Nutrition — Ph.D.

Program director
Sujatha Rajaram

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in nutrition prepares students to effectively conduct nutrition research as well as apply nutritional science knowledge and appropriate research methods to address public health problems. The program provide's an advanced curriculum in nutrition, professional skills, and competencies required to support careers in teaching and research. This program is uniquely situated in the School of Public Health at a health sciences university. The program engages in interdisciplinary research, encouraging collaboration across public health disciplines and the basic sciences, promoting and building upon its core legacy of vegetarian and plant-based nutrition. Areas of curricular strength and research emphasis include plant-based diets and the health of the individual, populations and the planet, nutritional epidemiology, diet and chronic disease-risk reduction, and community nutrition.

Students enrolled in this program are able to concurrently complete coursework and practice experience necessary to sit for the registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) exam if not already an RDN.

Program learning outcomes

By the end of the program, the graduate should be able to:

  • Evaluate advanced knowledge in nutritional science and explain the biological mechanism underlying the relationship between nutrients, foods, and diet pattern and health;
  • Critically evaluate the evidence base and advocate for the role of plant-based diets in promoting health of the individual, population groups, and the planet;
  • Apply analytical and fundamental concepts in nutritional epidemiology;
  • Apply principles of research ethics; conduct a research study that addresses a nutrition problem; collect/abstract, analyze, and interpret the data; and report findings;
  • Effectively communicate nutritional science, orally and in writing, to the scientific community and the public, advancing the field and promoting public health;
  • Use best-practice modalities in pedagogy to deliver educational experiences in an academic setting;
  • Apply the principles of scientific and professional ethics in research, teaching, and practice.

Educational effectiveness indicators

  • Assessment from required courses
  • Comprehensive examination
  • Dissertation proposal defense (qualifying examination)
  • Dissertation manuscript: submission of two manuscripts from the dissertation to peer-reviewed journals 
  • One manuscript published in a peer-reviewed journal (from dissertation research or other research)
  • Oral defense of dissertation
  • Teaching assistantship
  • Presentation at a scientific conference

Prerequisites

  • Master's degree in nutrition preferred; or an M.S. or M.P.H. degree with completion of all prerequisite courses; or a health professional degree at the master's level or higher (M.D. or equivalent)
  • Advanced biochemistry (may be taken concurrently with the program)
  • Anatomy and physiology, microbiology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry
  • G.P.A. of 3.5 or higher preferred
  • GRE or equivalent (above the 40th percentile in each section is favorable)

Individuals who may benefit from the program

Individuals seeking careers in:

  • Academia (teaching and research)
  • Researcher in private industry, governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, or research institutes
  • Public health nutritionist
  • Leadership role in academia and public health sector
  • Health practitioners who want to further the evidence base for the role of plant-based diets in the prevention of lifestyle related diseases
Corequisites
NUTR ____Graduate course in micronutrients or equivalent
NUTR ____ Graduate course in macronutrients or equivalent
NUTR 506Nutritional Metabolism3
STAT ____Graduate course in analytical applications in statistics (SPSS or SAS)
STAT 521Biostatistics I3-4
or AHRM 514 Biostatistics
Public health core
EPDM 509Principles of Epidemiology3
PHCJ 606Public Health Fundamentals4
PHCJ 608ADoctoral Seminar for Public Health1
PHCJ 608BDoctoral Seminar for Public Health1
PHCJ 608CDoctoral Seminar for Public Health1
PHCJ 614Pedagogy: The Art and Science of Teaching2
PHCJ 615Intermediate Biostatistics3
PHCJ 618Transformative Communication2
Nutrition core
NUTR 617Preventive Nutrition I: Carbohydrates and Lipids2
NUTR 618Preventive Nutrition II: Protein, Vitamins and Minerals2
NUTR 619Preventive Nutrition III: Phytochemicals3
NUTR 620Advanced Topics in Nutrition 16
NUTR 664Vegetarian Nutrition: Person, Population, Planet3
PHCJ 624AScientist Forum 21
PHCJ 624BScientist Forum 21
PHCJ 624CScientist Forum 21
Religion
RELE 525Ethics for Scientists3
RELR 540Wholeness and Health 73
RELT 5__Graduate-level Theological3
Electives 35
Research core
NUTR 634Concepts of Nutritional Epidemiology3
NUTR 639Research Methods in Nutrition2
NUTR 685Preliminary Research Experience 42
NUTR 697Dissertation Proposal 60-3
NUTR 698Dissertation 612
STAT 568Data Analysis3
Total Units72-75
Optional coordinated program in nutrition and dietetics 5
DTCS 544Medical Nutrition Therapy II5
DTCS 554Advanced Medical Nutrition Therapy3
DTCS 566Food Chemistry and Experimental Foods4
DTCS 575Food Systems Management5
NUTR 490Topics in Foods and Food Preparation1
NUTR 525Nutrition Policy, Programs, and Services3
NUTR 526Nutrition Counseling and Education2
NUTR 527Assessment of Nutritional Status3
NUTR 531Community Nutrition Intervention I2
NUTR 532Community Nutrition Intervention II1
NUTR 534Maternal and Child Nutrition3
NUTR 557Nutrition Care Process for Diabetes and Heart Disease2
PHCJ 798APublic Health Practicum8
or PHCJ 798B Public Health Practicum
or PHCJ 798C Public Health Practicum
or PHCJ 798D Public Health Practicum
DTCS 777Food Systems Management Affiliation6
DTCS 778Clinical Nutrition Affiliation12
Total Units60

Culminating experience

As a part of the culminating experience, the student publishes one manuscript in peer-reviewed journal (co-authorship or review article acceptable, can be from dissertation or non-dissertation related research), submits two publishable  papers from their dissertation research  to peer reviewed journals, successfully defends dissertation, and submits a committee approved dissertation manuscript. Further details provided in the SPH Ph.D. Doctoral Handbook.

Normal time to complete the program

Four (4) years — based on full-time enrollment