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/practicum (produced in consultation with a guidance committee) for a total of 36 units. Students seeking hours to complete the clinical requirement to take the IBCLC exam may need additional 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.

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. 

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 in Maternal and Child Nutrition

4 units

The objectives of this course are to provide students with the knowledge and skills to critically review, plan and implement research projects related to maternal and child nutrition.  Special aspects of nutrition research will be emphasized, including ethical concerns regarding human studies in cross-cultural settings; study design, sampling and methods for collecting different types of data; as well as management, analysis and reporting of data.

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. Students seeking to complete the requirements to take the IBCLC exam must take Clinical Lactation as an elective course.

Clinical Lactation

3 units

This course will provide students with a foundation in the knowledge and skills needed for practice in clinical lactation. Together with hours and content offered in MCN 260, MCN 261, and MCN 264A, this course will complete the didactic portion of the preparation requirements to sit for the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant exam. Throughout the course, lectures, case studies and discussions will encourage students to use critical thinking skill and evaluate topics related to lactation-related clinical skills, evidence-based practice and professional ethics.  Students will learn to apply their understanding of nutrition counseling, education and support of new mothers and their families.


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:

  • Epidemiology and Evidence-based Practice
  • Public Policy Development and Implementation
  • Principles of Adult Education

Student Project/Practicum

Each student will carry out a research, clinical or evaluation project during their second year in the program. Working closely with a guidance committee, the student will choose the scope of the project before completion of the first year in the program. While the focus of projects and practicum experiences 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 seeking to become lactation consultants may complete and report a case series focused on a specific health concern.

Sample Program Schedule

Year 1

Fall: Nutrition During Pregnancy 6
Winter: Lactation and Infant Nutrition 6
Spring: Applied Research Methods in Maternal and Child Nutrition 4
Spring: Epidemiology and Evidence-Based Practice Seminar 2

Year 2

Fall: Child and Adolescent Nutrition 6
Winter: Principles of Adult Education Seminar 2
Winter: Clinical Lactation (for those taking the IBCLC exam) or elective 4
Spring: Public Policy Development and Implementation 2
Spring: Internship or Capstone 4