Nutrition Data Science

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 Nutrition Data Science 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 Nutrition Data Science 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.

This program is in the Division of Nutrition Data Science.

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

Life Sciences 

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.

Nutrition Science

Undergraduate level courses in General Chemistry and General Biology.

The curriculum includes core courses in the areas of nutrition, biochemistry, biostatistics, and epidemiology. A minimum of 48 semester hour units is required for the M.S. degree. Unless otherwise noted, each course is equivalent to three semester hour units. 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 Current Degree Requirement Worksheet

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

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.

Epidemiology and Biostatistics Required Skills Courses

  • Core courses to complete during first fall semester:
    • Principles of Epidemiology (NUTR 204)
    • Biostatistics I plus required Laboratory (NUTR 206)
    • Introduction to SAS Programming (NUTR 0237; 1.5 semester hour units)
    • Nutrition Science Journal Club (NUTR 240; first of two-semester sequenced 0 SHU course)
  • Core courses to complete during first spring semester:
    • Nutrition Science Journal Club (NUTR 240; second of two-semester sequenced 0 SHU course)
    • Statistical Methods in Nutrition Research II (NUTR 309)
    • Intermediate Epidemiology (NUTR 319)
  • Core courses to complete during second fall semester:
    • Nutritional Epidemiology (NUTR 305)
    • Intermediate Biostatistics: Regression Method (NUTR 323)

Nutrition Science Required Skills Courses for all Specializations except Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition Specialization 

  • Scientific Basis of Nutrition: Micronutrients (NUTR 245; first of two semester-sequenced course) 
  • Scientific Basis of Nutrition: Macronutrients (NUTR 246; second of two semester-sequenced course)

Specialization Requirement – Select One Option 

  • Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition Specialization:
    • Graduate Biochemistry (BCHM 223; 6 SHUs)
    • Human Physiology (NUTR 208)
    • Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology: Macronutrients (NUTR 370; 4.5 SHUs)
    • Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology: Micronutrients (NUTR 371; 4.5 SHUs)
  • Global Nutrition Epidemiology Specialization:
    • Fundamentals of Nutrition Policy and Programming (NUTR 203)
  • Select two of the following courses:
    • Monitoring and Evaluation of Nutrition and Food Security Projects (NUTR 217)
    • International Nutrition Programs (NUTR 227)
    • Community and Public Health Nutrition (NUTR 228)
    • Nutrition in Emergencies Policies, Practice and Decision-Making (NUTR 308)
  • Nutrition Epidemiology and Data Analytics Specialization:
    • Introduction to Remote Sensing plus required Laboratory (CEE 189)
    • Fundamentals of GIS (NUTR 231)
  • Select one of the following courses:
    • Advanced GIS (GIS 102)
    • Advanced Data Analysis (NUTR 394)
       
  • Self-Designed Specialization (consult with Academic Advisor and Division Chair)

Optional Master’s Thesis 

Important to Note: The Master’s Thesis does not replace the Specialization requirement.
  • Preliminary Research (NUTR 0397; first summer semester)
  • Thesis Proposal (NUTR 0397; second fall semester)
  • Dissertation (NUTR 0497; second spring semester)

Potential Electives

  • Directed Study with NDS faculty
  • Cardiovascular Epidemiology (PH 220)
  • Cancer Epidemiology (PH 222)
  • Infectious Disease Epidemiology (PH 224)
  • Clinical Epidemiology (PH 270)
  • Introduction to Meta-analysis (PH 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.

Read more on their website

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.

Read more on their website

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 Nutrition Data Science program will graduate with the necessary analytical, technical, and communication skills required for preeminent research and teaching positions in academics and government.

Nutrition Data Science 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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