Nutritional Sciences

Nutritional Sciences

Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition


Jennifer Ekstrom
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Phone: 517-353-3317


Nutrition plays an important role in how we manage health issues like obesity, fight disease such as diabetes, and maintain overall wellness. Those interested in public health, medical careers, and international health care will benefit from understanding the science of nutrition and the relationships between food, nutrients and human health. 

Students who major in nutritional sciences are interested in health, science and physiology. The Nutritional Sciences program gives students a valuable understanding of the biological and physical science and research as a basis for understanding human nutrition. This perspective prepares graduates well for employment in public health or for continued study in graduate programs and professional medical schools. Course requirements for nutritional sciences include the study of energy metabolism, proteins, vitamins, minerals, community nutrition and diet in the prevention and treatment of disease.

Students choose one of the follwoing concentrations.  Elective courses in each track allow students to customize the program to suit their interests and career goals.

  • Biomedical and molecular nutrition - This track is designed to meet the admission requirements of most medical, dental and paramedical colleges and related graduate programs.  Students will gain an advanced understanding of human nutrition as it relates to chronic disease prevention and overall human health.
  • Global nutrition and health - This track focuses on the global, systems aspects of nutrition  in the context of sustainability, food security and agricultural systems.  Students will learn about effective policy, program planning and evaluation as well as intercultural communication.
  • Public health nutrition - Students in this track will develop skills in biostatistics, epidemiology, and program planning and evaluation in the context of nutrition and population health.  Sociology, social policy and social justice topics are woven into the curriculum to prepare graduates for graduate school in public health and work in public health agencies. 

Core areas of study

  • Human nutrition and metabolism
  • Food science
  • Sustainable agricultural and food systems
  • Nutrition research methonds
  • Nutrition in prevention and treatment of disease

Supporting discipline courses

  • Biochemistry, cell and molecular biology
  • Human physiology
  • Statistics and data analysis
  • Oral and written communication

Experiential Learning

All students in the nutritional sciences major will complete a minimum of three credits in experiential learning approved by the program advisor and consistent with meeting the student’s individual educational goals.  Examples of experiential learning activities include approved study abroad programs, service projects, research experiences, internships or approved independent studies.

Student activities

  • Nutritional Sciences Club
  • Pre-professional Society for Health Careers
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Children, Youth and Family Programs internships through MSU Extension


The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition awards more than $300,000 in undergraduate scholarships each year, one third of that goes to students majoring in nutritional sciences. Visit the department website for more information:

Student profile

“Nutrition has always played a large role in my life. I have always been very active and involved in sports. When I came to MSU, I began working in a research lab in nutritional sciences and I realized my passion for the field. Nutrition is a growing field with so much still to be discovered, so it’s very exciting to me.”

Kelly Valentini, nutritional sciences student

Course listing

To read more about this major and the classes required for it, visit: