The pace of HNFM program is determined by the student’s preference. The recommended track has the student taking 2-3 classes per term and is completed in seven quarters (under two years/21 months). It is possible to complete the program one class at a time, extending the duration. We recognize that the life situations of our students vary considerably in terms of their family, employment and community commitments, thus we are flexible with regard to speed and prefer that students take the time they need in order to learn the material well.
Additionally, it is possible to take “leaves” for a quarter or more if needed, up to a maximum of four quarters total. As long as the intended schedule is communicated with program staff, it is possible to customize a schedule to better suit a student’s individual needs. The program must be completed in a maximum of five years.
With appreciation of the rapid advancements in the field of clinical nutrition and the increasingly respected role of nutrition in the maintenance of health and the prevention of disease, the master of science in human nutrition and functional medicine program prepares graduates to safely and effectively utilize nutrition, natural remedies and biopsychosocial therapies in the management of patients with complex health challenges at an advanced level beyond traditional nutritional programs. Graduates of the MS-HNFM will:
- Integrate whole food nutrition with strategies for health promotion and disease prevention.
- Apply the functional medicine model to the therapeutic needs a patient or client could present.
- Apply appropriate interventions to address physiological imbalances and illness states.
- Appraise research evidence to answer clinically relevant questions.
- Practice according to ethical and professional standards.
- Produce a scholarly paper on an important functional medicine topic and pass the MS-HNFM comprehensive examination.
It is the responsibility of the individual student to understand and comply with all relevant local or jurisdictional requirements for clinical practice, which are highly variable and subject to periodic change. UWS makes no representation or guarantee that completion of UWS coursework or programs will permit an individual to obtain certification, licensure or other authorization to practice in any specific jurisdiction.
Advanced Practice Modules (APMs) and the week-long Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice (AFMCP) from the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) can be completed for elective credit, with one APM or one AFMCP substituting for one elective course in our MS program. APMs are focused on a single key health dysfunction such as Gastrointestinal, Cardiometabolic, Detoxification and Immune Imbalances. APMs are offered both in person and electronically for greater ease of access. To receive credit, students must submit the Certificate of Completion from IFM along with a reflective essay describing what they learned and how it may apply to patient/client care.
Students who enter the MS-HNFM program with the Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner (IFMCP) designation may apply for a total of 9-11 credits of advanced standing toward the master’s degree.
The Functional Medicine Coaching Academy (FMCA) was established in collaboration with The Institute for Functional Medicine. Taught by IFM faculty and leaders in positive psychology and coaching, the curriculum blends basic Functional Medicine principles with positive psychology coaching, mind-body medicine, and functional nutrition. The 12-month online program leads to a certificate as a Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach. Students are taught how to partner with Functional medicine practitioners and help clients initiate and sustain diet and lifestyle change. Graduates of the MS-HNFM program qualify for a 10% reduction in tuition. For more information about FMCA, visit functionalmedicinecoaching.org. Graduates of the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy certificate program may be granted four elective credits toward the MS-HNFM.
Curriculum: 15 required courses and two electives (choose two)
The Master of Science in human nutrition and functional medicine focuses on the clinical management of chronic illnesses and conditions as the framework for presenting the nutrition subject materials. Students are provided effective, patient-centered management strategies by which to address the myriad of clinical disorders commonly manifest in the current health care system population. This approach allows training to occur in the same context the practitioner will be applying the knowledge. The required coursework combines traditional nutrition science courses with coursework based on the clinical application of functional medicine.
The program consists of 52 quarter credits provided online and courses are offered with sufficient frequency to allow students to progress with flexibility in scheduling the number of credits they take each term.
Click to open the course descriptions for each curriculum section below.
Four courses provide the foundation for the remainder of the curriculum and must be taken at or near the beginning of the program. These are:
- MSN6100 Principles of Functional Medicine provides the overview and paradigm for the functional medicine model.
- MSN6200 Nutritional Biochemistry provides the underpinning for the emphasis on biochemical mechanisms seen throughout the program.
- MSN6101 Evidence-Based Nutrition introduces critical appraisal skills and their application in evidence-based nutritional practice.
- MSN6305 Whole Food Nutrition and Supplementation explores current research and practice developments related to healthy diet and the role of nutritional supplementation.
MSN6100 Principles of Functional Medicine (5 credits)
This course presents the fundamental concepts of functional medicine, including genetic predisposition to illness, biochemical individuality, environmental factors functions and imbalances, triggers and mediators of illness, common clinical imbalances (oxidative and reductive stress, energy production, structural integrity, assimilation, immune surveillance and inflammation, other defense mechanisms, hormone and neurotransmitter regulation, detoxification and biotransformation, nutritional genomics, and the relationships of mental, emotional and spiritual elements to health and healing). The personalized, whole-person, integrated systems approach of functional medicine will be compared and contrasted to conventional approaches of health care. Specialized clinical assessments, diagnostic functional tests and measures/biomarkers of allostatic load will be explored, along with some of the core therapeutic approaches used in many patients. This course lays the foundation for many of the subsequent courses in this degree program and must be taken in the first quarter of the program. (5+0)
MSN6101 Evidence-Based Nutrition (3 credits)
This course provides core knowledge in evidence-based nutrition with a focus on the role of nutrition in health optimization and disease treatment. Students will gain a detailed understanding of the practical application of various nutrients and dietary strategies used in clinical practice. Discussions will also incorporate the three components of evidence-based health care (clinical expertise, patient preference, research evidence) into the decision-making and data-analysis process. (3+0)
MSN6200 Nutritional Biochemistry (2 credits)
This course provides an overview of essential concepts in human biochemistry and links those concepts to specific applications in clinical nutrition. The course examines the biological roles of macro- and micronutrients and their metabolism using basic knowledge in physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology. Topics include carbohydrates and energy metabolism, protein and amino acids, bioactive peptides, enzymes, fiber, lipids, the arachidonic acid cascade, minerals, water-soluble and fat-soluble micronutrients, along with an introduction to energy production, reduction-oxidization balance, and biochemical individuality. Students will explore the relationships of nutrients to major health disorders, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. (2+0)
MSN6202 Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (3 credits)
This course focuses on nutrition considerations and applications in exercise, athletics, performance enhancement, and weight management. Fitness-promoting programs are compared and contrasted, and the evidence supporting various programs is evaluated. Pre-participation guidelines are reviewed. (3+0)
MSN6204 Gastrointestinal Imbalances (4 credits)
This course presents a functional medicine approach to understanding the metabolism of the gastrointestinal system, with an emphasis placed on the nutritional implications of dysfunctional digestion or absorption, intestinal membrane integrity and permeability, alterations in GI microbiological flora and gut ecology, hepatoenteric cycles, hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes, assimilation of nutrients, and the GI immune system. Nutritional support of GI function and repair is emphasized. Health disorders reviewed include inflammatory bowel diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, gluten sensitivity, autism, and disorders of systemic inflammation. (4+0)
MSN6300 Detoxification and Biotransformation Pathways and Imbalances (3 credits)
This course examines the metabolic pathways involved in the conversion of exogenous and endogenous toxins and waste compounds and molecules into excreted substances, placing them in context within the functional medicine model. Phase I and II reactions, regulation of detoxification pathways, genetic variations, and functional assessment of these mechanisms are detailed. Nutritional support and the effect of drugs on detoxification pathways are reviewed, as well as the disturbed physiology and eventual pathology that results from imbalances in detoxification and biotransformation. (3+0)
MSN6302 Hormone and Neurotransmitter Regulation and Imbalances (3 credits)
This course examines the actions, interrelationships, control mechanisms and imbalances of neurotransmitters, neuroendocrine factors, hormones and immune mediators. Particular emphasis is placed on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, thyroid metabolism, and sex hormones. The effects of toxins, free radicals, stress, diet, nutrient deficiencies, digestive disorders, drugs and specific foods on neurotransmitters and hormones are analyzed within a functional medicine framework. Laboratory testing of the various substances, including precursors and metabolites is included. Prerequisites(s): MSN7207 (3+0)
MSN6305 Whole Food Nutrition and Supplementation (4 credits)
This course covers concepts and evidence related to nutritional therapy, public health nutrition policy, whole foods and processed foods, food groups, dietary patterns, nutrient content of foods, organic and conventional foods, and various controversies in the field of nutrition. Evidence on nutritional prevention and treatment of major diseases is emphasized. Dietary guidelines, meal planning, and regulation and quality control in the dietary supplement industry are also discussed. (4+0)
MSN7102 Oxidative/Reductive Dynamics and Energy Production (3 credits)
This course examines the mechanisms leading to oxidative or reductive stress and the impact of those reactions on the development of chronic disease. Production of free radical and reactive oxygen species, and the nitric oxide cycle are covered in depth. Mitochondrial dysfunction and other mechanisms of abnormal energy production are reviewed. Relevance to conditions such as neurodegenerative disorders, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia will be emphasized. Prerequisites(s): MSN7207(3+0)
MSN7106 Autoimmune Disease: Causes and Strategies (3 credits)
The prevalence of autoimmune diseases is increasing rapidly worldwide and, as with other health ailments such as hypertension and diabetes, these conditions are becoming particularly more common in westernized societies. Rapid changes in disease prevalence point to a change in the patient’s environment rather than to genetic causes, to which these conditions have traditionally been ascribed. Likewise, these conditions that were once considered idiopathic have now been described and researched to the extent that we better understand the etiology and pathophysiology of the disease process, allowing us to formulate improved treatment approaches. This course uses a functional medicine perspective to explore the major autoimmune diseases, their unique and common etiologies, laboratory assessments, physical exam findings, and nutritional and integrative interventions, including pharmacologic drugs. Prerequisites(s): MSN7200, MSN7207. (3+0)
MSN7115 Meal Planning in Health and Illness (2 credits)
This course prepares students to design and modify meal plans in order to promote optimal health, address specific illness states, manage weight and encourage healthful food behaviors. Emphasis is placed on demonstrating practical skills for effective patient assessment and communication with appropriate documentation. Special consideration will be given to food selection, preparation methods, patient preference, operating within a budget, cultural influences and the creation of sustainable plans that encourage long-term compliance. Prerequisites(s): MSN7207 (2+0)
MSN7200 Immune Imbalances and Inflammation (4 credits)
This course explores inflammation and immune dysfunction as common pathogenic mechanisms in many chronic disorders, such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, allergy, and autoimmunity. Dietary and phytonutritional influences on the inflammatory process, including both proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory effects, are explored in depth using a functional medicine framework. Case studies include autoimmune diseases, allergies, and metabolic disorders. Risks, benefits, and nutritional interactions associated with common anti-inflammatory medications are reviewed. Prerequisites(s): MSN7207 (4+0)
MSN7207 Nutritional Epidemiology and Clinical Research (4 credits)
This course is an introduction to the principles of epidemiology and their application to nutrition. This course addresses the role of nutrition in investigating the epidemiology of many chronic diseases. The course also stresses clinical research design methods utilized in nutrition research as well as general clinical research designs such as clinical trials, cohort studies, case-control studies, and other pragmatic designs. (4+0)
MSN7215 Cardiovascular Disease and Metabolic Imbalances (2 credits)
Diseases of the cardiovascular system and disruption of its related metabolic processes are among the deadliest and most economically burdensome health problems facing industrialized societies. Having reached epidemic proportions, an urgent need now exists to identify and implement strategies for reversing the trend of increased morbidity and mortality, uncontrolled cost and younger age of onset that characterizes these conditions. This course presents a functional medicine approach to the prevention and nutritional management of chronic cardiovascular disease and imbalances of metabolism (including metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes mellitus). Students also learn the key diagnostic criteria, physical examination and laboratory findings associated with these conditions. Prerequisites(s): MSN7207(2+0)
MSN7305 Capstone Course (3 credits)
This is the capstone course in the degree program and is taken in the last quarter of study (with other courses), or in the following quarter. Each student produces a scholarly paper on a subject related to nutrition and/or functional medicine. Students also write a reflective essay about their learning experiences in the MS-HNFM program. A comprehensive final examination covering all areas of required coursework in the program is taken at the conclusion of this course. Prerequisite: All required courses completed prior or concurrently. (3+0)
MSN7101 Structural Integrity (2 credits)
This course examines the interrelationship between structure, function, well-being and chronic pain syndromes. Structural integrity is considered throughout the spectrum, from cellular membranes and receptors up through the neuromusculoskeletal system and whole-body structure. Nutrients closely related to membrane integrity, transport and signaling mechanisms, pain mediation, and bone metabolism are discussed. Selected assessment procedures are reviewed so that practitioners can directly identify and treat areas of dysfunction for common pain syndromes; included in this physical assessment is the “nutritional physical” by which clinicians can appreciate physical manifestations of internal imbalances and nutrient insufficiencies. (2+0)
MSN7201 Fundamentals of Mind-Body Medicine and the Psychology of Well-Being (2 credits)
This is an overview of mind-body medicine — history and current practices. There will be a particular emphasis on the growing variety of evidence-based mindfulness practices, specifically Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and related approaches including Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Mindful Self-Compassion. We will approach mind-body medicine through a biopsychosocial lens, taking into account the context and culture of environment. We will also explore the impact of meaning and story on illness / wellness and how this can be brought into the therapeutic relationship through Narrative Medicine. This class includes a strong experiential component through instruction and practice in mindfulness and other mind-body practices. (2+0)
MSN8100 Botanical Medicine (2 credits)
This course presents a practical overview of medical botany/herbology, including history, composition, safety, and therapeutic use of the most commonly used botanical medicines. Each of these agents is reviewed regarding its classification, bioactive components, herb-drug-nutrient interactions, mechanism of action, metabolism, indications and contraindications, toxicology, methods of administration, and dosage. (2+0)
MSN8101 Nutrition in Special Populations (2 credits)
This course looks at nutritional needs and interventions in special populations, such as young children, the elderly, pregnant women, post-surgical patients, patients with terminal illnesses, and disabled persons who may have mental or physical conditions that affect their basic nutritional needs and their ability to utilize food normally. (2+0)
MSN8115 Advanced Practice Modules (modules from IFM and AFMCP) (2-4 credits)
Advanced Practice Modules (APMs) and the week-long Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice (AFMCP) from the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) can be completed for elective credit, with one APM or one AFMCP substituting for one elective course in our MS program. APMs are focused on a single key health dysfunction such as gastrointestinal, cardiometabolic, detoxification and immune imbalances. APMs are offered both in person and electronically for greater ease of access. (2-4+0)
MSN8125 Pharmacology and Drug-Nutrient Interactions (2 credits)
This course provides a practical overview of pharmacologic therapy used in the management of ambulatory patients with chronic illnesses or non-life-threatening acute illnesses. The student will study the effects of drugs on organ systems and diseases and the mechanism of action (pharmacodynamics), the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of drugs (A.D.M.E. of pharmacokinetics), potential toxic effects of medications, factors affecting the effectiveness of drugs, and interactions with drugs, botanical compounds, foods and nutritional supplements. (2+0)
MSN8126 Supervised Nutrition Mentorship I (2 credits)
MSN8127 Supervised Nutrition Mentorship II (2 credits)
Mentorships are designed to provide practical experiences to help students explore various career opportunities and/or improve practical knowledge and skills within the field of nutrition. During a mentorship, students work under the supervision of a credentialed nutritionist or other health care professional in a nutritional practice environment. Students are responsible for finding a licensed health practitioner who will serve as their mentor. The supervised experience must total at least 66 hours and may include observational experience in the following categories: nutritional assessment, intervention, education, counseling or management, and monitoring or evaluation. Optionally, students may extend the mentorship as high as 335 hours. Only two credits per quarter will be awarded, no matter how many additional hours above the minimum 66 hours are involved. (Program director permission required)
MSN8132 Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics (2 credits)
This course explores the current understanding and practical application of nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics. By considering the impact of individual genetic variations on nutritional status and requirements (nutrigenetics), students will learn to provide tailored dietary and nutritional recommendations that accommodate common genetic variants. Evaluating the evidence for food and nutrient modulation of gene expression (nutrigenomics) will improve the student’s ability to design nutritional treatment plans that address common chronic illnesses and aid in their prevention. Connections to nutritional epigenetics and genetic testing options will assist the student in navigating the complexities of gene-mediated influences on health and illness. (2+0)
MSN8135 Psychology of Eating and Wellness (2 credits)
This course explores our complex relationship with food: why we eat what we eat, how we eat, and why we eat too much or too little. Based on positive psychology, mind-body medicine, cognitive-behavior therapy, and a functional medicine model of psychological intervention as paths to wellness, the course also focuses on expectations, beliefs, and resistance to change. Students will examine their own eating and wellness practices, as well as their readiness for counseling others. Therapeutic interventions for developing healthy behaviors and recognizing eating disorders will be discussed and the role of family, peer, societal, corporate, and governmental influences on personal choices will be emphasized. (2+0)
MSN8145 Plant-Based Nutrition (2 credits)
This course provides a comprehensive guide to plant-based nutrition. Subjects addressed include obtaining sufficient protein from plant sources, the health benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet for prevention and treatment of chronic disease, and determining which supplements are essential. Emphasis is given to transitioning to a vegan diet, and its appropriateness during pregnancy and breastfeeding, for children and teens, for people over fifty, and for people engaged in recreational sports and competitive athletics. Nutrient-dense recipes and menus are provided. Various dietary controversies are evaluated in an evidence-based framework. (2+0)
MSN8165 Nutrition Practice Strategies (2 credits)
This course addresses essential aspects of successful nutrition practice with an emphasis on advanced nutrition counseling techniques. Students study effective communication, observation, and active listening skills. Assessment of stages of behavior change and motivational interviewing are integrated with methods for guiding clients/patients through goal setting and maintaining accountability. Case studies to integrate knowledge with clinical application are examined. Analytical strategies such as planning, implementation, and assessment of progress are discussed to prepare the practitioner for successful patient management. Practical steps for setting up a nutrition practice are presented. (2+0)
The HNFM program often hosts prestigious guest lecturers to speak about exciting topics in health, nutrition and wellness. Here are a few guests we’ve had the honor of hosting and the topics they presented on:
Jerry Bailey, DC, MS – “HNFM Nutrition Grand Rounds”
Neal Barnard, MD – “Evidence on Plant-Based Diets and Diabetes”
Rachel Fischer, MD, MPH – “HNFM Nutrition Grand Rounds”
Kara Fitzgerald, ND – “Molecular Biology of Fatty Acid Therapy”, “Food Allergy, Intolerance, Sensitivity”, “Allergy and Atopy”
Alan Gaby, MD – “Controversies in Nutrition”
Alan Goldhamer, DC – “Fasting, Food Addictions” and “Medically Supervised Water-Only Fasting and Nutritional Medicine”
James Gordon, MD – “Self-Care is the Heart of Health Care”
Dennis Hoyer, DC – “Fundamentals of Laboratory Assessment”
Requirements for graduation
The MS in human nutrition and functional medicine degree is conferred upon the individual who has fulfilled the following requirements:
- Maintenance of enrollment eligibility through satisfactory academic performance, professional development and behavior, and non-academic behavior.
- Successful completion of all required courses, lectures, labs, practicums, and seminars with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on all required coursework.
- Successful completion of minimum graduation requirements as officially communicated to students through the university catalog, student publications, and other official documents of the university.
- Freedom from all indebtedness and other obligations to the university.