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    Saybrook University
  Apr 01, 2020
2019-2020 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook 
2019-2020 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook [Archived Catalog]

Integrative and Functional Nutrition, Ph.D.

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Saybrook’s PhD in Integrative and Functional Nutrition is a fully on-line* 62-credit doctoral degree program for those looking to enhance their expertise and contribute to the scientific advancements in the field of integrative and functional nutrition.  Graduates of this doctoral program will be prepared to lead integrative nutrition practices, educate others in the science of functional nutrition, and advance the field through research.

Saybrook’s PhD in Integrative and Functional Nutrition prepares its graduates to use an evidence-based, holistic approach that applies the knowledge of functional biochemistry to assess body dysfunctions and incorporate environmental, social, physiological, and psychological sciences to provide person-centered, integrative care.  This program is ideal for current nutrition professionals seeking a terminal degree that will distinguish them as experts in the field; non-nutrition health practitioners seeking to complement their existing skillset; and professionals from non-scientific backgrounds who are prepared to transition themselves into the field of advanced, applied nutritional sciences.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students completing Saybrook’s PhD in Integrative & Functional Nutrition will be prepared to:  

  1. Apply evidence-based integrative and functional nutrition approaches to comprehensively assess and promote the health and wellness of diverse individuals and communities.  
  2. Critically evaluate and utilize evidence-based resources to inform professional practice.  
  3. Explain the science of integrative and functional nutrition in health promotion and disease prevention and management to lay audiences and health professionals. 
  4. Apply knowledge of biochemical, physiological, and psychosocial sciences to assess nutritional status and design integrative interventions.  
  5. Identify and articulate the ethical, humanistic, and legal guidelines for professional nutrition practitioners.  
  6. Synthesize nutrition research to identify information gaps in the literature and articulate implications for future research.
  7. Propose and conduct a quality research study and present the findings to professional audiences.

Admissions Requirements

The following is a list of required and preferred criteria for acceptance into the PhD in Integrative and Functional Nutrition.  Each applicant is assessed individually and all materials including academic transcripts, statement of interest, professional experience, and personal interview are used to determine appropriateness of each candidate. 

  • Completion of a master’s degree from a regionally-accredited university with GPA of 3.3 or above (on a scale of 4.0).
    • Those with a master’s GPA of 3.0 to 3.3 may be conditionally accepted and required to take a lighter course load and achieve a B or above in all coursework for at least one year.
    • Preference is given to those with a BS or MS in the health, life, or physical sciences (e.g., nutrition, exercise physiology, biochemistry, chemistry) or whose academic transcripts demonstrate significant science coursework.
      • Alternative degrees will be considered on an individual basis.
  • Transcripts from an accredited university showing completion of the following coursework with a B or above within the past 12 years*.
    • 3 credits Human Nutrition
    • 3 credits Biochemistry or Organic Chemistry
    • 3 credits Anatomy and/or Physiology
      • Those lacking one or more of these pre-requisite courses may be accepted but will be required to add the course(s) to their doctoral program at Saybrook.
      • Applicants whose coursework was completed more than 12 years prior to applying, but who have recent related work experience (e.g., Registered Dietitians) may waive some pre-requisite requirements.

Applicants for the doctoral degree in Integrative and Functional Nutrition must submit:

  1. Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate universities;
  2. A 250-500-words personal statement explaining their professional interest in pursuing the PhD in Integrative and Functional Nutrition;
  3. A current resume or CV;
  4. A writing sample demonstrating academic writing skills.Writing samples must be independently authored, not professionally edited, and written within the past ten years.Students with challenges in academic writing may be accepted but will be required to take an academic writing class during their first semester.

Degree Requirements

Students in this 62-credit program take a core set of advanced nutritional science courses to establish a strong foundation on which to build.  Students then select from a variety of nutrition electives, covering topics such as dietary supplements, culinary medicine, gastrointestinal health, and sports nutrition to allow for program customization.  Students may also elect to take courses from other programs across the university, from which they can acquire complementary knowledge in areas of mind-body medicine, wellness coaching, psychology, and more. 

Saybrook may accept up to nine graduate-level transfer credits into the PhD in Integrative and Functional Nutrition.  Credits must be from suitable coursework completed at another regionally accredited college or university within the past 15 years with a grade of B or above.  Transfer credits must be approved by the Department Chair and 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.

The PhD in Integrative and Functional Nutrition requires completion of a doctoral research dissertation.  Students take a series of advanced research courses to prepare them to design and conduct a research study on a nutrition topic of their choice.  Students must complete all degree requirements, including completion of the research dissertation process, to graduate from the program.  Approximate time to graduation is four years, but varies depending on each individual’s pace, course requirements, and dissertation progress.

Degree Curriculum

Courses required of all PhD in IFN students (62 credits)


  • 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.

Learning and Career Outcomes

Learning and Career Outcomes

Those earning the PhD in Integrative and Functional Nutrition from Saybrook University will be prepared as scholar-practitioners to hold careers in academia, research, public health, or private practice.

Saybrook University’s PhD in Integrative and Functional Nutrition degree program fulfills 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 1,000 hours of supervised experience.  The 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 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:

  • Research
  • Nutrition consulting
  • Product development
  • Higher education
  • Food and culinary settings
  • Health program development and execution
  • Public health care, community organizations, legislature and policy settings
  • Public speaking or journalism (non-technical, technical)

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