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2017-2018 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook
Saybrook University
  Nov 21, 2019
2017-2018 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook 
2017-2018 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook [Archived Catalog]

Integrative and Functional Nutrition, M.S.

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Integrative and Functional Nutrition - The Intersection of Food and Health

Saybrook’s Master of Science degree in Integrative and Functional Nutrition is dedicated to educating the next generation of nutritional professionals. Graduates of this program will utilize evidence-based nutritional science, advanced therapeutic approaches, and patient-centered care to comprehensively address conditions ranging from obesity and high blood pressure, to depression and chronic pain.

Practitioners of integrative and functional nutrition recognize how physical health is influenced by biological, environmental, behavioral, and emotional factors. They apply knowledge from biological and nutritional sciences to the results from comprehensive nutritional assessments to inform nutritional diagnoses and develop personalized nutrition care plans to help patients achieve optimal health and vitality.  Declining global health dictates a greater need for well-trained, competent nutrition practitioners across health care settings.  This need is not being met by current educational models.  Thus, CIMHS has created a master’s degree in integrative and functional nutrition to prepare future nutrition leaders in the health field. With courses that study nutritional biochemistry and physiology, functional nutrition assessment methodologies, integrative nutritional therapies, and wellness coaching, along with a 100-hour professional practicum, this program equips its students with cutting-edge knowledge, skills, and competencies to be professional nutrition practitioners addressing world-wide health concerns of individuals and communitites.

Students enrolled in the nutrition program will have access to the faculty and courses throughout CIMHS. The experienced researchers and practitioners on the faculty are committed to helping students achieve their professional and personal goals through mentoring, teaching, and supervising.

Program Learning Outcomes

1. Develop knowledge and skills to transform the practice of integrative and functional nutrition through humanistically informed research, practice, education and leadership.

1.1 Students will be able to articulate humanistic and transpersonal principles supporting integrative and functional nutrition care that treats the whole person.

1.2 Students will learn and understand emerging paradigms and conceptual models for health and nutrition, integrating mind, body, and spirit.

1.3 Students will make independent scholarly contributions to the fields of integrative and functional nutrition, health promotion, and disease prevention.

2. Acquire knowledge and skills to transform integrative and functional nutrition practice and care delivery

2.1 Students will develop a broadened concept of health and disease, and a broadened concept of the role of nutrition and lifestyle change for optimal health, healing and vitality.

2.2 Students will develop an understanding of a variety of integrative and functional nutrition- related and complementary and alternative therapeutic interventions, supplementing and/or offering alternatives to mainstream medical care.

2.3 Students will acquire knowledge of integrative and functional nutrition and integrative health based on current research.

2.4 Students will master alternative assessment techniques as part of an integrative model for: understanding the onset and continuance of illness, current levels of wellness, and applicable pathways for integrative and functional nutrition.

3. Develop an orientation emphasizing higher levels of health, vitality, and wellness.

3.1 Students will comprehend that health is more than the absence of disease, and will understand the importance of an integrated perspective that incorporates biochemical individuality, systems biology, lifestyle, and personalized nutritional care and promotes optimal mind, body and spiritual wellness, as well as the prevention and management of disease.        

3.2 Students will learn lifestyles, habits, and nutritional practices supportive of optimal wellness.

3.3 Students will understand the concept of food as medicine and the therapeutic qualities of whole foods, herbs, and spices.

3.4 Students will comprehend the role of dietary supplements and herbal medicine in health and healing. This will include evaluating the research, the utilization of evidence-based resources and understanding ethical considerations.

3.5 Students will master dietary and nutritional coaching skills supporting personal awareness, motivation and inspiration, resilience, goal achievement, and lasting behavior change leading to  increased health and wellness.                

3.6 Students will learn to communicate and promote this new vision of health and wholeness of the human being, shifting priority from the absence of disease to a pursuit of optimal wellness.

4. Acquire an understanding of multiple paradigms in integrative and functional nutrition, which function as a bridge between mind and body, and an understanding of their application to health and disease.

4.1 Students will learn how specific paradigms — including but not limited to basic and advanced nutritional sciences, functional medicine, integrative medicine, and mind-body medicine paradigms — are applicable to nutritional practice to manage illness and suffering.

4.2 Students will identify wellness practices — such as stress management, physical exercise and movement, mindfulness, and meditation, and spirituality — conducive for health and healing.

4.3 Students will master integrative and functional nutrition therapeutics and understand integrative nutrition-related interventions conducive to healing, optimal wellness, behavioral change, and personal transformation.

4.4 Students will learn and understand legal and regulatory perspectives of integrative and functional nutrition practice including statutory and professional scope of practice, competence and accountability, bioethics and interprofessional collaborative care in practice settings.

5. Develop a sensitivity and acceptance for multiple perspectives based on racial, ethnic, individual development, and cultural groups.

5.1 Students will develop the ability to comprehend the culture and vocabulary of diverging groups, and to communicate across cultural boundaries and in organizational settings.

5.2. Students will acquire sensitivities and respect for ethnic and cultural differences and their relevance for health and health care.

5.3 Students will develop skills to communicate effectively across racial, ethnic and cultural groups, as well as across worldviews and diverse ethical approaches.

6. Acquire an understanding and mastery of research in nutrition and health care, especially research that supports outcomes improvement and nurtures positive changes in health.

6.1 Students will develop skill at searching for scientific literature, reading critically, comprehending and applying scientific knowledge to problems in health care and the nutrition care process.

6.2 Students will understand the difference between qualitative and quantitative research strategies and will be cognizant of the applicability, strengths and limitations of each approach.

6.3 Students will differentiate between evidence-based medicine and practice-based evidence when assessing the strength of nutrition research and will demonstrate analytical thinking and critical reasoning to challenge assumptions and arrive at conclusions.

6.4 Students will be able to design simple research projects applying basic research skills and methodologies.

6.5 Students will learn ethical strategies for conducting research, interpreting research and reporting the results of research.

6.6 Students will understand and be able to measure nutrition outcomes and achievement of objectives in a practice or program setting relating to continuous improvement.

7. Acquire an understanding and master relevant approaches to implement the nutrition care process with multiple populations and diverse cultures, across socioeconomic groups.

7.1 Students will master skills to provide integrative and functional nutrition care across the lifespan.

7.2 Students will learn to adapt the nutrition care process to at-risk populations, such as pregnant and lactating women, infants and children, the elderly, and groups at-risk for health disparities or food insecurity.

8. Mastery of practice management, business management, diverse approaches to the delivery of services, and the use and management of resources for integrative and functional nutrition care.

8.1 Students will learn and master skills and knowledge related to the sustainable and quality management of integrative and functional nutrition services and the fundamentals of public policy and how they relate to health care systems and the socioecological model.

8.2 Students will learn modes of delivering integrative and functional nutrition services for diverse ethnic groups, sub-cultures, and socioeconomic groups.

9. Students will develop collaboration, teamwork, professional attitudes and values, problem solving, critical thinking and decision-making skills.

9.1 Students will participate in interprofessional activities and education.

9.2 Students will develop and demonstrate personal and professional self-reflection and self- assessment skills for continuous personal/professional improvement.

10. Students will acquire, apply, and synthesize knowledge and skills in nutrition, clinical, and life sciences.

10.1 Students will comprehend that science is a dynamic and ever-evolving body of knowledge.

10.2 Students will apply real world observation and the exploration of natural phenomena that lead to problem-solving and the generation of scientific questions and hypotheses.

10.3 Students will acquire an understanding of the fundamentals, applications, and limitations of the scientific method.

10.4 Students will develop a broader context of the impacts and applications of nutrition, clinical, and life sciences.

10.5 Students will recognize the social, philosophical, spiritual, and ethical implications of scientific discoveries.


Admissions Requirements

Applicants for this Master of Science degree in Integrative and Functional Nutrition must:

1) Have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, with a 3.0 or better GPA (with a B minimum in sciences);

2) Provide official transcripts showing completion of undergraduate or graduate-level science courses, including 3 credit units from each a) biochemistry or organic chemistry b) anatomy and/or physiology, and c) basic nutrition. Students lacking any of these courses may be admitted and will add these basic science courses as part of their Saybrook program plan.

3) Provide an academic writing sample demonstrating academic writing skills (Students who demonstrate subpar writing skills may be accepted, but will be required to take an academic writing class as part of their degree program); and

4) Submit personal statement addressing their educational objectives.

Degree Requirements

Saybrook’s Master of Science in Integrative and Functional Nutrition requires 41 credits for those students meeting prerequisite course requirements, and 44-50 credits for those lacking one, two or three basic science requirements. No face-to-face residential componentss are required for this degree.  However, students may choose to attend Saybrook’s integrative medicine symposium and mind-body-spirit integration seminar as part of a five-day RC where they will meet other Saybrook students, faculty and staff.  Aside from the optional RC, all required coursework is conducted in an on-line learning enviornment, mostly asynchronous, supplemented by live videoconferences with instructors. A comprehensive exam is given during the final Capstone course, which students must pass to graduate from the program.  No thesis or project is required.  The expected length of the 41 credit program is about 21 months.

Saybrook may accept up to three graduate transfer credits into the Master of Science degree in Integrative and Functional Nutrition from other regionally-accredited colleges and universities prior to entrance. Transfer credits must be suitable for transfer to the intended degree and approved by the Department Chair or Registrar.  Credits are applied to the number of elective or required course credits needed for degree completion.

For further details regarding transfer credit policies, consult the Institutional Transfer Credit Guidelines section of the University Catalog.

Total Credits Including Basic Sciences: 44-50

Total Credits Without Basic Sciences: 41

Degree Requirements for 2017-2018 Academic Year approved by CIMHS Degree Program Committee.


The degree completion time for a student following the default course sequence will average 21 months to two years. Some students may complete degree requirements sooner and some may take longer to complete this degree. Those students incorporating basic sciences into their course plan may require longer to complete the degree.

Students who demonstrate equivalent professional learning to waive a required course(s) will be able to take elective course(s) in place of the waived course(s). Available electives will be discussed with your academic advisor in your first term of enrollment.

This is a structured cohort program; the sequence of courses is different for students who start in the fall than for students who start in the spring. Your specific course sequence will be discussed with your Department Chair and the Student Academic Advisor.

Graduates of the Master of Science in Integrative and Functional Nutrition are eligible to apply to the PhD program in Mind-Body Medicine, and may transfer in any coursework from their master’s degree that fulfills a course requirement or elective requirement for the PhD program.

Learning and Career Outcomes

The Master of Science Degree program in Integrative and Functional Nutrition at Saybrook University prepares students for advanced integrative and functional nutrition practice, as well as to introduce mind-body skills, mindfulness and meditation practices into their practice.  Additionally, this degree prepares individuals for advanced doctoral level studies in nutrition or other health care-related professions.

Saybrook University’s Masters of Integrative and Functional Nutrition degree program is designed to fulfill the current academic requirements for the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) exam. The Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists (BCNS) requires a graduate degree in the field of nutrition from a regionally accredited university, specific coursework, and 1000 hours of supervised experience.  BCNS reviews each candidate individually, including current course descriptions, transcripts and experience to determine eligibility.  To learn more about becoming a CNS, see

In addition, the program fulfills the current core academic requirements in science and nutrition of the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNCB) for the Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN) credential. The CNCB reviews course descriptions, applicant’s transcripts, and academic programs to determine eligibility for the CCN examination. To learn more about becoming a CCN, see

The Master of Integrative and Functional Nutrition degree program does not lead to eligibility for the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN®) credential.

Depending upon each state’s specific credentialing and practice requirements graduates may consider careers in:

  • Medical centers, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other clinical care settings
  • Health promotion and wellness education programs
  • Yoga and wellness retreats, sports care facilities
  • Culinary institutes, agricultural programs, schools, prisons, restaurants and corporate food service establishments
  • Community organizations, public health care, policy settings
  • Natural products and dietary supplement industries
  • Independent consulting and private practice
  • Research and development
  • Nutrition, science, food, medical writing/journalism (non-technical, technical)

Prospective students who are interested in taking courses within the Integrative and Functional Nutrition program at Saybrook, yet do not wish to undertake a master’s degree are encouraged to review the Certificate options described later in this catalog.

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