The Division of Nutritional Sciences (DNS) at Cornell University was established in 1974 and is jointly administered by the College of Human Ecology (CHE) and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). Its faculty and academic staff organize and orient their scholarly pursuits to fulfill three primary missions:

  • Generating knowledge through scientific research
  • Facilitating learning by teaching and mentoring the next generation of scholars, researchers, nutrition professionals and responsible citizens from a variety of disciplines through undergraduate, graduate and professional education
  • Reaching outside the University in New York State, nationally and globally,to improve nutrition and human health and inform nutrition policy and practice through public engagement

Fulfilling the Mission

The academic field of nutrition is multidisciplinary at its foundation because of its integration of scientific knowledge across the physical sciences, life sciences, and social and behavioral sciences. The nutritional sciences embrace theories and methods across many academic disciplines to understand the complex relationships among human health, nutritional status, human genetics, food and lifestyle patterns, social and institutional environments and governmental policies.

Understanding these relationships necessitates the study of:

  • Human metabolic regulation and function of nutrients
  • The influence of genetic/epigenetic variation on nutrient function
  • The role of nutrients in genome programming
  • Nutrient requirements through the life span
  • The role of diet in reducing risk of disease
  • Nutritional quality of foods
  • Relationships among food/agriculture systems and health
  • Interventions and policies designed to promote nutritional health and well-being of individuals and populations

Scholarly activities across the disciplinary spectrum are undertaken in both developed and less developed countries. They address causes and consequences of inadequate or inappropriate nutrition resulting from both over-and under-consumption of food and nutrients.

This multidisciplinary nature of DNS is also manifested in its placement within the organizational structure at Cornell as it bridges CALS and CHE. These two colleges represent two important forces in our society: agriculture and human ecology. Expertise across these disciplines is required to address many of the most pressing nutritional problems facing individuals, societies and governments.

Academic Programs

The undergraduate program includes four majors: nutritional sciences; human biology, health and society; global and public health sciences; and the biological sciences with a concentration in human nutrition.

The graduate program offers a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences with tracks in human nutrition evidence for policymaking; global food systems; dietetics; and, the individualized track.  and an epidemiology minor for graduate students. The Ph.D. program offers concentrations in molecular nutrition, human nutrition, community nutrition and international nutrition. Finally, the graduate field of epidemiology is administered in the Division of Nutritional Sciences, and students in both the M.S. and the Ph.D. programs may choose to minor in Epidemiology.

DNS also administers two dietetics education programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition: a didactic program in dietetics and a dietetics internship program. Dietetics courses are offered at the undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels.

In addition, the graduate program offers a combined Ph.D.-R.D. degree and a post-graduate program with a post-baccalaureate certificate in health studies. This intensive two-semester, nutrition-centered, program was designed to meet the expectations of professional school admissions.