Master of Advanced Study in Maternal and Child Nutrition

mother and infant

Offered by the UC Davis Department of Nutrition, in collaboration with UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education

During the last decade, the need for nutrition specialists in public health and maternal and child health programs has increased, along with the recognition that low birth weight, diabetes and childhood overweight and obesity are important national health concerns. There is also an increasing demand for lactation consultants, as greater numbers of women choose to breastfeed their infants. In response, private and public health agencies have focused on improving the nutrition of mothers and children.

The UC Davis Master of Advanced Study in Maternal and Child Nutrition Program is designed to provide a strong scientific background in these topics and to train professionals to design, implement and evaluate nutrition intervention programs for mothers and children from a wide variety of cultural, ethnic and social backgrounds.

The Program

The program consists of four required core courses (Nutrition During Pregnancy, Lactation and Infant Nutrition, Child and Adolescent Nutrition, and Applied Research Methods), six to eight units of special topics seminars, two to four units of electives and a six-unit student project (produced in consultation with a three-member guidance committee) for a total of 36 units. Each of the core courses will comprise 10 weeks of in-class instruction, twice per week for 2.5 hours per meeting. Classes will also include online discussion of related material and readings.

Please note: The Maternal and Child Nutrition Graduate Program admits students on an every-other-year basis.

Required Courses

Nutrition During Pregnancy

6 units

This course provides students with an understanding of the anatomical, physiological and biochemical changes that occur during pregnancy and early development. Students will learn about nutritional and lifestyle factors associated with fertility and pregnancy outcomes. Nutrition programs and intervention strategies for women with normal and high-risk pregnancies will be evaluated. Students will learn how to assess and identify risk factors that may complicate pregnancy and to plan and participate in collaborative health care interventions.

Lactation and Infant Nutrition

6 units

This course provides students with an understanding of the physiological and biochemical processes underlying human lactation and growth and development of the infant. Nutritional needs and assessment of both mother and infant under normal and special circumstances will be discussed. Factors associated with infant feeding practices and the consequences of those practices will be discussed. Students will learn to apply their understanding of nutrition counseling, education, and support of new mothers and their families.

Child and Adolescent Nutrition

6 units

This course provides students with an understanding of the relationships among nutrition, growth, and development during childhood and adolescence. Nutritional assessment for normal and high risk groups will be discussed as well as the psychological, social and economic factors that contribute to nutritional status. Students will learn about the nutritional needs of groups such as overweight children and adolescents, athletes and those with eating disorders and will examine and evaluate intervention strategies.

Applied Research Methods

4 units

Elective Courses

Two to four units of elective courses will be selected from existing courses as approved by the student's advisory committee. These courses may be taught in other departments.


A series of special two-unit seminars will be offered to students in their second year of the program. The topics for the special seminars will vary from year to year but will include:

  • Topics in Epidemiology of Maternal and Child Nutrition
  • Public Policy in Maternal and Child Nutrition
  • Principles of Evidence-based Practice
  • Principles of Adult Education
  • Promotion of Breastfeeding in the Public Health Setting
  • International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Standards of Practice

Student Project

Each student will carry out a research or evaluation project during their second year in the program. Working closely with their guidance committee, the student will choose the project before completion of the first year in the program. While the focus of projects will vary from student to student, these projects are intended to allow students to use the knowledge and skills gained during the program in a manner that may best serve them in their professional positions. For example, students who work in government agencies may choose to develop and evaluate pilot interventions, or students with the appropriate background in economics may conduct cost-effective or cost-benefit analyses of workplace program activities.

Sample Program Schedule

Year 1

Fall: Nutrition During Pregnancy 6
Winter: Lactation and Infant Nutrition 6
Spring: Child and Adolescent Nutrition 6

Year 2

Fall: Applied Research Methods Seminar 4
Fall: Elective 2
Winter: Topics in Epidemiology of Maternal and Child Nutrition Seminar 2
Winter: Principles of Adult Education Seminar 2
Winter: Student Project 2
Spring: Public Policy in Maternal and Child Nutrition 2
Spring: Student Project 2

Planned Educational Leave Program (PELP)/Filing Fee

  • What is PELP?
  • The Planned Educational Leave Program is designed to allow you to suspend your program of study for good cause (illness, temporary departure from the University, financial problems, etc.). You can leave the campus and return at the end of your PELP to enroll and continue your study and research. PELP is recommended if you are certain which quarter you will return and if you will be away a maximum of 3 quarters. (If you are not certain of your return date, it is suggested that you use the readmission application when you are ready to continue your study.) The form requires the approval of your academic advisor, graduate program staff coordinator, and Student Accounting, as well as a $70 non-refundable fee. Your PELP can be lengthened or shortened with the approval of those listed above and the Dean of Graduate Studies. Extension of PELP is considered on the basis of extenuating circumstances. More information about PELP is available from your Academic Advisor and your Graduate Program Staff Coordinator.
  • What is the difference between PELP and filing fee?
  • PELP is for those students who have not completed all their requirements and will be away from campus up to three quarters. This is for students who intend to return to campus and enroll in classes. Filing fee is for students who have advanced to candidacy, no longer need vniversity facilities, and only need to complete their MAS comprehensive exam.
  • Mentoring Guidelines
  • Graduate Council recognizes that the mentoring of graduate students by faculty is an integral part of the graduate experience for both. Faculty mentoring is broader than advising a student as to the program of study to fulfill coursework requirements and is distinct from formal instruction in a given discipline. Mentoring encompasses more than serving as a role model.
    Because of the uncertainty as to the nature of mentoring, the UC Davis Graduate Council has outlined the following mentoring roles to guide the relationship between faculty and graduate students. Faculty and graduate students must realize that, while the major professor or master advisor will be the primary mentor during a student's career at UCD, many of the mentoring "functions" defined below may be performed by program faculty other than the major professor or master advisor. An important corollary to this recognition is that faculty members must realize that much of their interaction with all students has an important mentoring component to it. Graduate students also have responsibilities to insure successful mentoring and these are also indicated below. Faculty members have a responsibility to mentor graduate students. Mentoring has been defined as:

    I. Guiding students through degree requirements. This means:
    1. Providing a clear map of program requirements from the beginning, making clear the nature of the coursework requirements and examinations, and defining a timeline for their completion.
    2. Providing clear guidelines for starting and finishing capstone project work, including encouraging the timely initiation of the research.

    II. Guiding students through capstone project. This means:
    1. Evaluating clearly the strengths and weaknesses of the student’s research.
    2. Encouraging an open exchange of ideas, including pursuit of the student’s ideas.
    3. Checking regularly on progress.
    4. Critiquing written work.
    5. Providing and discussing clear criteria for authorship of collaborative research.
    6. Assisting in finding sources to support research projects.
    7. Being aware of students' research needs and providing assistance in obtaining required resources.

    III. Guiding students through professional development. This means:
    1. Providing guidance and serving as a role model for upholding the highest ethical standards.
    2. Treating students respectfully.
    3. Encouraging and critiquing oral and written presentations.
    4. Encouraging participation in professional meetings of regional groups as well as of learned societies.
    5. Facilitating interactions with other scholars, on campus and in the wider professional community.
    6. Assistance with applications for research funding, fellowship applications and other applications as appropriate for the respective discipline.
    7. Being the student’s advocate in academic and professional communities.
    8. Providing career guidance, specifically assistance in preparation of CV and job interviews and writing letters of recommendation in a timely manner.
    9. Recognizing and giving value to the idea that there are a variety of career options available to the student in her/his field of interest and accepting that the student's choice of career options is worthy of support. For example, a mentor may guide the student to teaching opportunities when appropriate for the student's goals. As partners in the mentoring relationship, graduate students have responsibilities.

    As mentees, students should:
    1. Be aware of their own mentoring needs and how these needs change through their graduate tenure. Graduate students should discuss these changing needs with their mentors.
    2. Recognize that one faculty member may not be able to satisfy all of a student’s mentoring needs. Seek assistance from multiple individuals/organizations to fulfill the mentoring roles described above.
    3. Recognize that their mentoring needs must respect their mentor’s other responsibilities and time commitments.
    4. Maintain and seek regular communication with their mentors, especially their major professor/master advisor.