Food and Nutritional Sciences

If you are interested in science and health, fascinated by food, and want to work with individuals and families, a degree in Food and Nutritional Sciences may be right for you. A foundation in the sciences — with courses in anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, microbiology, and statistics — prepares you for the in-depth study of food and nutrition.

Catalina Vlad-Ortiz teaching Human Nutrition

Degree option

Nutrition and Dietetics Major: The Didactic Program in Dietetics prepares you for application to a supervised dietetics internship program and for a career as a registered dietitian.

Additional courses in accounting, business, food-service management, counseling, and medical nutrition therapy are a part of this degree.

Food and Nutrition Major with General Emphasis: Provides you with a broad background in food and nutrition.

Food and Nutrition Major with Sports and Exercise Emphasis: Addresses the role of food and nutrition for optimal physical performance and for health and wellness.

Courses in exercise physiology, exercise science, medical nutrition therapy, and nutrition in sports and exercise are required.

Food and Nutritional Sciences minor is also available.


Through your major coursework, you’ll learn to critically evaluate food and nutrition information and research while you study the following:

  • How the body uses and processes nutrients at the cellular and whole body levels.
  • The role of food and nutrition throughout the life cycle for optimal health and wellness.
  • How diet and lifestyle choices can help prevent and manage a variety of diseases.
  • The principles of food science and food safety.
  • The role of community and public health nutrition programs and public policy in the wellbeing of our communities.
  • The problems of hunger and food insecurity in our world today.
  • The principles of management and business needed for delivering food and nutrition programs and services.
  • The roles of nutrition professionals in a variety of practice settings.

Many of the major courses develop communication skills by providing you with opportunities to give oral presentations, teach classes, create and present scientific posters, write research papers, learn and practice counseling skills, and develop nutrition education materials as well as a personal portfolio. You will also have opportunities for internships, community service, and independent study.

Careers in food and nutrition

The dynamic and diverse field of food and nutrition leads to a variety of career opportunities. Those who progress in the field of dietetics and become registered dietitians provide practical food, nutrition, and/or management expertise in many settings including hospitals, outpatient clinics, long-term care facilities, medical offices, research centers, schools, sports clubs, fitness centers, and private practice.

Registered dietitians also manage food service operations in restaurant, health care, school, and industry settings. Others may work in sales or develop careers as authors or editors of food and nutrition-related media.

Graduates of the SPU Food and Nutrition program have many interesting and fulfilling jobs. Recent employers of our graduates include:

  • Children’s Regional Hospital and Medical Center
  • Lifelong AIDS Alliance
  • Tacoma General Hospital
  • Swedish Hospital and Medical Center
  • Harborview Medical Center
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • The City of Seattle Child Nutrition Program

For those interested in further study, the BS degree in Food and Nutritional Sciences prepares you for graduate work in public health, food science, nutrition science, clinical nutrition, sports nutrition, culinary arts, or other health- or food-related fields. Other possibilities include advanced studies in marketing, business education, counseling, or psychology.