Graduate Academic Programs

Doctoral Degree Program (PhD)


Description of Program

The Ph.D. program in Nutrition focuses on public health nutrition issues, preparing graduates to teach and conduct scholarly inquiry or undertake careers in policy or industry within a number of contemporary areas in nutrition, including nutrition and applied health sciences; rigor, reproducibility, and transparency; community-based participatory research; randomized controlled trials; nutrition diagnostics; international nutrition; and implementation science. The program includes opportunities for experiential components including internships in industry or policy.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nutrition

Common Ph.D. Degree Requirements:

  • A minimum of 90 graduate-level credits beyond the Bachelor’s degree is required.
  • A minimum 3.0 GPA is required for graduation.
  • A minimum grade of C is required in each course used to satisfy the minor and elective requirements of the course prescription.
  • A minimum grade of B is required in each course used to satisfy the major and research skills requirement of the course prescription.

 Required Components for the Ph.D. Degree in Nutrition

 All Ph.D. in Nutrition degree students in SPH are required to complete the following:


          Public Health Foundations Requirement (online course) prior to registering for the first semester courses.


Major Area of Study (30 credits minimum)

 A minimum of 30 credits to acquire knowledge in nutrition, the major area of study.  These courses must be taken within SPH.  No substitutions or transfer equivalency will be allowed for the following courses.


  • SPH N 7xx - Regulation of Nutrient Metabolism I (3 credits)
  • SPH N 7xx - Regulation of Nutrient Metabolism II (3 credits)
    • Two new courses are proposed to replace SPH N 530 and 532 entitled “Advanced Nutrition I and II.” Two graduate courses offered in Fall and Spring semesters are proposed, rather than 500-level courses.  See course syllabi.


The following courses should be taken within SPH or transferred from previous graduate work contingent upon approval of the Advisory Committee.


Courses transferred from previous graduate work outside the SPH, if within the major area of study, can be used to fulfill the major areas of study requirement, contingent upon the approval of the Advisory Committee, the Executive Associate Dean of SPH, and the IU Graduate School.


  • SPH E 680 – Nutritional Epidemiology (3 credits)
  • SPH N 649 – Nutritional Assessment Techniques


  • SPH N 537 – Pathways Beyond Academia (1 credit)
  • SPH N 701 – Special Topics in Nutrition (3 credits)
  • SPH N 702 – Food & Nutrition Policy & Regulations (3 credits)
  • Additional major coursework prescribed by the doctoral Advisory Committee


  • SPH H 750 - PhD Student Seminar: Introduction to Doctoral Studies (1 credit)



  • SPH N 700 - Nutrition Research Methods, Rigor, Reproducibility, & Transparency

(3 credits)


  • Additional major coursework prescribed by the doctoral Advisory Committee (10 credits)


Research Skills (13 credits minimum)


The following courses must be taken within SPH.  No substitutions and transfer equivalency will be allowed for the following courses.


  • SPH B 703 - Acquiring External Funds for Research (3 credits)


  • SPH N 617 – Communication of Nutrition Science to Diverse Audiences (3 credits)



  • SPH N 794 - Graduate Seminar in Nutrition (minimum of 4 credits; 1 credit hour per semester)


A minimum of 3 credits of additional coursework providing required skills to conduct research in nutrition.


  • SPH B 650 Quantitative Methods I for Public Health Research (3 credits)


  • SPH B 702 Advanced Evaluation Research in Public Health (3 credits)
  •  SPH H 750 Qualitative Research Methods (3 credits)

 Or, other courses as prescribed by the doctoral Advisory Committee

 Minor Area of Study (9 credits minimum)

 A minimum of 9 credits of coursework in a designated area outside the nutrition area (e.g., Health Behavior, Biostatistics/Epidemiology, Kinesiology, Anthropology of Food). 

 Electives (0 to 18 credits)

 Elective credits may range between 0 and 18.  An optional second minor may be taken in lieu of elective credit hours.

 Suggested elective:

  • SPH H 710 – Pedagogy in Health behavior (3 credits)

 Doctoral Qualifying Exam

 Each Ph.D. degree student in nutrition must pass a doctoral qualifying exam that assesses the extent to which the student has attained the program’s required competencies.  The qualifying exam includes a written portion and an individualized oral portion administrated by the student’s advisory committee.  The student must be satisfactory in both portions to pass the qualifying exam.

 Dissertation (20-30 credits)

 SPH N 799 – PhD Dissertation

Special Opportunities

Students have the opportunity to develop skills by participating in research activities supervised by faculty members or in collaboration with other graduate students. Through funded graduate assistantship (GA) appointments, doctoral students may also have the opportunities to work with our external industry partners and to acquire essential skills and experience in teaching. Students are strongly encouraged to publish research in professional journals and present it at national conferences.


Most graduates pursue careers in higher education as professors and researchers while some complete postdoctoral fellowships. Others pursue research or executive careers in governmental agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or in state and local health departments, nonprofit health agencies, or industry.

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