Earn your BS in Health Promotion

The health promotion track is intended for students seeking careers that promote wellness in the community and the workplace. The major prepares students to directly work with individuals and communities to improve health and quality of life. Students learn how to assess, plan, implement, evaluate, and oversee programs designed to improve health behaviors, create environments supportive of healthy lifestyles, and effectively communicate health issues to key stakeholders. The major prepares students to take the certification exam from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. The mix of natural and social sciences in this major also provides a foundation for professional or graduate study in allied health, health management, or public health.

Students who earn the major in health promotion can earn a minor in human physiology, but:

  • May not earn a major in exercise science, human physiology, or health studies
  • May not earn a minor in lifestyle medicine

The Bachelor of Science with a major in health promotion requires a minimum of 120 semester hours, including at least 47–49 semester hours of work for the major. A minimum of 16 semester hours in the major must be earned at the University of Iowa. Students must maintain a grade-point average of at least 2.00 in all courses for the major and in all UI courses for the major. They also must complete the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences GE CLAS Core.

Learning outcomes

  • Undertake focused study in physical fitness, physical activity, sport nutrition, and sport conditioning as they pertain to health and performance outcomes
  • Use and understand scientific methods to solve problems in health promotion
  • Instill an understanding and appreciation of the relevance of healthy behaviors to a fulfilling and productive life
  • Encourage life-long learning in the rapidly evolving fields of health promotion

Required coursework

Students complete three foundation courses, one each in chemistry, biology, and mathematics/statistics. Note that courses may have required prerequisites.


One of these:

  • CHEM:1080 General Chemistry II, 3 semester hours
  • CHEM:1120 Principles of Chemistry II, 4 semester hours


One of the these:

  • BIOL:1140 Human Biology: Nonmajors, 4 semester hours
  • BIOL:1141  Human Biology: Health Professions, 4 semester hours
  • BIOL:1411 Foundations of Biology, 4 semester hours

Mathematics or statistics

One of the these:

  • MATH:1020 Elementary Functions, 4 semester hours
  • MATH:1350 Quantitative Reasoning for Business, 4 semester hours
  • MATH:1380 Calculus and Matrix Algebra for Business, 4 semester hours
  • MATH:1440 Mathematics for the Biological Sciences, 4 semester hours
  • MATH:1460 Calculus for the Biological Sciences, 4 semester hours
  • MATH:1850 Calculus I, 4 semester hours
  • PSQF:4143/STAT:4143 Introduction to Statistical Methods, 3 semester hours
  • STAT:1020/PSQF:1020 Elementary Statistics and Inference, 3 semester hours
  • STAT:1030 Statistics for Business, 4 semester hours
  • STAT:3510/IGPI:3510 Biostatistics, 3 semester hours

Students must complete all four of the following foundation courses:

  • HHP:1100 Human Anatomy, 3 semester hours
  • HHP:1300 Fundamentals of Human Physiology, 3 semester hours
  • HHP:2200 Physical Activity and Health, 3 semester hours
  • HHP:2310 Nutrition and Health, 3 semester hours

Students must complete all five of the following health promotion core courses:

    • HHP:3200 Health Behavior and Health Promotion, 3 semester hours
    • HHP:3430 Health Management and Administration, 3 semester hours
    • HHP:4010 Behavioral and Clinical Health Assessment with Lab, 4 semester hours
    • HHP:4020 Health coaching, 3 semester hours
    • HHP:4420 Planning and Evaluating Health Interventions, 3 semester hours

    Students must complete at least 3 semester hours from the following courses:

    • HHP:3820 Community Wellness Guided Practicum, 3 semester hours
    • HHP:3930 Practicum in HHP, 1-3 semester hours
    • HHP:3994 Undergraduate Research, 1-3 semester hours
    • HHP:4365 Internship in Health Coaching, 3 semester hours
    • HHP:4490 International Medicine: Experiential Learning, 3 semester hours
    • HHP:4500 Undergraduate Independent Study arr.
    • HHP:4900 Honors Research, 3 semester hours
    • HHP:4930 Health and Human Physiology Internship 3-12 semester hours
    • ABRD:3366 Comparative Health Systems arr. 

    Students must complete at least 6 semester hours selected from courses numbered HHP:2000 or above.


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    Kathy Mellen

    Associate Professor of Instruction

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    CHES Certification

    Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) Exam

    Since 2012, our Health Promotion students boast a 96% pass rate on the CHES exam which far exceeds the national pass rate (68%) over that same time frame. Our well-rounded curriculum prepares students to sit for the exam near the end of their senior year.

    “My senior year I chose to sit for the CHES exam. The health promotion curriculum prepared me to sit and pass that exam. When interviewing for my current job, I explained that I was a Certified Health Education Specialist and they were impressed. Through CHES, you need to complete continuing education hours and from that I took a course in worksite wellness among other valuable classes to enhance my career. My company truly valued that I was enrolling in courses to help improve myself and the company’s wellbeing program.”

    Portrait of Alexandra Hardy

     Alexandra Hardy, BS, CHES, Wellbeing Coordinator, Class of 2017

    Health Promotion Alumni Spotlights

    Karlen Lamp

    Karlen Lamp

    Karlen Lamp graduated in 2019 with a BA Health and Human Physiology (Health Promotion) and is now working as a Business Development Manager for Midwest Cardiovascular Institute in Chicago.
    Emon Collazo

    Emon Collazo

    Emon Collazo is a 2018 graduate with a BA in Health Promotion and is now employed with the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Veterans Service Representative.
    Amber Simone Francis

    Amber Simone Francis

    Amber Simone Francis graduated in the Spring of 2019 with a BA in Health & Human Physiology (Health Promotion) and currently works in Des Moines as a Health Educator with Planned Parenthood North Central States.

    “As a graduate of the health promotion program, I cannot say enough great things about the course offerings and professors! I started my career as a health educator providing one-on-one consultations to help individuals understand their health risks. With the education I received through the HHP track, I felt confident in addressing the many topics that arose. Each person is unique and I was well equipped to discuss their nutrition and exercise habits, SMART goals, and resources. I can now say I have worn many hats within the organization, including assisting in recruiting, hiring, training, staffing and overseeing others, program setup and communications for client wellness programs, as well as reporting on participation and outcomes for the program.”

    Portrait of Stephanie Leibfried

    Stephanie (Faron) Leibfried, BS, CHES, Account Coordinator at Health Solutions, LLC

    Health promotion faculty

    Adam Blalock

    Adam Blalock

    Visiting Assistant Professor
    steph pfp

    Stephanie Borst

    Portrait of Lucas Carr

    Lucas Carr

    Associate Professor
    Director of Undergraduate Studies - Exercise Science, Health Promotion, & Health Studies
    Director, Community Health Collaborative
    Amy Fletcher is a lecturer in the department of Health and Physiology

    Amy Fletcher

    Associate Professor of Instruction
    This is a picture of Jessica Gorzelitz

    Jessica (Jess) Gorzelitz

    Assistant Professor
    This is a picture of Nathaniel Jenkins

    Nathaniel Jenkins

    Assistant Professor
    This is a picture of Megan Lewey

    Megan Lewey

    Kathy's pfp

    Kathy Mellen

    Associate Professor of Instruction
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    Kelli Saginak

    Health Coaching Co-Director
    This is a photo of Lauren Steinke

    Lauren Steinke

    Co-Director, Health Coaching Pathway
    Kara M. Whitaker is a associate professor with tenure and the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Health and Human Physiology.

    Kara M. Whitaker

    Associate Professor
    Director of Graduate Studies - Health and Human Physiology