Nutritional sciences is the study of the biochemical and physiological basis of how diet impacts health and disease. Students explore a variety of biological concepts including biochemistry, genetics, microbiology, kinesiology, community nutrition, and epidemiology to understand how nutrients in food affect the body.

Students can tailor their studies by selecting from more than 20 courses covering a wide variety of topics, including, microbiology, genetics, obesity, metabolism, kinesiology and sports nutrition, as well as ethics of public health, global health, community nutrition, and cultural aspects of food. Many students supplement their studies outside of the classroom by contributing to research in a university lab or volunteering in the community.

With an emphasis on human health, the program prepares students for health and research careers in a variety of settings, including healthcare, education, corporate wellness, sports nutrition, government agencies, food companies, or pharmaceuticals.

learn through hands-on, real world experience

In the classroom, students apply what they learn to real-world cases and approach nutritional health as they would in a clinical setting. Some courses also include field experiences or community-based learning experiences.

Because of the emphasis on biological sciences, many students choose to join a professor’s research lab and may earn credit for their work within the lab. Students also have opportunities for community service internships under the guidance of a faculty member.

build community and networks

The Dietetics and Nutrition Club (DNC) is a registered student organization open to undergraduate and graduate students. The club offers a variety of opportunities for members to engage in networking events, participate in volunteer and community outreach opportunities, and to learn about the field of nutrition and the dietetics profession.

customize a path of study

With nearly 20 elective courses available in the third and fourth years of the program, students can plan their coursework to best fit their professional goals and explore scientific principles of greatest interest to them.

Students may participate in the college’s Research in Honors program. Many students enhance their major by participating in a certificate program such as the Biology Core Curriculum Honors (Biocore) Certificate.

make a strong start

A popular First Year Interest Group (FIG) focuses on issues of food and identity and covers current events, nutrition policies related to chronic disease, and community-led programs to improve health outcomes.

gain global experience

Several courses emphasize global health and world nutrition. Many students pair a major in Nutritional Sciences with the Global Health Certificate, which includes a field experience/internship focused on a health-related topic of global importance. Students can explore studying abroad as a Nutritional Sciences major by utilizing the Nutritional Sciences Major Advising Page. Students work with their advisor and the CALS study abroad office to identify appropriate programs.  

To declare this major, students must be admitted to UW–Madison and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). For information about becoming a CALS first-year or transfer student, see Entering the College.

Students who attend Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences have the option to declare this major at SOAR.  Students may otherwise declare after they have begun their undergraduate studies. For more information, contact the advisor listed in the Contact Box for the major.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Requirements

In addition to the University General Education Requirements, all undergraduate students in CALS must satisfy a set of college and major requirements. Courses may not double count within university requirements (General Education and Breadth) or within college requirements (First-Year Seminar, International Studies, Science, and Capstone), but courses counted toward university requirements may also be used to satisfy a college and/or a major requirement; similarly, courses counted toward college requirements may also be used to satisfy a university and/or a major requirement.

College Requirements for all CALS B.S. Degree Programs

Quality of Work: Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000 to remain in good standing and be eligible for graduation.
Residency: Students must complete 30 degree credits in residence at UW–Madison after earning 86 credits toward their undergraduate degree.
First Year Seminar1
International Studies3
Physical Science Fundamentals4-5
General Chemistry I
Chemistry in Our World
Advanced General Chemistry
Biological Science5
Additional Science (Biological, Physical, or Natural)3
Science Breadth (Biological, Physical, Natural, or Social)3
CALS Capstone Learning Experience: included in the requirements for each CALS major (see "Major Requirements")

Major Requirements

Mathematics and Statistics
Select one of the following (or may be satisfied by placement exam):5-6
and Trigonometry
Algebra and Trigonometry
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I 1
Select one of the following:3-5
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Select one of the following:5-9
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
Advanced General Chemistry
Organic Chemistry
CHEM 343 Organic Chemistry I3
CHEM 344 Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory2
CHEM 345 Organic Chemistry II3
Introductory Biology
Select one of the following options:10
Option 1:
General Botany
Animal Biology
Animal Biology Laboratory
Option 2:
Introductory Biology
Introductory Biology
Option 3:
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
Cellular Biology
Cellular Biology Laboratory
Nutritional Sciences Biology
Select one of the following options:8-13
Option 1:
Principles of Genetics
And select one of the following: 2
General Microbiology
and General Microbiology Laboratory
Biology of Microorganisms
and Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory
Option 2: 3
Principles of Physiology
Principles of Physiology Laboratory
Biological Interactions
Select one of the following:8-10
General Physics
and General Physics
General Physics
and General Physics
General Physics
and General Physics
NUTR SCI/​AN SCI/​DY SCI  311 Comparative Animal Nutrition3
or NUTR SCI 332 Human Nutritional Needs
NUTR SCI 431 Nutrition in the Life Span3
BIOCHEM/NUTR SCI 510 Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism3
Select one of the following:3-7
Introduction to Biochemistry
General Biochemistry I
and General Biochemistry II
Electives within the Major
Select 6 credits from the following:6
World Hunger and Malnutrition
Human Anatomy
Human Anatomy Laboratory
Medical Anthropology
Principles of Human Disease and Biotechnology
Biology of Viruses 4
Molecular Control of Metabolism and Metabolic Disease 5
Public Health in Rural & Urban Communities
Chemistry Across the Periodic Table
Fundamentals of Analytical Science
Fundamentals of Analytical Science
Lactation Physiology
Food Laws and Regulations
Food Microbiology
Genetics Laboratory
Plant Breeding and Biotechnology
Plant Biotechnology: Principles and Techniques I
Genetically Modified Crops: Science, Regulation & Controversy
Public Health Ethics
Ethical Issues in Health Care
Special Topics
Cultural Aspects of Food and Nutrition
Global Health Field Experience
Nutrition in Physical Activity and Health
Undergraduate Capstone Seminar Laboratory
Community Nutrition and Health Equity
Advanced Nutrition: Intermediary Metabolism of Macronutrients 4
Introduction to Nutritional Epidemiology 4
Advanced Nutrition: Minerals 4
Advanced Nutrition: Obesity and Diabetes 4
Experimental Diet Design 4
Advanced Nutrition: Vitamins 4
Clinical Nutrition I
Senior Honors Thesis 5
Senior Honors Thesis 5
Senior Thesis-Nutrition 5
Senior Thesis 5
Special Problems 6
Introduction to Experimental Oncology
Pathophysiologic Principles of Human Diseases
Introduction to Public Health
Introduction to Animal Development
Cell Biology
Select one of the following:1-8
Undergraduate Capstone Seminar Laboratory
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis-Nutrition
and Senior Thesis
Special Problems 7
Total Credits66-91

If MATH 171 Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I is taken, students must take MATH 217 Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II.


Consult advisor about combining MICROBIO 303 with MICROBIO 102.


If the Biocore sequence is taken to fulfill the first biology requirement, it must be taken to fulfill the second biology requirement.


These courses are taught primarily to graduate students. Permission to enroll from instructor may be required.


Note that for NUTR SCI 681/NUTR SCI 682 (Senior Honors Thesis) and NUTR SCI 691/NUTR SCI 692 (Senior Thesis), both courses in the sequence must be completed in order to earn a grade.


May count up to 6 credits of NUTR SCI 699 Special Problems towards the electives requirement.


Consult advisor regarding the possibility of completing NUTR SCI 699 Special Problems for capstone.

Recommended Nutritional Science Electives

ANTHRO 365 Medical Anthropology3
BIOCHEM 550 Principles of Human Disease and Biotechnology2
BIOCHEM/​M M & I  575 Biology of Viruses2
BIOCHEM/​NUTR SCI  645 Molecular Control of Metabolism and Metabolic Disease3
C&E SOC/​SOC  533 Public Health in Rural & Urban Communities3
CHEM 311 Chemistry Across the Periodic Table4
CHEM 327 Fundamentals of Analytical Science4
CHEM 329 Fundamentals of Analytical Science4
AN SCI/​FOOD SCI  305 Introduction to Meat Science and Technology4
FOOD SCI/​AN SCI  321 Food Laws and Regulations1
FOOD SCI/​MICROBIO  325 Food Microbiology3
GENETICS 545 Genetics Laboratory2
HORT/​AGRONOMY  338 Plant Breeding and Biotechnology3
HORT/​AGRONOMY  360 Genetically Modified Crops: Science, Regulation & Controversy2
ANAT&PHY 337 Human Anatomy3
ANAT&PHY 338 Human Anatomy Laboratory2
MED HIST/​PHILOS  515 Public Health Ethics3
MED HIST/​PHILOS  558 Ethical Issues in Health Care3
M M & I/​PATH-BIO  528 Immunology3
NUTR SCI/​A A E/​AGRONOMY  350 World Hunger and Malnutrition3
NUTR SCI 375 Special Topics1-4
NUTR SCI 377 Cultural Aspects of Food and Nutrition3
NUTR SCI/​INTER-AG  421 Global Health Field Experience1-4
NUTR SCI 500 Undergraduate Capstone Seminar Laboratory1
NUTR SCI/​KINES  525 Nutrition in Physical Activity and Health3
NUTR SCI 540 Community Nutrition and Health Equity3
ONCOLOGY 401 Introduction to Experimental Oncology2
PATH 404 Pathophysiologic Principles of Human Diseases3
POP HLTH/​C&E SOC  370 Introduction to Public Health3
ZOOLOGY 470 Introduction to Animal Development3
ZOOLOGY 570 Cell Biology3

Honors in the Major

Students admitted to the university and to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences are invited to apply to be considered for admission to the CALS Honors Program.

Admission Criteria for New First-Year Students:

  • Complete program application including essay questions

Admission Criteria for Transfer and Continuing UW-Madison Students:

  • UW-Madison cumulative GPA of at least 3.25
  • Complete program application including essay questions

How to Apply

The application is available on the CALS Honors Program website.  Applications are accepted at any time.

New first-year students with accepted applications will automatically be enrolled in Honors in Research. It is possible to switch to Honors in the Major in the student’s first semester on campus after receiving approval from the advisor for that major.  Transfer and continuing students may apply directly to Honors in Research or Honors in the Major (after approval from the major advisor).


All CALS Honors programs have the following requirements:

  • Earn at least a cumulative 3.25 GPA at UW-Madison (some programs have higher requirements)
  • Complete the program-specific requirements listed below
  • Submit completed thesis documentation to CALS Academic Affairs


To earn Honors in the Major, students are required to take at least 20 honors credits. In addition, students must take NUTR SCI 681 Senior Honors Thesis and NUTR SCI 682 Senior Honors Thesis when completing their thesis project; please see the Honors Program page for more information.

University Degree Requirements 

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Obtains and can articulate specialized knowledge in the field of nutritional sciences and dietetics along with an education broad enough to meet the challenges of future careers and opportunities.
  2. Obtains and can articulate foundational knowledge in areas relevant to the field of nutrition and dietetics.
  3. Communicates complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner through both written and oral presentations.
  4. Demonstrates quantitative literacy in math and statistics relevant to nutritional sciences and dietetics.
  5. Demonstrates the ability to think critically and creatively, to synthesize, analyze, and integrate ideas for decision making and problem solving.
  6. Develops the skills for life-­long learning and is capable of locating, interpreting, and critically evaluating professional literature and current research.
  7. Develops a global perspective and an appreciation for the interdependencies among individuals and their workplaces, communities, environments, and world; and an understanding of the interrelationships between science and society.
  8. Develops a respect for truth, a tolerance for diverse views, and a strong sense of personal and professional ethics.

Four-year plan

Sample Nutritional Sciences Four-Year Plan

First Year
CHEM 103 or 10914-5CHEM 10415
MATH 113 (if needed)23Social Sciences3-4
COMM A3Ethnic Studies3
CALS First Year Seminar1Elective3
 14-16 14-15
Second Year
CHEM 3433NUTR SCI 3323
STAT 301 or 3713CHEM 3453
CALS International Studies3Humanities3-4
 14 14-15
Third Year
BIOCHEM 501 or 507 (if taking BIOCHEM 507, take BIOCHEM 508 in Spring)3NUTR SCI 4313
CHEM 3442MICROBIO 101 or 3033
ANAT&PHY 3355MICROBIO 102 or 3042
Humanities3Nutritional Sciences Elective53-4
 16 14-16
Fourth Year
PHYSICS 1034Nutritional Sciences Electives53-6
 16 14-17
Total Credits 116-125

Students must complete at least 120 total credits to be eligible for graduation.


In order to take CHEM 103/CHEM 104 or CHEM 109, students must have a suitable math placement score or completion of MATH 112, MATH 114, MATH 171, or equivalent. 


MATH course dependent on placement score and transfer credit evaluation. 


BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  151 & BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  152 fulfills the COMM B requirement. 


BIOCORE 381/BIOCORE 382, BIOCORE 383/BIOCORE 384, BIOCORE 485/BIOCORE 486BIOCORE 587 also accepted.


Select 6 credits from major elective options.


Students are assigned a professional advisor who assists them with building their personalized Wisconsin Experience—including a strong curriculum to match student interests—and provides advising on career paths including graduate school or pursuing advanced degrees in the health sciences.

Professors provide mentorship to students in the program through work on faculty-led research, including learning research paper- and grant-writing skills, communicating about scientific concepts, and presenting research results to different audiences.

Career opportunities

Graduates of the program are working as physicians, scientists, physician assistants, nutrition product developers, foodservice directors, nutrition educators, wellness directors, and professors; and have a wide-range of employers including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, school districts, food companies, universities, grocery stores, and non-profit organizations.

Alumni are recognized for their skills in healthcare, leadership, clinical research, communication, critical thinking, and problem solving.


Dave Eide (Department Chair)
Richard Eisenstein
Jing Fan
Guy Groblewski
Adam Kuchnia (Director of Didactic Program in Dietetics)
HuiChuan Lai
Denise Ney
James Ntambi
Beth Olson
Brian Parks
Joseph Pierre
Sherry Tanumihardjo
Eric Yen


Erika Anna
Amber Haroldson
Tara LaRowe (Coordinator of Didactic Program in Dietetics)
Makayla Schuchardt
Yirong Wang

Academic Advisors

Sarah Golla, MSW
Mona Mogahed, MPS

Research experience

Undergraduate students have the opportunity to take for-credit and not-for-credit hours in labs to participate in research and learn additional lab skills. Faculty-led research programs inform the scientific understanding of nutrition’s role in health. Students can work with internationally recognized researchers who study metabolism, genetics, genomics, physiology, and nutritional management of diseases including phenylketonuria (PKU), cystic fibrosis, and diabetes.

global engagement

Faculty and students in the program have many connections with global activities. The UW Mobile Clinic and Health Care in Uganda study abroad program provides students an opportunity to visit Uganda and learn about nutrition and public health. The Village Health Project student organization grew out of students traveling to Uganda on UW–Madison programs and supports ongoing public health projects in the region.

student organization

The Dietetics and Nutrition Club (DNC), open to undergraduate and graduate students, hosts biweekly evening meetings featuring speakers on many topics related to nutrition. The group also assists students in finding volunteer and job opportunities in the field of nutrition.

volunteer activity

Students volunteer through many different programs in the community. Examples include:

  • Volunteering at UW Hospitals and Clinics or other local hospitals to gain experience in patient care
  • Joining the student organization Slow Food UW, a group that hosts dinners in the Madison community
  • Addressing food insecurity through student groups including Food Justice Collective, Campus Food Shed, UW Frozen Meals program, Open Seat food pantry, Food Recovery Network-Madison Chapter, F.H. King: Students for Sustainable Agriculture; and Madison-area food pantries such as Madison Community Fridges

The Dietetics and Nutrition Club also offers volunteer opportunities.


Students may obtain academic credit along with community-based engagement by creating their own internship under the supervision of a faculty member.

The Department of Nutritional Sciences awards tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship funds for students each year and Nutritional Sciences students are also eligible for scholarships in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences receive more than $1.25 million in scholarships annually. Learn more about college scholarships.