Photo: Fruit.

Program Goal

Through completion of the program in Nutritional Sciences, graduates will be prepared for supervised practice in dietetics, graduate school, or employment by mastering the biological, social science, and community principles of food and nutrition coursework. Beyond these program goals, each option has specific learning goals as delineated below.

About Nutritional Sciences

Nutrition emphasizes the metabolic aspects of how organisms use food. It includes knowledge of how food is digested, absorbed and used for energy and growth as well as how and why nutrient requirements change over the live span and under stress. The field of nutritional sciences encompasses all aspects of an organism's interaction with food. It includes biochemical, physiologic, molecular, psychological, and cultural aspects of food choice and nutrient metabolism.

The Nutritional Sciences major includes the following options:

  • Dietetics
  • Nutrition
  • Nutrition, Food & Business
  • Community Nutrition
  • Food Service Administration

All students complete the core requirements in biology and chemistry and then pursue the specific course work pertinent to the option they have chosen.  The largest number of students is enrolled in the Dietetics Option which was accredited in October, 2013 at the baccalaureate level for a period of 10 years.

Dietetics Option

The Dietetics Option of the Nutritional Sciences major is an accredited didactic program in dietetics (DPD) by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 120 South Riverside Drive, Chicago, IL 60606, (800) 877-1600; (312) 899-0040 ext. 5400, email:

The Dietetics option emphasizes nutrition and food service and prepares students for careers as clinical dietitians and nutritionists, educators, health promotion facilitators, and consumer specialists in food and nutrition.

After students have satisfied the core requirements, they can proceed to the dietetics option. Advanced courses stress human nutrition and its application to diet and health. Students take organic chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, economics, and statistics. Upon completing the option, students normally apply for a dietetic internship or AP-4 program to prepare for the examination to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN).  Students are encouraged to download the Student Manual for the Didactic Program in Dietetics.

Learning Goals

  • Students will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to communicate effectively with clients, peers, and employees.
  • Students will learn to function as professionals.
  • Students will learn to develop leadership characteristics and to be cognizant of differences in the population groups with whom they work.

Upon completion of a dietetic internship, candidates may take the CDR registration examination and, upon passing, use the professional designation, "Registered Dietitian Nutritionist."  Dietetics students are encouraged to see their academic advisor regularly, for assistance in course selection and to discuss academic progress toward their goals.  In addition, the dietetics program regularly holds group sessions to inform all dietetics students about changes in ACEND requirements, important dates for submitting applications to internships, computer matching, the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and any SEBS curriculum changes that may affect the student.  Students are informed about these sessions via email and announcements posted in Davison Hall.

Nutrition Option

The option in Nutrition provides sound training for those intending to go to graduate school in any of the life sciences, conduct biomedical research, or pursue preprofessional (medical, dental) studies. The nutrition option also prepares for entry-level jobs in biomedical research fields in industry and academia.

After completing the core requirements, students who choose the Nutrition option take advanced courses in molecular and cell biology, biochemistry, and physiology, in addition to nutrition courses (e.g., nutritional aspects of energy metabolism; nutritional aspects of protein, vitamin and mineral metabolism). 

Learning Goals:

  • Students will examine the metabolic aspects of how organisms use food.
  • Students will be able to apply knowledge in how food is digested, absorbed, and used for energy and growth.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate how and why nutrient requirements change over the lifespan.

Course list for Nutrition Option

Food Service Administration Option

The option in Food Service Administration is for students who want careers in food service marketing or in managing food service in schools, hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, corporations, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. Students complete the basic core requirements and take advanced courses in quantity food production, managing food-service systems, and institutional organization and management. They supplement this concentration with elective courses in business, agribusiness, and food science. 

Learning Goals:

  • Students will be able to plan, organize, and supervise foodservice facilities in for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
  • Students will be able to use government resources and food product information when planning menus and apply financial management principles in cost regulation and control of budgets.

Course list for Food Service Administration Option

Nutrition, Food and Business Option

This option prepares professionals to work in food and food related industries at the interface of nutrition, food, and business.  The fundamentals of nutrition, the science of food, and business prepare students for positions in test kitchens of food companies, product development in the food industry, public relations, pharmaceutical companies, the supermarket industry, and in research. 

Learning Goals:

  • Students will be able to use their knowledge of the science of food and nutrition and apply it to new food product development.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate basic food preparation techniques to create innovative recipes to improve nutrient density and palatability of new food products.

Course list for Nutrition, Food and Business

Community Nutrition Option

This option addresses the growing need for nutrition professionals to work with youth in structured organizations at the local, state, and national level such as WIC, Head Start, 4-H, cooperative extension, after school care, day care, environmental education, and programs for homeless children and families.

Learning Goals:

  • Students will be able to apply nutrition principles in diverse community settings using their knowledge of cultural foods and food assistance programs.
  • Students will be able to address the economic and health disparity issues in structured organizations at the local, state, and national level.

Course list for Community Nutrition

Certificate in Professional Youth Work

The Professional Youth Work certificate program addresses the growing need for educated professionals to work with youth in structured organizations. The program includes academic and experiential learning and draws upon educational pedagogy, sociology, and psychology to prepare students to address complex problems in youth, family, and community services.

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Independent Study

All students are encouraged to pursue independent research projects with faculty members.