Nutritional Epidemiology

Investigate relationships between diet and disease through rigorous training in epidemiology and biostatistics, as well as the biological aspects of nutrition.

The Nutritional Epidemiology specialization provides rigorous training in the biological aspects of nutrition, epidemiology, biostatistics, and select related disciplines. The overall objective is to enable students to investigate relationships between diet and disease. This area of specialization is offered for the PhD in Population Health Sciences program. The program includes the following components: formal coursework; seminars; qualifying exams; and a dissertation.

As a doctoral student specializing in Nutritional Epidemiology, you will:

  • 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.
  • Develop quantitative skills required for the evaluation of diet and disease relationships in epidemiologic studies.
  • 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.
  • Develop skills in the oral and written communication of scientific information.
Apply to the program by December 1st.

Program Overview

Formal coursework (Years 1 and 2).  The major field of study will be Nutrition. In addition, all students will select Epidemiology as one of their minor fields.  The second minor field will be chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor; usually the choice will be Biostatistics.  The following sequence of courses is an example:

Year Term Course Description GSAS Credits
1 I (Fall) EPI 201 Epidemiologic Methods I 2
EPI 202 Epidemiologic Methods II 2
PHS 2000a Quantitative Research Methods in PHS I 4
NUT 201 Introduction to Nutrition and Public Health 2
NUT 203 Nutrition Seminar 1
NUT 209 Seminars in Food Science and Technology (alternate years) 2
SBS506  History, Politics, and Public Health 2
1 II (Spr) EPI 203 Design of Case-Control and Cohort Studies 2
EPI 204 Analysis of Case-Control and Cohort Studies 2
PHS 2000b Quantitative Research Methods in PHS II 4
ID 214 Nutritional Epidemiology 2
NUT 202 The Biological Basis of Human Nutrition 4
TIME-R Nutrition Research
ID 512 Molecular Basis of Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases 2
2 I (Fall) ID 537 Obesity Epidemiology 2
BST 222 Basics of Statistical Inference 4
TIME-R Nutrition Research
ID 221 Advanced Nutritional Epidemiology (alternate yrs) 2
EPI 223 Cardiovascular Epidemiology I 2
2 II (Spr) ID 541 Advanced Topics in Obesity Epidemiology 2
ID217 Nutrition and Global Health 2
TIME-R Nutrition Research
BST 226 Applied Longitudinal Analysis 4
EPI 213 Epidemiology of Cancer 1
3 I (Fall) EPI 205 Practice of Epidemiology 2

†credit varies

Seminars. Seminars focus on applied areas of Nutrition, work-in-progress presentations, or presentations by invited speakers.

Qualifying Exams. Students will take two qualifying exams. The first tests knowledge gained during coursework; the second is a dissertation proposal.

Dissertation.

Program Administration

Selection of advisors.  Students will initially be assigned a faculty advisor from among the faculty in the Nutritional Epidemiology specialization. Advisors will meet with students on a regular basis and give progress reports each term to the faculty. When a thesis topic is identified, a new advisor knowledgeable about the research area may be assigned if agreed upon by both the student and faculty member.

Financial Aid

Tuition, health fees, and stipend support will be provided for a maximum of four years. It is expected that students will apply for outside funding within the first two years of the program.  The department will not assume responsibility for payment of tuition for courses taken during the summer.

Fellowship awards are subject to the following restrictions:

a.  The awarding of tuition and stipend will follow the contingencies specified in the official letter of acceptance from the PhD in Population Health Sciences program.
b.  Fellowship support will be forfeited if funds are received from another source.
c.  Students must be full-time in the department and maintain good academic standing.
d.  Students must demonstrate satisfactory performance in research.

Frequently Asked Questions

For frequently asked questions, please visit the PhD in Population Health Sciences FAQ page.

Have another question? Please contact nutritionprograms@hsph.harvard.edu.