The PhD program in the division of nutritional sciences offers advanced multidisciplinary studies that serve as a springboard for nutrition-related careers in academia, industry, and government. The program emphasizes interdisciplinary research opportunities in laboratories run by nationally known faculty, with nutrition-related studies ranging from molecular mechanisms to complex metabolic interactions, disease-health interactions, and behavioral processes.

One of the division’s primary areas of research and training targets nutrition and chronic diseases, with a focus on obesity and associated disorders of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Other specialty areas include nutrition and oxidative stress, nutrition and aging, clinical nutrition, animal nutrition, and food science.

In addition to their research activities, PhD students must fulfill curriculum requirements, complete a dissertation, fulfill residency requirements and pass a thesis defense, as outlined in the PhD Handbook.  The program takes four to five years to complete, and there are two ways to be admitted into the PhD program: direct admission or through the IBS Program.

Graduate Program Nutritional Sciences Handbook

A detailed description of the nutritional sciences doctoral program can be found here:  Nutritional Sciences PhD Handbook.*

*NOTICE: Every effort is made to ensure that the Nutritional Sciences Graduate Handbook is accurate and up to date, it is provided for the convenience of the user.  The user is advised to consult program leadership, such as the DGS or division director, when making significant decisions that impact progress to degree.  

Prospective Students

There are two ways to be admitted into the PhD program: Direct admission or through the IBS Program.

Direct Admission Requirements:

Applicants must meet the following requirements for admission to the University of Kentucky Graduate School and the department of pharmacology and nutritional sciences, division of nutritional sciences:

  1. A baccalaureate degree from a fully accredited institution of higher learning.
  2. An MS degree with a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.2 or above on a 4.0 scale, or a BS degree with a GPA of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale.
  3. For international applicants, a minimum score of 550 out of 667 maximum possible is required on the paper-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), a minimum 213 score on the computer-based TOEFL (maximum 300), or 79 on the internet-based TOFEL. The minimum  International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) score is 6.5. All applicants must demonstrate proficiency in verbal and written English.

IBS Program Admission:

Prospective students interested in the nutritional sciences PhD program may also apply via the IBS program. The integrated biomedical sciences (IBS) program is a gateway graduate program with an undifferentiated first-year core curriculum. It serves as an entry point for six doctoral programs housed in the College of Medicine.  Upon admission, students complete coursework and engage in biomedical research through laboratory rotations that facilitate selection of a dissertation mentor.  This route of admission allows for increased exposure to basic and biomedical sciences research at the University of Kentucky. Learn more here: https://medicine.uky.edu/sites/graduate/applying-ibs


All those interested in graduate study at the University of Kentucky Graduate School must apply online.
There is a $65 application fee for domestic applicants and a $75 application fee for international applicants. Please note that the application cannot be submitted without paying this fee.

The following information must be submitted online with your application:

  1. Transcripts from all higher education institutions attended. The Graduate School requires an overall undergraduate grade point average of 2.75 and 3.00 on all graduate work.
  2. TOEFL or IELTS scores are required for all applications whose native language is not English.
    • TOEFL scores should be sent directly from ETS; the Institutional Code for the TOEFL for the University of Kentucky Graduate School is R1837.
    • IELTS scores should be sent directly from the IELTS, specifying the University of Kentucky Graduate School, Lexington, KY as the recipient institution.
  3. Curriculum vitae
  4. A brief essay, no longer than two single-spaced pages, describing long-term career goals and how the PhD program in nutritional sciences would advance these goals.
  5. Three letters of recommendation.
  6. Complete the research assistantship application form and upload with your application materials:  Research Assistantship Application.


Research Assistantships and Laboratory Rotations

  •  PhD are required to apply for a Research Assistantship, which represents an integral part of the PhD program.
  • Applicants accepted into the PhD program also may apply to participate in a Laboratory Rotation Program. This program enables students to work four to six months in as many as three laboratories before selecting an advisor.
  • Research Assistantship Application


Application Deadlines

Fall Admission Spring Admission
Domestic July 15 December 1
International February 1 August 15


Apply Now

Training Opportunities

In addition to formal coursework, students in the nutritional sciences PhD program have opportunities for immersive training in nutritional sciences by attending research seminars given by recognized experts in the field, discussing current research and publications in journal clubs, and potential travel to conferences to present their research. 

Program Contacts

Contact the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) for Nutritional Sciences or the Director of Nutritional Sciences Education for additional information about admissions, courses, or research opportunities.


Howard Glauert

DGS, Nutritional Sciences

(859) 257-7789


               Sara Police, PhD

               Director of Nutritional Sciences Education

               (859) 218-1741