a student uses an instrument in the nutrition science laboratory

About the program

The Nutrition Science PhD (NS PhD) program provides the highest degree for nutrition science professionals, preparing graduates for research careers in academia, non-governmental organizations (business and non-profit), allied health fields, and public service at all levels of national government. Nutrition Science focuses on the physiological and biological aspects of foods and nutrients and their absorption, assimilation, biosynthesis, catabolism and excretion; and seeks to identify effective strategies to improve the dietary intake among individuals and sub-groups (i.e., older adults, children) to prevent and treat disease, improving health and promoting successful aging.

The NS PhD curriculum provides students with the graduate-level training required to become effective scientific practitioners with the capacity to conduct independent research in nutrition and health-related outcomes, in both applied and academic settings. Students’ capacity to conduct research is developed through a combination of rigorous curriculum and active faculty mentoring, designed to bring students to the intellectual forefront of their discipline.


Applications for Fall admission to the NS PhD Program are reviewed on a rolling basis between January 15 and March 15.

  • Materials required for application include:
  • Application form
  • Official undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • Official GRE scores
  • A minimum of three letters of recommendation (it is recommended that at least two be from academic references)
  • Curriculum vitae or resume
  • Graduate application essay

Applicants are strongly recommended to speak with program faculty (listed below), with whom they share research interests and who could serve as his/her PhD advisor, prior to submitting their application. Applicants should identify two program faculty members that they would like to work with during their doctoral training in their graduate application essay.

  • A Master’s Degree in a related field from an accredited college or university with a GPA > 3.3
  • GRE scores within past 5 years.
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of at least 600 (paper based), TOEFL iBT of at least 100, or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) overall band score of 7.0 for non-native English speakers. 
  • Applicants must submit all materials directly to the University of Delaware Graduate School using the online admission process before admission can be considered. 
  • Admission decisions will be made by the Graduate Programs in Nutrition Committee. Students will be admitted to the program based on enrollment availability, the availability of faculty mentorship, and their ability to meet the following minimum recommended entrance requirements.
  • Application Documents:
    • A graduate application essay.
    • Current curriculum vitae.
    • A minimum of three letters of recommendation (it is recommended that at least two be from academic references).
    • Official transcripts and GRE scores.
  • Nutrition education, nutrition counseling, and qualitative research studies diet and health outcomes (Sandra Baker, EdD, RD)
  • Phytochemicals and their role in prevention and reduction of age- and nutrition-related diseases (Sheau Ching Chai, PhD, RD)
  • Body composition, energy metabolism and nutrition assessment in chronic and acute illness; clinical nutrition assessment; diagnosis and management of disease-associated malnutrition (Carrie Earthman, PhD, RD)
  • Nutrigenomics, chronic disease prevention, nutritional toxicology, multiomics approaches in nutrition research (Jae Kyeom Kim, MS, PhD)
  • Dietary fiber, nutritional assessment and nutrition-related diseases (Richard Fang, PhD, RD)
  • Gerontological diet, nutrition, ad health outcomes (Marie F. Kuczmarski, PhD, RD)
  • Eating disorders in emerging adults; psychological outcomes of interventions to control body weight; eating and health-related behaviors (Carly Pacanowski, PhD, RD)
  • Behavioral weight management interventions in pediatric and adult populations; basic feeding studies manipulating diet (Shannon Robson, PhD, MPH, RD)
  • Public health nutrition, vitamin D and bone mineral metabolism (Alisha Rovner, PhD)
  • Infant and child feeding practices, cultural competency, global health/nutrition, immigrant health/nutrition (Kelebogile Setiloane, PhD)
  • Early childhood nutrition, diet composition and energy balance in healthy individuals and in those with chronic disease (Jillian Trabulsi, PhD, RD)

The Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition has several full (full tuition and stipend) and partial (full tuition) graduate assistantships that may be offered to competitive full-time students on a year-to-year basis. Students on full graduate assistantships are provided with experiences that can only be gained by performing assignments or research activities with a faculty mentor; these activities are compensated based on the University’s guidelines of 20 hours per week. The primary assignment of the assistantship, over the course of the academic year, will consist of supporting an assigned faculty member with their grant/research and/or teaching. There may be additional opportunities for doctoral students to have department-funded research time in the summer session.

The NS PhD is a 48-credit program designed to be completed in four years and includes. It consists of:

  • 33 credits of course work
    • 15 credits of nutrition courses
    • 15 credits of research design/methodology, statistics, data analysis courses
    • 3 credits of elective coursework
  • 6 credits of independent research
  • 9 credits of dissertation research
  • Comprehensive examination
  • Dissertation proposal defense
  • Dissertation defense

Applications (all materials) for the NS PhD Program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between January 15 and March 15 for admission to the program at the beginning of the following fall semester. Since application decisions will be made on a rolling basis within this timeframe (January 15th – March 15th), applicants are strongly advised to complete and submit applications as early as possible. The materials required for the application to be considered complete include the application form, undergraduate/graduate transcripts, official GRE scores, at least three letters of recommendation, curriculum vitae, and a graduate application essay (directions for the graduate application essay may be found on the University of Delaware’s Graduate College website). In addition, applicants should also explain in the graduate application essay, how their own research interests relate to those of at least two potential nutrition faculty advisors.

Year 1

Fall Spring
NTDT822 Research Methods in Nutrition Assessment (3) NTDT Elective (3)
NTDT Elective (3) BHAN856 Multivariable Statistics for Population Health (3)
BHAN855 Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research in Health Sciences (3) Statistics/Data Analysis/Research Methods Elective (3)
NTDT868 Independent Research (1) NTDT868 Independent Research (1)
BHAN867 Research Seminar (0) NTDT665 Nutrition  
Seminar (0)
  *Dissertation Committee convened at least once per year to review progress toward degree

Year 2

Fall Spring
NTDT Elective (3) General Elective (3)
NTDT812 Current Topics in Nutrition (3) Statistics/Data Analysis/Research Methods Elective (3)
Statistics/Data Analysis/Research Methods
Elective (3)
NTDT868 Independent Research (3)
NTDT868 Independent Research (1) NTDT868 Independent Research (3)
BHAN867 Research Seminar (0) *Dissertation Proposal Defense
* Preliminary examination during Winter

Year 3

Fall Spring
NTDT969 Dissertation Research (9) NTDT Nutrition Seminar (0)
BhAN Research Seminar (0) Statistics/Data Analysis/Research Methods
Elective (3)
                                                                                      *Dissertation Committee
convened at least once per year to review progress toward degree"

Year 4

Fall Spring
BHAN Research Seminar (0) NTDT Nutrition Seminar (0)
                                                 *Dissertation Defense