Majoring in Nutritional Sciences: Physiology & Metabolism

Students in the Physiology & Metabolism (Metabolic Biology) track of the Nutritional Sciences (NS) major are educated in the experimental biology of metabolic regulation, the impact of genetics on use of dietary constituents, and the interaction among genetics, health/chronic disease and dietary chemicals. This program prepares students to perform research into the relationship between diet and vertebrate development and well-being mechanistically, and/or for health professional careers. Students in the Molecular Toxicology emphasis of the Physiology & Metabolism track of the Nutritional Sciences major focus on the molecular and physiological effects of natural and human-made environmental toxins.


The Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology Department’s Nutritional Sciences - Physiology & 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

Here are some of the projects students worked on for NST 166 - Nutrition in the Community!

How much coursework is required?

NS-PM requires 60 lower division unit requirements and an additional 36 units of upper division coursework. Of the 36 units, 15 must be fulfilled with courses offered at the Rausser College of Natural Resources. 

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.

Careers for NS Majors

  • Medicine or Public Health
  • Registered Dietitian
  • Teaching and Research
  • Food service industries
  • Biotechnology

Sample Classes

  • Nutrient Function and Metabolism
  • Human Diet
  • Medical Nutrition Therapy
  • Nutrition in the Community
  • Biology, Statistics, Chemistry


Major Advisor: 
Jay Sevilla
260 Mulford Hall
University of California 
Berkeley, CA 94720-3100
View our advising hours schedule here