College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

Nutritional Science - Physiology and Metabolism


The Nutritional Science and Toxicology Department’s Nutritional Science - Physiology and Metabolism (NS-PM) major combines a strong foundation in the biological and chemical sciences with specialized advance course work that focuses on nutrient/non-nutrient function and metabolism. The application of this field informs recommendations for dietary patterns to achieve optimum health and the treatment or prevention of disease conditions as well as food production and safety.

What will I study?

The Physiology and Metabolism specialization provides a strong foundation in the biological and chemical sciences. The advanced course work focuses on the biochemical and physiological study of nutrient utilization. The Physiology & Metabolism specialization explores the following topics:

  • Delivery of nutrients from foods to cells and the function of nutrients in energy metabolism.
  • The cellular and molecular regulatory mechanisms by which humans respond metabolically to changes in the nutritional environment.
  • Dietary patterns causing nutrient imbalances and the effect these imbalances have on function and health of humans.
  • The methodological and conceptual processes of nutrition and food science laboratory research.

How much coursework is required?

NS-PM requires 60 lower division unit requirements and an additional 36 units of upper division coursework. 15 of the 36 units must be fulfilled with courses offered at CNR.

All courses must be taken for a letter grade with the exception of free electives or courses that are only offered on a pass/no pass basis. You must receive at least a 'C-' in all courses required for the major.

What can I do with this major?

The NS-PM degree provides an excellent foundation for employment in research, education, industry and government – as well as advanced studies in nutrition, health and bioscience fields. Students are encouraged to pursue internships and work experiences to assess their individual interests and establish a career path.

  • Industry: Developing products and conducting research for food, chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology firms.
  • Health. Working as a professional in Medicine, Dentistry, Optometry, or Pharmacology. Many of the required pre-med courses are part of our curriculum. Additional pre-med courses can be easily added to the academic plan. Our graduates who have pursued medicine find that the upper division Nutritional Science course work, which focuses on the characteristics of nutrients and how they are processed and utilized in our body, informs their medical studies and helps them to promote good health as professionals.
  • Education and Research. Teaching in the biological, chemical, nutrition and food sciences. Participating in scientific research to advance techniques in the biological sciences.
  • Governmental Agencies. Advising and policy making for California agencies such as Agriculture, Health Services or for Federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Environmental Protection Agency.


Undergraduate Advisor: Nicole Lowy,

260 Mulford Hall
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720