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Master of Advanced Study in Maternal and Child Nutrition

Offered by the UC Davis Department of Nutrition, in collaboration with UC Davis Extension

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 three required six-unit core courses (Nutrition During Pregnancy, Lactation and Infant Nutrition, and Child and Adolescent Nutrition), 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 two-and-a-half 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.

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
  • Applied Research Methods
  • Principles of Adult Education
  • Promotion of Breastfeeding in the Public Health Setting
  • International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Standards of Practice

Student Project

Students will carry out a research or evaluation project during their second year in the program. Working closely with his or her guidance committee, the student will choose the project before completion of the first year in the program. While the focus of the project will vary from student to student, the project is 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
Year 1
Fall Year 1
  Nutrition During Pregnancy 6 units
Winter Year 1
  Lactation and Infant Nutrition 6 units
Spring Year 1
  Child and Adolescent Nutrition 6 units
Year 2
Fall Year 2
Seminar Applied Research Methods 4 units
Elective   2 units
Winter Year 2
Seminar Topics in Epidemiology of Maternal and Child Nutrition 2 units
Seminar Principles of Adult Education 2 units
  NUT 230 - Student Project 2 units
Spring Year 2
Seminar Public Policy in Maternal and Child Nutrition 2 units
  NUT 230 - Student Project 4 units