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    Saybrook University
  Apr 25, 2024
2023-2024 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook with Spring Addendum 
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2023-2024 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook with Spring Addendum

Ph.D. Integrative and Functional Nutrition

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Overview of Program

Saybrook's Ph.D. in Integrative and Functional Nutrition is a fully online* minimum 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 Ph.D. 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

  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. 


  • Minor in Mind-Body Medicine 
  • Minor in Integrative Wellness Coaching 

Career Opportunities

Those earning the Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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 
If you are interested in seeking the RD credential upon completion of the Ph.D. in Integrative and Functional Nutrition program at Saybrook University, please visit the website of the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) at ACEND® policies for Individualized Supervised Practice Pathways (ISPPs) allow individuals holding a doctoral degree without a DPD verification statement to apply for an ISPP; however eligibility requirements and options may vary by program. You can see which Dietetic Internships, Coordinated, or Didactic programs currently offer ISPPs by visiting Accredited Education Programs. Doctoral degree holders without a DPD verification statement must attend an ISPP that is approved to offer a track for individuals with a doctoral degree. Students interested in applying to an ISPP should research the eligibility requirements of the program where they intend to submit an application, including whether you are required to locate your own preceptors, and then contact the program director. Individuals with work experience should also inquire whether the program grants credit for specific competency requirements through an assessment of prior learning.  
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) 

Program Requirements

Admissions Requirements

The following is a list of required and preferred criteria for acceptance into the Ph.D. 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 the 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 M.S. 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 three pre-requisite science courses with a B or above within the past 10 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 pre-requisite coursework was completed more than 10 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:  

  • Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate universities; 
  • A 250-500-words personal statement explaining their professional interest in pursuing the Ph.D. in Integrative and Functional Nutrition; 
  • A current resume or CV; 
  • Upon request, some students may be required to provide a sample demonstrating academic writing skills. Writing samples and other Admissions documents must be solely and independently authored by the applicant, not professionally edited, and written within the past ten years. Due to the importance of scholarly writing standards, all Ph.D. IFN students will be required to take the graduate level academic writing course. Writing samples will be analyzed to assess whether the applicant can be waived from this requirement. Note that if plagiarism is found, it can be disqualifying for admission. Plagiarism is defined in the Saybrook catalog section, “Policy on Academic Honesty (Plagiarism) and Authorship. 

University Learning Experience

Virtual Learning Experience (VLE) - Required, Community Learning Experience (CLE) - Optional

All new students begin their studies with a Welcome Week. Welcome Week activities are held online during the week ahead of the start of the fall and spring semesters. Participation is strongly encouraged.

No face-to-face residential learning experiences are required for this degree.  However, students are invited to attend any of Saybrook’s face-to-face Residential Learning Experiences or Virtual Learning Experiences where they will meet other Saybrook students, faculty and staff. The integrative and functional nutrition department faculty will offer programming and participate in these learning experiences.

Program Specific Requirements

Students in this minimum 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.   
Saybrook may accept up to nine graduate-level transfer credits into the Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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.


Students in this minimum 62-credit program take a core set of advanced nutritional science courses to establish a strong foundation on which to build.   

Mode of Delivery

Utilizing Canvas as the Learning Management System (LMS), IFN courses are delivered in a mostly asynchronous manner with weekly or biweekly due dates for assignments. IFN courses are supplemented with live Zoom videoconferences. Most IFN courses require attendance at 2-3 live videoconferences.

Length of Program

Students in this minimum 62-credit program take a core set of advanced nutritional science courses to establish a strong foundation on which to build. A full-time student will typically complete the program in 4-5 years. 

Required Courses

Research Courses required of all PhD in IFN students (21 credits)

Basic Science Pre-requisites (if required)

Total Credits with basic sciences minimum 62 - 71

Writing Course and Open Elective(s) required of all PhD in IFN students (6 credits)

Open Electives

Students elect one course (3 credits) from any course across the University for which they are eligible.  Students requiring any of the basic sciences may use open elective credits to meet these requirements. Students who are notified of their eligibility to opt out of MBM5507 may elect one additional open elective (3 credit) course to fulfill the degree requirements.

*All required coursework is done virtually.  However, some elective options have 1-2-day residential components for which students would be required to attend if they select these courses.  Also note that while the residential component is not required, students may opt to attend at any time.


  • 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.
  • Students who hold the credential of Registered Dietitian through the Commission on Dietetic Registration are eligible for Advanced Standing and will receive a 6-credit reduction from the Master of Science in Integrative and Functional Nutrition program or a 9-credit reduction from the PhD in Integrative and Functional Nutrition program.  This is the maximum allowance for credit reduction for these programs.  Credit reduction may be made by removal of required or elective courses and will be determined on an individual basis by the department chair or academic advisor.
  • The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) provides holistic training in the field of nutrition. IIN’s Health Coach Training Program includes coursework in nutrition, health and wellness, coaching techniques, business skills, and personal development. The articulation agreement with Saybrook University allows graduates of the IIN training programs to authorize six credits of graduate credit toward CIMHS masters and doctoral programs.

Optional: Minor in Mind-Body Medicine - 12 credits minimum

PhD IFN Total Degree Requirements with Minor in MBM - 74-86 credits minimum

Optional: Minor in Integrative Wellness Coaching (IWC) - 9 credits minimum

Saybrook’s IWC Certificate program is specifically geared toward individuals who do not currently hold an ICF or NBHWC credential.

PhD IFN Total Degree Requirements with Minor in IWC - 71-83 credits minimum

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