad and multidisciplinary perspective.

Learn more about the HBHS major

The HBHS major may be a good fit for students who wish to pursue careers related to issues of human health and well-being.

Many health problems are complex in origin. For this reason, promoting health and reducing the risk of disease requires practitioners, researchers and policymakers who can consider the biological and physical aspects of health and illness,as well as their social, psychological, economic, cultural and political dimensions.

You will be required to develop a strong background in human biology so that you can understand the physiological and biochemical aspects of health issues. The program also will require you to use perspectives from the social sciences. 

With these skills, and with access to a wide array of courses related to human health and well-being, you will be prepared to explore a range of health issues through a variety of career paths. You also will have many opportunities to enhance your classroom learning by participating in special opportunities for experiential learning, including the Practicing Medicine program and study abroad, undergraduate research and field experience, or by joining the Health and Nutrition Society.

An HBHS major will help prepare you to answer questions such as:

  • What physiological and biochemical processes are involved in health and necessary for resistance to disease?
  • What is normal growth of children and what biological, social, cultural and environmental factors are involved?
  • How do biological processes explain normal and abnormal behavior?
  • How do diet and other lifestyle factors influence the risk of chronic disease?
  • What social, political, economic, and cultural factors explain the differential access to health care in the US and how can this situation be changed?
  • How can communities, organizations, and practitioners work to promote health in the US and other countries?
  • What can be done to reduce disease and promote quality of life for older Americans?

     

All students in the HBHS program must complete the graduation requirements for the College of Human Ecology as well as the requirements for the major. All HBHS students complete NS 1150, Nutrition, Health and Society and one introductory course in each of two areas of social science chosen from anthropology, economics, psychology and sociology.

HBHS students develop a strong background in biology and chemistry. After a year of introductory chemistry and biology, students complete a sequence of courses in organic chemistry, physiology, and biochemistry. Students also choose advanced electives in biology selecting from courses in areas such as genetics, evolution, neurobiology, cell biology, microbiology and nutrition. A term of physics and a term of calculus also are required.

To explore issues related to human biology, health, and society, students choose from a wide array of selectives courses available in all departments in the College of Human Ecology that provide a more in-depth exploration into the biological science, social science, and nutritional science aspects of public health.

The HBHS major is one step toward a career in the health field. Most HBHS students will need to pursue advanced study to attain the academic and experiential credentials to work in their chosen profession. The HBHS major provides an excellent foundation for graduate and professional schools leading to careers in:

  • Medicine and dentistry: Resources at Cornell for those wishing to pursue admission to medical school or dental school are extensive. You will want to complete the pre-med requirements, which include the eight-credit organic chemistry sequence, two terms of physics and a year of college mathematics. For further information about course requirements and application processes, consult the college's pre-med advisers and the resources of the university's Health Careers Program office.
  • Allied health professions such as physical therapist, genetic counselor, occupational therapist, gerontologist, pharmacist, athletic trainer, or strength and conditioning specialist. Preparation for graduate school in physical therapy requires courses in physics, psychology and ethics.
  • Exercise science and physical therapy: You should complete Human Anatomy and Physiology of both lecture (NS 3410) and lab (NS 3420) before taking any course at Ithaca College. Then you can complete the Applied Exercise Science Concentration at Ithaca College, which includes courses in exercise physiology, kinesiology, and biomechanics of human movement.
  • Health education and promotion careers such as health educator, health communicator, fitness and wellness educator; community action specialist.
  • Biomedical research, genomics and toxicology: Recommended courses include calculus, two terms of physics, and genetics. Other courses in advanced biology and chemistry should be selected based on your interest.
  • Health administration and policy careers: It is recommended that you complete introductory courses in economics, government, sociology and management,as well as courses offered in the college's department of Policy Analysis and Management.
  • Community health: Recommended courses include introductory and advanced courses in human development, psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, communications and health policy.
  • Dietetics, nutrition counseling, clinical nutrition, community nutrition, and management: If you wish to pursue a career in managing food and nutrition services,or in providing nutrition advice to promote health and/or manage disease states,you should complete the academic requirements for The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.Faculty members in the Division of Nutrition's dietetics program can provide career advice and help you compile your applications to the post-baccalaureate supervised practice component (dietetic internship), which is the next step in pursuing a career as a registered dietitian (R.D.).
  • Global health: You can complete the Global Health Minor program by completing their requirements. Requirements include two core courses and three elective courses for a total of 15 credits. Additionally, you will be required to complete an eight-week international Experiential Learning Opportunity in a resource limited environment.

     

Expect your career interests to develop and possibly change while you are at Cornell! The HBHS program gives students time to consider different career interests while they get started completing introductory courses in chemistry, biology, math, writing, and the social sciences. The first-year course, NS 1150 Nutrition, Health and Society, introduces students to some important health issues and helps students develop their critical thinking and writing skills. In a 1-credit spring semester course, NS 1200 Nutrition and Health: Issues, Outlooks and Opportunities, students can meet experts working in different fields and learn about critical issues and trends in these fields as well as the requisite knowledge and skills to work in these areas. In addition, take advantage of the different speakers and seminars offered throughout the year to learn about various career options, and discuss your career interests with your faculty advisor and with college counselors specializing in career planning. If you want to explore other majors, minor fields, or pre-professional paths, your advisor will suggest some people to contact.

Transferring into the HBHS major
In general, successful applicants for transfer into the HBHS major demonstrate:

  • Adequate progress and proficiency in introductory natural sciences courses
  • Interest in the HBHS major, e.g. via NS 1150 and/or CHE coursework
  • An appropriate plan to meet HBHS and CHE graduation requirements

Students in CHE who are interested in transferring into the HBHS major should contact Dr. Julia Felice (julia.felice@cornell.edu). Students in other Colleges who are interested in transferring into the HBHS major should contact the CHE Admissions Office and/or the Cornell University Office of Internal Transfer.

Adding HBHS as a second major
Students in CHE may not have two majors.

Requirements for HBHS Majors

  • See also the College of Human Ecology Curriculum Sheets. All of the following sections are required to be completed to graduate. Courses in areas 1-17 must be taken for a Letter Grade.
  • DNS students may not use courses to fulfill more than one requirement among areas 1-17.
Credit requirements the HBHS major
Total: Human Ecology Human Ecology, outside the major:
120 credits 43 credits 9 credits (from DEA, FSAD, HD, PAM any level, or HE at the 3000/4000 level)

 

  1. Introductory Chemistry (8 credits)
    (a) CHEM 2070 General Chemistry I (4 cr) and CHEM 2080 General Chemistry II (4 cr) 1
    (b) (AP Chemistry score of 5 or IB Chemistry score of 6 or 7) and CHEM 2080 General Chemistry II (4 cr) 2
    (c) (AP Chemistry score of 5 or IB Chemistry score of 6 or 7) and CHEM 2150 Honors General and Inorganic Chemistry (4 cr) 2,3 

     

    1 Students may use an AP Chemistry score of 5 to place out of CHEM 2070. However, GPHS students must take at least one semester of chemistry at Cornell, i.e., students who use AP credit toward their chemistry requirement must take an additional chemistry course (i.e., CHEM 2080, CHEM 2150, or other, but not CHEM 1560). Students interested in the pre-health track should take two semesters of chemistry at Cornell.

    2 Students who take CHEM 2070 forfeit AP credit. Students who take CHEM 2150 may keep AP credit.

    3 Students should only select option (c) if they are very strong in chemistry and are not considering a pre-health (e.g. pre-med) track.

  2. Introductory Biology (8 credits)
    Choose one of the following labs:

    (a) BIOG 1500 Investigative Lab (2 cr) OR
    (b) BIOSM 1500 Investigative Marine Biology Lab (3 cr)

    AND choose two out of the three lecture options1:

    (a) BIOMG 1350 Cell and Developmental Biology (3 cr)
    (b) BIOG 1440 Comparative Physiology (3 cr) OR2
         BIOG 1445 Comparative Physiology (autotutorial) (4 cr)
    (c) BIOEE 1610 Ecology and the Environment (3 cr) OR2
         BIOEE 1780 Evolution and Diversity (3 cr)

    1Students may use an AP Biology score of 5 to place out of one introductory biology lecture. Pre-health (e.g. pre-med) students should not use AP scores to fulfill biology requirements.

    2Cannot take both courses within one category to fulfill this requirement

  3. Physics (4 credits)1
    PHYS 1101 General Physics I (4 cr) OR
    PHYS 2207 Fundamentals of Physics (4 cr)

    1Pre-health (e.g. pre-med) students should also take PHYS 1102 General Physics II OR PHYS 2208 Fundamentals of Physics.

  4. Organic Chemistry Lecture (3-8 credits)1
    Choose one of the following:

    (a) CHEM 1570 Elementary Organic Chemistry (3 cr, not for pre-health) OR
    (b) CHEM 3530 Principles of Organic Chemistry (Fall only, 4 cr, not for pre-health) OR
    (c) CHEM 3570-3580 Introductory Organic Chemistry (3 cr, must take both, CHEM 3570 alone will not fulfill the requirement) OR
    (d) CHEM 3590-3600 Organic Chemistry (4 cr, must take both, CHEM 3590 alone will not fulfill the requirement)

    1Students interested in pre-health tracks should take a two-course sequence of organic chemistry lectures (option c or d above).

  5. Organic Chemistry Lab (2-4 credits)

    (a) CHEM 2510 Introduction to Experimental Organic Chemistry (2 cr) OR
    (b) CHEM 3010 Honors Experimental Chemistry (4 cr)

  6. Physiology (3-4 credits)
    Choose one of the following1:
    (a) NS 3410 Human Anatomy and Physiology (4 cr) OR
    (b) BIOAP 3110 Animal Physiology (3 cr)

    1Pre-health students might also consider taking NS 3420 Human Anatomy and Physiology Lab (Spring, 2 cr)

  7. Biochemistry (4-6 credits)
    Choose one of the following:

    (a) NS 3200 Introduction to Human Biochemistry (4 cr) OR
    (b) BIOMG 3300 Principles of Biochemistry (4 cr) OR
    (c) BIOMG 3310 Principles of Biochemistry: Proteins and Metabolism (3 cr) AND BIOMG 3320 Principles of Biochemistry: Molecular Biology (2 cr) OR
    (d) BIOMG 3310 Principles of Biochemistry: Proteins and Metabolism (3 cr) AND BIOMI 2900 General Microbiology (3 cr) OR
    (e) BIOG 3350 Principles of Biochemistry: Proteins, Metabolism, and Molecular Biology (4 cr) OR

  8. Biology Electives (6 credits)
    6 additional credits selected from didactic courses related to human biology. Any course that requires one year of introductory biology or above (e.g. another advanced biology course) as a pre-requisite fulfills this category; the below list only provides examples. May not include Special Studies credits (e.g. NS 4000, 4010, 4020, 4030, or 4990 or non-DNS equivalent). Possible areas of study include:
    • Genetics, recommended (e.g. BIOMG 2800, 2820)
    • Microbiology (e.g. BIOMI 2900, VETMI 4310)
    • Neurobiology (e.g. BIONB 2210, 2220, 4280)
    • Evolution (e.g. NS 2750)
    • Cell biology (e.g. BIOMG 4320)
    • Physiology (e.g. BIOAP 4890, 3110) 
    • Biochemistry (may not include BIOMG 3300, 3310, 3320, or 3350 or NS 3200)

    • Nutrition (e.g. NS 3030, 3310, 3420, 4200, 4300, 4410)

  9. Survey Course (3 credits)

    NS 1150 Nutrition, Health and Society (Fall/Spring/Winter/Summer, 3 cr)

  10. Social Science Perspective on Health Selectives (6+ credits)
    Courses should cover some aspect of health (including nutrition) from a social science perspective. More than half of the course content must be devoted to consideration of health/life course/disease issues from a social science (e.g. sociology, anthropology, psychology, economics, communications, and other social science disciplines). Courses with a focus on public policy related to health or education/counseling related to health are included in this category.
    NS 2450 Social Science Perspectives on Food and Nutrition (3 cr)
    NS 4250 Nutrition Communications and Counseling (3 cr)
    NS 4450 / 6455, AEM 4450 / 6455 Toward a Sustainable Global Food System: Food Policy for Developing Countries (3 cr)
    NS 4480 / 6480 Economics of Food and Malnutrition (3 cr)
    NS 4500 Public Health Nutrition (3 cr)
    NS 4570 / ECON 3910 Health, Poverty, and Inequality: A Global Perspective (3 cr)
    COMM 4760 Population Health Communication (3 cr)
    DSOC 2200 Sociology of Health and Ethnic Minorities (3 cr)
    DSOC 3020 Political Ecologies of Health (3 cr)
    DSOC 3111 / BSOC 3111 / SOC 3130 / STS 3111 Sociology of Medicine (3 cr)
    HD 2180 Human Development: Adulthood and Aging (3 cr)
    HD 2300 Cognitive Development (3 cr)
    HD 2600 / PSYCH 3250 Introduction to Personality (3 cr)
    HD 3290 Self-Regulation Across the Life Span (3 cr)
    HD 3300 Developmental Psychopathology (3 cr)
    HD 3490 Positive Psychology (3 cr) 
    HD 3620 Human Bonding (3 cr)
    HD 3700 / PSYCH 3250 Adult Psychopathology (3 cr)
    HD 4590 Life Transitions Across the Life Span (3 cr)
    HD 4770 Psychopathology in Great Works of Literature (3 cr)
    PAM 2350 The U.S. Health Care System (3 cr)
    PAM 3110 Pharmaceutical Management and Policy (3 cr)
    PAM 3280 Fundamentals of Population Health (3 cr)
    PAM 3780 Sick Around the World? Comparing Health Care Systems Around the World (3 cr)
    PAM 3870 / 5870 Economic Evaluations in Health Care (3 cr)

    PAM 4280 / ECON 3710 Economics of Risky Health Behaviors (3 cr)

  11. Natural Science Perspective on Health Selectives (6+ credits)
    Courses should cover some aspect of health (including nutrition) from a life science perspective. More than half of the course content must be devoted to consideration of health/life course/disease issues from a life science/biological perspective (e.g. biochemistry, molecular biology, physiology, neuroscience, evolution, animal science, food science, plant sciences, and other natural science disciplines).
    NS 2750 / ANTHR 2750 Human Biology and Evolution (3 cr)
    NS 3030 Nutrition, Health and Vegetarian Diets (3 cr)
    NS 3060 Nutrition and Global Health (3 cr)
    NS 3150 Obesity and Regulation of Body Weight (3 cr)
    NS 3310 Nutrient Metabolism (4 cr)
    NS 3320 Methods in Nutritional Sciences (3 cr)
    NS 3450 Introduction to Physiochemical and Biological Aspects of Food (3 cr)
    NS 4200 Diet and the Microbiome (3 cr) 
    NS 4300 Proteins, Transcripts and Metabolism: Big Data in Molecular Nutrition (3 cr)
    NS 4410 Nutrition and Disease (4 cr)
    NS 4420 Implementation of Nutrition Care (3 cr; enrollment restricted – priority to Dietetics students)
    NS 6140 Topics in Maternal and Child Nutrition (3 cr)
    NS 6310 Micronutrients: Function, Homeostasis and Assessment (2-4 cr)
    NS 6320 Regulation of Macronutrient Metabolism (4 cr)
    BIOMG 4390 Molecular Basis of Disease (3 cr)
    BIOMI 2500 Public Health Microbiology (3 cr) 
    BIOMI 2600 Microbiology of Human Contagious Diseases (3 cr)
    BIOMI  2950 Biology of Infectious Disease: From Molecules to Ecosystems (3 cr)
    BIOMI  3210 Human Microbes and Health (3 cr)
    BIONB 3215 / FGSS 3210 / LGBT 3210 Gender and the Brain (3 cr)
    FSAD 4390 Biomedical Materials and Devices for Human Body Repair (3 cr)
    HD 2200 The Human Brain and Mind: An Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience (3 cr)
    HD 3250 Neurochemistry of Human Behavior (3 cr) 
    HD 3660 Affective and Social Neuroscience (3 cr)
    MSE 4610 Biomedical Materials and Their Applications (3 cr)

    PLBIO 2100 Medical Ethnobotany (3 cr)

  12. Nutritional Science Perspective on Health Selectives (3-4 credits)
    Courses should cover some aspect of health (including nutrition) from a nutritional science perspective. More than half of the course content must be devoted to consideration of health/life course/disease issues from a nutritional science perspective. 
    NS 3030 Nutrition, Health and Vegetarian Diets (3 cr)
    NS 3060 Nutrition and Global Health (3 cr)
    NS 3150 Obesity and Regulation of Body Weight (3 cr)
    NS 4200 Diet and the Microbiome (3 cr) 
    NS 4300 Proteins, Transcripts and Metabolism: Big Data in Molecular Nutrition (3 cr)
    NS 4410 Nutrition and Disease (4 cr)
    NS 4420 Implementation of Nutrition Care (3 cr; enrollment restricted – priority to Dietetics students)
    NS / AEM 4450 Toward a Sustainable Global Food System: Food Policy for Developing Countries (3 cr)
    NS 4480 / AEM 4485 Economics of Food and Malnutrition (3 cr)

    NS 4500 Public Health Nutrition (3 cr)

  13. First Year Writing Seminars (6 credits)
    Note: the 2 required first year writing seminar courses must be completed during the first two semesters at Cornell.

  14. Social Sciences (6 credits)
    Choose one course in any two of the following four areas:
    Anthropology
       • ANTHR 1400 The Comparison of Cultures (3 cr)
    Economics
       • ECON 1110 Introductory Microeconomics (3 cr)  *Counts for Human Ecology credit
       • ECON 1120 Introductory Macroeconomics (3 cr) *Does not count for Human Ecology credit
    Psychology
       • HD 1150 Human Development: Infancy and Childhood (3 cr)
       • HD 1170 Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood (3 cr)    
       • PSYCH 1101 Introduction to Psychology (3 cr)
    Sociology
       • DSOC 1101 Introduction to Sociology (3 cr)  
       • SOC 1101 Introduction to Sociology (3 cr)

  15. Humanities (3-4 credits)
    Choose any course with the Course Distribution Historical Analysis (HA), Literature and the Arts (LA), or Cultural Analysis (CA).

  16. Calculus/Advanced Math (3-4 credits)
    Choose one of the following:

    (a) MATH 1105 Finite Mathematics for the Life and Social Sciences (3 cr)
    (b) MATH 1106 Calculus for the Life and Social Sciences (3 cr)  
    (c) MATH 1110 Calculus I (4 cr)
    (d) MATH 1120 Calculus II (4 cr)
    (e) A score of 4 or higher on the AB or BC Calculus AP Exam1

    See below under Statistics.

  17. Statistics (3-4 credits)

    Choose one of the following:

    (a) STSCI 2150 Introductory Statistics for Biology (4 cr) (recommended) OR  
    (b) PAM 2100 Introduction to Statistics (4 cr) OR
    (c) AEM 2100 Introductory Statistics (4 cr) OR
    (d) BTRY 3010 Biological Statistics I (4 cr) OR
    (e) ILRST / STSCI 2100 Introductory Statistics (4 cr) OR
    (f) MATH 1710 Statistical Theory and Application in the Real World (4 cr) OR
    (g) PSYCH 2500 Statistics and Research Design (3-4 cr) OR
    (h) SOC 3010 Statistics for Sociological Research (4 cr)
    (i) A score of 4 or 5 on Statistics AP Exam1

    DNS students must take either Calculus/Advanced Math or Statistics at Cornell unless they have earned a score of 4 or 5 on the BC Calculus AP Exam. Students in this case may use AP credit for both Calculus/Advanced Math and Statistics.

  18. Electives (Variable)
    Any courses that are not taken in Areas 1-17 above count as Electives.
  19. Physical Education Requirement (2 courses)
    Physical Education must be completed in order to graduate. However, physical education does not count toward college and university minimum credit requirements for full-time status, nor does it count towards the 120 credits required for graduation.
  20. Swim Test Requirement
    A successful swim test must be completed in order to graduate.

College Polices:

  • 120 Overall Credits
    • Students must complete 120 credits toward graduation.
    • A maximum of 15 credits of AP credit and in absentia credit can count towards the 120 total credits.
    • 15 credits of Study Abroad/Exchange, Cornell-In-Washington, or Capital semester can count towards total electives.
    • A course can only count towards the 120 total credits required once.
    • Students who exceed the above parameters—i.e., by taking more than 15 credits in cases (a), (b), and (c), or taking a course more than once—will have their total required credits increase by the same amount, and all credits will be counted toward their GPA. For example, a student who takes a 3-credit course twice to improve their grade will then be required to complete 123 total credits, and will have both grades factored into their GPA.
  • 43 HE Credits
    • Students must complete a minimum of 43 HE credits.
    • HE non-departmental courses at the 2000-level and below do not count toward the 43 HE credits.
    • Students must complete 5 HE credits by the end of the freshmen year and 12 HE credits by the end of the sophomore year.
  • 9 HE Credits outside the major
    • Students must complete a minimum of 9 HE credits outside of NS. These credits are given for any Human Ecology course outside your major (except 4030). These can be taken S/U only if course is NOT used to fulfill a curriculum requirement.
  • Pass/Fail Courses [S/U]
    • S/U grading option may NOT be used for any required course [Areas 1-17] unless it is the only grade option offered for those courses.  
    • S/Us MAY be used for the 9 HE Credits outside the major and for electives in Area 18.
    • Students may apply no more than 12 credits of S/U towards graduation requirements. If a required course is only offered S/U, it will not count towards this limit. Students may take more S/Us if they choose, but the additional credit will not be applied towards graduation.
    • The deadline for changing grade options is the 57th calendar day of the semester, the same as the “drop” deadline.
  • Special Study Courses [4000, 4010, 4020, 4030]
    • A maximum of 12 credits of special study course work from Human Ecology or other colleges will count towards the 120 overall credits (e.g. DNS special studies course work includes NS 4000, 4010, 4020, and 4030). Courses will be indicated on the class roster with a Component of either IND or RSC. [Additional credits can be taken but will not be applied.]
    • A maximum of 12 credits of 4000-4030 may count toward the 43 HE credit requirement.
    • A maximum of 3 credits of 4000-4020 (not including 4030) may count towards the 9 credits outside the major requirement as long as the special study is in a department outside the student’s major.
    • Students cannot TA (4030) the same course for credit more than once or take and TA the same course simultaneously.  4030 does not fulfill any requirements towards the major.  Registration for 4030 may not exceed 5 credit hours per semester.
    • Students who wish to take NS Special Studies Courses must have taken and passed at least 2 S/U credits of the same course (i.e. with the same instructor). Students may petition to waive this requirement if their previous experience is equivalent to this “training period’; for more information, contact aadns@cornell.edu.

HBHS major requirements checklist: downloadable form

This document is meant as a tool for tracking progress toward completing requirements for the HBHS major. It does not account for College-level requirements, such as humanities, social sciences, communication courses, and the required number of CHE or CALS credits. These are described in detail in the DNS Roadmap.

Contact us at aadns@cornell.edu