To be effective in their careers, future Nutritional Sciences major graduates must seek to develop foundational knowledge and skills to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse society. Gaining awareness, knowledge, and sensitivity to the strong connection between food, nutrition, and culture is a life-long process. Studying abroad can provide an excellent foundation to begin broadening students’ worldview surrounding food beliefs, customs, and values, cultivating awareness and an inclusive attitude toward how food and nutrition is used and perceived across cultures.
Prospective Nutritional Sciences Students
The Bachelor of Science with a major in Nutritional Sciences builds on a core set of nutrition courses with additional courses emphasizing the chemistry and biology of nutrients from the molecular to the systemic level. The major focuses on how we utilize food for growth and metabolism in disease and non-disease states. The major in nutritional sciences will help you develop a strong background in biology, chemistry, physiology and biochemistry to allow you to understand the mechanisms through which dietary factors act and are metabolized. The program offers study in zoology, microbiology, genetics, chemistry, physics, and mathematics along with classes in Nutritional Sciences.
For more information about the Nutritional Sciences major, please visit the Nutritional Sciences Guide page. On this page, you will find major requirements, learning outcomes, the advisor contact, and more.
To gain background information about study abroad and the various programs available, attend the Study Abroad Fair on campus, visit the Program Search database on the UW Study Abroad website, and/or meet with the CALS Study Abroad advisors within the CALS Academic Affairs Office, Room 116 Agriculture Hall.
To discuss how studying abroad fits within your career or professional goals in relation to the completion of the Nutritional Science major, please visit the CALS Career Services webpage to schedule an appointment with a CALS Career Advisor.
Nutritional Sciences Course Considerations Abroad
Nutritional Sciences students face challenges in finding coursework that counts as direct equivalents for our curriculum because of its inclusion of general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, introductory biology, anatomy and physiology, core nutrition classes, and a capstone requirement.
Other options for courses that could be fulfilled by courses abroad are:
- Breadth courses (social sciences, humanities, CALS International Studies requirement)
- Nutritional Sciences electives: Please see the Nutritional Sciences advisor for help determining what will count as electives. A syllabus or course title and description should be presented to the advisor.
Students who are participating in the field experiences through the Global Health certificate will fulfill elective credits. Please see the Nutritional Sciences Advisor for specific information.
Mapping Your Study Abroad Experience as a Nutritional Sciences Major
Students would be well served to start their first semester with general chemistry, or if they have chemistry completed, then introductory biology. Winter break, Spring break, and Summer provide opportunities for students to study abroad, especially if you are part of a FIG (First-Year Interest Group).
If your foundational coursework, especially chemistry, is completed your first year, studying abroad for a semester during the sophomore year is a strong possibility. Spring semester is recommended so that you may use Fall to start – or, if you have AP credit for Bio 151, complete – your Introductory Biology sequence. In addition, you need to think about how the three course OChem sequence will fit into your academic plan, but it is not absolutely necessary that you start Ochem right away. Winter break, Spring break, or Summer programs are also great options to complete electives or experiences that align with your academic, personal, and/or professional goals.
Nutritional Sciences students typically aim to complete semester abroad experiences their junior year; however, there are important items to consider. Summer of junior year is often the period when students take required admission tests for graduate programs (MCAT, PCAT, DAT, etc.) when they are planning to start a graduate program immediately following graduation. Please plan carefully with your advisor and the Centers for Pre-Health Advising and Center for Pre-Law Advising to ensure your study abroad will complement and not conflict with your professional pathway.
During junior year, students can choose to study abroad during the fall or spring semester. You will need to take Physiology 335/435 during your semester here at UW-Madison (or an approved transfer course) in order to be eligible for Nutr Sci 431 (Pre-Reqs: C or greater in Anat&Phys 335 and NS 332). Nutr Sci 431 is a Spring/Summer only course and a prerequisite for Nutr Sci 500 (Nutritional Sciences Capstone) which is taken in the final semester of undergraduate study with the exception of Summer.
Depending on the study abroad program, you may be able to take Biochemistry 501 while abroad for a semester during your junior year.
Winter break or Spring break programs are also great options and will likely not affect course sequencing or your professional timeline.
Students interested in studying abroad their senior year will need to consider their professional school applications and remaining credits. Graduate schools and medical schools typically conduct interviews in the Fall semester for immediate acceptance after graduation.
If you do not plan on having interviews in the Fall, you may study abroad during the Fall semester with relative ease, but it may become more challenging in the spring semester for the following reasons:
- You are required to complete an Independent Study (699) or Capstone course (Nutr Sci 500) your final semester. The students who need to take the Capstone course must take it in their last semester here on campus and it is not offered over the summer.
- Studying abroad spring of senior year can be difficult for CALS students if you do not have any requirements remaining, as CALS policy is that students will be graduated if all requirements are met. Sometimes students save a requirement they are very sure to find abroad (such as humanities, social science) for spring of senior year if they’d like to study abroad then.
Special Note for Nutritional Sciences Students:
Some courses within the four-year plan are taught at the same time during the week and therefore need to be taken in alternate semesters. These courses include: Microbio 303, Nutr Sci 510, and Anat&Phys 335. Please plan accordingly and check with your Nutritional Sciences Advisor to make sure to avoid any scheduling conflicts.
Possible 4 Year Plan with a Semester Abroad
Math (if needed)
STAT 301 or 3711
||Anat & Phys 3352
General Education1/Social Science1/Humanities1
1May be taken in different semesters. Please consult your academic advisor for planning options.
2Course will conflict if taken in the same semester as the following: Anat&Phys 335, Micro 303, or NS 510.
Questions to Ask
- What are my post-graduation plans (dietetic internship, PA or medical school, graduate school, work, etc.?)
- Do I intend to pursue any post-undergraduate education right away or take time off? This may influence when you take certain standardized tests, when you need to take certain prerequisite courses, and when study abroad is most feasible.
- What are my priorities for my undergraduate education – is it graduating in 4 years, studying abroad for a semester, completing multiple majors/certificates, being able to attend medical school right away? Which of these are most important if it becomes difficult to fit everything in?
YOUR ACADEMIC ADVISOR
- What classes must I complete for my degree (breadth/depth, major requirements, etc.)?
- Do I need to be on UW-Madison’s campus for any courses in my major?
- How many electives do I have outside of my major?
- What kinds of courses abroad could count for Nutrition electives?
- What classes cause scheduling conflicts when planning?
- How do my goals (summer research experiences, attending professional or graduate school, taking a gap year, etc.) fit in with my coursework and timeline?
YOUR STUDY ABROAD ADVISOR
- What classes can I take abroad?
- How and when do I select courses for my program?
- When will I know course equivalents for my program?
- What is the class structure like abroad?
Identifying Programs that are Right for You
The following are study abroad programs that may be of interest to students pursuing the Nutritional Sciences major. The programs below have various durations and some of the programs have courses that may count for electives or requirements for the Nutritional Sciences major. Others may not offer courses specific to the major, but may offer opportunities to compliment your learning within nutritional sciences. If you do not have specific requirements you need to fulfill, you will have much more flexibility as to program type and location.
Australia: University of Queensland Exchange in Australia (Semester)
Austria: UW Obesity and Health in Austria* (Summer)
Costa Rica: UW Tropical Horticulture in Costa Rica* (Winter Intersession)
Czech Republic: Czech University of Life Sciences Exchange (Semester)
Denmark: University of Copenhagen Exchange (Semester or Year)
Ecuador: UW Wellbeing through Microenterprise and Environmental Stewardship in Ecuador* (Winter Intersession)
France: ISA Lille (Semester)
ESA Angers Exchange – International Food, Culture, & Agriculture Summer Program (Summer)
ISARA Lyon Exchange – Agroecology Summer School (Summer)
Ghana: UW Ghanaian Health & Food Systems: Human, Agricultural, & Environmental Health in Ghana* (Summer)
Japan: UW Food Systems and the Environment in Northern Japan* (Summer)
Mexico: UW Linking Agriculture and Nutrition in Mexico (Summer)
Nepal: UW Global Health, Community Health, and Health Disparity in Nepal* (Summer)
Netherlands: Wageningen University Exchange (Semester)
New Zealand: Massey University Exchange (Semester)
Sri Lanka: UW Global Health, Community Health, and Asset-Based Community Development in Sri Lanka* (Winter Intersession)
Sweden: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Exchange (Semester)
Tanzania: UW Health, Education, and Tanzanian Culture in Tanzania* (Summer and Winter Intersession)
Trinidad and Tobago: University of West Indies Exchange (Semester)
Uganda: UW Agriculture, Health, and Nutrition in Uganda* (Winter Intersession)
UW Mobile Clinics and Health Care in Uganda* (Summer)
*The programs indicated above with an asterisk (*) indicates that they meet the Global Health Field Experience Requirement for the Global Health Certificate. You can find additional public/global health-related programs on the Program Search.
Additional Opportunities to consider:
- Internships or research in university or private settings abroad (check out the International Internship Program)
- Studying something completely different and focusing on your major coursework while at UW-Madison (use the Program Search to identify programs by region, country, language of instruction, duration, or subjects taught) – there are many programs that may not be directly related to your major but may complement your studies by practicing a language, learning about another culture or region, or earning credit towards an additional major or certificate.
As a Nutritional Sciences student, it is imperative that you work with your academic advisor to determine the best time to study abroad. While Nutritional Sciences students have studied abroad in Fall, Spring, Winter Break, and Summer with a four year graduation, it requires careful planning.