What is HNFB all about?

Why do we eat the way we do? What happens to food in our body? How does nutrition maintain our health? How do we study the way people use food? How does culture influence our food choices? How is food discussed in the media? How can we change food behaviour?

The Master’s Programme in Human Nutrition and Food-Related Behaviour focuses on human nutrition and related behaviour from the perspective of public health nutrition, nutrition physiology and social sciences. The innovative, thought-inspiring programme is built around human nutrition, food behaviour and food consumption.

The goal of the Master’s programme is to enable you to

  • Understand the significance of nutrition to bodily functions and health
  • Learn to analyse the physiological, psychological, social and cultural aspects that determine food choices of individuals and communities
  • Recognise the diversity of food and nutritional issues and ways to influence them


Tu­ition fees

Citizens of non-EU/EEA countries, who do not have a permanent residence status in the area and pursue their studies in English, are liable to pay tuition fees. You can check from FAQ at the Studyinfo website whether or not you are required to pay tuition fees.

In­form­a­tion on the lan­guages of in­struc­tion

The Master’s programme is multilingual, with teaching provided in both Finnish and English. You can complete the degree in English, Finnish or Swedish.

Pro­gramme con­tents

The Master’s Programme in Human Nutrition and Food-Related Behaviour focuses on

  • The role of nutrition and other lifestyle factors in promoting health and preventing illness
  • The mechanisms through which food impacts our body at the molecular biology level
  • Food choices and consumption behaviour, and means of influencing them through policies, interventions and communication
  • Food services and their management
  • Food culture and social movements
  • Research methods in the fields of nutrition and food-related behaviour
  • The Master’s thesis
  • Other studies, which you can choose according to your interests

The multidisciplinary University of Helsinki provides numerous options for other studies.

The courses incorporate different methods of study, such as

  • Contact teaching, lectures
  • Group work
  • Oral presentations
  • Written reports (individual, pair, group)
  • Independent study
  • Laboratory work and other assignments and related reports
  • Learning journals, oral group examinations, written examinations, take-home essays
  • Seminars

The diversity of learning methods enhances the development and application of critical thinking, argumentation and problem-solving skills.


Se­lec­tion of the study track

In the Master’s Programme in Human Nutrition and Food-Related Behaviour, you can choose between three focal areas:

  • Nutritional physiology: The impact of nutrition and other lifestyle factors on bodily functions and health, as well as the underlying mechanisms at the level of molecular biology
  • Public health nutrition and food services: Insight into the nutritional factors affecting the health of the country’s population and population groups and the use of this insight to promote health, as well as nutritional questions related to food services and the food industry
  • Food behaviour in a changing society: The ways in which food choices are linked to individual, cultural and social factors, the construction of identity, the consumption society, as well as food and health policies

Pro­gramme struc­ture

With a scope of 120 credits (ECTS), the Master’s programme can be completed in two academic years. The programme includes two study lines – human nutrition, and food-related behaviour – one of which you choose during the application process. The degree comprises

  • 60 credits of advanced studies, including the Master’s thesis (30 cr)
  • 60 credits of other studies, which can include studies from your own degree programme or other degree programmes, a practical training period or international studies
  • Career orientation and career planning
  • A personal study plan


The theses completed in the Master’s programme differ widely. You can choose your approach from epidemiology, physiology, molecular biology, the behavioural sciences or the social sciences. Irrespective of your discipline, you will focus on a question or phenomenon related to food, nutrition, health, food services, food behaviour or food culture.

The thesis has a scope of 30 credits. The thesis project improves your skills in academic thinking; problem detection; hypothesis formulation; material collection; laboratory work (if involved in the thesis); the analysis, interpretation and logical presentation of results; and the ability to evaluate the results in terms of prevailing scientific theories and prior research. The research approach can be either qualitative or quantitative. You are encouraged to adopt an interdisciplinary approach.


Ca­reer pro­spects

The Master’s programme qualifies you for work in expert, teaching, research and managerial posts in the public sector, NGOs and companies, and as an independent entrepreneur. The education provides you with profound field-specific competence and skills in knowledge work, as well as a solid professional identity.

Examples of positions available to graduates include

  • Expert in nutrition and food
  • Product manager
  • Product development manager, development manager
  • Director of food services
  • Researcher, special researcher
  • Planning officer
  • Senior inspector
  • Teacher or lecturer at a university of applied sciences
  • Growth entrepreneur
  • Journalist, press officer, content provider


As a student in the Master’s programme, you are encouraged to complete part of your studies outside Finland, either at a university or in practical training. The Master’s programme provides you with an excellent capability to deal with nutrition, food and consumption questions outside Finland, including in developing countries.


You can also include study modules from other degree programmes, for example in the fields of molecular biology, physiology, epidemiology, food sciences, public health, home economics, social sciences, education, consumption research, communications and economics.

In addition to the University’s other Master’s programmes, you can also work with Finnish and international companies and organisations in connection with your practical training or Master’s thesis.

Re­search fo­cus

Research in human nutrition focuses on determining the state of nutrition and the links between nutrition and diseases. Research methods in human nutrition range from follow-up population studies to cell models.

Social sciences-oriented food research aims to determine how eating and food choices are linked to political, social, financial, cultural and social-psychological factors. It focuses on current phenomena related to eating, as well as on changes in society and the lives of individuals, using both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The material used includes survey and interview data as well as texts and images.

Post­gradu­ate stud­ies

As a graduate from the Master’s Programme in Human Nutrition and Food-Related Behaviour, you can apply for doctoral education at the University of Helsinki and at universities within and outside Finland. Suitable doctoral programmes offered by the University of Helsinki include

  • The Doctoral Programme in Population Health
  • The Doctoral Programme in Food Chain and Health
  • The Doctoral Programme in Integrative Life Science
  • The Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences
  • The Doctoral Programme in School, Education, Society and Culture
Program taught in:
  • English
  • Finnish
  • Swedish
University of Helsinki

See 4 more programs offered by University of Helsinki »

This course is Campus based
Start Date
2 years
15,000 EUR
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The next application period for the Master's Programmes opens on December 3rd, 2018, and ends on January 11th, 2019
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Request Info
The next application period for the Master's Programmes opens on December 3rd, 2018, and ends on January 11th, 2019
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Request Info
The next application period for the Master's Programmes opens on December 3rd, 2018, and ends on January 11th, 2019
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