Doctoral Program In Nutrition & Food Science

Updated October 2016

Although every attempt has been made to present all relevant information, the regulations and policies of the Graduate School published in the Graduate Bulletin and the Handbook for Doctoral Students and Advisers, supersede any information given belowFor a list of graduate courses, please visit the Wayne State Graduate Bulletin.


Successful completion of the doctoral program requires 90 credits, 60 of which are in course work and 30 in research. Students select a minor field from relevant areas in the university. Original laboratory-based research is conducted by students in this program under the guidance of a faculty member.

All new Ph.D. students must complete a Ph.D. screening exam, on the first Tuesday in December of their first semester. For Fall 2016, this will be on Tuesday, 6th December 2016, starting at 6 pm

The 2017-2018 Graduate Professional Scholarship application is due April 1st, 2017.



Admission to the doctoral program in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science is contingent upon admission to the Graduate School. Applicants to the program must have a Master’s degree in nutrition and/or food science or in a cognate science and have taken the combined verbal, analytic, and quantitative GRE test. A minimum honor point average of 3.5 is usually required for admission (Please note the average GPA of admitted students over the last three years has been ~ 3.9). Three letters of recommendation are required. A statement of research interests and goals is required of all applicants. An interview will be arranged

All applicants must provide the names of two faculty members in whose laboratories they wish to pursue research.

For more information on our doctoral program, download the NFS Doctoral Program Guide.



The Ph.D. program requires a minimum of 90 graduate credits, distributed in the following manner:

  • A total of 60 credits in coursework
  • At Least 30 credits in Nutrition and Food Science; 22 of these credits are required of all  students and 8 credits are selected to fill student needs and interests
  • Additional courses from other basic science departments including at least one 7000 level course in biochemistry and one graduate course in statistics; 8 credits must be completed in one department to form a minor
  • At least 30 credits of course work must be at the “graduate only” level, i.e., courses numbered 7000 and above

Required courses for the doctoral studies are listed below. Electives will be selected in consultation with the advisor. Transcripts of the applicants’ master’s degree will be evaluated to determine which courses meet the Ph.D. course requirement (a maximum of 22 credits allowed).


NFS 6000 Nutritional Biochemistry3 credits

NFS 6020 Nutrition and Gene Interactions

3 credits
NFS 6030 Microbiological Safety of Food  3 credits
NFS 7000 Metabolomics/Bioinformatics 3 credits
NFS 7060 Research Problems in NFS2 credits
NFS 7140 Advance Lab Techniques in NFS4 credits
NFS 7230 Nutrition and Physical Performance3 credits
NFS 7240 Nutrional Epidemiology3 credits
NFS 7250 Nutrition and Aging   3 credits
NFS 7991 First Year Lab Rotation1 - 2 credits
NFS 7996 Research6 - 20 credits
NFS 7850 Seminar/Journal Club2 credits

*Plus active participation as long as a student is in the graduate program.


Dissertation Research: 

  1. NFS 9991 Doctoral Candidate Status (7.5 credts)
  2. NFS 9992 Doctoral Candidate Status (7.5 credits)
  3. NFS 9993 Doctoral Candidate Status (7.5 credits)
  4. NFS 9994 Doctoral Candidate Status (7.5 credits)

Students successfully completing the degree requirements will receive a Doctor of Philosophy with a major in Nutrition and Food Science and specialization in nutrition or food science. There is a seven year time limit to complete all the requirements for the Ph.D. degree.

For general information on Ph.D. requirements as stipulated by Graduate School as well as necessary forms, visit: Wayne Ph.D. Students


Doctoral Advisor, Committee and Plan of Work

Students entering the doctoral program in NFS are advised to meet regularly with the departmental Graduate Officer who acts as a temporary advisor to discuss plan of work, course selection, laboratory experience, and interaction with potential research advisors. To be allowed to continue in the program, students must identify a permanent graduate advisor, develop a plan of work and identify a suitable research project within one year after admission. A plan of work should be submitted to the Graduate School before the student has completed 40 graduate credits. Within a semester of approval of the plan of work, students, in consultation with the advisor, will establish a permanent Advisory Committee composed of the graduate advisor and at least three faculty; at least two of these will be members of the NFS faculty representing the areas of nutrition and food science. Up to two outside faculty may sit on the committee.


Student Evaluation

Performance will be evaluated at the end of each year. Students will make a presentation of their research activities (NFS 7996, Research) in the graduate seminar (NFS 7850) after completing the preliminary research. Meetings with the advisory committee and the student will be held as needed, but at least once a year. At such times, progress of the student will be assessed and a progress report form submitted to the NFS Graduate Officer. The graduate faculty will evaluate proficiency in laboratory skills as one component of a student’s progress. Should inadequate proficiency in the lab be determined, the department is under no obligation to retain the student in the doctoral program.


Screening Exam

All students who wish to obtain a Ph.D. degree must pass a screening exam. This will be held on the first Tuesday in December of their first semester of the PhD program (December 5, 2017). If unsuccessful, the student will have 2 weeks to be re-examined. If still unsuccessful, the student will not be eligible to pursue the Ph.D. program in within department.

The exam will be a written paper (maximum 4 hours time allowed) consisting of questions designed to test the student’s broad and all around understanding of nutrition and food science as well as their problem solving-skills. The format will be multiple-choice and/or short answers and/or essays.

The exam will be based solely on material from the following two textbooks:

“Advanced Nutrition and Metabolism” 6th  edition (2012)
Authors: Sareen S. Gropper, Jack L. Smith and James L. Groff
Thomson Wadsworth

“Food Chemistry” 4th edition (2007)
Author: Owen R. Fennema
Marcel Dekker Inc.

Please check with the Graduate officer for the current texts to be used.

For successful completion of the exam, the student’s performance must satisfy the graduate faculty members of the Department. If you have any questions please consult with the departmental graduate officer.


Qualifying Examination

For all students who have not yet achieved candidacy status.

  • Student must discuss with their advisor and inform the Graduate Officer at least 2 months in advance. 
  • Student must have a Ph.D. committee in place (including external member).
  • Exams can be scheduled in the first week of December, April, August.


Day 1: Exam 1 (40% of final weighting): 6 hrs max

  • Based on upper level graduate coursework to be evaluated by NFS faculty.

Day 2: Exam 2 (40% of final weighting): 6 hrs max

Questions will be provided by and evaluated by the student’s Ph.D. committee. The questions will be designed to more reflect the laboratory in which the student will pursue their Ph.D. As such the exam will consist of questions that will:

  1. Relate to specialization/interests of the lab (each Ph.D. committee member will provide at least one question).
  2. Review a specific topic based on current literature.
  3. Relate to designing an experiment (not related to the dissertation topic) that should include information on data and statistical analysis, potential problems and alternative methods.


Day 3: Oral Exam (to be scheduled 2 weeks after exam 2 – 20% of final weighting): 60-90 mins

This exam is primarily to further follow-up on Exam 2, to see if the student can articulate their thoughts in a coherent manner. The oral exam is administered by the Ph.D. committee. Again, this oral exam (or Exam 2) is NOT the proposal/prospectus defense.

  • If performance is unsatisfactory, partially (less than 70% on either exam 1 or exam 2), re-examination of the failed exam must be scheduled within 2 weeks of the student being notified. If satisfactory, the student can then proceed to the oral exam.
  • If performance in unsatisfactory yet again (less than 70% on both exam 1 and exam 2), no oral exam and re-examination may occur within 4 - 12 months of student being notified (minimum and maximum as per Graduate School).
  • If performance is still unsatisfactory, the student is required to exit the program.

Please see the Graduate Officer for latest and current information.


The Dissertation

The dissertation research (30 credits including NFS 9991, 9992, 9993 and 9994) provides the student with an opportunity to integrate and apply theory and methodologies of NFS and related areas to a problem focusing on either nutrition or food science. The research will be conducted in Department of NFS laboratories after approval by the student’s doctoral committee. Under special circumstances research will be conducted in another Wayne State laboratory after approval of the NFS Graduate Committee.  


Academic Scholarship

Students will have to repeat a required NFS course with a grade below C. No more than two courses may be repeated during the student’s doctoral program. Students will not receive financial aid for repeated courses. If a student’s average falls below B (Honor Point of 3.0), a “hold” will be placed on future registration. To be removed from this status, the student must give evidence that scholarship has been brought to a satisfactory level. No more than ONE grade of “C” are allowed. All academic holds will be reviewed by the Graduate Committee prior to being removed. Decisions of whether or not to remove the hold will be based on the likelihood of improved academic performance, and will be granted one time only. Withdrawals from courses are discouraged and no more than one per calendar year will be allowed.

Academic work submitted by a graduate student for graduate credit is assumed to be of his/her own creation, and if found not to be so, will constitute cause for the student’s dismissal from the program.


Assistantships and Fellowships

Graduate Teaching Assistantships: Application for graduate teaching assistantships (GTAs) in the Department should be addressed to the Departmental Graduate Officer.  Requests for fall term appointments should be received no later than March 1. Applications for winter term appointments, should be received no later than October 30.  Assistantships are awarded to applicants having high scholarship and communication skills and showing great potential for professional achievement. Each assistantship carries a stipend for nine months plus benefits, and tuition (up to 10 credits/fall and winter semesters) is waived. Graduate Teaching Assistants give an average of twenty hours per week of service to the instructional program of the department.

Research Assistantships: A limited number of graduate research assistantships (GRAs) are available on a competitive basis. Information on application procedures can be obtained in the NFS office.

Fellowships and Tuition Stipends: The Wayne State Graduate School offers a limited number of fellowships (Rumble) and tuition stipends. Selection is made on a competitive basis, and interested students should check with the Graduate School regarding application procedures and deadlines.

External Support: Students are strongly encouraged to investigate outside sources of fellowships for support of their graduate studies. The Wayne State Graduate School (313-577-8053) provides assistance in identifying and applying for these funds.


Up to date information on NFS Faculty Research Areas can be found by visiting: NFS Faculty Research Interests

For general information on Ph.D. requirements as stipulated by Graduate School as well as necessary forms, visit: Wayne Ph.D. Students

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