Department Overview

The Department of Nutrition contains three divisions: (Nutritional Biochemistry, Nutrition Epidemiology, and Nutrition Intervention and Policy). All students in the Department must gain competency in each of these areas. In addition, doctoral students must choose one area of concentration in which they will become experts.

Here is a more formal breakdown of each of the three divisions:
The Nutritional Biochemistry division is committed to understanding the mechanisms of nutrient action in human health and disease from a cellular and molecular perspective.

The Nutrition Epidemiology division uses rigorous quantitative methods to determine population trends and relationships that reveal the role of nutrition in health and disease and provide a basis for public health policy recommendations.

The Nutrition Intervention and Policy division creates and tests interventions designed to improve the health of the public through better nutrition and to provide feasible options for dissemination and policy.

National Research Council's top ranking

The Nutrition Department at UNC-Chapel Hill ranked at the top among U.S. Nutrition Departments in the National Academies’ National Research Council (NRC) report. This was the first such ranking of doctoral training programs in Departments of Nutrition. A program summary score was based on characteristics such as publications, grants, financial support for students, graduation rates, breadth of faculty backgrounds, student activities and diversity. News release from the graduate school.

Nutrition's rich history at UNC

The Department of Nutrition of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was established in 1946 with the aid of a grant from the General Education Board of the Rockefeller Foundation. Support from the U.S. Children’s Bureau enabled the first three students to complete a one-year Master’s of Public Health program in 1951. From 1951 to 1972 students admitted to the graduate program in public health nutrition were required to have an undergraduate degree in food, nutrition, dietetics or home economics. With greater public interest in nutrition, increasing numbers of graduates from diverse baccalaureate programs started to seek careers in public health nutrition, and the Department began to recruit into the program persons with a broad educational base in the arts, humanities and behavioral sciences. In 1972 the Master’s Program in Public Health Nutrition added a two-year track to admit students with undergraduate degrees in the basic sciences, behavioral sciences and humanities.
The Doctor of Public Health degree was offered in 1977 but with the growing popularity of the PhD program this program was discontinued in 2009. In 1991 the Department was approved to grant the Doctor of Philosophy degree, with specialization in nutritional biochemistry, nutrition epidemiology or nutrition intervention and policy.