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Why Study Nutrition Communication?

Americans' top sources of nutrition information are magazines, television, newspapers, and the internet. The print, broadcast, and electronic media are constantly seeking professionally-trained nutritionists who can communicate effectively. The same is true of public relations agencies, the food industry, and health and fitness centers. Community-based health promotion programs are also relying more and more on techniques of effective mass communication to influence behavior.

The Master's Degree Program in Nutrition Communication is designed to prepare its graduates for the growing job opportunities available to professionals trained to explain research findings in ways that the public can understand and apply.

About the Program

The Master's Degree Program in Nutrition Communication is a two-year academic program offered in partnership with the Tufts Master's Program in Health Communication, in collaboration with the Emerson College School of Communication, Management and Public Policy. It is designed to prepare graduates for the growing job opportunities available to professionals trained to communicate sound nutrition information effectively. The program combines the expertise of Tufts' own internationally recognized faculty, the unique skills of health communication experts at Emerson College, and the enormous breadth of knowledge available across all the Tufts campuses with a wealth of opportunities for related work experience. Together, the combination of academic courses and practical experience prepares graduates for exciting and rewarding careers in which effective communication makes a difference.

Affiliations

Tufts School of Medicine, Masters in Health Communication Program

Founded in 1994, the program has a distinguished history preparing individuals to contribute to improving the health of people, communities, and the environment. The program attracts recent college graduates and working professionals from a wide range of disciplines.

The Health Communication Program provides the skills and knowledge necessary for its graduates to assume a range of roles in diverse settings: federal agencies, hospitals, health departments, biotech companies, publishing firms, foundations, and other nonprofits. Students learn to develop, deliver, and evaluate health promotion and disease prevention programs and campaigns; to disseminate health information to diverse audiences; and to develop, formulate and implement health policy initiatives.

Read more on their web site>>

Emerson College, Department of Communications Sciences and Disorders

Located nearby Tufts' Boston campus, Emerson College is recognized in its fields of specialization, which are communication studies; marketing communication; journalism; communication sciences and disorders; visual and media arts; the performing arts; and writing, literature and publishing.

Read more on their web site>>

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Prerequisites

Undergraduate level courses in general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry and human physiology. Please note that the chemistry courses need to be taken sequentially and not concurrently.

Prior course work in nutrition is not required, although many applicants will have taken one, or even several, nutrition courses. Applicants include both registered dietitians and individuals who majored in human biology as undergraduates, as well as those with backgrounds in journalism or liberal arts. Applicants must have demonstrated their ability to master basic science and to communicate effectively.

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The Nutrition Communication and Behavior Change curriculum includes core courses in three broad areas: nutrition, study design and analysis, and communications and behavior change. Sixteen credits are required for the degree. The exact number of required courses will depend upon the student's prior academic preparation. Unless otherwise noted, each course is equivalent to one credit. A standardized training in ethical treatment of human subjects is also a requirement for graduation.

The curriculum includes core courses in three broad areas: nutrition,
study design and analysis, and communications. The exact number of
required courses will depend upon the student's prior academic
preparation. A total of sixteen credits are required for the degree.
Unless otherwise noted, each course is equivalent to one credit.

Nutrition

The nutrition core provides students with an understanding of basic
and applied nutrition. Courses in this area reflect the broad science
and policy mission of the school.

The following nutrition science and policy courses are required:

  • Fundamentals of Nutrition Science (NUTR 201)
  • Fundamentals of Nutrition Policy and Programming (NUTR 203)
  • Public Policy of Health Claims for Food (NUTR 226)
  • Nutrition in the Life Cycle  (NUTR 301)
  • Nutrition and Chronic Disease (NUTR 312)

Electives that fulfill the nutrition core requirement include:

  • Agricultural Science and Policy I (NUTR 233)
  • Agricultural Science and Policy II (NUTR 333)
  • Fundamentals of US Agriculture (NUTR 215)
  • The Global Food Business (NUTR 221)
  • International Nutrition Programs (NUTR 227)
  • Community and Public Health Nutrition (NUTR 228)
  • Physical Activity, Nutrition and Health (NUTR 272)
  • Determinants of US Food Policy (NUTR 303)
  • Nutrition, Food Security, and Development (NUTR 304)
  • Nutritional Epidemiology (NUTR 305)
  • Nutritional Biochemistry (NUTR 315)
  • Advanced Medical Nutrition Therapy (NUTR 316)
  • Nutritional Impact on the Immune System and Related Diseases (NUTR 320)
  • Dietary Antioxidants and Degenerative Diseases  (NUTR 321)
  • Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology: Macronutrients  (NUTR 370)
  • Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology: Micronutrients  (NUTR 371)

In addition to these courses, a standardized training in ethical treatment of human subjects is a requirement for graduation.

Registered dietitians and students who have completed the
undergraduate nutrition requirements that would enable them to become
registered dietitians are exempt from these courses if taken within the
past five years. They must, however, complete a minimum of four full
courses in nutrition.

Study Design and Analysis

The study design and analysis core provides students with the
knowledge to critically evaluate scientific studies, from design to
interpretation. Minimum requirements include two biostatistics courses
and two epidemiology courses. Those who plan to work in intervention
program design, implementation, and evaluation are encouraged to take
Survey Research in Nutrition  (NUTR 210).

The study design and analysis core includes:

  • Principles of Epidemiology  (NUTR 204)
  • Statistical Methods for Nutrition Research (Policy)  (NUTR 207)
  • Regression Analysis for Nutrition Policy  (NUTR 307)
  • Design of Epidemiologic Studies for Nutrition Research  (NUTR 314)

Registered dietitians and students who have completed the undergraduate nutrition requirements may be exempt from this course.

Communications

The communications core provides students with an understanding of
the framework for communicating information and influencing human
behavior and with the skills to develop communications-based
interventions. Courses in this group include content in communications
theory, health and risk communication, the design and evaluation of mass
media campaigns, and print journalism.

The communications core includes five required courses:

  • Introduction to Writing about Nutrition and Health  (NUTR 220)
  • Communicating Health Information to Diverse Audiences, Part A  (NUTR 205)
  • Communicating Health Information to Diverse Audiences, Part B  (NUTR 306)
  • Communications Strategies in Health Promotion  (NUTR 218)
  • Professional Communication  (HCOM 544)

Students may choose additional courses from among the following, as
well as other courses available through the Tufts-Emerson graduate
program in Health Communication. They may also cross-register at Boston
College, Boston University, and Brandeis University for courses of
particular interest to them.

  • Emerging Technologies and Nutrition Communication (NUTR 239)

Program Director

Friedman Faculty
Program Director,
Professor

Childhood Obesity; Communication and behavior change; Nutrition, physical activity and weight in older adults

Name Title General Research
Economos, Christina Associate Professor

Dr. Economos's research efforts have addressed the interaction between exercise, diet, and body composition...

Folta, Sara Assistant Professor

Community-based interventions, public health nutrition, theories of behavior change, obesity prevention.

Must, Aviva Professor

Childhood growth antecedents and adult health outcomes, childhood and adolescent obesity, epidemiology of obesity in...

Nelson, Miriam Professor

physical activity, nutrition, and obesity prevention

Shuman, Jill Adjunct Lecturer
Smith, Christine Adjunct Lecturer

Grammar; Consumer health writing

Tillotson, James Professor of Food Policy and International Business

The global food supply chain and the economic, technological, political and social factors influencing its...

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Internships

The internship has several purposes: to give students practical field experience that complements academic study, to give students experience in an institution where they might work in the future, to allow students to determine the kinds of jobs they wish to find after graduation, and to give them an opportunity to make contacts in the professional sphere where they will seek employment.

View past Nutrition Communication internships>>

Career Information

The Nutrition Communication Program accepted its first class in 1995. As of December 2013, there are 151 graduates. Recently we asked our graduates to tell us about their careers. Here is what we learned:

Alumni of the Nutrition Communication program report high job satisfaction. As one graduate put it “I never get bored.”

Alumni attributed their high job satisfaction to the fact that their jobs are:

  • "Creative"
  • "Flexible"
  • "Provides me with an opportunity to help others"
  • "Provides frequent opportunities to mentor"
  • "Diverse"

"I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the process of getting the nutrition story straight."

Where do our graduates work?

In a word, everywhere:

  • Private sector
    • Public relations
    • Publications/media
    • Dietetics
    • Industry
  • Public sector
    • Teaching
    • Program intervention
    • Public health
    • Government

The entrepreneurial spirit is reflected in how many alums have started their own successful businesses.

What about salaries?

Earnings typically rise quickly:

  • Half of all survey respondents had a starting salary of at least $50,000 per year.
  • Among those who graduated between 1997 and 2004, half are earning more than $100,000 per year.

Those earning less than $50,000 include dietetic interns.