Nutritional Sciences: Toxicology

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Science (BS)

The Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology offers two undergraduate major program specializations: Physiology and Metabolism and Toxicology leading to a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. NOTE: The Nutritional Science - Dietetics major specialization has transitioned as of Fall 2024 to a graduate program following the ACEND guidelines which will require a graduate degree (the Master’s degree in Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics) for participation in the required dietetic internship for licensure.

Now is an exciting time to explore the sciences of nutrition and toxicology. The media have highlighted many questions about the role of diet in development and aging, the safety of genetically modified foods, links among diet, cancer, and chronic diseases, and the problems of global malnutrition.

The curriculum, driven by NST faculty research, covers a breadth of topics including functions and mechanisms of nutrient actions to the benefits and hazards of chemical agents, cultural and socio-economic determinants of human diets, and development of programs and policies to address human and environmental health and safety.

Overview of Specialization

The Nutritional Science: Toxicology degree combines a strong foundation in biological and chemical sciences with specialized advanced courses focusing on the hazardous and beneficial effects of natural and human-made toxic agents. From industrially produced environmental contaminants and designer drugs to herbs and food products, this field of study applies molecular and computational methods to better understand how these agents interact with living organisms and what should be done to ensure human health and safety.

Admission to the Major

Advice on admission for freshmen and transfer students can be found on the Rausser College of Natural Resources Prospective Student website. Freshmen students apply to the Nutritional Science B.S. major and then declare their specialization in Toxicology once they have completed the required subset of prerequisites for this major specialization. Freshmen applying to Rausser College may also select the Rausser College undeclared option and declare the major by the end of their fourth semester. Transfer students may apply directly to the major and indicate their intended specialization through the UC application. As of Fall 2023, applicants (both First Year/Freshman admits or Transfer admits) can no longer apply to the Toxicology major specialization. This is due to departmental and curriculum changes.

Information for current Berkeley students who would like to declare the major after admission, including information on a change of major or change of college, can be found on Rausser College's Change of College website.

Rausser College Honors Program

The honors program is individual research, NUSCTX H196, for two semesters under the supervision of a faculty member. The supervised independent honors research is specific to aspects of the Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology major, followed by an oral presentation, and written thesis report. Acceptance in the Rausser College Honors Program is required through an application process. Students who are interested in the Honors program should apply during their junior or senior year. Students must have a 3.6 grade-point average (GPA) in order to be eligible for the honors program.  Please visit Rausser College's Honors webpage to learn more.

Other Programs Offered by the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology

Nutritional Sciences: Physiology and Metabolism 

Visit Department Website

Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.

All students must complete R1A & R1B (or equivalent Reading and Comprehension course) before the end of their Sophomore year.

NOTE: The curriculum has been revised effective Fall 2016. Students admitted prior to Fall 16 and following the previous curriculum should refer to the 2015-16 Guide.

The Rausser College of Natural Resources Undergraduate Handbook serves as a guide to the academic policies and information that students need in order to be successful while completing their coursework at Berkeley:

Toxicology Specialization

For Breadth, you are required to take 14 additional units of coursework in American Cultures, Foreign Language departments, or any of these Breadth Categories: Arts & Literature, Historical Studies, International Studies, Philosophy & Values, or Social & Behavioral Sciences. Please refer to the L&S seven course breadth categories here:

Lower Division Requirements

Analytic Geometry and Calculus
and Analytic Geometry and Calculus
and Introduction to Statistics
and Calculus
and Introduction to Statistics
Methods of Mathematics: Calculus, Statistics, and Combinatorics
and Methods of Mathematics: Calculus, Statistics, and Combinatorics
Complete all of the following:
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory
Chemical Structure and Reactivity
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory
Chemical Structure and Reactivity
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory
PHYSICS 8AIntroductory Physics4
NUSCTX 11Introduction to Toxicology3
Introduction to Human Physiology
and Introduction to Human Physiology Laboratory
or INTEGBI 132
Human Physiology
and Human Physiology Laboratory
General Biology Lecture
and General Biology Laboratory

Upper Division Requirements

MCELLBI 102Survey of the Principles of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology4
MCELLBI 120Therapeutics Discovery and Development (due to changes in the Toxicology department, students will take this to satisfy NUSCTX 110 requirement.)4
NUSCTX 103Nutrient Function and Metabolism (or MCELLBI 136 [4])4
NUSCTX 160Metabolic Bases of Human Health and Diseases (due to changes in the Toxicology department, students will take this to satisfy NUSCTX 121 requirement)4
NUSCTX 170Experimental Nutrition Laboratory4
NUSCTX 190Introduction to Research in Nutritional Sciences (due to changes in the Toxicology department, students will take this to satisfy NUSCTX 193 requirement.)1
Electives: Select additional courses from the following to bring the unit total to 30 upper division units:
CIV ENG 114Environmental Microbiology3
CIV ENG 115Water Chemistry3
ESPM 100Environmental Problem Solving4
ESPM 162Bioethics and Society4
ESPM 162AHealth, Medicine, Society and Environment4
ESPM C180Air Pollution3
INTEGBI 117Medical Ethnobotany2
NUSCTX 120Eating Behavior and Disordered Eating2
INTEGBI 131General Human Anatomy3
INTEGBI 131LGeneral Human Anatomy Laboratory3
NUSCTX H196Honors Research4
NUSCTX C130Cell Biology: from Discovery to Disease4
NUSCTX 199Supervised Independent Study and Research1-4
PB HLTH 150AIntroduction to Epidemiology and Human Disease4
PB HLTH 150BHuman Health and the Environment in a Changing World3
UGIS 192CSupervised Research: Biological Sciences1-4
Other CHEM, INTEGBI, MCELLBI, PLANTBI lecture or lab courses, and any other approved courses on the Nutritional Sciences - Physiology and Metabolism electives list also accepted

College Requirements

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for graded credit, other than courses listed which are offered on a Pass/No Pass basis only. Other exceptions to this requirement are noted as applicable.
  2. A minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required.
  3. A minimum GPA of 2.0 in upper division major requirements is required.
  4. At least 15 of the 30 required upper division units must be taken in the Rausser College of Natural Resources (except for students majoring in Environmental Economics and Policy; please see the EEP major adviser for further information).
  5. A maximum of 16 units of independent study (courses numbered 97, 98, 99, 197, 198, and 199) may count toward graduation, with a maximum of 4 units of independent study per semester.
  6. No more than 1/3 of the total units attempted at UC Berkeley may be taken Pass/No Pass. This includes units in the Education Abroad Program and UC Intercampus Visitor or Exchange Programs.
  7. A maximum of 4 units of physical education courses will count toward the 120 units required for graduation.

For full details around all requirements, please see our Student Handbook:

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing and critical thinking all majors in the College require two semesters of lower division work in composition. Students must complete a first-level reading and composition course by the end of their second semester and a second-level course by the end of their fourth semester.

Foreign Language: EEP Majors only

The Foreign Language requirement is only required by Environmental Economics and Policy (EEP) majors. It may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work.

Quantitative Reasoning: EEP Majors only

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is only required by Environmental Economics and Policy (EEP) majors. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.

Undergraduate Breadth

The Physiology and Metabolism and Toxicology specializations both have a 14 unit breadth requirement for the major. Breadth courses must be taken for a letter grade. These units do not need to fall under specific breadth areas like in Letters & Science, but instead students can use as many units as they would like from any of the following areas:

  • Arts & Literature

  • Historical Studies

  • International Studies

  • Philosophy & Values

  • Social & Behavioral Sciences

  • Foreign Language coursework

  • American Cultures

  • AP/IB/A-Level exam credit in subject areas which exclude calculus/statistics, English, and any biological or physical science subjects

Undergraduate breadth units provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. Breadth courses are built into RCNR major requirements and each major requires a different number of breadth courses and categories. The EEP major is the only RCNR major that requires the entire 7 course breadth as outlined by Letters & Science. Refer to the major snapshots on each RCNR major page for for additional information.

High School Exam Credit

RCNR students may apply high school exam credit (Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, A-Level Exam) towards many College and Major Requirements. See AP Exam Equivalency Chart and Higher Level IB Exam Equivalency Chart in the RCNR Student Handbook for more information.

Units Requirements

Students must complete at least 120 semester units of courses subject to certain guidelines:

  • At least 36 units must be upper division courses, including a minimum of 15 units of upper division courses from a Rausser College of Natural Resources department (NUSCTX, ESPM, PLANTBI, ENVECON).
  • A maximum of 16 units of Special Studies coursework (courses numbered 97, 98, 99, 197, 198, or 199) is allowed towards the 120 units; a maximum of four is allowed in a given semester.
  • A maximum of 4 units of Physical Education from any school attended will count towards the 120 units.
  • Students may receive unit credit for courses graded P (including P/NP units taken through EAP) up to a limit of one-third of the total units taken and passed on the Berkeley campus at the time of graduation.

Semester Unit Minimum

All RCNR students must enroll in at least 12 units each fall and spring semester

Semester Unit Maximum

To request permission to take more than 20.5 units in a semester, please talk with your major advisor.

Semester Limit

Students admitted as freshmen must graduate within 8 fall/spring semesters at UC Berkeley. Students admitted as transfer students must graduate within 4 fall/spring semesters at UC Berkeley. Students who go on EAP and UCDC can petition for additional semesters. Summer session, UC Extension and non-UC study abroad programs do not count towards this semester limit. Students approved for double majors or simultaneous degrees in two colleges may be granted an additional semester. RCNR does not limit the number of total units a student can accrue (no unit cap).

Senior Residence Requirement

After the term in which you achieve and exceed 90 units (senior status), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence at the Rausser College of Natural Resources over at least 2 semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units taken while the student is a member of RCNR. At least one of the two terms must be a fall or spring semester. Senior residence terms do not need to be completed consecutively. All courses offered on campus for the fall, spring, and summer terms by Berkeley departments and programs and all Berkeley online ('W') courses will count. Inter-campus Visitor, Education Abroad Program, UC Berkeley Washington Program, and UC Berkeley Extension units do not count toward this requirement.

Students may use Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence Requirement, provided that six units of coursework are completed.

Modified Senior Residence Requirement

Participants in a fall, spring or summer UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program may meet a modified Senior Residence Requirement by completing 24 of their final 60 semester units in residence (excluding UCEAP). At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after senior status is reached. International travel study programs sponsored by Summer Sessions and education abroad programs offered outside of the UC system do not qualify for modified senior residence.

Most students automatically satisfy the residence requirement by attending classes for four years. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless students go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through University Extension during their senior year. In these cases, students should make an appointment to see an advisor to determine how they can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.

Grade Requirements

  • A 2.0 UC GPA is required for graduation.
  • A 2.0 average in all upper division courses required of the major program is required for graduation.
  • A grade of at least C- is required in all courses for the major.

Student Learning Goals

Nutritional Science and Toxicology Learning Goals

  1. To provide preparation in critical thinking, problem solving, and analytical skills.
  2. To provide insight and in-depth information on the interaction of natural and man-made toxicants with people and their impact on human health and disease (depth).
  3. To provide strong academic preparation for successful contributions to research, education, industry and government, and/or participation in advanced studies in health and biosciences (breadth).
  4. To inspire students to advance the health and well-being of citizens (value).

Major Map

Major Maps help undergraduate students discover academic, co-curricular, and discovery opportunities at UC Berkeley based on intended major or field of interest. Developed by the Division of Undergraduate Education in collaboration with academic departments, these experience maps will help you:

  • Explore your major and gain a better understanding of your field of study

  • Connect with people and programs that inspire and sustain your creativity, drive, curiosity and success

  • Discover opportunities for independent inquiry, enterprise, and creative expression

  • Engage locally and globally to broaden your perspectives and change the world

  • Reflect on your academic career and prepare for life after Berkeley

Use the major map below as a guide to planning your undergraduate journey and designing your own unique Berkeley experience.

View the Nutritional Sciences Major Map PDF.


In the Rausser College of Natural Resources, we provide holistic, individual advising services to prospective and current students who are pursuing major and minors in our college. We assist with a range of topics including course selection, academic decision-making, achieving personal and academic goals, and maximizing the Berkeley experience.

If you are looking to explore your options, or you are ready to declare a major, double major, or minor, contact the undergraduate advisor for your intended major. Visit our website to explore all of our advising services.

Undergraduate Advisor, Nutritional Science & Toxicology

Jay Sevilla

260 Mulford Hall

(510) 642-6730

Related Courses

Contact Information

Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology

119 Morgan Hall

Phone: 510-642-6490

Fax: 510-642-0535

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

David Moore

127 Morgan Hall

Undergraduate Advisor

Jay Sevilla

260 Mulford Hall

Phone: 510-642-6730

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