Transform the Future of Plant-Based Nutrition

online only (combines synchronous and asynchronous classes)

The Master of Science in Plant-based Nutrition at Loma Linda University's (LLU) School of Public Health (SPH) is an innovative program designed to meet the growing demand for expertise in plant-based nutrition. As the first of its kind, it builds on LLU's rich legacy in vegetarian nutrition.

This MS program provides students with advanced training in nutritional science, emphasizing plant-based nutrition through both coursework and non-course activities. Our evidence-based curriculum focuses on the role of plant-based dietary practices in human health and the environment. We offer a variety of courses that explore the impact of plant-based diets on disease prevention, health promotion, and longevity.

The program requires a minimum of 48 units and culminates in a research project with either a publishable manuscript or a written report. As a non-thesis MS program, it also includes a written comprehensive examination.


Connect with Michael Paalani, Program Director, at

Career Opportunities

This program prepares students for diverse careers in nutrition, including:

  • Promoting plant-based nutrition in health-care facilities, wellness industry, and food service
  • Leadership roles in academia, government, or food industry
  • Evidence-based communication of plant-based nutritional science
  • Research in academic or industry settings
  • Health education and lifestyle disease prevention
  • Environmental sustainability initiatives

Program details

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the program, the graduate should be able to:

  • Demonstrate 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 optimal health and prevent disease
  • Evaluate the impact of plant-based diets on planetary health, ecology, and the environment
  • Communicate nutrition concepts effectively to individuals and populations
  • Educational Effectiveness Indicators

Comprehensive examination

  • Research paper or Final written report
  • Oral presentation of research paper or final written report

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.

Legacy of Vegetarian Nutrition

Pioneers and leaders in vegetarian nutrition research at LLUH. Our researchers have contributed to growing the science in this field from the early days of establishing the adequacy of vegetarian diets to ongoing research on the role of plant-based diets, plant foods, and plant nutrients for health promotion and disease prevention, to more recently growing the research in the area of sustainability and planetary health.

Currently, the faculty in the nutrition program at LLUSPH are recognized as leaders in scientific inquiry and research related to vegetarian and plant-based nutrition.

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.

Meet the Program Director

Michael Paalani, DrPH, MS, RDN, CDCES, CHES, EP-C

Program Director

Michael Paalani, DrPH, MS, RDN plant-based Nutrition program director

Application Deadline

Domestic and International
Quarter SOPHAS: All Applicants Secondary: All Applicants
Spring 2025 February 1, 2025 February 15, 2025
Fall 2025 August 1, 2025 August 15, 2025


Admissions Requirements

  • BS in biology, nutrition, or equivalent field, or health professional degree (MD, DDS, etc.) from a regionally accredited institution
  • If 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

Financial Aid, Scholarships, & Assistance

Program Cost

Get details on the standard cost of attendance on the LLU website.

Prerequisites and Corequisite

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Human Physiology
  • Human Nutrition or equivalent


  • NUTR 506 - Nutritional Metabolism or nutritional biochemistry or equivalent