The only degree program of its kind from the institution with a legacy of over 50 years in vegetarian nutrition.

Apply now for Fall 2021

The online MS in Plant-based Nutrition

Information Session!

Join us Sunday, June 13, 2021, at 10 AM (PST) for the Master's degree information session. We'll cover the MS in Nutrition and you can ask questions and hear from faculty and staff.

Apply now!

The first 10 accepted students receive a $500 scholarship.

We're now accepting applications for Fall quarter 2021. Start your application through SOPHAS, the centralized application service for public health. Click here to learn more about SOPHAS.

The first online Master of Science (M.S.) degree program in plant-based nutrition, is coming to the school of public health at Loma Linda University.

This is a competency-based program developed in direct response to the increasing demand (registered dietitians and other health care professionals) for a graduate curriculum focused on plant-based nutrition. Over the past few years, there has been a steady increase in the number of people turning to plant-based diets or plant-based food choices for a variety of reasons which makes it critical to train registered dietitians and other health care professionals seeking to promote plant-based diets for the prevention of chronic diseases, promotion of health, and longevity. This program is not a coordinated program to train future RDNs, but for those that are already RDNs with an undergrad degree seeking a graduate degree in plant-based nutrition. For those interested in a Master’s program in nutrition that is a coordinated program, the School of Public Health offers an MPH/RDN program.

The main focus of this program is to provide evidence-based graduate training to support the role of plant-based diets for the health of the individual, population, and the planet.

The MS in Plant-based Nutrition Online

A 50+ year legacy of nutrition research and teaching

Dr. Sujatha Rajaram, PhD, talks about our core legacy in vegetarian and plant-based diets at Loma Linda University and the School of Public Health.

Plant foods, Environmental Nutrition, and Sustainable Diets

Dr. Joan Sabaté talks about his research on vegetarian diets and their health outcomes. He also shares his latest research on the impact of food production on people, populations, and the planet.

Nutrition and Physicians

Dr. Brenda Rea, MD, DrPH, RDN, shares how her degree in nutrition has helped her treat her patients in a more holistic way. Working as a clinical physician, Dr. Rea applies her knowledge of nutrition to her patient care toolbox.

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How soon are you looking to begin a Master's program?

Avg. Completion time 5 quarters (1.33 years)

48 Units

Individuals who may benefit from the program

Individuals who hold a baccalaureate degree in science, or registered dietitians, physicians, and other health professionals who desire to apply evidenced base for plant-based diets in their practice, those who want to pursue a PhD in nutrition, working professionals that need a graduate degree in nutrition that is online, health educators who want to communicate the health benefits of plant-based eating for health promotion, students motivated to promote sustainable diets, and those interested in lifestyle nutrition.

GRE not required

The GRE requirement for both master level and doctoral level programs are being waived for this academic year. This applies to any applications for the Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Summer 2021, and Autumn 2021 terms.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate a grasp of the science of nutrients essential to analyze the role of plant foods in supporting and optimizing human health and longevity
  • Employ research skills to interpret data on nutrition and apply it to health promotion and intake requirements across the life cycle
  • Develop evidence-based food guidance for plant-centered eating for optimizing health and preventing disease
  • Evaluate the impact of plant-based diets on planetary health, ecology, and the environment
  • Communicate nutrition concepts effectively to individuals and populations
  • Comprehensive examination
  • Research paper or Final written report
  • Oral presentation of a research paper or final written report

Admissions Requirements

  • BS in biology, nutrition, or equivalent field, or health professional degree (MD, DDS, etc.) from a regionally accredited institution
  • If an undergraduate degree is not science-based, then besides the listed pre-requisites additional pre-requisite courses may apply
  • Three reference letters
  • GPA of 3.2 or higher.


  • Organic Chemistry
  • Human Physiology
  • Human Nutrition or equivalent Co-Requisite
  • NUTR 506 - Nutritional Metabolism or nutritional biochemistry or equivalent

Culminating Experience (non-thesis)

The MS Nutrition program requires that students complete a culminating research activity (NUTR 694- Research) carried out under the supervision of the program faculty. The deliverable will be either a publishable peer-reviewed manuscript or a written project report. Students will also present their work in an oral presentation to their program faculty.

Meet the program faculty

The Nutrition faculty at LLUSPH are recognized as leaders in scientific inquiry and research related to vegetarian and plant-based nutrition.

Michael Paalani, DrPH, RDN

Sujatha Rajaram, PhD

Fayth Miles, PhD

Joan Sabate, MD, DrPH

Gina Siapco, DrPH

Ella Haddad, DrPH, RDN

Celine Heskey, DrPH, MS, RDN

Karen Jaceldo-Siegl, DrPH

Ifeanyi Nwachukwu, PhD

The International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition

In 2018, LLUSPH hosted the 7th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition with over 750 people in attendance.

From February 26-28, 2018, we welcomed international scientists, physicians, nutritionists, dieticians, and other health professionals representing 36 countries, to showcase the latest advances from basic science, epidemiology clinical trials in vegetarian nutrition. The congress theme was “Plant-based Nutrition for Personal, Population and Planetary Health.”

8th ICVN The International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition is held every five years with our next one scheduled in 2023.

Plant-based Nutrition for Personal, Population, and Planetary Health.

Read the 7 ICVN conference proceedings by clicking the button below.

Nutrition Research & Publications

Faculty specializing in plant-based nutrition research have conducted several clinical trials, nutritional epidemiological and nutrition education studies that have resulted in numerous journal and textbook publications, and presentations at scientific conferences.

Environmental Nutrition - Examining the interrelationships between our food choices, our environment and our health.

What is environmental nutrition? Environmental Nutrition emerged from a recognition that the complex interactions within the food system related to health and environment need to be considered simultaneously. Environmental Nutrition goes beyond the scope of current discussions on sustainable diets and systematically considers the interrelationships within food systems to necessarily incorporate a complete understanding.

Nourishing a growing population while balancing what the Earth can provide and absorb is increasingly recognized as a major global challenge. The conventional food system threatens our health and overall well-being with increased air and water pollution, toxic chemical exposure, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, soil erosion, climate change inducing greenhouse gas emissions, and loss of biodiversity. Widely held consensus among medical and public health professionals finds that today’s typical ‘diet of affluence’ contributes to a range of costly health problems, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and dementia, other neurodegenerative disorders, and various kinds of cancer. Environmental nutrition, therefore, is a useful tool for critically analyzing the wide-reaching environmental, social, and health impacts of industrial agriculture.

The environmental nutrition team brings together a wide range of experience, skills and specialties. As a core strength, the team combines a range of disciplines including epidemiology, nutrition, environmental health, biology, and environmental science. Our skills include environmental assessment, food life cycle assessment, statistical analysis, and Geographical Information Systems applications.

HAT Study - HAT stands for the Habitual Diet and Avocado Trial.

The Habitual Diet and Avocado Trial This is a large study spread across the United States, with Loma Linda University being one of the five research sites. Other collaborating research sites include the University of California at Los Angeles, Tufts University, Pennsylvania State University, and Wake Forest University. This study is an intervention with avocado or no avocado for SIX months!

The HAT study is a research project aimed to answer the question of whether eating one avocado daily for six months has an impact on the amount and distribution of fat in the body.

AHS-2 - Adventist Health Study - 2

The link between lifestyle and disease Adventist Health Studies (AHS) is a series of long-term medical research projects of Loma Linda University with the intent to measure the link between lifestyle, diet, disease, and mortality among Seventh-day Adventists. Seventh-day Adventists have a lower risk than other Americans of certain diseases. Many researchers hypothesize that this is due to the dietary and lifestyle habits ascribed to by Adventists. It provides a special opportunity to answer scientific questions about how diet and other health habits affect the risk of developing certain chronic diseases.

With 96,000 Adventist participants in the U.S. and Canada, AHS-2 is one of the largest and most comprehensive studies of diet and cancer in the world.

More studies - Research with an eye on plant-based foods

The Walnuts and Healthy Aging Study The first large study to test if walnuts play a part in healthy aging, particularly with regard to cognition, eye health, inflammation, risk factors for heart disease, and nutritional status.

The Soy Study The purpose of this study is to test the health benefits of a powdered food made from fermented soybeans. The primary goal of this study is to determine whether this powdered fermented soy food can lower the risk factors for heart disease and other conditions.