Undergraduate Study

Food Systems Major FAQ


The following first- and second-year courses are suggested:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Composition or writing
  • Economics
  • Nutrition
  • Statistics
  • Courses that satisfy the Interdisciplinary Breadth requirement

Transfer students should have no difficulty completing a Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health major within two years at the University. The Washington community colleges Direct Transfer Agreement (DTA) associate degree provides great preparation for the major and key courses, such as introduction to nutrition, economics, statistics, and physiology, are readily available.

Probably. Basic human nutrition courses completed at other schools often transfer to satisfy the NUTR 200 requirement. Additional academic and college-level courses are evaluated for transfer by UW Admissions and are applied to general education and areas of knowledge requirements. See the UW Equivalency Guide for information about how community college courses will transfer to UW and read the Office of Admissions’ transfer credit policies page for additional information.

UW Admissions offers Transfer Thursdays sessions on applying for admission to the university.  Advisers from across the School of Public Health also offer drop-in advising as part of Transfer Thursdays. The UW Transfer Equivalency Guide can be used to determine how courses taken at a Washington community college will transfer to UW.

Prospective transfer students interested in learning more about the Food Systems major are encouraged to come to our info sessions or quick questions drop-in advising. Full details for these can found in our calendar. More information about connecting with our advising team can be found on our Advising page.

Applications to declare the major are due the third Friday of each quarter. Applications are reviewed to confirm minimum requirements are met and ensure the degree can be completed within the University’s satisfactory progress policies. Learn more about the steps to declare the major.

In reviewing applications, we focus on the minimum requirements to declare the major.  Grades in courses which are not part of the minimum requirements to the declare major are not considered as part of our review.

Students in the major are required to maintain a 2.0 cumulative GPA in their core Food Systems courses, including NUTR 200 (Nutrition for Today). Bearing this in mind, while a grade below 2.0 in NUTR 200 would not automatically disqualify a student from declaring the major (provided that they did earn credit for the course), it would likely prompt a conversation with advising regarding the Food Systems Major Continuation Policy and strategies for success moving forward.

Students who have already completed one bachelor’s degree who apply to UW to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in Food Systems would be considered post-baccalaureate applicants. Because UW’s primary commitment is to undergraduates who are completing their first undergraduate degree, only a small number of applicants are admitted as post-baccalaureate students. Students who have already completed an undergraduate degree who are interested in food systems or nutrition will typically be best served by instead pursuing a graduate level degree.



A food system is the interconnected web of activities that includes multiple components of food supply chains, the food environment, consumer behaviors, and health outcomes, all operating within a larger socioeconomic and geopolitical context.

Graduates of the Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health Major will have developed competency in food systems, nutrition, public health, social and economic equity, and sustainability, as well as strong liberal arts preparation in intellectual and practical skills like inquiry, analysis, communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving. See our Learning Objectives for more information.

Review the major requirements outlined on our website.

Excluding past quarters when the University of Washington was largely remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the core courses for our major have not been offered online, and we currently do not have plans to offer our core courses in an online format.  Students seeking an online degree may wish to research offerings through UW Professional and Continuing Education.

Part-time in-person enrollment may be an option for some Food Systems students. Students who wish to enroll on a part-time basis are encouraged to meet with our advisers to discuss how this might impact their degree plan. It is important to note that while our program does not require students to enroll full-time, many students, such as international students or students receiving Financial Aid or certain scholarships, may have other reasons why they need to enroll full time (at least 12 credits per quarter).

While it is not possible for a student to double major/double degree with Food Systems and another major within the School of Public Health, in some cases it may be possible to double with a major in another UW School or College.

Admitted Food Systems students who wish to pursue a double major/degree must first put together a degree plan reflecting all remaining requirements for both majors, then meet with advisers for both majors to assess whether it is possible to complete this plan within UW’s Satisfactory Progress guidelines. As part of that meeting, we will also discuss motivations for pursuing a double major/degree and challenges that can come up related to the sequencing of the core courses for the Food Systems major.



We often restrict some sections of our courses to declared Food Systems majors during Period 1 registration in order to give our majors, who need these courses to graduate, first priority. If the course has multiple discussion sections, it’s a good idea to check to see if other sections of the course are open to non-majors. If all open sections of the course are restricted to Food Systems majors, you can keep an eye on the course and try to register after the course opens to non-majors if there is space available, but you should register for another course as a backup in the meantime. You can also consult our tentative course schedule to determine when the course will next be offered.

In rare cases, an NUTR class may be coded as Food Systems majors only during all registration periods. If that is the case, then the course is only open to our majors, and students who are not declared Food Systems majors are not eligible to register.

NUTR 441 is offered through UW Professional and Continuing Education. Because of this, NUTR 441 is not covered by regular UW tuition and requires you to register and pay separately from other courses at UW.


Food Systems Related Opportunities

We frequently post food systems related volunteer and internship opportunities on the School of Public Health Student Funding and Opportunities Page. In the past, several of our students have lined up volunteer opportunities or internships at the UW Farm, UW Food Pantry, or local food banks. The UW Community Engagement and Leadership Education Center (CELE) has offered a number of food systems-related internships through their Undergraduate Community-Based Internships (UCBI) program in the past, and UW’s Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies may also be a good place to look, depending on your interests. The SPH Undergraduate Blog, Volunteer Match, and United Way of King County may also be helpful regarding volunteering opportunities.  Many farms and farm-related organizations in the Northwest organize regular volunteer days, which can be a good entry point to learning more about an organization. UW Handshake or Idealist.org can also be good places to find food systems related opportunities.

Food Systems majors hoping to earn credit for food systems related internships should review the information about NUTR 495 on our Undergraduate Internship page.

Enrolled Food Systems majors are invited to apply to our Food Systems Major Scholarships on an annual basis. Food Systems students are also eligible to apply to the School of Public Health undergraduate awards. UW’s Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships, and Awards (OMSFA) offers a scholarship database on their website that can be used to search for additional scholarship opportunities.

Joining food systems related student organizations, such as the ASUW Student Food Co-Op and the Dirty Dozen Farm Club, is a great way to get connected to other students interested in food systems.

Students who have declared the Food Systems major can also get more involved by serving on student committees, such as the Food Systems Undergraduate Student Advisory Council (U-SAC) or the School of Public Health Dean’s Advisory Council for Students (DACS). The SPH Student Center is a great place to hang out, study, and meet other students. Current students and alumni are also encouraged to join our SPH Student and Alumni Networking Group on LinkedIn.


After Graduation

The Food Systems major is not a clinical nutrition or dietetics degree and will not, alone, prepare students for that career path.

Beginning in 2024, students who want to sit for the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) exam must earn a graduate degree. The Nutritional Sciences Option in the Public Health-Global Health Major leads to a Bachelor of Science degree by providing an organized pathway of courses for students that will help in their preparation for graduate studies in nutrition or dietetics, whether at the UW or with another Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) accredited graduate program.

Choosing a major and choosing a career are often distinct processes, and most UW majors can prepare you for a wide variety of career paths. You can learn about some of those possible paths on our Careers page; however, it’s important to remember that the job titles listed on that page are only examples, and our students go in many different directions after graduation.

As a new major, many of our alumni are still early in their career paths, but the UW Career and Internship Center’s Next Destination Survey, along with our alumni profiles, can provide some insight into where students across the School of Public Health land after graduation. We also regularly share food systems related job opportunities on the School of Public Health Jobs page.