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Teachers College, Columbia University
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In the Department of Health & Behavior Studies

Program Description

There is an increased awareness that the quality of the diets that people habitually consume contributes to the quality of their lives. Since its founding in 1909, the Program in Nutrition at Teachers College has been a leader in developing strategies for promoting health through encouraging dietary change.

Current academic initiatives and research focus on analyzing and facilitating change in individuals and communities and on ways of modifying both personal choice and the food system within which such choices are made. In particular, faculty and students are engaged in a number of food and nutrition-related demonstrations and research projects including the cognitive and psychosocial factors influencing food choice in children, adolescents, and adults; characteristics of the dietary change process; nutritional epidemiology; issues in clinical nutrition, exercise, and nutrition; food and environment education in schools; food policy; and social, economic, and technological factors affecting the long-term sustainability of the food system. Building on its rich history, the Teachers College program aims to prepare graduates to take positions of leadership and service in nutrition counseling and education in health promotion and disease prevention programs, health agencies, hospitals, private practice, media organizations, and the workplace; to serve as teachers, faculty, or resource specialists in schools and universities; to fill a variety of planning, instructional, and administrative roles in community and public health agencies; to work in organizations that promote policy and systems change; or to serve as researchers in a variety of areas related to behavioral aspects of diet, nutrition education, nutritional epidemiology, public health nutrition, nutrition and exercise, and sustainability of the food system.

The program provides students a thorough grounding in nutrition science, nutrition education, and nutrition in clinical and public health settings. In addition, the program emphasizes the development of competencies in:

  • Designing and implementing nutrition education with individuals, groups, and communities;
  • Facilitating healthful and ecologically sustainable food choices;
  • Conducting nutrition assessments, determining and prioritizing nutrition diagnoses, and writing nutrition prescriptions;
  • Operationalizing nutrition prescriptions through effective nutrition education and counseling;
  • Monitoring and evaluating effectiveness of nutrition education and counseling;
  • Designing and implementing public health nutrition assessments and programs;
  • Understanding and applying principles of nutritional epidemiology;
  • Applying nutrition science and exercise science principles to recreational and competitive athletes;
  • Thinking critically and independently;
  • Acting collaboratively and effectively with others in organizations and communities on important issues related to food, nutrition, and sustainability of the food system;
  • Conducting food and nutrition-related research.

Because of the breadth of its aims, the program has long admitted academically qualified students with undergraduate degrees in fields other than nutrition or the related sciences (so long as they can meet the science prerequisites), since such students often bring valuable skills and attitudes to the graduate study of nutrition.

The program puts a heavy emphasis on providing students with practical experiences in addition to traditional classroom lectures and discussions. Among the course-related educational experiences available to students are field experiences in community nutrition, planning, and teaching of nutrition sessions to selected audiences in the community, food education and gardening projects in schools, dietary analyses, and online computer activities. Supervised practicum is included in the Nutrition and Exercise Physiology degree. Students are welcome to participate in research and demonstration projects within the Program in Nutrition. These include food and environmental education programs designed for children, parents and teachers, childhood obesity prevention, and fruit and vegetable promotion in urban communities. In particular, the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education and Policy conducts activities within the research, education, and policy arenas. Because of Teachers College’s location in New York City, there are also virtually unlimited opportunities for students to become involved in a variety of food/ nutrition-related activities.

Dietetic Internship Program

For students interested in obtaining professional certification as a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist (RD or RDN), the Program in Nutrition administers a Dietetic Internship Program accredited by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. The Internship is designed to bridge a student’s academic education and professional career and thus focuses on developing practitioner skills. To learn more about the Dietetic Internship Program, visit the homepage links.

Students may enroll in all degree programs on a full-time or part-time basis.

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