Nutrition Interventions, Communication, and Behavior Change

Our mission: To prepare a diverse population of students for careers that focus on behavior change in nutrition and physical activity through communications and interventions based on evidence-based biologic sciences.

This innovative program reflects the collective wisdom of Friedman faculty, students, and alumni. It prepares future leaders to translate the latest science into practice and policy.

Merging nutrition science, health communication, and behavior change, this program prepares graduates to address the most pressing health and nutrition challenges facing our communities and society at large. 

Learn More About How to Apply

Contact the Program Director

Nutrition Interventions, Communication, and Behavior Change

Doctoral student Lindsay Tanskey, N10, NG17, teaches third grade students about different kinds of citrus fruits as part of the GREEN Project Lunch Box Study.

The Master's Degree Program in Nutrition Interventions, Communication, and Behavior Change is designed to prepare its graduates for the growing job opportunities available to professionals trained to explain research findings in ways that the public can understand and apply. 

Prerequisites

Prior course work in nutrition is not required, although many applicants will have taken one, or even several, nutrition courses. Applicants include both registered dietitians and individuals who majored in human biology as undergraduates, as well as those with backgrounds in journalism or liberal arts. Applicants must have demonstrated their ability to master basic science and to communicate effectively.

Students interested in the new program will be required to have completed a minimum of one course in biology and one course in chemistry. They will be strongly encouraged to take a course in physiology and in biochemistry as well and to consider a course in microeconomics. Prospective applicants who are considering the option of becoming registered dietitians will need to be advised about the appropriateness of their science electives to fulfill their specific requirements.

Master of Science

The Master's Degree Program in Nutrition Interventions, Communication, and Behavior Change is a two-year academic program and is designed to prepare graduates for the growing job opportunities available to professionals trained to communicate sound nutrition information effectively. The program combines the expertise of Friedman's own internationally recognized faculty, and the enormous breadth of knowledge available across all the Tufts campuses with a wealth of opportunities for related work experience. Together, the combination of academic courses and practical experience prepares graduates for exciting and rewarding careers in which effective communication makes a difference.

The Nutrition Interventions, Communication, and Behavior Change curriculum includes core courses in three broad areas: nutrition, study design and analysis, and communications and behavior change. Sixteen credits are required for the degree. The exact number of required courses will depend upon the student's prior academic preparation. Unless otherwise noted, each course is equivalent to one credit. A standardized training in ethical treatment of human subjects is also a requirement for graduation.

Sean B. Cash

Sean B. Cash

Associate Professor

Sara C. Folta

Sara C. Folta

Associate Professor

Jennifer Sacheck

Jennifer Sacheck

Associate Professor

Virginia R. Chomitz

Virginia R. Chomitz

Assistant Professor

Erin Hennessy

Erin Hennessy

Research Assistant Professor

Mark Fenton

Mark Fenton

Adjunct Professor

Laurie B. LaRusso

Laurie B. LaRusso

Adjunct Instructor

Ellen Messer

Ellen Messer

Visiting Faculty

Current students should refer to the degree requirement worksheet associated with their year of entry for the most accurate course requirements.

The Nutrition Interventions, Communication and Behavior Change curriculum includes core courses in three broad areas: nutrition, study design and analysis, and communications and behavior change. Sixteen credits are required for the degree. The exact number of required courses will depend upon the student's prior academic preparation. Unless otherwise noted, each course is equivalent to one credit. A standardized training in ethical treatment of human subjects is also a requirement for graduation.

Nutrition

The nutrition core provides students with an understanding of basicand applied nutrition. Courses in this area reflect the broad scienceand policy mission of the school.

The following nutrition science and policy courses are required:

  • Nutrition Science (NUTR 245/246)
  • Fundamentals of Nutrition Policy and Programming (NUTR 203) OR Economics for Food Policy Analysis (NUTR 238)
  • Nutrition in Health and Disease Across the Lifespan (NUTR 312)

For electives that fill the nutrition core, see degree requirement worksheet.

In addition to these courses, a standardized training in ethical treatment of human subjects is a requirement for graduation.

Registered dietitians and students who have completed the
undergraduate nutrition requirements that would enable them to become
registered dietitians are exempt from these courses if taken within the
past five years. They must, however, complete a minimum of four full
courses in nutrition.

Study Design and Analysis

The study design and analysis core provides students with the
knowledge to critically evaluate scientific studies, from design to
interpretation. Minimum requirements include two biostatistics courses
and two epidemiology courses. Those who plan to work in intervention
program design, implementation, and evaluation are encouraged to take
Survey Research in Nutrition (NUTR 210).

The study design and analysis core includes:

  • Principles of Epidemiology  (NUTR 204)
  • Statistical Methods for Nutrition Research (Policy)  (NUTR 207)
  • Regression Analysis for Nutrition Policy  (NUTR 307)
  • Design of Epidemiologic Studies for Nutrition Research  (NUTR 314) OR Nutritional Epidemiology (NUTR 305)

Registered dietitians and students who have completed the undergraduate nutrition requirements may be exempt from this course.

 

Students choose to specialize in either the communications or interventions track.

Communications

  • Theories of Behavior Change and Their Application in Nutrition and Public Health Interventions (NUTR 211)
  • Introduction to Writing about Nutrition and Health  (NUTR 220)
  • Communicating Health Information to Diverse Audiences, Part A  (NUTR 205)
  • Communicating Health Information to Diverse Audiences, Part B  (NUTR 306)
  • Communications Strategies in Health Promotion  (NUTR 218)
  • Professional Communication  (HCOM 544)

Interventions

  • Professional Communication (HCOMM 544)
  • Theories of Behavior Change and Their Application in Nutrition and Public Health Interventions (NUTR 211)
  • Management, Planning, and Control of Nutrition and Health Programs and Organizations (NUTR 216)
  • Communication Strategies in Health Promotion (NUTR 218)
  • Nutrition, Physical Activity and Health (NUTR 272)
  • Fundamentals of Writing About Nutrition and Health (NUTR 220)
  • Communicating Health Information to Diverse Audiences I (NUTR 205)

Students may cross-register at Boston College, Boston University, and Brandeis University for courses of particular interest to them.

Internship Requirements

The internship has several purposes: to give students practical field experience that complements academic study, to give students experience in an institution where they might work in the future, to allow students to determine the kinds of jobs they wish to find after graduation, and to give them an opportunity to make contacts in the professional sphere where they will seek employment.

Learn more about internships

Americans' top sources of nutrition information are magazines, television, newspapers, and the internet. The print, broadcast, and electronic media are constantly seeking professionally-trained nutritionists who can communicate effectively. The same is true of public relations agencies, the food industry, and health and fitness centers. Community-based health intervention programs are also relying more and more on techniques of effective mass communication to influence behavior.

Career Information

The Nutrition Communication Program accepted its first class in 1995. As of December 2013, there are 151 graduates. Recently we asked our graduates to tell us about their careers. Here is what we learned:

Alumni of the Nutrition Communication program report high job satisfaction. As one graduate put it “I never get bored.”

Alumni attributed their high job satisfaction to the fact that their jobs are:

  • "Creative"
  • "Flexible"
  • "Provides me with an opportunity to help others"
  • "Provides frequent opportunities to mentor"
  • "Diverse"

"I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the process of getting the nutrition story straight."

Where do our graduates work?

In a word, everywhere:

  • Private sector
    • Public relations
    • Publications/media
    • Dietetics
    • Industry
  • Public sector
    • Teaching
    • Program intervention
    • Public health
    • Government

The entrepreneurial spirit is reflected in how many alums have started their own successful businesses.

What about salaries?

Earnings typically rise quickly:

  • Half of all survey respondents had a starting salary of at least $50,000 per year.
  • Among those who graduated between 1997 and 2004, half are earning more than $100,000 per year.

Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

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