Nutritional Epidemiology

The effects of dietary intake and nutritional status on health are complex. Understanding and untangling specific effects of overall diet and individual nutrients requires an understanding of the complex interactions among dietary, lifestyle, metabolic and genetic exposures and the critical-thinking skills for clarifying them in population-based data. 

The Nutritional Epidemiology Program is designed to train students in the design, implementation, and analysis of epidemiologic studies that address questions of the role of dietary intake and nutritional status in disease prevention. 

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The Nutritional Epidemiology Program combines traditional academic course work with practical training, so that students acquire an in-depth knowledge in general nutrition, nutritional biochemistry and physiology, biostatistics, and epidemiology. Students develop an understanding of how to design and conduct epidemiologic research studies, and gain hands-on experience in essential techniques in data analysis and presentation.

Students take most of their academic courses at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy although additional courses in advanced epidemiology and statistics are available by cross-registration at Boston University and at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Prerequisites

Undergraduate level courses in general nutrition, general biology, general chemistry (with lab), organic chemistry and biochemistry.

Please be advised that students taking General Nutrition courses to fulfill program prerequisites must have those courses approved by the Friedman School in advance.

Master of Science

The curriculum includes core courses in the areas of nutrition, biochemistry, biostatistics, and epidemiology. A minimum of 16 credits is required for the M.S. degree. Unless otherwise noted, each course is equivalent to one credit. The exact number of required courses will depend upon the student's prior academic preparation.

Doctor of Philosophy

Students enrolled in the doctoral program must have completed courses equivalent to the Nutritional Epidemiology master's degree based on previous graduate-level coursework taken either at the Friedman School or elsewhere. Students entering at the Ph.D. level must complete or be exempted from all required courses of the M.S. curriculum. Students in the doctoral program must first pass a written and oral qualifying examination, and then complete and formally defend a doctoral dissertation based on original research.

Combined Degree Programs: MS/MPH

A combined degree program, in association with Tufts University's School of Medicine, leads to the Master of Science and the Master of Public Health. Learn more about this combined degree program.

View the Current Degree Requirement Worksheet

The nutrition core provides students with an understanding of basic and applied nutrition, biostatistics, and nutrition science policy. Courses in these areas reflect the broad science and policy mission of the school. Students entering with an appropriate master's degree may submit requests to waive individual courses or to take exemption exams.

Core

  • Graduation Biochemistry (BCHM 223)
  • Human Physiology (NUTR 208)
  • Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology: Macronutrients (NUTR 370)
  • Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology: Micronutrients (NUTR 371)

Skills

  • Biostatistics I (NUTR 205)
  • Statistical Methods in Nutrition Research II (NUTR 309)
  • Advanced Statistical Course (cross-registration at Boston University or Harvard School of Public Health)
  • Principles of Epidemiology (NUTR 204)
  • Nutritional Epidemiology (NUTR 305)
  • Intermediate Epidemiology (NUTR 319)
  • Nutrition Science Journal Club (NUTR 240)

Policy

  • Take one policy course from several offerings at the FSNSP  

Potential Electives

  • Directed Study with faculty in the NEPI program
  • Intro to SAS Programming (NUTR 237) 
  • Cardiovascular Epidemiology (MPH 220)
  • Cancer Epidemiology (MPH 222)
  • Infectious Disease Epidemiology (MPH 224)
  • Clinical Epidemiology (MPH 270)
  • Introduction to Meta-analysis (MPH 278)

The interactive relationship with other programs within the school; with the Tufts University School of Medicine, the Tufts Medical Center, and the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, provides a rich environment for collaborative and cross-discipline instruction. Our affiliation with several longitudinal studies, including the Framingham Heart Study, the Normative Aging Study, and the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging, provides opportunities for direct research experience.

Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging

Scientists at the HNRCA examine how nutrition impacts healthy aging and the role nutrition plays in preventing diseases of the aging. The HNRCA, which is an independent research facility  located two blocks away from the Friedman school on the Tufts Boston campus, was established in 1977 as a unique partnership between the USDA and the University.  Many of the scientists at the HNRCA’s 20 research labs are also Friedman School faculty.  Friedman students have unique opportunities to conduct research  under the supervision of HNRCA scientists who have international stature in their respective areas of research expertise.

Read more on their website

The Tufts Medical Center

Nutrition resources at the Tufts Medical Center include both adult and pediatric clinical programs for hospitalized and ambulatory patients, as well as the Frances Stern Nutrition Center. Tufts Medical Center is the major clinical unit affiliated with the Tufts University School of Medicine. Tufts Medical Center has established a national and international reputation for research, teaching, patient care and graduate and post-graduate education.

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The Boston Obesity/Nutrition Research Center

The Boston Obesity Nutrition Research Center is a NIDDK-funded center for obesity and nutrition research. The center was established in 1992 and represents a collaborative program between Tufts Medical Center, the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Boston University School of Medicine. The principal themes of the Boston Obesity Nutrition Research Center include the natural history of obesity; energy metabolism in obese, ill, and healthy subjects; and education and training in obesity.

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The Frances Stern Nutrition Center

A subunit in the Division of Endocrinology of the Department of Medicine at Tufts Medical Center, the Frances Stern Nutrition Center is responsible for ambulatory nutrition services at Tufts Medical Center, a satellite nutrition education and resource center at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and several research grants and contracts involving clinical nutrition or nutrition education and information.

Read more on their website

Students who complete the Nutritional Epidemiology program will graduate with the necessary analytical, technical, and communication skills required for preeminent research and teaching positions in academics and government.

Nutritional Epidemiology graduates are prepared to work in agencies and organizations such as:

  • University Departments of Epidemiology or Nutrition
  • Government Agencies such as:
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • National Center for Health Statistics
    • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Departments of Public Health
  • Research Institutes

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