We look in the mirror every day, but rarely do we stop to think about what’s beneath that gorgeous bod and how it all works. How thousands of parts (some microscopic) rely on one another just to get us out of bed in the morning, walk to class, eat lunch, read a book, or do yoga. As an anatomy major, you’ll study the all the nitty-gritty intricacies of the structures and functions of the human body. Cells, tissues, muscles, and bones? They’re your new best friends. You’ll study the major systems of the body too—the nervous system, endocrine system, and musculoskeletal system. And eventually you’ll fancy yourself a bit of an expert on respiration, digestion, and reproduction, among other life processes. In short, you’ll just know how bodies work.
Most programs combine anatomy with some studies in physiology, so besides these basics, you’ll gain an understanding of how evolution has shaped—and continues to shape—the bodies of vertebrates. You’ll learn how the interaction of anatomy, evolutionary biology, and behavior affected our view of nature and of ourselves. Some programs encourage you to participate in research projects or initiate your own. And just so you don’t have to wonder if all those pictures in your textbook really add up, you’ll head to the dissection lab for a bit of first-hand interaction with your subject: bodies.
If your high school offers anatomy, that’s your best bet to get a head start on your anatomical knowledge. Science courses such as chemistry, biology, and physics are also a great chance for building a strong foundation. Most science majors require math components, so advanced courses such as calculus will be invaluable.