Graduate programs in nutritional biology are available at a number of universities across the country. Students are able to study this field at both the master's and doctoral level. This article will focus on some aspects of these degrees, such as giving an overview on the various types of available programs, the courses which are usually required, and the typical admission standards.
Information about Graduate Programs in Nutritional Biology
Students who are interested in pursuing graduate degrees in nutritional biology may find both master's and Ph.D. programs available in this field, or in closely-related fields like nutritional and metabolic biology. Regardless of whether it is a master's or Ph.D. degree, there are some courses that are common to these types of graduate programs.
These programs generally will require students to take a course that broadly covers human nutrition at the beginning of the program. In this course, students will learn how topics like how human health is affected by diet, micro and macro nutrients, and the relationship between nutrients and physiological and biological responses. This course may also cover topics like metabolism, population nutrition, and human diseases.
Nutrition and Macronutrients
Programs in nutritional biology may offer a course that focuses specifically on macronutrients and their relationship to nutrition. In this course, students will learn about the nutritional processes of lipid, carbohydrate, and protein regulation, absorption, and metabolism. The course will also cover how metabolism of macronutrients may shift in response to changing external conditions, like human diseases, the aging process, or exercise.
Teaching in Nutrition
As these programs often are designed to prepare students to go on to a career in academia or research that may involve teaching, it is common for these programs to offer a course that covers various topics related to how to effectively teach nutrition. In this course, students will learn about how to teach nutrition to different types of audiences, as well as how to evaluate how impactful their teaching is. Students may be able to practice teaching to actual student groups and evaluating their work.
Nutrition and Human Disease
In a course that focuses on nutrition and human diseases, students will learn about the underlying mechanics of human diseases from a physiological, metabolic, and biochemical perspective. The course will focus on how both over and under nutrition can lead to a variety of health disorders and illnesses. This course may focus on different types of nutrients and how their presence or absence can lead to problems like reduced lifespan and starvation. In addition, this course may discuss topics like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, lipoprotein metabolism, osteoporosis, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Research Design in Nutritional Sciences
Because these programs typically include a strong research component, it is also common that students in these programs take a course in research design. In this course, students will gain a foundational knowledge of how to properly conduct scientific research. Some topics that may be covered in this course include how to develop a proper hypothesis, data analysis, various types of statistical testing and analysis, conducting research in the field, and multivariable modeling.
Admission Standards for Graduate Degree Programs in Nutritional Biology
Students who are interested in applying for graduate program in nutritional biology will need to meet some requirements in order to be considered for admission. While it is not required that students have obtained an undergraduate degree in biology, nutrition, or a related field, these programs generally do expect students to have taken a significant number of courses in chemistry, mathematics, biochemistry, mathematics, nutrition, and physiology. When applying, students will typically need to prepare an application file that is comprised of an application form, letters of recommendation, GRE test score results, and a personal statement. Some programs also require at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA as well as expect prospective students to have gained high scores from the GRE.
To summarize, there are a number of graduate programs around the country that offer programs in nutritional biology or very closely-related topics. These programs combine coursework and independent research and prepare students for careers in research, academia, or further study, depending on their interests.