Our rigorous curriculum includes core courses, electives, and a thesis research project. Each student is assigned a faculty adviser who provides assistance in course selection, thesis topic determination and supervision, and career guidance. 

Fall Term

All students take the same six required courses (outlined below) during the fall term. These required courses total 17 credits. Students are presented with potential master's thesis mentors in the Thesis Planning and Research Methods I (TPRM I)course. Most students match with a thesis mentor by the end of the fall term and the matching process is outlined in the TPRMI course. Basic science, clinical, and public health thesis research topics are all available. 

Spring Term

Students take three required courses during the spring term (outlined below) for a total of 8 credits. In addition to these required courses, students must take a minimum of 5 credits worth of elective courses during the spring term to graduate on time. Most students complete these additional five credits by taking two to three elective courses. IHN elective courses are outlined below. Students may take elective courses outside of the IHN as long as they are approved by the IHN director. A pre-approved list of courses will be given to students prior to spring course registration. Students work part-time in their thesis setting during the spring term.

Summer Term

Students are enrolled in one, three-credit summer course (Thesis Research), which runs from the end of May to mid-August. Students will present their thesis research in this course and will turn in their written thesis as the term comes to a close. This course does not have many meeting dates and students spend the majority of their summer working in their thesis setting full time. 

Fall Required Coursework

Human Nutrition M8205 Biochemical and Physiological Bases of Nutrition, Part I (3 credits)

Carbohydrate, lipid, protein, and energy metabolism are covered with an emphasis on understanding the integration of metabolic pathways and principles of metabolic regulation.

Human Nutrition M8200 Physiology and Nutrition Through the Lifecycle (3 credits)

A focus on how nutrition affects growth and development throughout the lifecycle, from conception to old age, with attention to the special needs of each developmental stage.

Human Nutrition M6120 Introduction to Epidemiology for Nutritionists (3 credits)

Students are introduced to the theory, methodology, and terminology used in epidemiology, using examples related to nutrition and disease from the current scientific literature.

Human Nutrition M8201 Critical Reading of Biological and Clinical Literature (3 credits)

Current literature is examined with an emphasis on topics not covered in other courses, with the purpose of developing a critical approach to scientific information using student presentations and discussion.

Human Nutrition M9210 Thesis Planning and Research Methods I (2 credits)

Students are assisted in the development of the personal and professional skills needed to become a professional nutrition scientist. Information needed to successfully select a research setting and Master’s Thesis project is provided.

Human Nutrition M6220 Public Health Nutrition (3 credits)

The course focuses on what people eat, what should they eat, factors that influence dietary intake, and how health promotion influences these factors. The primary goals of this course are to provide 1) an overview of dietary guidelines and the diversity of dietary patterns; 2) exposure to the breadth of programs and policies in the field of nutrition promotion; and 3) an opportunity to develop skills in assessment, literature review, and program planning.

Spring Required Coursework

Human Nutrition M8206 Biochemical and Physiological Bases of Nutrition, Part II (3 credits)

The roles of vitamins and minerals are covered, helping to understand their sources, biochemistry, functions, and the nutritional standards and guidelines for their intake.


Human Nutrition M8207 Integrative Nutrition and Pathophysiology (3 credits)

This course covers the physiological aspects of clinical disorders, including symptoms, risk factors, biological pathology, and clinical management, as well as the role of nutrition in their prevention and treatment.

Human Nutrition M9210 Thesis Planning and Research Methods (2 credits)

Students present their thesis projects to the class and faculty, and critically evaluate the presentations of their peers.

Spring Elective Coursework (must total at least 5 credits)

Human Nutrition M8209 Biostatistics: Basic to Advanced Methods (3 credits)

The goal is self-sufficiency in biostatistics by analyzing real clinical research datasets: begin with Excel for data organization, and our own online resource for 2x2 and power analysis; proceed to R for advanced topics (linear and logistic regression, survival analysis by Kaplan-Meier and Cox modeling); discuss the thesis plan of every student in the course to understand when and how to use different statistical methods.

Human Nutrition M6240 Essentials of Nutrition Counseling and Medical Nutrition Therapy (3 credits)

The basic tenets of health literacy, psychodynamics, behavioral, and motivational interviewing are covered, along with their application to medical nutrition therapy for nutrition-related conditions.

Narrative Medicine Seminars (Variable credits: 0-2)

These seminars allow students to reflect upon and write about health, illness, and care from the perspective of different health professions. Each year, four to five seminars are offered. Spring 2020 seminars included Relationships of Care and the Spaces of Care, Aging and End-of-Life, Health Care Justice and the Care of Underserved, and Spirituality and Healthcare. 

Human Nutrition M8202 Obesity: Etiology, Prevention and Treatment (2 credits)

Prevention and treatment of obesity represent a tremendous challenge to the nutrition and allied health professions. The course provides 1) an understanding about the importance of the current epidemic of obesity and its impact on disease development throughout the lifespan; 2) translates basic science, clinical and public health findings related to obesity towards prevention and treatment in clinical settings; and 3) examines the roles and responsibilities of health care providers in the prevention and treatment of obesity and related co-morbidities.

Human Nutrition M6227 Structured Observations in Clinical Practice (1 credit)

This course will provide an introduction to critical communication skills necessary to translate scientific knowledge into clinical practice. The course will highlight how nutrition is integrated into the medical, behavioral, social and cultural factors that contribute to patient well-being, including prevention and treatment of disease.

Human Nutrition M8220 U.S. and International Nutrition Policy and Programs (2-3 credits)

Nutrition has rapidly become a focus for US and International Health Policy as well as scores of non-governmental Public Health Programs. This course introduces students to the landscape of Nutrition policy and initiatives worldwide, as well as the deeply entwined relationship between Nutrition and international trade and agriculture. Through a variety of guest lectures, students will encounter diverse and cutting-edge perspectives on international nutrition policy and practice. Students will offer their own presentations and complete four papers but will not be given exams. Students may take this course for 2 or 3 credits.

Columbia University-wide (graduate level) elective

Students can choose any graduate-level course from any of Columbia's schools.

Summer Required Coursework

Human Nutrition M9750 MS Thesis Research (3 credits)

Each MS candidate is required to spend ten weeks of full-time work (350 hours or more) during the summer; any alternative plan must be completed within one year and must be approved by the Program Director.