The student experience

Modern nutrition is a multidisciplinary, integrative science, and the Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences (IGPNS) has been developed to meet this diversity in approach and objective. It is the program's goal to provide graduate students interested in nutrition with an opportunity to obtain specialized training in a specific research area and also to obtain a general background in the science and practice of nutrition. The program is sufficiently flexible to allow students with a wide variety of undergraduate degrees to meet the background prerequisites. The program draws on the strengths of faculty in a number of the university's colleges and academic departments to enhance the instructional and research experience.

Learn through your research

The training objectives of IGPNS are to provide students with an understanding of basic nutritional principles as they apply to humans, animals, and molecular models, to provide them with current knowledge in each area of emphasis, to make them aware of the integrative and multidisciplinary nature of nutrition research, and to direct them toward a successful career through the thesis and publications.

Throughout their graduate career, IGPNS students partner with a faculty mentor for in-depth research and career guidance. New PhD students rotate in three different labs during their first semester to find the best research and mentorship fit. 

Build Community and networks

The Nutritional Sciences graduate program offers opportunities to work with over 50 faculty members from 19 different departments at UW-Madison. The graduate faculty have well-developed, competitively funded research programs and have been nationally recognized for their activities. They are active in national and international nutrition activities, and serve on editorial boards, as society officers, and as participants in numerous workshops and on advisory committees.

Network within your field(s) by attending international and national conferences and scientific meetings with professional development funds provided to accepted students.

Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline January 1
Spring Deadline January 1*
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3
*

Students are only directly admitted to begin in the Spring term if they have a mentor pre-arranged. Contact the program with questions.

Candidates for graduate study in nutritional sciences should have a strong background in mathematics, chemistry, biological sciences, medical sciences or social sciences.

Specific prerequisites for the graduate program include the following:

  • 2 semesters of General Chemistry
  • 2 semesters of Biological Sciences
  • 1 semester of Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry with an Organic Chemistry prerequisite
  • 1 semester of Calculus or Statistics
  • 1 semester of Physiology

 Students who have not completed all the requirements may be admitted, but deficiencies should be made up during the first year of graduate study.

All applicants must have a minimum grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) as well as three references and a personal statement. Acceptance requires approval by the Department of Nutritional Sciences and the Graduate School.

*A MS is not required for entry into the Nutritional Sciences PhD degree. Applicants interested in the Nutritional Sciences PhD degree should apply directly through the Nutritional Sciences PhD app, and not submit an application for the Nutritional Sciences MS. 

Applicants interested solely in the MS degree are highly recommended to apply for the Fall deadline. MS students who submit an application for the Fall deadline will be required to submit 4-5 trainers in which they are interested in working with. After the Fall deadline passes, the program will share the applications with the trainers to see if a direct offer of admission can be made. 

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

IGPNS PhD students receive a 5-year funding guarantee1 in addition to tuition remission.
The application for the IGPNS program is also the application for funding. If incoming students are qualified for additional fellowships/funding, the Graduate Program Manager will assist the accepted student with the application  process. 

The stipend appointment may take the form of traineeship, research assistantships, or fellowships and are guaranteed for all IGPNS Ph.D. candidates in good standing.

1 Contingent upon satisfactory academic progress. 

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

MODE OF INSTRUCTION

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students are able to complete a program with minimal disruptions to careers and other commitments.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.

CURRICULAR REQUIREMENTS

Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 26 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Details can be found in the Graduate School’s Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) policy (https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
This program follows the Graduate School's policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1203.
Other Grade Requirements n/a
Assessments and Examinations Students must take and pass a preliminary exam and a final defense. Students must take the first exam prior to the end of the fifth semester; summer session does not count as a semester.
Language Requirements No language requirements.
Breadth Requirement Students are not required to complete a doctoral minor or Graduate/Professional certificate, but are heavily encouraged to pursue one.

Required COURSES

Core Courses
NUTR SCI 600 Introductory Seminar in Nutrition1
NUTR SCI/​BIOCHEM  619 Advanced Nutrition: Intermediary Metabolism of Macronutrients3
NUTR SCI/​POP HLTH  621 Introduction to Nutritional Epidemiology1
NUTR SCI 623 Advanced Nutrition: Minerals1
NUTR SCI 625 Advanced Nutrition: Obesity and Diabetes1
NUTR SCI/​AN SCI  626 Experimental Diet Design1
NUTR SCI 627 Advanced Nutrition: Vitamins1
NUTR SCI 931 Seminar-Nutrition 11
NUTR SCI 799 Practicum in Nutritional Sciences Teaching 21-3
NUTR SCI 745 Grant Writing for Nutritional Sciences Research2
Research
NUTR SCI 731 Research in Progress Seminar1
NUTR SCI 991 Research Nutrition 31-12
Electives
Students select 6 credits of electives which may include additional statistics, biochemistry, and advanced topics courses as determined by the thesis committee6
Total Credits51
1

Student should enroll each semester, unless there is a course conflict. 

2

Equivalent experience accepted. Please contact Graduate Program Coordinator.

3

After enrolling in other coursework, students enroll in enough credits of NUTR SCI 991 to reach a total of 12 credits per fall and spring semesters.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With approval of the certification committee, students are allowed to count up to 19 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

With approval of the certification committee, students are allowed to count up to 7 credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree, numbered 400 and above, toward the Ph.D. degree, provided the course satisfies a requirement within the student’s core curriculum or IGPNS emphasis group. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 15 credits of coursework taken as a UW–Madison Special student, provided the course satisfies a requirement within the student’s core curriculum or IGPNS emphasis group. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

ProbatioN

The IGPNS requires a cumulative 3.0 GPA for all courses taken in the UW Graduate School. Grades in research (NUTR SCI 991 Research Nutrition) are not included in the calculation of the GPA. A student who does not maintain a 3.0 GPA can continue on probationary status for two semesters at the recommendation of the major professor. If, at that time, the student does not achieve a cumulative 3.0 GPA, they will be dropped from the program.

This program follows the Graduate School's Probation policy.

ADVISOR / COMMITTEE

Every graduate student is required to have an advisor and a committee.  PhD students must have a committee of at least four members.  Students have time in their first year of study to build their committees.  An advisor is a faculty member from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies. An advisor generally serves as the thesis advisor. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor. The Director of Graduate Studies will be assigned as a student's advisor for the duration of their laboratory rotations.

To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects them to meet with their advisor and committee on a regular basis.

CREDITS PER TERM ALLOWED

12 credits: fall and spring semesters
2 credits: per eight-week summer session

Time limits

Doctoral degree students who have been absent for ten or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

A candidate for a Doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may be required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

A student’s program may appeal these time limits through a written request to the Graduate School Office of Academic Services.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences: Grievance Policy
 

In the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), any student who feels unfairly treated by a member of the CALS faculty or staff has the right to complain about the treatment and to receive a prompt hearing. Some complaints may arise from misunderstandings or communication breakdowns and be easily resolved; others may require formal action. Complaints may concern any matter of perceived unfairness.

To ensure a prompt and fair hearing of any complaint, and to protect the rights of both the person complaining and the person at whom the complaint is directed, the following procedures are used in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Any student, undergraduate or graduate, may use these procedures, except employees whose complaints are covered under other campus policies.

  1. The student should first talk with the person at whom the complaint is directed. Most issues can be settled at this level. Others may be resolved by established departmental procedures.
  2. If the student is unsatisfied, and the complaint involves any unit outside CALS, the student should seek the advice of the dean or director of that unit to determine how to proceed.
    1. If the complaint involves an academic department in CALS the student should proceed in accordance with item 3 below.
    2. If the grievance involves a unit in CALS that is not an academic department, the student should proceed in accordance with item 4 below.
  3. The student should contact the department’s grievance advisor within 120 calendar days of the alleged unfair treatment. The departmental administrator can provide this person’s name. The grievance advisor will attempt to resolve the problem informally within 10 working days of receiving the complaint, in discussions with the student and the person at whom the complaint is directed.
    1. If informal mediation fails, the student can submit the grievance in writing to the grievance advisor within 10 working days of the date the student is informed of the failure of the mediation attempt by the grievance advisor. The grievance advisor will provide a copy to the person at whom the grievance is directed.
    2. The grievance advisor will refer the complaint to a department committee that will obtain a written response from the person at whom the complaint is directed, providing a copy to the student. Either party may request a hearing before the committee. The grievance advisor will provide both parties a written decision within 20 working days from the date of receipt of the written complaint.
    3. If the grievance involves the department chairperson, the grievance advisor or a member of the grievance committee, these persons may not participate in the review.
    4. If not satisfied with departmental action, either party has 10 working days from the date of notification of the departmental committee action to file a written appeal to the CALS Equity and Diversity Committee. A subcommittee of this committee will make a preliminary judgement as to whether the case merits further investigation and review. If the subcommittee unanimously determines that the case does not merit further investigation and review, its decision is final. If one or more members of the subcommittee determine that the case does merit further investigation and review, the subcommittee will investigate and seek to resolve the dispute through mediation. If this mediation attempt fails, the subcommittee will bring the case to the full committee. The committee may seek additional information from the parties or hold a hearing. The committee will present a written recommendation to the dean who will provide a final decision within 20 working days of receipt of the committee recommendation.
  4. If the alleged unfair treatment occurs in a CALS unit that is not an academic department, the student should, within 120 calendar days of the alleged incident, take his/her grievance directly to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. The dean will attempt to resolve the problem informally within 10 working days of receiving the complaint. If this mediation attempt does not succeed the student may file a written complaint with the dean who will refer it to the CALS Equity and Diversity Committee. The committee will seek a written response from the person at whom the complaint is directed, subsequently following other steps delineated in item 3d above.

Other

n/a

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Articulates research problems, potentials, and limits with respect to theory, knowledge, and practice in nutritional sciences. Specific knowledge areas of focus include intermediary metabolism, functions and metabolism of vitamins and minerals, nutrition-related diseases such as obesity and diabetes, and fundamental principles of epidemiology and nutrition policy.
  2. Formulates ideas, concepts, designs, and/or techniques beyond the current boundaries of knowledge in nutritional sciences.
  3. Creates original research and scholarship that makes a substantive contribution to nutritional sciences.
  4. Demonstrates breadth of knowledge of nutritional sciences.
  5. Advances contributions of the field of nutritional sciences to society.
  6. Communicates complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner through both written and oral presentations.
  7. Fosters and practices ethical and professional conduct.

See the program website for a list of faculty trainers.