Degree Requirements: Prior Master’s degree for the PhD path. Applicants with a Bachelor’s degree only may apply for the MS to PhD pathway, which allows students to earn both MS and PhD degrees in IFN. Courses in basic nutrition science, general biochemistry and anatomy and physiology are required prerequisites. If desired, these courses can be completed at Saybrook as part of the degree program.
Completion Time: 4.5-5.5 years for PhD; 5.5-6.5 years for MS to PhD pathway. Prerequisites may lengthen the time of study.
Earned Credits: 62 for PhD, 76 for MS to PhD. Registered dietitians are eligible for 9 credits of Advanced Standing toward the PhD, as are graduates of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.
Guided by practitioner-faculty, graduates of Saybrook University’s Ph.D. Integrative and Functional Nutrition program will be prepared to impact the field of integrative and functional nutrition in a variety of ways, including:
- Providing innovative, evidence-based, effective nutritional care
- Educating others in the science of integrative and functional nutrition
- Conducting novel research in functional nutrition to further advance the field
The Ph.D. program in Integrative and Functional Nutrition is a fully online* 62-76 credit doctoral degree program designed for those looking to enhance their expertise and to contribute to scientific advancement in the field of integrative and functional nutrition.
This online program prepares graduates to use an evidence-based approach by applying their knowledge of functional biochemistry to provide patient-centered integrative care that incorporates environmental, social, physiological, and psychological sciences into their practice.
The doctoral degree in IFN can help further distinguish current nutrition professionals in a competitive field, complement the existing skill set of non-nutrition health care practitioners, or pave a path for professionals from nonscientific backgrounds to transition into the field of integrative and functional nutrition, all while contributing to research in this new and expanding field.
Courses such as Advanced Nutritional Biochemistry, Systems Biology 1 and 2, and Integrative Approaches to Chronic Disease prepare students for their careers. The Ph.D. program also provides a strong grounding in research.
Graduates of the Ph.D. in Integrative and Functional Nutrition program are prepared to work in:
- Research and development
- Higher education
- Private outpatient practice
- Hospitals and health care organizations
- Public health and policymaking positions
- Nonprofit organizations
- Corporate wellness programs
- Natural product, dietary supplement, and food industries
- Health communications
- Athletic organizations and fitness facilities
- Wellness centers and spas
The Ph.D. in Integrative and Functional Nutrition degree program is designed to fulfill the current academic requirements for the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) from the American Nutrition Association. The degree program is also designed to meet the core academic requirements for the Certified Clinical Nutritionist credential (CCN) from the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board and is preapproved to allow graduates to waive the 56-hour Post Graduate studies in Clinical Nutrition (PCSCN). The degree program does not lead to eligibility for the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credential (RDN), though may be useful for current Registered Dietitians to stay competitive as all-new RDNs will be required to have a Master’s degree beginning in 2024.
Prospective students should contact the appropriate board for eligibility requirements, as well as their State Department of Health to determine which of these certifications may be recognized for practice in their state, as well as any other licensing, registration or certification requirements, as they are subject to change.
More program information may be found in our Academic Catalog.
*All required coursework is done virtually; however Residential Conference (RC) participation is required when a student elects an elective course with a residential training component. Additionally, while RC participation is not otherwise required, students may opt to attend at any time.
“The Ph.D. in Integrative and Functional Nutrition at Saybrook University offers a cutting-edge nutritional program focused on systems biology, nutritional biochemistry, and developing research scholars. This program is ideal for the current nutrition professional looking for a discerning program that will add academic and research chops to their skill set and be appealing to individuals who want to be immersed in the latest nutrition science. I cannot recommend it enough.” – Betty Murray, MS, CN, IFMCP, Ph.D. IFN Candidate
“The Ph.D. in IFN at Saybrook is truly revolutionary! We need a new generation of nutrition professionals with Doctorate degrees to finally be at the level of clinical practice and research that could bring this field into mainstream healthcare practice and prevention.” – Alena Zakinova, MEd, MS, CNS, Ph.D. IFN Candidate
The Ph.D. in Integrative and Functional Nutrition requires 62 credits for those meeting the prerequisite course requirements of basic nutrition science, biochemistry, and anatomy and physiology. The MS to Ph.D. program is a 76-credit program, with students earning both an MS and Ph.D. in IFN.
Prerequisites can be taken at Saybrook if desired. Prerequisites can count toward open electives, but depending on how many are needed, and whether students need the academic writing course, the credit load may be increased by up to 6 additional credits.
The Ph.D. IFN is 100% virtual and no face-to-face Residential Conferences (RCs) are required for this degree. This allows us to attract students from across the globe. Students may choose to attend any of Saybrook’s RCs where they can meet students, faculty, and staff from other degree programs.
The IFN programs are conducted in an online learning environment, mostly asynchronous, supplemented by videoconferences with instructors and classmates. A typical full credit load is 6 credits per 15-week semester, which requires about 16 hours per week of time. The summer semester is 8 weeks, which requires about twice the weekly study time. Because of the asynchronous nature, the Ph.D. IFN degree can be completed while students are working.
Students culminate their degree with a dissertation that contributes to the published research in integrative and functional nutrition. The expected length of the PhD program is 4.5-5.5 years, with an additional year added for those in the MS to Ph.D. program. After successful completion of the first semester, students may accelerate their program if desired.
Students earning the Ph.D. IFN can acquire complementary skills to enhance their professional practice by adding a minor in Integrative Wellness Coaching or Mind-Body Medicine to their degree program. The addition of a minor will add to the total credits of the student’s program and take approximately one to two additional semesters to complete.
Saybrook University may accept up to three graduate transfer credits into the program from other regionally accredited colleges and universities prior to entrance. Transfer credits must be suitable for transfer to the intended degree program and must be approved by the department chair. Credits are applied to the number of elective or required course credits needed for degree completion.
Nine credits of advanced standing are granted for registered dietitians or graduates of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
*”Our faculty have diverse experience that includes metabolic disease, autoimmunity, diabetes care, culinary nutrition, food and supplement industries, public health, international practice, naturopathic medicine, sports nutrition and more. Our research ranges from qualitative human inquiry studies to quantitative epidemiological, cross-sectional and longitudinal clinical investigations.” – Jeannemarie Beiseigel, PhD, RD, IFN faculty*
Systems Biology I and II
IFN 5660 – Methods in Nutrition Research
Nutrition knowledge is derived from an extensive, integrally related body of basic and applied research. In this course, students will develop a working knowledge of the various approaches used to study everything from cellular metabolism and systems biology to controlled intervention trials and large-scale observational studies. Students will be able to explain and compare the methods used to gather reliable data, why they are used, their limitations, and their applications. By the end of this course, students will be able to discuss the inherent challenges within this discipline and why our knowledge of nutrition will continue to evolve. Offered: Fall A/B