The Master’s Programme in Human Nutrition and Food-Related Behaviour (HNFB) focuses on human nutrition and food-related behaviour and consumption from the perspectives of public health nutrition, nutritional physiology and the social sciences.

The programme is built around human nutrition, food-related behaviour and consumership, as well as related research methods. Themes based on Sustainable Development Goals - such as good health and wellbeing, zero hunger, equality, ecological and cultural sustainability– are embedded throughout the programme.

Why Human Nutrition and Food-Related Behaviour?

Why do we eat the way we do? What happens to food in our body? How does nutrition maintain our health? How do we study the way people use food? How does culture influence our food choices? How is food discussed in the media? How can we change food-related behaviour?

The goal of the Master’s programme is to enable you to:

  • Understand the significance of nutrition to human physiology and health
  • Learn to analyse the physiological, psychological, social and cultural aspects that are linked to food choices of individuals and communities
  • Recognise the diversity of food and nutritional issues and ways to influence them

Upon graduation, you are qualified to work in expert, teaching, research and managerial positions in the public sector, NGOs and companies, and as an independent entrepreneur. The education provides you with profound field-specific competence and skills in knowledge work, as well as a solid professional identity.

Structure and content

With a scope of 120 credits (ECTS), the Master’s Programme in Human Nutrition and Food-Related Behaviour can be completed in two academic years. The programme includes two study lines – human nutrition and food-related behaviour – one of which you choose during the application process. More information about applicable studies for each study track is shown here

The degree comprises:

  • 75 credits of advanced studies, including the Master’s thesis (30 credits)
  • 45 credits of other studies, which can include studies from your own degree programme or other degree programmes, a practical training period or international studies
  • Career orientation and career planning
  • A personal study plan

The programme focuses on:

  • The role of nutrition and other lifestyle factors in promoting health and preventing illness
  • The mechanisms through which food impacts our body at the molecular biology level
  • Food choices and consumption behaviour, and means of influencing them through policies, interventions and communication
  • Food services and their management
  • Food culture and social movements
  • Theories and research methods in the fields of nutrition and food-related behaviour

The multidisciplinary nature of the Master’s Programme provides numerous options for other studies. You can also choose studies at other Finnish or international universities.

More information about the structure, content and study tracks of the programme.

Language of instruction

The Master’s programme is multilingual, with teaching provided in Finnish and English. You can complete the degree in English, Finnish or Swedish.

Courses and teaching

The courses in the Master's Programme in Human Nutrition and Food-Related Behaviour incorporate different methods of study, such as:

  • Contact teaching, lectures
  • Group work
  • Oral presentations
  • Written reports (individual, pair, group)
  • Independent study
  • Laboratory work and other assignments and related reports
  • Learning journals, oral group examinations, written examinations, take-home essays
  • Seminars

The diversity of learning methods enhances your development and application of critical thought, argumentation and problem-solving skills.

Information about the core modules and courses.

Check out courses offered in the HNFB programme in the online course catalogue for University of Helsinki students in the Studies service.

The University of Helsinki also offers Finnish courses for international students.

Master's thesis

For the Master's Thesis (30 ECTS) you study and analyse a significant topic related to this Master’s programme. You can write the thesis in connection with a larger research project, in collaboration with companies and public institutions, or independently. It takes about 6 months of full-time work to complete the thesis.

During the semester when you start to plan you Master’s thesis, you also start the Master’s thesis seminar (5 ECTS). This is an obligatory seminar for all students. In this seminar, you will get guidance from the teachers, and also peer support and comments from other students who are at the same stage in the HNFB programme. We aim at true multidisciplinarity and therefore all students in this seminar are in one group, regardless of the topic of their thesis. 

The advanced literature examination (5 ECTS) takes place in the end of the programme. The examination is separate for the two study tracks. The examination may include reading scientific journals, mainly review articles, and/or very advanced text books. The idea of the examination is to bring you back to all relevant issues of this Master’s programme and it will also make you realize how much you have learned. 

Doctoral education

As a graduate from the Master’s Programme in Human Nutrition and Food-Related Behaviour, you can apply for doctoral education at the University of Helsinki and other universities in and outside Finland.

Suitable doctoral programmes offered by the University of Helsinki include:

Further information about the doctoral programmes at the University of Helsinki.


Students and student life

Student life and especially the student organisation culture is exceptionally rich and diverse in Finland. Also at the University of Helsinki, more than 250 student organisations operate within the Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY), ranging from faculty and subject organisations to political and societal organisations, and from choirs and orchestras to sports and game clubs. Their activities include anniversary celebrations, academic dinner parties, cultural events, get-togethers and excursions.

As a student and member of the Student Union (HYY), you are entitled to many benefits and services. For example, affordable student housing, low-cost sports services and student-priced meals. You also get numerous discounts, for example on public transport fees across the country. 

Read more about student life, services and benefits when studying at the University of Helsinki.

Do you have questions about studies or student life? You can get answers to your questions by chatting directly with University of Helsinki students. Chat with our students!

Applicable studies for the HNFB programme

Ap­plic­able stud­ies to the Hu­man Nu­tri­tion study track

In the Human Nutrition study track the students deepen their knowledge in nutrition science.

• Previous studies in nutrition science (for example in nutritional physiology, public health nutrition) are a prerequisite for enrollment.

Nutrition science is a multidisciplinary field that has its foundations in human biology. For that reason, the applicant should ideally have completed university-level studies also from the following fields:

• sciences (chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology);

• human biology (cell biology, anatomy, physiology, pathology);

• food science (food chemistry, food technology).

Examples of applicable BSc degrees are those in Human Nutrition or Dietetics, Food Sciences (provided that the studies including human biology and nutrition) or other Life Sciences (provided that the studies include human biology, and nutrition). Applicants with Bachelor´s degree from other fields may be applicable if they have completed (additional) university-level studies on relevant fields.

Read more: How to apply

Ap­plic­able stud­ies to the Food-re­lated Be­ha­viour study track

In the Food-Related Behaviour study track the students will extend their social or behavioral scientific expertise to questions related with food and eating.

In order to apply for the Food-Related Behaviour study track, the applicant's earlier studies should be from the social or behavioural sciences. The most applicable fields include sociology, social psychology, psychology, anthropology, home economics, consumer economics, and consumption studies. It is a further benefit if the earlier university studies include also nutrition or food-related courses. In addition, the applicant should have completed courses in qualitative and/or quantitative research methods in social or behavioural sciences.

Read more: How to apply