Doctor of Philosophy in Human Nutrition (PhD)
The graduate program in Human Nutrition offers opportunities for advanced study and original investigations in basic and applied human nutrition at both the master's and doctoral levels. The curriculum includes coursework and thesis research through laboratory or field work in a variety of areas relevant to human nutrition including nutrient metabolism, diet and disease, nutrition through the life cycle and nutrition behaviours.
Research projects also examine environmental, social, and individual determinants of food choices and eating patterns; this includes better understanding of socio-cultural effects on diet, and the impact living in "food deserts" can have on good health.
International nutrition projects in Cambodia, Zambia, Rwanda, and other countries seek to improve maternal, infant, and child nutrition.
Contact the program
Admission Information & Requirements
Before you apply, please make sure you meet/exceed the admission requirements and most importantly have a supervisor confirmed.
1) Check Eligibility
Minimum Academic Requirements
The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies establishes the minimum admission requirements common to all applicants, usually a minimum overall average in the B+ range (76% at UBC). The graduate program that you are applying to may have additional requirements. Please review the specific requirements for applicants with credentials from institutions in:
Each program may set higher academic minimum requirements. Please review the program website carefully to understand the program requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitive process.
English Language Test
Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of your application.
Minimum requirements for the two most common English language proficiency tests to apply to this program are listed below:
TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language - internet-based
Overall score requirement: 90
IELTS: International English Language Testing System
Overall score requirement: 6.5
Other Test Scores
Some programs require additional test scores such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Test (GMAT). The requirements for this program are:
The GRE is not required.
Prior degree, course and other requirements
Prior Degree Requirements
Applicants for the Ph.D. degree must ordinarily hold a First Class Master's degree in Nutrition with a standing of "A", and a Bachelor's degree with the above academic standing in Nutrition or a related science.
2) Meet Deadlines
May 2022 Intake
Application Open Date15 July 2021
3) Prepare Application
All applicants have to submit transcripts from all past post-secondary study. Document submission requirements depend on whether your institution of study is within Canada or outside of Canada.
Letters of Reference
A minimum of three references are required for application to graduate programs at UBC. References should be requested from individuals who are prepared to provide a report on your academic ability and qualifications.
Statement of Interest
Many programs require a statement of interest, sometimes called a "statement of intent", "description of research interests" or something similar.
Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.
Instructions regarding supervisor contact for Doctor of Philosophy in Human Nutrition (PhD)
Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.
4) Apply Online
All applicants must complete an online application form and pay the application fee to be considered for admission to UBC.
Research projects examine environmental, social, and individual determinants of food choices and eating patterns; this includes better understanding of socio-cultural effects on diet, and the impact living in “food deserts” can have on good health. International nutrition projects in Cambodia, Zambia, Rwanda, and other countries seek to improve maternal, infant, and child nutrition.
Clinical Nutrition Research Laboratory Our Clinical Nutrition Laboratory is equipped with an array of state-of-the-art analytical instruments, such as headspace GC-FID, GC-MS, HPLC-DAD, and UHPLC-DAD, etc.. Clinical Research Unit The Clinical Research Unit is comprised of a reception lounge, clinic rooms, a sample preparation area and a meeting room, that is equipped with an observation mirror and an audio/video system. The room is suitable for conducting small focus group meetings, and behavior and consumer studies. Vij’s Kitchen & Culinary Laboratory The Culinary Laboratory is equipped with numerous modern kitchen stations and a demonstration station. The on-site audiovisual system enables filming, videoconferencing, distance education, and live-webcasting. Sensory Laboratory The Sensory Laboratory consists of fourteen panelist booths complete with delivery windows and red lighting. The Sensory Lab is connected to the Culinary Laboratory for preparing food samples and a boardroom for panelist training. The Laboratory is ideal for teaching, research and commercial testing.
Tuition & Financial Support
|Fees||Canadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / Diplomat||International|
|Installments per year||3||3|
|Tuition per installment||$1,732.53||$3,043.77|
|Tuition per year|
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
|Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible)||$3,200.00 (-)|
|Other Fees and Costs|
|Student Fees (yearly)||$969.17 (approx.)|
|Costs of living (yearly)||starting at $17,242.00 (check cost calculator)|
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.
Applicants to UBC have access to a variety of funding options, including merit-based (i.e. based on your academic performance) and need-based (i.e. based on your financial situation) opportunities.
Program Funding Packages
All full-time students who begin a UBC-Vancouver PhD program in September 2021 or later will be provided with a funding package of at least $22,000 for each of the first four years of their PhD. The funding package may consist of any combination of internal or external awards, teaching-related work, research assistantships, and graduate academic assistantships. Please note that many graduate programs provide funding packages that are substantially greater than $22,000 per year. Please check with your prospective graduate program for specific details of the funding provided to its PhD students.
- 3 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 3 students was $6,663.
- 2 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 2 students was $5,091.
- 4 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 4 students was $20,859.
- 1 student received an external award valued at $10,000.
Scholarships & awards (merit-based funding)
All applicants are encouraged to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund their graduate education. The database lists merit-based scholarships and awards and allows for filtering by various criteria, such as domestic vs. international or degree level.
Teaching Assistantships (GTA)
Graduate programs may have Teaching Assistantships available for registered full-time graduate students. Full teaching assistantships involve 12 hours work per week in preparation, lecturing, or laboratory instruction although many graduate programs offer partial TA appointments at less than 12 hours per week. Teaching assistantship rates are set by collective bargaining between the University and the Teaching Assistants' Union.
Research Assistantships (GRA)
Many professors are able to provide Research Assistantships (GRA) from their research grants to support full-time graduate students studying under their direction. The duties usually constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. A Graduate Research Assistantship is a form of financial support for a period of graduate study and is, therefore, not covered by a collective agreement. Unlike other forms of fellowship support for graduate students, the amount of a GRA is neither fixed nor subject to a university-wide formula. The stipend amounts vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded. Some research projects also require targeted research assistance and thus hire graduate students on an hourly basis.
Financial aid (need-based funding)
Canadian and US applicants may qualify for governmental loans to finance their studies. Please review eligibility and types of loans.
All students may be able to access private sector or bank loans.
Foreign government scholarships
Many foreign governments provide support to their citizens in pursuing education abroad. International applicants should check the various governmental resources in their home country, such as the Department of Education, for available scholarships.
Working while studying
The possibility to pursue work to supplement income may depend on the demands the program has on students. It should be carefully weighed if work leads to prolonged program durations or whether work placements can be meaningfully embedded into a program.
Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals
Canadian residents with RRSP accounts may be able to use the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) which allows students to withdraw amounts from their registered retirement savings plan (RRSPs) to finance full-time training or education for themselves or their partner.
Please review Filing taxes in Canada on the student services website for more information.
Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.
8 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 8 alumni (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016):
RI (Research-Intensive) Faculty: typically tenure-track faculty positions (equivalent of the North American Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor positions) in PhD-granting institutions
TI (Teaching-Intensive) Faculty: typically full-time faculty positions in colleges or in institutions not granting PhDs, and teaching faculty at PhD-granting institutions
Term Faculty: faculty in term appointments (e.g. sessional lecturers, visiting assistant professors, etc.)
Sample Employers in Higher EducationUniversity of British Columbia (4)
University of Victoria
Trinity Western University
Sample Employers Outside Higher EducationCentre for Health Evaluation & Outcome Sciences
Ross Memorial Hospital
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher EducationProgramme Evaluation Lead
PhD Career Outcome SurveyYou may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
DisclaimerThese data represent historical employment information and do not guarantee future employment prospects for graduates of this program. They are for informational purposes only. Data were collected through either alumni surveys or internet research.
Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats
These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Human Nutrition (PhD). Data are separated for each degree program combination. You may view data for other degree options in the respective program profile.
Completion Rates & Times
This list shows faculty members with full supervisory privileges who are affiliated with this program. It is not a comprehensive list of all potential supervisors as faculty from other programs or faculty members without full supervisory privileges can request approvals to supervise graduate students in this program.
Black, Jennifer (Human nutrition and dietetics; Community Health / Public Health; food banks; food environments; Nutrition; Public health; school food environments; social determinants of health)
Cohen, Tamara (understanding the interplay between different lifestyle behaviours; how eating behaviours relate to weight management; Obesity)
Conklin, Annalijn (Human nutrition and dietetics; Pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences (except clinical aspects); Chronic Diseases in Elderly; Community Health / Public Health; disease management evaluation; food and nutrition policy; Gender Epidemiology; gender and health equity; Health Policies; healthcare quality improvement; healthy ageing; Indigenous health; Obesity; obesity & CVD risk factors; Professional Practices; Social Determinants of Dietary and Metabolic Disorders; social nutritional epidemiology)
Devlin, Angela (Human nutrition and dietetics; Human reproduction and development sciences; Pathology (except oral pathology); cardiovascular disease; Children; developmental programming; Diabetes; Obesity)
Elango, Rajavel (Protein Nutrition, Maternal-Fetal Nutrition, Childhood Malnutrition, Amino Acid Metabolism, Human Nutrition )
Jessri, Mahsa (Human nutrition and dietetics; Community Health / Public Health; Epidemiology; Nutrition; Health Policies; Lifestyle Determinants and Health; Health Promotion; Health Prevention; Statistics and Probabilities; Preventive Medicine; Artificial Intelligence; Chronic Disease Prevention; clinical epidemiology; Dietary Assessment; Dietary Pattern Modeling; Dietetics; Machine Learning; Nutritional Epidemiology; predictive analytics; Public and Population Health; Simulation)
Karakochuk, Crystal Dawn (Human nutrition and dietetics; Nutrition; Global Health and Emerging Diseases; Hematology; Biochemical markers of iron status; Clinical dietetics; Determinants and causes of anemia; Inherited blood disorders (sickle cell, thalassemia, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency); International nutrition; Maternal and child nutrition; Micronutrients (namely iron, folic acid, and zinc); Risk-benefit of micronutrient supplementation)
Lamers, Yvonne (Human nutrition and dietetics; Nutrition; Nutrients; Biological and Biochemical Mechanisms; Breast Feeding and Infant Nutrition; Clinical Chemistry; Maternal and child health; Micronutrients; Newborn Screening; Nutritional Biochemistry; Nutritional Biomarker; Periconceptional folic acid supplementation; Pregnancy; Prenatal Supplements; Toddler Nutrition; Vitamins)
Murphy, Rachel (Clinical oncology; Health sciences; Human nutrition and dietetics; Public and population health; Aging; Cancer prevention; Community Health / Public Health; Nutrition; Nutrition and Cancer; Obesity)
Stefanska, Barbara (Nutrition and Cancer; Breast Cancer; Hepatic Diseases; Gene Regulation and Expression; Epigenetics, Cancer epigenetics, Nutritional epigenomics)
Xu, Zhaoming (Nutrients, Zinc, growth, and growth regulation, Regulatory role of zinc in apoptosis, Zinc and breast cancer)
|2020||Dr. Mujica Coopman investigated the relationship of combined B vitamin and related nutrients with offspring birth size and fetal growth programming. Her findings suggest that vitamin B12 characterized maternal B vitamin and nutrient-related patterns and may play a key role in fetal growth and development.|
|2020||Dr. Beetch studied how natural compounds derived from diet, namely a class of polyphenols found in grapes and blueberries, can reverse aberrant DNA methylation patterns that underlie cancer. Her findings show that these compounds exert anti-cancer effects through epigenetic gene regulation, which can be used in cancer prevention and therapy.|
|2018||Drawing from national data, Dr. Tugault-Lafle characterised the determinants of diet quality among Canadian children on school days and how diet quality has changed from 2004 to 2015. These findings provide evidence to inform policy debates about the potential roles schools could play to influence the diet of Canadian children.|
|2018||Dr. Wiedeman focused on the essential dietary nutrient choline. She examined the association between choline intake and plasma levels at different stages of the life cycle. Her findings contribute to our knowledge about human choline nutrition and suggest that current dietary recommendations may be overestimated for infants.|
|2017||Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient for healthy growth and brain development, especially during pregnancy and infancy. Dr. Schroder developed a novel method for convenient and minimally invasive diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency. This method has been clinically translated and used in newborns here in Vancouver as well as in field studies in Indonesia.|
|2017||Dr. Karakochuk examined whether iron deficiency was a major cause of anemia among women of reproductive age in Cambodia. This research is essential for the design and implementation of effective anemia reduction strategies. Her findings helped to reshape the current policy for iron supplementation among women of reproductive age in Cambodia.|
|2016||Dr. Whitfield conducted her research in rural Cambodia, where infantile beriberi, a fatal disease in breastfed babies, is common. She showed that mothers consuming fish sauce with added vitamin B1 produced breast milk with higher B1 content, improving the status of their babies. This fish sauce could save babies lives throughout Southeast Asia.|
|2015||Dr. Mulder studied the role of dietary fats during early brain development. She identified that some women in Vancouver had omega-3 fatty acid deficiency, and that their babies were more likely to have slower development. Although the long-term effects are unclear, her work improves our understanding of nutritional needs in the developing brain.|
|2011||Dr. Novak combined basic science and clinical studies to demonstrate that the type of fat a mother consumes during pregnancy and lactation plays a key role in regulating infant liver metabolism. Her research opened a new field to consider the impact of essential fatty acid nutrition for early infant liver development.|
|2011||Dr. Mróz explored dietary perceptions and practices of men with prostate cancer and their wives. He found that although masculine food ideals shaped men's diets, complex couple dynamics were also implicated. His research showed that illuminating gender relations can help us better understand men's food and self-health practices.|
Sample Thesis Submissions
Human nutrition covers areas such as nutrient metabolism, diet and disease, nutrition through the life cycle, and nutrition behaviours.