A Student Perspective

Sara Najafi

Sara Najafi

Class of 2011 (Clinical Nutrition)

I decided to major in nutrition because I am fascinated by how much food can have an effect on our minds, bodies, mood, and every aspect of our lives. Making smart and healthy choices when it comes to our diet can help people not only live longer, but live happier! And I would love to help people do that!

After graduation, I hope to go onto grad school and get my Ph.D. and focus on sports nutrition. I would love to be a nutritionist for various sports teams. UCD has prepared me for this very well with the various internship and volunteer opportunities it offers. I have gotten some great hands on experience that has given me a better idea of exactly what I would like to do.

More Undergraduate Perspectives

Undergraduate Programs

The Department of Nutrition is a component of the Division of Human Sciences in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The Department of Nutrition believes that nutrition plays a critical role in the health and well-being of people. In addition, the philosophy of the Department of Nutrition states that the education of our students will best be served by offering two majors with variable emphases, Clinical Nutrition and Nutrition Science.

Student Learning Goals and Objectives

The Nutrition Department faculty strives to provide the highest quality educational experiences for our students, incorporating cutting edge research information with the fundamental knowledge and skills needed by nutrition professionals of the future. The curriculum supports attainment of the UC Davis Student Educational Objectives (Develop effective communication skills; Develop higher cognitive skills; Cultivate the virtues; Develop focus and depth in one or more disciplines; Develop leadership skills, Develop a global perspective; Prepare for lifelong learning). The nutrition curriculum prepares students to be leaders in the next generation of nutrition scientists, public health and clinical nutrition practitioners.  The program promotes personal scholarship and academic growth, lifelong learning skills, and mastery of core knowledge in nutrition and life sciences.

Graduates of the UC Davis B.S. programs in Nutrition Science and Clinical Nutrition will achieve the following student learning outcomes:

Student Learning Outcomes Statements:

  1. Students will be able to demonstrate critical thinking skills to analyze data and interpret results in the nutritional sciences. 

  2. Students will be able to determine nutritional status of individuals in various life-cycle stages and/or with nutrition-related chronic diseases by applying knowledge of metabolism and nutrient functions, food sources and physiologic systems. 

  3. Students will be able to search for, critique and effectively communicate nutrition information.

  4. Students will be able to describe social, multiethnic or environmental dimensions within nutrition and the life sciences.  

Undergraduate Majors

  • The Clinical Nutrition (formerly Dietetics) major incorporates the same basic core of nutrition classes as the Nutrition Science major, but includes additional courses such as food service management, education, sociology, and communication skills to prepare for work with the public. Clinical Nutrition students spend the first two years completing preparatory course work in the basic biological sciences, along with several of the social sciences. In the final two years, students take courses in normal and clinical nutrition, food science, biochemistry, and management techniques. A checklist for the Clinical Nutrition major is also available online.
  • The Nutrition Science major encompasses all aspects of the consumption and utilization of food and its constituents. Key areas of study include the biochemical reactions important to utilization of nutrients and food constituents, the impact of diet on health and disease, and nutrition-related policy and public health issues. The nutrition science major includes two options for studying these areas: Nutritional Biology and Nutrition in Public Health. Nutrition Science as it is taught on the Davis campus is a biological science and requires a complete background in chemistry and biology, along with calculus and either physics (Nutritional Biology option) or economics (Nutrition in Public Health option). These courses are generally completed during the first two years, and along with biochemistry, must be completed before most nutrition classes can be taken. During their junior and senior years, students in the nutritional biology option take additional course work in biochemistry, genetics, microbiology, physiology, immunology, and/or toxicology. Students in the nutrition in public health option take additional course work in social and health-related sciences. A checklist for Nutrition Science with the Nutritional Biology option and a checklist for Nutrition Science with the Nutrition in Public Health option are also available online in PDF format.

The Department allows some flexibility in the major program to provide for maximum individual growth, development, and career choices. At the same time, the student has the opportunity to become qualified by commonly accepted community standards for professional positions, such as those in Dietetics, in which their education is useful to society.

Minor Programs

The Department of Nutrition also offers four minor programs to students in other disciplines who wish to complement their study program with a concentration in the area of food and nutrition. The minor programs available are: Community Nutrition, Nutrition Science, Food Service Management, and Nutrition and Food.

Regardless of the emphasis, Nutrition as it is taught on the Davis campus is a biological science and requires a background in chemistry and biology. Both majors contain the same core courses within the biological and physical sciences. Courses in English, statistics, social sciences and humanities as well as the UC Davis General Education requirements are also required. These courses are generally completed prior to upper division coursework and, along with biochemistry, must be completed before most Nutrition classes can be taken. This allows time for in-depth study in Nutrition during the Junior and Senior years, when students can take courses in nutrition principles, human nutrition, diet therapy, experimental nutrition, developmental nutrition, food and culture, and community nutrition.

Career Goals & Opportunities

All of the majors in the Nutrition Department are traditional academic programs designed to give students a broad, versatile education. They are not intended to prepare students for a specific slot in the job market, but rather educate students in a specific area and provide the analytical and critical thinking skills necessary for coping with a changing world. Consult with an adviser in your major about how to round out your program to suit your career goals. Also remember that there is little correlation between grades and career success. Many employers hire people based on their interest in a job, their willingness to learn and work hard, and their ability to get along with people. Graduate and professional programs usually have minimum GPA requirements, but they are also interested in candidates who show the characteristics needed to be successful in their programs.

Students with degrees in Nutrition find employment within a wide range of organizations. Employers include: medical facilities, research laboratories, biotechnology firms, government agencies, schools, pharmaceutical companies, and the food industry. With so many options available, it is important for you to decide in which area of nutrition and in what kind of organization you would like to work. Are you interested in lab work? Do you want to work for a small company or a large one? Do you want to work in the health field? Are there courses at Davis which you should be taking to prepare for certain careers? These are just a few of the questions you need to answer before deciding on a specific career.

Many of the careers you may wish to pursue require specialized training after graduation from UC Davis. Many of our graduates have continued their education and have gone into such diverse fields as dentistry, nursing, teaching, veterinary medicine, and law. Some students enter these programs immediately after graduation, others prefer to work for a few years and then return to school. If you are thinking about a career that does require additional training, become familiar with the requirements to get into the post-graduate program. These requirements may include specific classes (e.g., education classes for a teaching career) or tests (MCAT, GRE, etc.) that you need to take.

The Clinical Nutrition major qualifies students to apply for the American Dietetics Association "accredited internship," enabling them to become a Registered Dietitian, the professional credential necessary to work in a clinical setting. Once dietitians are registered, they generally seek employment in administrative, therapeutic, teaching, research, or public health/public service positions in clinics, hospitals, schools, or other similar institutions. There is a growing role for dietitians working in settings outside of the traditional hospital (for example, in state and federal nutrition programs, nutrition education, Peace Corps and Cooperative Extension work). Students who complete the undergraduate preparation in clinical nutrition are also qualified to enter graduate programs in dietetics, nutrition science, public health nutrition, and food service management. A list of jobs held by alumni of the Clinical Nutrition program at UC Davis is available online.

The Nutrition Science major is excellent preparation for professional or graduate training in medicine, public health, or other health sciences. The nutritional biology option also provides preparation for technical work in nutrition in the animal, food, and pharmaceutical industries. The nutrition in public health option prepares students for jobs in administrative, teaching, or public health/public service positions. Students who complete the additional academic requirements for an internship in dietetics are also qualified for careers in dietetics following completion of an internship. A list of jobs held by alumni of the Nutrition Science program at UC Davis is available online.

Resources for Current Nutrition Students

Departmental Resources

Student Clubs and Associations

Campus Resources


Resources for Prospective Nutrition Students

Information about UC Davis

Information about Past Graduates

Requirements for Nutrition Majors

Contact Information

For more information on any of the Nutrition Department undergraduate programs, please contact the Nutrition Undergraduate Advising Office:

Mailing Address

Martha Amesquita
Undergraduate Staff Advisor
Department of Nutrition
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616-5270

Faculty Advisors

Photo - Andrew Clifford

Clinical Nutrition
Andrew Clifford
3147 Meyer Hall
(530) 752-3376

Photo - Bo Lönnerdal

Nutrition Science
Bo Lönnerdal
3217C Meyer Hall
(530) 752-8347

Photo - Francene Steinberg

Dietetics Internships
Francene Steinberg
3135B Meyer Hall
(530) 752-0160

Photo - Joan Frank

Dietetics Internships
Joan Frank
3241 Meyer Hall
(530) 754-9749

Undergraduate Staff Advisor


Martha Amesquita
3202A Meyer Hall
(530) 752-2512

Peer Advisors *

3202 Meyer Hall
(530) 752-4657

*(during Academic Year only)