Ph.D. in Nutrition and Food Science

Wayne State's Ph.D. in Nutrition and Food Science program empowers scholars with the skills and knowledge needed to address complex challenges at the intersection of food, health and sustainability. Students will dive into groundbreaking research opportunities spanning nutritional biochemistry, food microbiology and the exploration of innovative dietary interventions. As a Ph.D. candidate, you'll have the chance to contribute to the scientific discourse, shape policy and drive advancements in nutritional science and global health.

Whether your interests lie in clinical nutrition, food technology or public health, our doctoral program cultivates a diverse range of expertise, preparing you to be a thought leader in the ever-evolving landscape of nutrition and food science. Join Wayne State's community of scholars dedicated to unraveling the complexities of food and health, and make a lasting impact on the well-being of individuals and communities worldwide.

Research areas

Our distinguished faculty, renowned in their respective fields, guide students in pushing the boundaries of knowledge, fostering a collaborative and intellectually stimulating environment.

Learn more about our faculty research interests in nutrition and food science.

Ph.D. in Nutrition and Food Science requirements and curriculum

Successful completion of the Ph.D. program requires 90 credits, distributed as follows. Students select a minor field from relevant areas in the university. Original laboratory-based research is conducted by students in this program under the guidance of a faculty member.

The Ph.D. program requires a minimum of 90 graduate credits distributed in the following manner:

  • A total of 60 credits in coursework
  • At least 30 credits in nutrition and food science; 22 of these credits are required of all students and eight credits are selected to fill student needs and interests
  • Additional courses from other departments including at least one 7000-level course in biochemistry and one graduate-level course in statistics must be completed. If a minor area is designated, at least eight credits must be taken in the minor department
  • At least 30 credits of coursework must be at the graduate only level, e.g., courses numbered 7000 and above
  • Plan of work

    Electives will be selected in consultation with the advisor. Transcripts of the applicant's master's degree will be evaluated to determine which courses meet the Ph.D. course requirement (a maximum of 22 credits allowed).

    Course # Title Credits
    NFS 6000 Nutritional Biochemistry 3
    NFS 6020

    Nutrition and Gene Interactions

    NFS 6030 Microbiological Safety of Food 3
    NFS 7000 Metabolomics/Bioinformatics 3
    NFS 7060 Research Problems in NFS 2
    NFS 7140 Advance Lab Techniques in NFS 4
    NFS 7230 Nutrition and Physical Performance 3
    NFS 7240 Nutritional Epidemiology 3
    NFS 7250 Nutrition and Aging 3
    NFS 7991 First-Year Lab Rotation 1 to 2
    NFS 7996 Research 6 to 20
    NFS 7850 Seminar/Journal Club 2

    *Plus active participation as long as a student is in the graduate program.

    For a list of graduate courses, please visit the Graduate Bulletin.

    For general information on Ph.D. requirements as stipulated by Graduate School as well as necessary forms, see Wayne Ph.D. students.

    Dissertation research

    Course # Title Credits
    NFS 9991 Doctoral Candidate Status 7.5
    NFS 9992 Doctoral Candidate Status 7.5
    NFS 9993 Doctoral Candidate Status 7.5
    NFS 9994 Doctoral Candidate Status 7.5

    Students completing the degree requirements will receive a Ph.D. with a major in nutrition and food science and a specialization in nutrition or food science. There is a seven-year time limit to complete all the requirements for the Ph.D. degree.

    For general information on Ph.D. requirements as stipulated by the Graduate School as well as necessary forms, see Wayne Ph.D. students.

  • Doctoral advisor, committee and plan of work

    Students entering the doctoral program in NFS are advised to meet regularly with the departmental graduate officer who acts as a temporary advisor to discuss plan of work, course selection, laboratory experience, and interaction with potential research advisors. To be allowed to continue in the program, students must identify a permanent graduate advisor, develop a plan of work and identify a suitable research project within one year after admission.

    A plan of work should be submitted to the Graduate School before the student has completed 40 graduate credits. Within a semester of approval of the plan of work, students, in consultation with the advisor, will establish a permanent advisory committee composed of the graduate advisor and at least three faculty; at least two of these will be members of the NFS faculty representing the areas of nutrition and food science. Up to two outside faculty may sit on the committee.

Additional requirements

  • Student evaluation

    Performance will be evaluated at the end of each year. Students will make a presentation of their research activities (NFS 7996, Research) in the graduate seminar (NFS 7850) after completing the preliminary research. Meetings with the advisory committee and the student will be held as needed, but at least once a year.

    At such times, the progress of the student will be assessed and a progress report form submitted to the NFS graduate officer. The graduate faculty will evaluate proficiency in laboratory skills as one component of a student's progress. Should inadequate proficiency in the lab be determined, the department is under no obligation to retain the student in the doctoral program.

  • Screening exam

    All new Ph.D. students who wish to obtain a Ph.D. degree must pass a screening exam. If unsuccessful, the student will have two weeks to be re-examined. If still unsuccessful, the student will not be eligible to pursue the Ph.D. program within the department.

    The exam will be a written paper (maximum four hours of time allowed) consisting of questions designed to test the student's broad and all-around understanding of nutrition and food science as well as their problem-solving skills. The format will be multiple-choice and/or short answers and/or essays.

    The exam will be based solely on material from the following two textbooks:

    • "Advanced Nutrition and Metabolism 6th edition" (2012). Authors: Sareen S. Gropper, Jack L. Smith and James L. Groff, Thomson Wadsworth
    • "Food Chemistry, 4th edition" (2007). Author: Owen R. Fennema, Marcel Dekker Inc.

    Please check with the graduate officer for the current texts to be used.

    For successful completion of the exam, the student's performance must satisfy the graduate faculty members of the department. If you have any questions please consult with the departmental graduate officer.

  • Qualifying examination

    For all students who have not yet achieved candidacy status.

    • Student must discuss with their advisor and inform the Graduate Committee at least two months in advance
    • Student must have a Ph.D. committee in place, including an external committee member
    • Exams may be scheduled in December or April

    Day 1: Exam 1 (40% of final weighting), six hours max

    This written exam is based on the core, required NFS courses and will be evaluated by NFS faculty.

    Day 2: Exam 2 (40% of final weighting), six hours max

    Questions will be provided by and evaluated by the student's Ph.D. committee. The questions will be designed to reflect the research in which the student will pursue their Ph.D. As such, this part of the exam will consist of questions that will:

    1. Relate to specialization/interests of the Advisor's work (each committee member will provide at least one question)
    2. Review a specific topic based on current literature
    3. Relate to experimental design (not related to the dissertation topic) that should include information on data and statistical analysis, potential problems and alternative methods

    Day 3: Oral exam (20% of final weighting), 90 minutes max

    Satisfactory performance on the qualifying examination:

    If a student has performed satisfactorily on both exams one and two (passed with > 70% score), the oral exam will be scheduled within 46 weeks following successful completion of the written exams. This part of the exam will be the student's proposal defense and will be presented to the committee.

    Unsatisfactory performance on the qualifying examination:

    If performance is unsatisfactory for one exam (less than 70% on either exam one or exam two) re-examination of the failed exam must be scheduled within 2 weeks of the student being notified. If satisfactory, the student can then proceed to the oral exam. In this situation, this will be an oral examination of the student's knowledge by the committee. The student can then schedule a proposal defense with their committee, within 46 weeks of passing the oral exam.

    If performance is unsatisfactory for both exams (less than 70% on both exam one and exam two), no re-examination or oral exam is scheduled. In this situation, the student may retake the qualifying exam four to 12 months after notification of failing.

    If performance is still unsatisfactory after two attempts, the student is required to leave the program.

    Please see the graduate director for the latest and current information.

  • Dissertation

    The dissertation research (30 credits including NFS 9991, 9992, 9993 and 9994) provides the student with an opportunity to integrate and apply the theory and methodologies of NFS and related areas to a problem focusing on either nutrition or food science. The research will be conducted in the department laboratories after approval by the student's doctoral committee. Under special circumstances, research will be conducted in another Wayne State laboratory after approval of the NFS Graduate Committee.

  • Academic scholarship

    Students will have to repeat a required NFS course with a grade below C. No more than two courses may be repeated during the student's doctoral program. Students will not receive financial aid for repeated courses. If a student's average falls below B (Honor Point of 3.0), a "hold" will be placed on future registration.

    To be removed from this status, the student must give evidence that scholarship has been brought to a satisfactory level. No more than one grade of "C" is allowed. All academic holds will be reviewed by the Graduate Committee prior to being removed. Decisions of whether or not to remove the hold will be based on the likelihood of improved academic performance and will be granted one time only. Withdrawals from courses are discouraged and no more than once per calendar year will be allowed.

    Academic work submitted by a graduate student for graduate credit is assumed to be of his/her own creation, and if found not to be so, will constitute cause for the student's dismissal from the program.

  • Assistantships and fellowships

    Graduate teaching assistantships

    Application for graduate teaching assistantships (GTAs) in the department should be addressed to the departmental graduate officer. Requests for fall term appointments should be received no later than March 1. Applications for winter term appointments should be received no later than Oct. 30.

    Assistantships are awarded to applicants having high scholarship and communication skills and show great potential for professional achievement. Each assistantship carries a stipend for nine months plus benefits, and tuition (up to 10 credits/fall and winter semesters) is waived. Graduate teaching assistants give an average of 20 hours per week of service to the instructional program of the department.

    Research assistantships

    A limited number of graduate research assistantships (GRAs) are available on a competitive basis. Information on application procedures can be obtained in the NFS office.

    Fellowships and tuition stipends

    The Wayne State Graduate School offers a limited number of fellowships (Rumble) and tuition stipends. Selection is made on a competitive basis, and interested students should check with the Graduate School regarding application procedures and deadlines.

    External support

    Students are strongly encouraged to investigate outside sources of fellowships for support of their graduate studies. The Wayne State Graduate School (313-577-8053) assists in identifying and applying for these funds.

Career insights

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