Beginning in summer 2014, National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) will expand its growing roster of post-graduate degree programs with its new Master of Science in Nutrition (MScN) program. The program will train students in the scientific understanding of diets based on whole, unprocessed food and complemented by skills-training in cooking, teaching and nutritional counseling. This unique curriculum is a significant departure from those found in the majority of contemporary nutrition programs. The target audiences for the new degree program are those who plan to pursue medical school, either conventional or naturopathic, Western medical professionals who want to deepen their nutrition expertise, students seeking nutrition-related careers, and public sector workers in health and science fields.
The role nutrition plays in health—the keystone of medical education and training at NCNM—has never been more evident than it is today. In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than one-third of U.S. adults were obese. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, an additional one-third of Americans were overweight.,  In 2013, the estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $190 million. As the U.S. population struggles with obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, pain, and other physical conditions impacted by nutrition, the demand for nutritional experts has increased.
“NCNM has evolved a long way from its modest origins in 1956 when we began with naturopathic medicine education and clinical training,” observed NCNM President David J. Schleich, PhD.
“Over the years, we have not only added two master’s programs through our School of Classical Chinese Medicine, but we’re also expanding even further with our most recent offerings in research and nutrition. We’re addressing the need for healthcare professionals to understand the critical role nutrition plays in long-term health. We’ve taught generations of medical practitioners that nutrition is an essential part of health and wellness—we’re in an ideal position to fill this educational gap,” Schleich noted.
The one-year MScN degree, offered through NCNM’s School of Research & Graduate Studies, provides students with a well-rounded curriculum integrating nutritional biochemistry and pathophysiology with advanced clinical nutritional knowledge. The new program will offer electives that support multiple career paths, including professional food services, health coaching, nutrition research, or nutrition counseling at integrative healthcare centers and insurance companies, among others.
The new master’s program is the second to be developed through the college’s School of Research & Graduate Studies since 2011, when the college received accreditation approval for its Master of Science in Integrative Medicine Research (MSiMR) degree. The MSiMR program trains post-graduate level students in study design and research skills for evidence-based integrative medicine.
Schleich says that the growing interest in natural health can be seen in the billion-dollar nutraceutical industry and in complementary fields, such as the growing numbers of publications devoted to natural lifestyles, healthy foods and natural healing.
“There are an abundance of books appearing regularly about nutrition, as if the concept of food as medicine is a new discovery,” he said. “But nutrition has always been the root of the education we offer students who want to go into healthcare careers. Our master’s in nutrition will appeal to a new demographic of students with a diversity of career interests. We are offering them the opportunity to be trained by some of the very best and most experienced health educators in the nation,” Schleich said.