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Nutritional Sciences Major

Drive change that will improve health worldwide

Cornell’s Division of Nutritional Sciences is one of the largest in the nation devoted to human nutrition. Current research in Nutritional Sciences at Cornell includes the cognitive effects of early exposure to environmental toxins, environmental interventions to prevent obesity, and the impact of economic policies on poverty and malnutrition.

Major in Nutritional Sciences

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Our Nutritional Science program draws upon chemistry, biology and the social sciences to understand complex relationships among human health and well-being, food and lifestyle patterns, food and agricultural systems and institutional environments.

During the first two years the curriculum allows you to explore the general field of Nutritional Sciences while answering some of the following:

  • How do dietary patterns influence the health and well-being of individuals, communities and populations?
  • What are the biological mechanisms through which nutrients affect metabolism?
  • What are recommended dietary patterns for people of different activity levels and medical conditions?
  • What are the roles of governments and businesses in providing accessible, healthy food supplies and in promoting healthy eating practices?

At Cornell, you can major in Nutritional Science within either CALS or the College of Human Ecology. The major requirements for Nutritional Sciences are the same for both colleges, but required courses outside of the major—known as distribution requirements—are different. 

If your interest in nutritional sciences is focused on areas such as the global food crisis, public policy and the science behind food sources, consider the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. CALS’ offerings in specialized life and social science majors (such as International Agriculture and Rural Development, Food Science and Plant Sciences) could enhance your study of Nutritional Sciences.

CALS seeks students who maintain a rigorous high school curriculum and demonstrate an outstanding record of academic achievement. Admissions requirements include:

  • 4 Units of English

  • 4 Units of Mathematics (including calculus)

  • 3 Units of Science (biology, chemistry and physics recommended)

  • Also recommended: an additional unit of science

The core requirements include courses in chemistry, biology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, math and the social sciences. Please review a list of requirements listed on the Nutritional Sciences page.

    NS 3450 – Introduction to the Physiochemical and Biological Aspects of Food

    This course is a comprehensive introduction to the physical, chemical and nutritional properties of foods and to the principles and practice of food science and technology.

    NS 4410 – Nutrition and Disease

    This course combines principles of nutrition, biochemistry, physiology, genetics, pathology and pharmacology to understand disease risk, prevention, progression and management. Lecture offers opportunities for the class to engage in the discussion of original research articles on topics of current interest in the area of nutrition and health.

    NS 4500 – Public Health Nutrition

    Public health nutrition is the major professional career track for nutritionists outside of dietetics. It deals with efforts to improve the diets and nutritional status of whole populations by working at the community, state and national levels.

    •     Integrate knowledge from the biological and social sciences to address nutrition and health problems facing individuals, societies and governments.

    •     Demonstrate an understanding of the complex and evolving nature of scientific knowledge in the promotion of health and the etiology and prevention of disease.

    •     Demonstrate the ability to access and critically evaluate scientific information from the primary research literature to investigate the influences of nutrition and other environmental factors in human health and disease.

    •     Develop positions on nutrition-related health issues.

    •     Communicate positions on nutrition-related health issues to colleagues and lay/target audiences.

    •     Demonstrate knowledge of ethical principles, considerations and dilemmas relevant to the research and practice of nutrition.

    The Minor in Nutrition and Health is available to all non-DNS Cornell undergraduates. It consists of NS 1150 - Nutrition, Health and Society PLUS 9 additional credits of didactic NS courses. Students must choose the 9 cr. of NS courses from the Nutrition and Health minor official course list. Courses must be completed as letter grade. Please note that NO substitutions for NS 1150 will be accepted, and NO Special Studies (NS 4000, 4010, 4020, 4030, or 4990) or transfer credit courses may be used.

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    Understand relationships among human health and well-being, food and lifestyle patterns, food quality and agricultural systems and social and institutional environments, while drawing on chemistry, biology and social sciences. Focus on: human nutrition; community nutrition; international nutrition; and molecular nutrition.

    Academic Record Required:

    • Strong academic record at the college level. Competitive applicants have at least a 3.0 (B) average.
    • CALS Required Coursework should be completed or in-progress with a “B” or better before applying.
    • The most competitive applicants are full-time students who have met the GPA and course requirements.

    (Or transfers with two full-time college semesters of study (post-high school) completed or in progress at time of application):



    Strongly Encouraged (but not required):

    • One full academic year of Introductory Biology with labs
    • Introductory Nutritional Sciences
    • Statistics OR Calculus
    • Courses that meet the CALS social science and humanities requirements in Cultural Analysis, Historical Analysis, Knowledge, Cognition, Moral Reasoning, Literature and the Arts, Social and Behavioral Analysis and Foreign Language.

    (Or transfers with four full-time college semesters of study (post-high school) completed or in progress at time of application):


    • One full academic year of Introductory Biology with labs
    • Two College Writing/English Composition courses or one writing/composition and Public Speaking
    • General (Inorganic) Chemistry I & II with labs
    • Organic Chemistry I & II with labs
    • Statistics OR Calculus


    Strongly Encouraged (Not Required):

    • Introductory to Nutritional Sciences
    • Courses that meet the CALS social science and humanities requirements in Cultural Analysis, Historical Analysis, Knowledge, Cognition and Moral Reasoning, Literature and the Arts, Social and Behavioral Analysis and Foreign Language.
    • Students interested in completing dietetics requirements will benefit from taking a microbiology course.

    Careers in Nutritional Science

    A collection of fruit, vegetables, and nuts


    • Software developer
    • Consulting analyst
    • Communications analyst


    • Teacher
    • Senior administrative assistant
    • Health educator


    • Research associate
    • Pharmacy technician
    • Medical assistant
    • Dietetic intern
    • Medical scribe
    • Project assistant
    • Nutrition partner


    • Laboratory technician
    • Research assistant
    • Research fellow
    • Clinical research assistant

    Social Services/Nonprofit/Military

    • Child Hunger Corps member
    • Project manager
    • Marine Corps officer

    Explore your opportunities

    A CALS education goes beyond the classroom and gives students frequent opportunities to apply what they learn in real-world settings.