Major Proposal

Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health

The Nutritional Sciences Program is happy to announce that we’ve proposed a new major in Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree. The proposal is moving through the lengthy review and approval process, coordinated by the University Curriculum Office, on behalf of various faculty committees and subcommittees, faculty groups, administrators, and regional accreditors. After the proposal is approved, we will be able to identify an official launch quarter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are you proposing this major?

Many of the widespread and daunting nutrition and health challenges seen in the U.S. and globally can be viewed as consequences of malfunctioning or broken food systems. Among the myriad problems are malnutrition, stunting and wasting, the rise of obesity and non-communicable diseases, food and water equity, rampant food waste, worker exploitation, food-borne diseases, and antibiotic resistance.

The Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health Major will equip students with a systems framework and the necessary tools to understand how the various drivers and components of food systems can affect nutrition and health outcomes. We believe graduates will be prepared to address the impact of food systems on food and nutrition security and population health on local, regional, and global scales.

What is a food system?

A food system is the interconnected web of activities that includes multiple components of food supply chains, the food environment, consumer behaviors, and health outcomes, all operating within a larger socioeconomic and geopolitical context.

What are the admission requirements?

Our proposed major will have minimum requirements. Students who meet the following requirements at the time of application will be admitted:

  1. Completion of 45 college credits
  2. Minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA
  3. Completion of NUTR 200 Nutrition for Today or equivalent
  4. Completion of English Composition, 5 credits

What are the major requirements?

The proposed requirements are outlined in this overview.

How can I prepare for this major?

The following first- and second-year courses are suggested: anthropology, economics, environmental science and studies, geography, introduction to nutrition, political science, public policy, sociology, sciences like biology and chemistry, statistics, composition or writing, and distribution of general education courses, as well as coursework that develops analytical, critical thinking, and communication skills.

Transfer students should have no difficulty completing a Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health major within two years at the University. The Washington community colleges Direct Transfer Agreement (DTA) associate degree provides great preparation for the major and key courses, such as introduction to nutrition, economics, statistics, and physiology, are readily available.

What will students learn in this new major?

Graduates of the Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health Major will have developed competency in food systems, nutrition, public health, social and economic equity, and sustainability, as well as strong liberal arts preparation in intellectual and practical skills like inquiry, analysis, communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

When can I declare the major?

After the major is approved to launch, we expect applications will be due by Friday of the third week of each quarter. Applications will be reviewed to confirm minimum requirements are met and ensure the degree can be completed within the University’s maximum time frame. It is not possible for a student to extend their time at the University and wait for the new major to be approved.

Will there be experiential learning opportunities?

Yes! Learning by doing and reflecting is a powerful part of undergraduate education that enhances learning, engages instructors, and supports community partners. Experiential learning is woven into the major’s core courses through Service-Learning, hands-on laboratories, internships, volunteer opportunities, and case-based problem-solving activities in a capstone class.

What can I do with a degree in Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health?

The Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health Major is designed to address interests and future careers that require the ability to disentangle complex problems and develop interdisciplinary solutions.

Graduates may find employment within the following job fields and titles:

Fields: health promotion and education; nutrition and health assessment; food policy; research; food advocacy; food-related teaching; public relations/journalism; aggregation and distribution services; wholesale or retail marketing; food marketing; food trading; food service, catering, or restaurant industry; food processing and manufacturing facilities; or farm support services.

Titles: food policy economist; research coordinator; coordinator; program manager; community nutrition organizer; farm-to-fork coordinator; food marketing manager; food processing inspector; food trade analyst; agro-tourism operator; land use consultant; farmer; operations director; consultant; or program officer.

Graduates are not limited to a career in food systems because employers are interested in the skills, strengths, and experience you build during the time in your major. As you’ll be qualified for many career paths, we’ll work with you to narrow down options and focus on your interests for your next step after graduation.

Graduates will also be academically prepared for graduate studies ranging from public health to interdisciplinary social science areas.

Will this major prepare me for a clinical nutrition graduate degree?

The proposed major is not a clinical nutrition or dietetics degree and will not, alone, prepare students for that career path. Beginning in 2024, students who want to sit for the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) exam must earn a graduate degree. The recently approved Nutritional Sciences Option in the Public Health Major leads to a Bachelor of Science degree by providing an organized pathway of courses for students that will help in their preparation for graduate studies in nutrition or dietetics, whether at the UW or with another Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) accredited graduate program.

Who can I contact with questions?

Inquiries can be directed to the undergraduate adviser at ugnutr@uw.edu.