Master of Science in Nutrition


Program Description

In the Nutrition major, we empower students to nourish the world.

What is Nutrition?

Nutrition is the study of how food impacts health and well-being. Nutritionists focus on food from the chemistry to the cooking; from eating for wellness to prescribing diets for health and disease. With a Nutrition degree, you'll make a difference in people's lives. Many professions involve nutrition. Some of the career options require additional study after your Bachelor's degree. Some require the Registered Dietitian credential; others require other post-graduate work such as nursing or medical school. Some nutritionists pursue a graduate degree in a more specialized field of interest or to work in academics. Depending on your personal interests, we'll help you choose the right concentration within the Nutrition major to prepare you for your career goals.

Nutrition Major Concentrations

The Nutrition major offers three concentrations: Applied Nutrition, which is a Didactic Program in Dietetics accredited by The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND); Nutrition Science; and Nutrition and Food Industries.

Applied Nutrition

The Applied Nutrition Concentration is the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) program at Cal Poly. We provide students with the contemporary knowledge, including medical nutrition therapy, and practical skills to prepare them for successful completion of a dietetic internship and a satisfying career in dietetics, including the option to become a Registered Dietitian (RD).

Nutrition Science

The Nutrition Science Concentration prepares students for post-graduate studies in health-related professions, such as medicine or nursing, by emphasizing a strong background in physical and life sciences as well as human nutrition. Students intending further graduate study in certain areas of nutrition research, such as nutritional biochemistry or molecular biology, should also choose this concentration.

Nutrition and Food Industries

Students in the Nutrition and Food Industries Concentration will be prepared for employment in food product research and development, quality and regulatory operations, food and health communications, public relations, and technical sales in some of the largest and best-known multinational companies. Because this concentration includes extensive food science coursework, graduates are well-positioned to compete for many jobs within the food science field. For students with undergraduate preparation in food science, nutrition, or other science-based curricula. A thesis is required. Research areas vary with faculty expertise and interest; refer to Food Science and Nutrition Department and College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences web pages for more information on faculty research. Graduates are prepared for further study in doctoral programs or for responsible positions in nutrition and food industries.


Program Learning Objectives

After successfully completing the Master of Science in Nutrition, students will be able to:

  1. Apply fundamental principles of nutrition science in research and required coursework
  2. Explain, analyze, and interpret fundamental scientific concepts in the specific area of thesis research
  3. Apply the scientific method to nutrition research through the design, conduct, and defense of a thesis research project
  4. Apply critical thinking skills to the analysis of published research literature and the design/interpretation of a thesis research project
  5. Show independent and creative thinking skills in the formulation, design, conduct, and interpretation of nutrition research
  6. Demonstrate strong written and oral communication skills
  7. Work productively, respectfully, and professionally as part of a research team and in other group settings
  8. Exhibit leadership, ethical conduct, and community values

Approved Electives

Select from one of the three Emphasis Areas in consultation with thesis supervisor (at least 3 units must be at the 500-level): Molecular Nutrition Emphasis Area Select from the following:

  • ASCI 403 - Applied Biotechnology in Animal Science
  • ASCI 420 - Animal Metabolism and Nutrition
  • ASCI 503 - Advanced Molecular Techniques in Animal Science
  • BIO 441 - Bioinformatics Applications
  • BIO 475 - Molecular Biology Laboratory
  • BIO 476 - Gene Expression Laboratory
  • BIO 501 - Molecular & Cellular Biology
  • CHEM 474 - Protein Techniques Laboratory
  • CHEM 528 - Nutritional Biochemistry
  • FSN 420 - Critical Evaluation of Nutrition Research
  • FSN 500 - Individual Study
  • STAT 513 - Applied Experimental Design and Regression Models
  • STAT 523 - Design and Analysis of Experiments I

Public Health Nutrition Emphasis Area

Select from the following:

  • AGB 543 - Agribusiness Policy and Program Analysis
  • AGB 554 - Food System Marketing
  • BIO 542 - Multivariate Biometry
  • FSN 420 - Critical Evaluation of Nutrition Research
  • FSN 480 - Policy Arguments in Food and Nutrition
  • FSN 500 - Individual Study
  • KINE 503 - Current Health Issues
  • KINE 510 - Advanced Health Behavior Change Programs
  • STAT 417 - Survival Analysis Methods
  • STAT 419 - Applied Multivariate Statistics
  • STAT 421 - Survey Sampling and Methodology
  • STAT 513 - Applied Experimental Design and Regression Models
  • STAT 524 - Applied Regression Analysis
  • STAT 530 - Statistical Computing with SAS

Health and Wellness Emphasis Area

Select from the following:

  • COMS 418 - Health Communication
  • FSN 420 - Critical Evaluation of Nutrition Research
  • FSN 500 - Individual Study
  • KINE 408 - Exercise and Health Gerontology
  • KINE 434 - Health Behavior Change Programs I
  • KINE 450 - Worksite Health Promotion Programs
  • KINE 504 - Advanced Pathophysiology and Exercise
  • KINE 522 - Advanced Biomechanics
  • KINE 525 - Advanced Motor Learning and Control
  • KINE 526 - Sport and Exercise Psychology
  • KINE 530 - Advanced Physiology of Exercise
  • PSY 465 - Cross-Cultural International Psychology
  • STAT 513 - Applied Experimental Design and Regression Models
Required Courses - -
FSN 516

Population Health and Epidemiology 3 FSN 528 Biochemical and Molecular Aspects of Human Macronutrient Metabolism 4 FSN 529 Metabolic and Molecular Aspects of Vitamins 2 FSN 530 Metabolic and Molecular Aspects of Minerals 2 FSN 581 Graduate Seminar in Food Science and Nutrition 3 FSN 599 Thesis 6 STAT 512 Statistical Methods 4 Approved Electives

- See approved electives list below.

21 Total units


Last updated Nov 2018

About the School

Located in San Luis Obispo, 200 miles north of Los Angeles, Cal Poly maintains a guiding philosophy of “Learn By Doing” that is reflected in the school’s comprehensive curriculum combining technical a ... Read More

Located in San Luis Obispo, 200 miles north of Los Angeles, Cal Poly maintains a guiding philosophy of “Learn By Doing” that is reflected in the school’s comprehensive curriculum combining technical and professional training with the arts and humanities. This prepares students to become resourceful professionals and innovative leaders from the moment they step foot on campus. As one of the most selective universities in the California State University (CSU) system, Cal Poly consistently ranks “Best in the West” by U.S. News and World Report and is considered one of “The Best Colleges for Your Money” by Money Magazine. Read less
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