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2016-2017 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook
Saybrook University
  May 30, 2020
2016-2017 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook 
2016-2017 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook [Archived Catalog]

Mind-Body Medicine, Integrative and Functional Nutrition Specialization, Ph.D.

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Augmenting Healthcare with Evidence-Based Nutritional Interventions

Integrative and Functional Nutrition (IFN) is a specialization for PhD students in the College of Integrative Medicine and Health Sciences. This specialization integrates the paradigms and interventions of integrative and functional nutrition with those of mind-body medicine to manage disease and promote overall mind-body wellness. 

By combining nutrition science with mind-body-medicine, students will develop a synergistic set of skills unique to healthcare.  Graduates will be positioned to treat a spectrum of health conditions including functional bowel disorders, food addictions, autoimmune diseases, cognitive impairments, obesity, and many other difficult-to-manage cases from a truly integrative approach.  Graduates will also contribute to advancing integrative healthcare practices through ground-breaking research that merges the fields of nutrition and integrative medicine. 

Students electing to incorporate the IFN specialization within their PhD program will take a minimum of 21 credits from the available integrative and functional nutrition courses.  These IFN courses cover topics including nutritional biochemistry, physiology, nutritional assessment methods, and traditional and integrative nutritional therapies.  Students may elect to take additional IFN courses to fulfill the academic requirements of the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists to pursue the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) credentials.


Specialization in Integrative and Functional Nutrition

The doctoral degree program in Mind-Body Medicine with an IFN Specialization offers professionals a science-based approach to broaden and deepen their academic and professional development in the fields of clinical nutrition and integrative healthcare. The program provides the opportunity to build upon the foundation provided by a master’s degree from Saybrook or from another regionally-accredited college or university.

Requirements Overview

Candidates for the IFN specialization must demonstrate that they have completed a master’s degree or the equivalent.  They must show evidence of having earned 3.0 credits of Anatomy and Physiology and 3.0 credits of General Biochemistry as part of their undergraduate or graduate work. Applicants lacking these courses will take them as part of their Saybrook doctoral coursework. The PhD in MBM with an IFN specialization is a 79 credit degree. For students lacking one or both of the basic sciences, the degree will include 82 to 85 credits.

Applicants are allowed to transfer in up to 9 credits from a previous graduate degree program, leaving approximately 70 credits in required coursework for most applicants. To qualify for transfer, past coursework must have been completed within the past ten years, with a 3.0 (B) grade or better.  Students with a master’s degree in nutrition, and those who can demonstrate equivalent learning for some of the required classes, may waive those required classes and substitute additional electives into their program plan.

All students in the IFN specialization complete a regimen of research courses preparing them to conduct  a doctoral dissertation project investigating a nutrition and health-related topic, and also complete a minimum of 100 hours in a Doctoral Practicum placement or placements.

Students receiving a master’s degree in Mind-Body Medicine from Saybrook who are admitted into the doctoral degree in Mind-Body Medicine can generally transfer many of these credits into their PhD program. These students must fulfill the doctoral degree requirements not completed at the master’s level, including the remaining required courses and the dissertation or project.

For further information on admission into the PhD IFN program after completion of a Saybrook M.S. degree, contact the Program Director. Some credits from a master’s degree earned in other programs at Saybrook may also be transferable into the doctoral degree program. Contact an academic advisor for additional information.

Total Credits (Years 1-4): 79

* (Note: Students will remain enrolled in this course each term during culminating phase until completion.)

Degree Requirements for 2016-2017 Academic Year approved by CIMHS Degree Program Committee.


  • The degree completion time for a student following the default course sequence will average between 4 ½ to 5 ½ years. Some students may complete degree requirements in fewer terms and some may require more terms to complete the degree.
  • A listing of acceptable CIMHS courses and electives is available on the Saybrook website. Students may also choose an elective from the required courses in other specializations.
  • This is a structured cohort program and the sequence of courses is different for students who start in the fall than for students who start in the spring.

Learning Outcomes

A PhD in Mind-Body Medicine with a specialization in Integrative and Functional Nutrition provides healthcare practitioners with a comprehensive preparation to integrate nutritional interventions, mind-body skills, and a person-centered approach into healthcare.  Graduates will be prepared to offer clinical treatment within the scope of their licenses and certifications, augmented with a variety of complementary therapies and integrative medicine interventions. In addition, graduates will be prepared for academic jobs in universities, colleges, and medical schools, teaching an integrative approach to health and mental health.

Students enrolled in the IFN specialization can earn nationally recognized certificates in health and wellness coaching, further adding to their toolbox of evidence-based skills in demand in healthcare today. They also can acquire the knowledge and skills for work in chronic pain, palliative care, and integrative hospice services, areas where nutritional and mind-body approaches have been demonstrated to be clinically effective.

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