The Institute Of Human Nutrition

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Student Info

Master of Science Program Student Handbook


The Institute of Human Nutrition is a division of the Postgraduate Education Division of the Faculty of Medicine, one of the units of Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. The Institute offers study programs leading to both the Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in Nutrition. With the M.S. degree and professional training, students either go on to further graduate school or into the work force. The Master of Science degree program is designed to be a strong foundation for students who plan to continue toward the Ph.D. or to attend medical, dental or other professional health schools. Students can also take additional training to become dietitians, food technologists, or public health, community or clinical nutritionists. Development of core competencies in professionalism and leadership, in public speaking and professional writing, and in approaches to enable life-long learning, all useful for most professional careers, are emphasized during the program. In addition to students early in their post-baccalaureate training, persons already holding medical, dental or other professional degrees in the health sciences, use the program to augment their prior training and knowledge of nutrition.

Academic Requirements

To earn the M.S. degree in nutrition, a student must complete a minimum of 33 credits of academic study with a grade average of B- or better, and submit a written Master’s Thesis manuscript approved by the faculty advisor and the Director of the Master's Program and based on a research project meeting program standards. This research work is completed over a twelve-month period of three terms beginning September, January and May. The Summer term beginning in May is devoted to the research project and completion of the Master's Thesis. Any alteration of this plan must be approved by the Director of the Master’s Program.  If a student fails a course, they can petition the MS Director to repeat the course once, and still obtain the M.S. degree.

The 33 credits needed for completion of the program include 28 credits of required courses (including 7 credits related to the thesis research) and 5 or more elective credits, including a concentration choice. By the end of the Spring semester, students must have completed at least 30 graduate level credits. Electives are selected by the student with the advice and consent of the student's faculty advisor. Generally, full-time students enroll for 15-19 credits per semester in the Fall and Spring. For full-time students, tuition is set at a flat fee equivalent to the cost of 15 credits for students taking 12-19 credits. Thus, students may complete up to 8 additional graduate credits over the two semesters without incurring additional tuition fees. There is no reduction in the tuition rate for students registering for fewer than 12 credits, which is the minimum required for full-time student status. Tuition for the Summer term is calculated on a per-credit basis and to maintain housing and recusal from repayment of loans, you must register for at least 3 credits in the Summer. You may register for more credits in the Summer with the understanding that Summer tuition is on a per credit basis. For individuals who complete the program as part-time students, tuition is calculated on a per-credit basis. The course work for the standard program is listed on the next page.


Registration for the Fall semester is done during/after orientation, once you have met with your faculty advisor. Registration and other student services can be accessed at:

The Registration Adjustment form is needed to register for electives outside the Institute of Human Nutrition courses and for any late registration. This form is available at: REGISTRATION_Adjustment Form

Course Work
Fall Term

Required Courses

  • M6120
    Introduction to Epidemiology for Nutrition - 3 credits
  • M8200
    Growth and Development -3 credits
  • M8201
    Readings in Human Nutrition -3 credits
  • M8205 
    Biochemical and Physiological Bases of Nutrition - 3 credits
  • M9210
    Special Studies -2 credits

Total credits for required courses, Fall:  14 credits

IHN Electives
Students without prior nutrition courses should take the following course:

  •  M6220
    Overview of Foods in Nutrition - 2-3 credits

Columbia University Electives
Students who have previously taken a nutrition course(s) should take a 2-3 credit Fall elective, which must be a graduate level course, if it is to apply towards the degree.  Students must discuss their choice with their academic advisor.  A complete list of courses can be found at

Spring Term

Required Courses

  • M8205
    Biochemical & Physiological Basis of Nutrition II -3 credits
  • M8207
    Clinical Nutrition-3 credits
  • M9210
    Special Studies-2 credits

Concentration Requirement
One of the following 3 courses is required, based on the selected area of concentration. Students may take other courses in this list as an elective.

Basic Science Concentration Requirement

  • M8210
    Molecular Nutrition-3 credits

Epidemiology and Public Health Concentration Requirement

  • M8220
    US and International Nutrition Policies and Programs - 3 credits

Clinical Concentration Requirement

  • M6240
    Essentials of Nutrition Counseling - 3 credits

Total credits for required courses, Spring:  11 credits

IHN Elective

  • M8201
    Readings in Clinical Nutrition -3 credits

Obesity: Etiology, Prevention and Treatment

Columbia University Electives
Students may take a 2-3 credit Spring elective, which must be graduate level to apply towards the degree. Students must discuss their choice with their academic advisor. A complete list of courses at Columbia University can be found at  

Summer Term

Required Course for all students

  • M9750
    Thesis Research - 3 credits


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630 West 168th Street, PH1512
Columbia University Medical Center
New York, NY 10032
(212) 305-4808