Photo: Fruit.

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

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.

Program Goals

Through completion of the program in Nutritional Sciences, graduate will be prepared for supervised practice in dietetics, graduate school, or employment by mastering the biological, psychosocial, and community principles of food and nutrition coursework tailored to their option.

Depending on their program, graduates will be able to:

  1. Differentiate biology, chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, and physiology and how they apply to digestion, absorption, and metabolism of food and nutrients.
  2. Integrate biological, behavioral, and environmental factors and explain how nutrition impacts human health and disease.
  3. Evaluate the implications and limitations of nutrition research by using critical thinking and analytical skills.
  4. Describe how food and nutrition community programs are important in helping to improve public health across the lifespan.
  5. Use a range of current technologies to demonstrate effective written and oral communication skills.

Beyond these program goals, each option has specific goals as delineated below.

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

Upon completion of the Dietetics option, graduates will:

  • Have a foundational knowledge of digestion, absorption, and metabolism of food and nutrients.
  • Be able to explain the role of food, nutrition, and lifestyle choices in health promotion and disease prevention.
  • Demonstrate the skills necessary to communicate effectively with clients, peers, and employees.

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.
Course List for the Dietetics Option

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:

Upon completion of the Nutrition option, graduates will:

  • Have a foundational knowledge of digestion, absorption, and metabolism of food and nutrients.
  • Explain the role of macronutrients and micronutrients for energy, growth, and health.
  • Be able to evaluate studies in nutrition for scientific rigor

Course list for Nutrition Option

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:

Upon completion of the Community Nutrition option, graduates will:

  • Have a foundational knowledge of digestion, absorption, and metabolism of food and nutrients.
  • Be able to apply nutrition principles in diverse community settings using their knowledge of cultural foods and food assistance programs.
  • Be able to describe economic and health disparities at the local, state, and national levels.

Course list for Community Nutrition

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:

Upon completion of the Food Service Administration option, graduates will:

  • Have a foundational knowledge of digestion, absorption, and metabolism of food and nutrients.
  • Be able to plan, organize, and supervise foodservice facilities in for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
  • Be able to use food product information and financial management principles when planning menus.

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:

Upon completion of the Nutrition, Food and Business option, graduates will:

  • Have a foundational knowledge of digestion, absorption, and metabolism of food and nutrients.
  • Apply their knowledge of food chemistry to food safety and cooking techniques
  • Create innovative recipes to improve nutrient density and palatability of new food products.

Course list for Nutrition, Food and Business

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.