Nutritional Sciences: Doctoral Degree (PhD)

Faculty resources, expertise, and program coursework support three focus areas within the nutritional sciences doctoral program:

  • Molecular and Biochemical Nutrition
  • Nutritional Epidemiology
  • Nutritional Interventions

Applicants should have a strong interest in science and health, an undergraduate degree in some field of basic or applied science, and, at a minimum, should have taken courses in biology, physiology, general and organic chemistry, biochemistry, and calculus. 

  • Calculus* 1 semester
  • Inorganic/general chemistry* 1 semester, lab not required
  • Organic chemistry 1 semester, lab not required
  • Biochemistry 1 semester
  • Human Physiology or Anatomy and Physiology 1 semester of either but must be human

*AP high school courses are accepted based on AP final exam score

Methodological Core Requirements
Course Number Credits Course Name
BIOSTATS 521^ 4 Applied Biostatistics
BIOSTATS 522^^ 3 Biostatistical Analysis for Health-Related Studies
EPID 600 4 Introduction to Epidemiology
Nutritional Sciences Course Requirements
Course Number Credits Course Name
EHS 801 2 Research and Communication in Nutritional Sciences
 NUTR 630  3  Principles of Nutritional Science
 NUTR 631  3  Metabolism of Vitamins and Minerals
NUTR 639 3 Pathophysiology of Obesity
NUTR 640 3 Nutrition Assessment
NUTR 688 1 Topics in Nutritional Sciences (year-long course)*
NUTR 700 2 Research Methods in Nutritional Sciences
NUTR 869 1 Doctoral Seminar in Nutritional Sciences**
NUTR 899 ≤6 Advanced Research (2 rotations required)***
NUTR 995 8 Research (once achieved candidacy)

Doctoral students must complete the online Foundations of Public Health modules that will be available in Winter 2019.   

^Students can take BIOSTAT 601 as alternative

^^Students can take BIOSTAT 650 as alternative

*NUTR 688 is a departmental seminar that spans the first two terms. It is expected that students will attend seminars throughout their doctoral program but do not have to officially register.

**NUTR 869 is a doctoral seminar that students register for until they have passed their Preliminary Exam. Prior to the Preliminary Exam, they will present a formal seminar in this class. It is expected that students will attend seminars throughout their doctoral program but do not have to officially register.

***NUTR 899 – students complete two separate rotations with different faculty for a minimum of 1 credit each rotation.

Plan 1: Molecular and Biochemical Nutrition
Course Number Credits Course Name
Required courses (pick one of these)
NUTR 624  2 Nutritional Epidemiology
NUTR 626  3 Controversial topics in the Role of Nutrition on Chronic Disease
Select from the following (minimum of 3 courses, as advised by your faculty mentor):
BIOLCHEM 550 3 Macromolecular Structure and Function
BIOLCHEM 551 3 Proteome Informatics
CDM 530 3 Cell Biology
HG 541 3 Molecular Genetics
MICRO 440 3 Immunology
PHYSIOL 510 3 Principles of Systems and Integrative Physiology
PHYSIOL 541 3 Reproductive Physiology
PHYSIOL 555 3 Integrative Genomics
EHS 576 3 Microbiology in Environmental Health
EHS 602 3 Essentials of Toxicology
EHS 612 3 Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology
NUTR 625 3 Nutrition, Environment and the Immune Response
EHS/NUTR 660 2 Environmental Epigenetics and Public Health
NUTR 638 3 Nutrigenomics
NUTR 657 3 Nutrition, the Environment and Cancer
NUTR 830 2 Advanced Topics in Macronutrient Metabolism
KINES 545 Metabolic Response to Exercise
KINES 540 Advanced Exercise Physiology
Plan 2: Nutritional Epidemiology
Course Number Credits Course Name
Required courses
NUTR 624  2 Nutritional Epidemiology
BIOSTAT 523 ^ 3 Statistical Methods for Epidemiology
EPID 601  4 Principles and Methods of Epidemiology
Recommended course: EPID 640 3 SAS for Epidemiological Research
Students may take BIOSTAT 653 as an alternative    
Select from the following (minimum of 1 course, as advised by your faculty mentor):
BIOSTATS 512 3 Analyzing Longitudinal and Clustered Date using Statistical Software
EPID 602 4 Applied Epidemiologic Data Analysis
NUTR 626 3 Controversial Topics in the Role of Nutrition on Chronic Disease
NUTR 633 3 Evaluation of Global Health Programs 
EPID 675 3 Data Analysis for Environmental Epidemiology
EPID 655 3 Field Studies in Epidemiology
EPID 814 3 Topics in Epidemiologic Analysis (offered every other year)
Plan 3: Nutritional Interventions
Course Number Credits Course Name
Required courses
NUTR 624 2 Nutritional Epidemiology
NUTR 650 3 Socio-Ecol Approaches to Child/Adol. Nutr
Select from the following (minimum of 3 courses, as advised by your faculty mentor):
NUTR 621 2 Eating Disorder Prevention and Treatment
NUTR 633 3 Evaluation of Global Health Programs
NUTR 646 2 Nutritional Counseling
HBHE 503 3 Introduction to Health Behavior Theory and Approaches
HBHE 530 3 Techniques of Survey Research
HBHE 600 3 Psychosocial Factors in Health Related Behavior
HBHE 620 3 Behavior Research Models in Public Health
HBHE 621 3 Seminar in Behavior Research Model in Public Health
HBHE 638 3 Qualitative Methods in Public Health
HBHE 641 3 Materials and Methods in Health Education Programs
HBHE 671 3 Motivational Interviewing in Public Health
HBHE 733 3 Community Based Participatory Research
HMP 610 3 Cost-Effectiveness Analysis in Health
HMP 615 3 Introduction to Public Health Policy
HMP 640 3 Program Evaluation in Public Health
SurvMeth 600 3 Fundamentals of Survey Methods (ISR course)

How Do I Apply?

PhD applicants apply to our program through the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School.

Additional information for international applicants can be found here.

Funding for Doctoral Students

All students admitted to one of our doctoral programs are considered for financial support. There are four types of financial support that we offer our students: Graduate Student Instructor (GSI), Graduate Student Research Assistant (GSRA), Training Grants and Fellowships.

Graduate Student Instructor (GSI)

Graduate Student Instructors are appointed at 50% effort, which involves working approximately 20 hours per week. This appointment includes full payment of tuition, health insurance coverage, registration fees, and a monthly stipend. The duties of a GSI can include preparing materials for labs, teaching labs, holding office hours, grading homework and exams, and tutoring.

Graduate Student Research Assistant (GSRA)

Graduate Student Research Assistants are appointed at 50% effort, which involves working approximately 20 hours per week on a research project. This appointment includes full payment of tuition, health insurance coverage, registration fees, and a monthly stipend. GSRAs generally work closely with a faculty member who is a principal or co-investigator on the research project. The duties of the GSRA can involve analysis of biomedical research data or statistical research. Currently, GSRAs are working on projects involving statistical methods development and application to bioinformatics, cancer, clinical trials, dentistry, diabetes, environmental health, epidemiology, genetics, health education, kidney disease, and survival analysis.

Training Grants

Some students are supported through involvement in training grants which provide support similar to the GSRA or GSI appointments. Check with your department for specific training grants available.

Scholarships, Fellowships and Awards

Awards for tuition assistance are available and are granted without a work obligation. These awards are generally made on the basis of academic merit, expected contribution to the field, and to students with underrepresented backgrounds. Some examples of awards our students have received include:

Other award/scholarship opportunities exist for continuing students. They include:

Financial Aid for Doctoral Students

Many of our students are offered funding as GSIs, GSRAs or graduate fellows. If you do not receive such an offer, you may apply for financial aid through the University of Michigan’s Office of Financial Aid. This office requires applicants for any and all types of financial aid to complete the Free Application for Federal Student AID (FAFSA) provided by the American College Testing Center (ACTC).

A FAFSA will be sent to you directly if you indicate your interest in financial assistance on the admission application form. FAFSAs are available from most high school or college libraries and financial aid officers, as well as from the School of Public Health Office for Student Engagement and Practice. FAFSA is also available at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

More Information

For answers to any questions that you might have, please visit other pages on this website and/or contact:

Susan Aaronson, Program Manager: susaaaro@umich.edu