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 (1 semester) or Anatomy and Physiology (1 semester of each but must be human)

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

Methodological Core Requirements
Course Number Credits Course Name Term
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
NUTR 630 3 Principles of Nutritional Science F
NUTR 631 3 Metabolism of Vitamins and Minerals W
NUTR 639 3 Pathophysiology of Obesity W
NUTR 640 3 Nutritional Assessment F
NUTR 688 1 Topics in Nutritional Sciences (year-long course)* F/W
NUTR 701 2 Research Methods in Nutritional Sciences W
NUTR 869 1 Doctoral Seminar in Nutritional Sciences ** F/W
NUTR 899 ≤6 Advanced Research (2 rotations required) *** F/W
NUTR 995 8 Research (once achieved candidacy) F/W

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.

Course Number Credits Course Name Term
Molecular and Biochemical Nutrition
Required courses (pick one of these)
NUTR 624 2 Nutritional Epidemiology W
NUTR 626 3 Controversial Topics in the Role of Nutrition on Chronic Disease W
Select from the following (minimum of 3 courses, as advised by your faculty mentor):
BIOLCHEM 550 3 Macromolecular Structure and Function F
BIOLCHEM 551 3 Proteome Informatics F
CDB 530 3 Cell Biology F
HG 541 3 Molecular Genetics F
MICRO 440 3 Immunology W
PHYSIOL 510 3 Systems and Integrative Physiology F
PHYSIOL 541 3 Reproductive Physiology W
PHYSIOL 555 3 Integrative Genomics W
EHS 576 3 Microbiology in Environmental Health W
EHS 602 3 Essentials of Toxicology F
EHS 612 3 Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology W
NUTR 625 3 Nutrition, Environment and the Immune Response F
NUTR 660 2 Environmental Epigenetics and Public Health W
NUTR 638 3 Nutrigenomics F
NUTR 657 3 Nutrition, the Environment and Cancer W
NUTR 830 2 Advanced Topics in Macronutrient Metabolism F
KINES 545 3 Metabolic Response to Exercise F/W
KINES 540 3 Advanced Exercise Physiology F
Nutritional Epidemiology
Required courses
NUTR 624 2 Nutritional Epidemiology W
BIOSTAT 523 3 Statistical Methods for Epidemiology F
EPID 601 4 Principles and Methods of Epidemiology F
Recommended course
EPID 640 3 SAS for Epidemiological Research F
Select from the following (minimum of 1 course, as advised by your faculty mentor):
BIOSTAT 512 3 Analyzing Longitudinal and Clustered Data using Statistical Software W
EPID 602 4 Applied Epidemiological Data Analysis W
NUTR 626 3 Controversial Topics in the Role of Nutrition on Chronic Disease W
NUTR 633 3 Evaluation of Global Health Programs W
EPID 675 3 Data Analysis for Environmental Epidemiology W
EPID 655 3 Field Studies in Epidemiology
EPID 814 3 Topics in Epidemiologic Analysis (offered every other year) W
Nutritional Interventions
Required courses
NUTR 624 2 Nutritional Epidemiology W
NUTR 650 3 Socio-Ecol Approaches to Child/Adol Nutr W
Select from the following (minimum of 3 courses, as advised by your faculty mentor)
NUTR 621 2 Eating Disorder Prevention and Treatment F
NUTR 633 3 Evaluation of Global Health Programs W
NUTR 646 2 Nutritional Counseling W
NUTR 651 3 Physical Activity and Nutrition W
BIOSTAT 512 3 Analyzing Longitudinal and Clustered Data Using Statistical Software W
HBHE 503 3 Introduction to Health Behavior Theory and Approaches F
HBHE 530 3 Techniques of Survey Research F
HBHE 600 3 Psychosocial Factors in Health Related Behavior F
HBHE 620 3 Behavior Research Models in Public Health F
HBHE 621 3 Seminar in Behavior Research Model in Public Health W
HBHE 638 3 Qualitiative Methods in Public Health W
HBHE 641 3 Materials and Methods in Health Education Programs W
HBHE 671 3 Motivational Interviewing in Public Health W
HBHE 733 3 Community Based Participatory Research W
HMP 610 3 Cost-Effectiveness Analysis in Health F
HMP 615 3 Introduction to Public Health Policy F
HMP 640 3 Program Evaluation in Public Health W
SurvMeth 600 3 Fundamentals of Survey Methods (ISR course) F

NOTE: We highly encourage students to review faculty research areas and identify potential mentors.

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:

Carole Durgy, Student Services Coordinator: beckca@umich.edu

Ready to Apply?