Programs Offered

Welcome to the Department of Nutrition! 

The mission of the Department of Nutrition is to improve human health through enhanced nutrition. The department strives to accomplish this goal through research aimed at improved understanding of how diet influences health, the dissemination of new knowledge about nutrition to health professionals and the public, the development of nutritional strategies, and the education of researchers and practitioners.

The Department of Nutrition offers training leading to the following degrees: PhD in Population Health Sciences (Nutritional Epidemiology/International Health or Public Health Nutrition), PhD in Biological Sciences in Public Health (nutritional biochemistry), Doctor of Public Health with concentration in nutrition, and Doctor of Science, which can be obtained jointly with the Department of Epidemiology.  Thesis research is conducted in areas that extend from molecular biology to human epidemiology, with three tracks available for study: Nutritional Biochemistry, Nutritional Epidemiology/International Health, and Public Health Nutrition.  Multidisciplinary approaches are encouraged.

Formal coursework is generally completed during the first two years of study.  Students must fulfill the requirements of both the department and the School of Public Health, including coursework in biostatistics and epidemiology.  Doctoral degree candidates are encouraged to begin thesis research with a faculty member as soon as possible after entering the program and must pass an oral qualifying examination by the end of the second year.

Nutritional Biochemistry

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

  • To acquire detailed knowledge regarding the biological basis of nutrition and the mechanisms by which diet can influence health. This includes a basic understanding of metabolism, physiology, molecular genetics, epidemiology and biostatistics.
  • To develop laboratory skills required for modern biochemical and molecular studies of nutrition and its role in health and disease. This includes the quantitative analysis and interpretation of results.
  • To attain skills in developing research proposals for the study of human nutrition.  This requires the integration of knowledge about cellular and molecular biology, modern molecular genetics, and human physiology with concepts in nutritional sciences related to diet and disease.
  • To develop skills in the oral and written communication of scientific information.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

The Nutritional Biochemistry program aims to provide students with rigorous training in biochemistry and cell biology that may be applied toward solving nutritional problems in the laboratory. The program includes the following components:

1.  Formal course work

2.  Laboratory rotations with Nutrition faculty (during the first year of study)

3.  Research and departmental seminars

4.  A laboratory thesis project

For more information on the Nutritional Biochemistry Program, click here.

ADMISSIONS

Students admitted to this program are required to have a good general background in the biological sciences. Admission to this program is through the Harvard University Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GSAS) and does not constitute acceptance into other programs within the Department of Nutrition. Successful completion of program requirements leads to the PhD degree in Biological Sciences in Public Health (BPH).

Nutritional Epidemiology

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

  • To acquire detailed knowledge regarding the biological basis of nutrition and the mechanisms by which diet can influence health. This includes a basic understanding of metabolism, physiology, and molecular genetics.
  • To develop quantitative skills required for the evaluation of diet and disease relationships in epidemiologic studies.
  • To attain skills in developing research proposals for the study of diet and disease.  This requires the integration of knowledge about human nutrition with epidemiologic concepts.
  • To develop skills in the oral and written communication of scientific information.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

The Nutritional Epidemiology program provides rigorous training in epidemiology and biostatistics as well as the biological aspects of nutrition. The overall objective is to enable students to investigate relationships between diet and disease. The program includes the following components:

1.  Formal course work

2.  Practical research project

3.  Seminars

4.  A thesis research project

Click here to an example Nutritional Epidemiology class schedule.

ADMISSIONS

Students admitted to this program are required to have a general back­ground in the biological sciences. Admission to this program does not imply acceptance into other programs within the Department of Nutrition. Successful completion of program requirements leads to a PhD degree (or Dr.P.H. degree for those with an M.D. or other professional doctoral degree).

Public Health Nutrition

Program Description

Students will combine principles and practices from nutrition and social and behavioral science to develop, implement and evaluate programs and policies that promote optimal nutrition, population health, and well-being. Students will be skilled in quantitative and qualitative methods, program development and evaluation, health disparities, health behavior change and health policy. The program includes the following components:

  • Formal course work
  • Research practicum
  • Seminars
  • Oral Exams
  • Dissertation Defense

Students are expected to gain comprehensive academic and applied knowledge in five core skill areas:

  • Nutrition science and principles
  • Translation of science into practice
  • Analytic skills and research methods
  • Policy and leadership
  • Cultural competency

Click here to see an example Public Health Nutrition class schedule.

ADMISSIONS

Students admitted to this program are required to have a general background in the biological sciences and other relevant public health nutrition coursework. Successful completion of program requirements leads to a PhD degree.

Obesity Epidemiology and Prevention

This interdisciplinary concentration is designed for students interested in training in the theoretical, methodological, and applied knowledge and skills necessary to conduct obesity-related epidemiologic and prevention research. The concentration includes obesity epidemiology and prevention in international settings. Areas of training include assessment of obesity in individuals and populations; biological and social determinants of obesity; epidemiologic and prevention study designs; health and social consequences of obesity; worksite-, community-, and school-based interventions; gene-environment interactions; and global obesity epidemiology and prevention. As the concentration does not offer a degree, prospective students must apply to a degree program, which can be in any of three departments: Nutrition, Epidemiology, or Society, Human Development, and Health. Students must fulfill the requirements of the home department, which issues the degree, and the requirements of the concentration, which include core courses in nutritional and obesity epidemiology and obesity prevention. The concentration is limited to doctoral and two-year master’s students; 10 credits are required.

The following are some helpful links:

If you still have student questions, feel free to contact Stef Dean at sdean@hsph.harvard.edu or call at 617-432-1528.