brightly coloured vegetables

Nutritional Sciences

MSc & PhD

The Department of Nutritional Sciences positions itself as a leader in its field by leveraging the resources of the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and its strong affiliation with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. This provides our graduate students with unparalleled access to the highest concentration of university-affiliated hospitals, clinicians, and health researchers in North America. In fact, Toronto is home to the largest research and development (R & D) hub in Canada and the second largest food cluster in North America.

The department offers both MSc and PhD degree programs. Our graduate students work on the front lines of research with internationally recognized professors on competitive, peer-reviewed research projects. They present their research at international conferences and publish their work in highimpact journals and are frequently awarded prestigious scholarships.

Our Programs

In addition to completing a thesis, students take 2.0 FCE*:

  • NFS 1204Y (Master Seminar Course in Nutritional Sciences, 1.0 FCE),
  • Elective courses (1.0 FCE). 

Students successfully finish this program in 2 years.

In addition to conducting independent and original research that will form their
thesis, students complete 3.0 FCE:

  • NFS 1304Y (Doctoral Seminars in Nutritional Sciences, 1.0 FCE);
  • Elective courses (2.00 FCE)

Typically, students successfully complete this program in 4 years.

Alumni Profile

Zhila Semnani-Azad

Zhila Semnani-Azad, PhD

During my time at the University of Toronto, I was lucky to be exposed to many areas of research throughout my undergraduate career and graduate training in the Department of Nutritional Sciences. These experiences helped me identify my passion in pursuing further training in cardiometabolic disease epidemiology and taught me that a career in research can allow me to express my unique creativity. I had great mentors and collaborators who provided me with invaluable opportunities to learn and explore the field and to develop critical and transferable skills.

I also had several opportunities to teach courses while at U of T, which showed me the importance of not only knowing the research, literature, and course material, but being able to teach to the next generation of future scientists. Meeting experts and early-career scientists through seminars and conferences during my training provided me with the motivation to pursue a career as a research scientist where I can contribute to an ever-evolving field.

My advice to prospective students is to be open to new experiences and opportunities and to never let preexisting notions of what you would or would not be interested in, or selfdoubt, limit you from exploring. Also, never underestimate the importance of networking and mentorship. The best way to learn and to broaden your horizons is to talk to as many people as you can!

Potential Career Paths

In 2016, the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) tracked the career outcomes of 10,000 PhD students who graduated from the University of Toronto between 2000 to 2015. The data below is from 72 nutritional sciences PhD graduates72.


Some examples of the positions our molecular genetics graduates held included:

  • Post-doctoral Fellow
  • Assistant Professor
  • Research Associate
  • Associate Professor
  • Research Scientist


Some examples of employers for whom our molecular genetics graduates worked included:

  • The University of Toronto
  • The Hospital for Sick Children
  • Stanford University
  • University Health Network
  • The University of California, San Francisco

The chart below shows a breakdown of the various sectors in which our nutritional science PhD graduates worked at the time the survey occurred.

Main Employment Sectors of Nutritional Sciences PhD Graduates

Chart data

Post-Secondary Education Private Sector Public Sector Charitable Sector
46 11 11 4

By the Numbers

Number of current MSc & PhD students.
Number of graduate faculty.
Average class size.
Largest R&D hub in nutrition in North America.

Department of Nutritional Sciences

Learn more about our programs in nutritional sciences.

*Full course equivalent. A typical 0.5 FCE is over one term (13 weeks), meeting 1-2 times per week. A typical 1.0 FCE is over two terms (26 weeks), meeting 1-2 times per week.