Plant-based Nutrition Certification Cornell University Q & A: Part 1

Fellow foodies…
From the minute I announced the fact that I was closing in on completing the course requirements for Certification in Plant-Based Nutrition via Cornell University, my email box and facebook messaging have been sizzling with questions about the course.

Perhaps your questions are among them. Actually, I’ve answered every single message that came my way (and if for some reason yours didn’t get answered, my sincere apologies and send it again, OK?)

I consider any quest to walk down this path of study and deepen ones understanding of the why’s and wherefore’s worthy of my complete attention and respect.

There is nothing that promises health, a trim energetic physique, and glowing vitality, when it comes to nutrition, as a whole-foods, plant -based diet.

So, I thought I’d put together a quick review of the course for future reference, by sharing my responses to some of these questions here and by also posting an outline of the course topics.

Here is a sampling of some of the questions I’ve received:

1)   Was the course relatively easy to complete? Were you able to do so in a timely manner?

2)  Did you feel the information you learned was fresh and interesting or did you feel you already knew a lot of it?

3) What did you like best about the program? What didn’t you like? What could they have improved on?

4)  How would you rate the program overall? Was it worth the time, energy and money?

5)  Please give me a general sense of your feeling and whether you would recommend it to me.

6)  Do you think this material would provide me enough info to teach/coach others about plant-based nutrition?

7)  It sounds like you are loving the e-program from Cornell. I just wanted to make sure you felt that there was a good return on your investment before I sign up.

And perhaps the juiciest question of all:

8)  Please answer one question for us in regard to your course:  What is the most important thing you learned?

Here are some of my responses

  • As you know, I’m such a geek about the topic of plant-based nutrition that there was familiar material yet lots of new content as well.
  • What did I like best about the program? Going through the course deepened my foundation for coaching and teaching others about a whole foods, plant-based diet. It also provided more current information, backed by research. Deciding whether or not to take this course might depend also on what you are looking to achieve if considering this course – personal or professional?  As an adjunct to my decades of experience and education in the health and physical education field, this course has been a valuable addition to my coaching practice.  Any professional health educator and coach should have additional degrees or certifications in the field of health education if wanting to be in the position of counseling or coaching others. For personal benefit, there is no question that this sequence of instruction will provide you with comprehensive, well organized material.
  • Breadth and depth were impressive. I would have improved the way the forums worked as they were mechanically challenging at times – and I’ve worked a lot of forums.  Yet this actually helped keep the required discussions and essay replies focused.
  • As I said, a decision to take this course depends on what you want to achieve.  There is lots of content regarding plant-based diet on the internet, yet with the course it is presented in logical sequence and in depth for use and includes some proprietary content.
  • Synthesis of content was required in many of the assignments.  For example, composing pertinent letters to legislators and media demanded a working knowledge of the topic(s).
  • Time investment. The full 3 courses that comprise the Plant-based Nutrition Certification are ‘officially’ equivalent to 19 hours of continuing education.  This translates to roughly 5 hours of time a week, depending on how much you engage with your instructor and classmates.  Module 3 was the lengthiest and had the most components, so that was the heaviest week in terms of time devoted.
  • I would also recommend the Plant-based Nutrition Course of Study at eCornell  for anyone who wants a good understanding of the history of our current dietary prejudices (protein, fat, supplements), as well as to deepen their practical, teaching and coaching practice of plant-based diet.

As for my work, I now have plenty of content for months of FitDream Fusion Inner Circle Membership Calls. As if I was running out of ideas.

I”ll respond to juicy #8 in a separate post.

Read part 2 of this series here:  Protein madness and special interests, aka the #1 thing I learned in plant-based nutrition school

For now, here’s an overview of the course with topics. And a list of the luminary lecturers:  T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, John McDougall,  Brendan Brazier, Jeff Novick, Hans Diehl, Pam Popper, Matt Lederman…


This program is also eligible for 19 AMA PRA Category 1 Continuing Medical Education credits.  Continuing Medical Education (CME) refers to a specific form of continuing education that helps those in the medical field maintain competence and learn about new and developing areas of their field.  Along with the CMEs you are able to earn 19 Nursing Contact hours and 19 Pharmacy CE hours.
Table of Contents

T. Colin Campbell Foundation & eCornell
TCC 501 Nutrition Fundamentals
all lectures by Dr. Colin Campbell
501 Lecture 1 State of Health
501 Lecture 2 Protein: A Revered Nutrient
501 Lecture 3 China Project
501 Lecture 4 Nutrition Fundamentals I
501 Lecture 5 Nutrition Fundamentals II
501 Lecture 6 Fat: A Less than Revered Nutrient

TCC 502 Diseases of Affluence
502 Lecture 1 Calories, Obesity, Diabetes- Dr. Colin Campbell
502 Lecture 2 Pleasure Trap-Dr. Doug Lisle
502 Lecture 3 Heart Disease-Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn
502 Lecture 4 Diet and Cancer I- Dr. Colin Campbell
502 Lecture 5 Diet and Cancer II- Dr. Colin Campbell
502 Lecture 6 Diet and Cancer III- Dr. Colin Campbell
502 Lecture 7 Chronic Diseases- Dr. Colin Campbell
502 Lecture 8 Principles of Nutritional Health- Dr. Colin Campbell

TCC 503 Principles in Practice
503 Lecture 1 Nutrition in Public Schools- Dr. Antonia Dumas
503 Lecture 2 Nutrition in Medical Clinics- Dr. John McDougall
503 Lecture 3 503 Supplements- Dr. Matt Lederman
Lecture 4 503 Label Reading- Jeff Novick, RD
Lecture 5a 503 Environment Intro- Dr. Colin Campbell
Lecture 5b 503 Environment I- Dr. David Pimentel
Lecture 5c 503 Environment II- Dr. Bruce Monger
Lecture 6 503 Corporate Wellness Programs- Dr. Pam Popper
Lecture 7a 503 Elite Athletes I- Dr. Colin Campbell
Lecture 7b 503 Elite Athletes II- Brendan Brazier
Lecture 8 Health Policy -Dr. Colin Campbell

T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.
Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry,
Cornell University
For more than forty years, Dr. T. Colin Campbell has been at the forefront of nutrition research. His legacy, the China Project, is the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted. Dr. Campbell is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. He has received more than seventy grant-years of peer-reviewed research funding and published more than 300 research papers. He is coauthor with Thomas M. Campbell II of the bestselling book, The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health.


Have you completed this course?  Share your thoughts about same below in ‘Leave a Reply’  if so, and be sure to let me know if you have any more questions!

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  1. Fascinating Lani and thank you so much for taking the time to tell more about your experience. Frankly, I’m grateful that I know I can come to you and ask any question and you always either know the answer or send me to an article that gives me all kinds of great information.

    What a great service and thanks for everything you do.

    Now, for Part 2!


    • Lani

      Gwen, I’m so glad you are enjoying the review and am so happy to see you feel you can come to me with any question. I always say I don’t know everything yet I can usually direct you to answers and articles if I don’t have an answer at my fingertips, so that you can make your own decision.

      Thank you for your lovely post. Part 2 pending!


  2. Lani, thanks for this review. I would agree that the course deepened my understanding of plant-based nutrition. I’m like a sponge with anything plant-based so I was immediately drawn to an opportunity to obtain this information in a more formalized way and have access to so many experts. That being said, I felt that the opportunity (or lack thereof) to have live interaction with experts was a gap in this course. While the forums and the slide decks with pre-recorded audio were useful, a weekly phone call with industry experts would have added value to the course and provided a venue for asking questions/getting answers directly from the source. That, and the fact that there is no advanced courses (which may leave one with a feeling of “now what?”) would be my only criticisms.

    • Lani

      Lynda, you are exactly right and thank you for bringing your thoughts forward because I had forgotten about these same thoughts myself. Perfect!

      I did have a lot of questions as the course proceeded that I would have liked to ask the experts. I asked them of the instructors, who were very gracious about my persistence 😉 and they did due diligence in finding references for me, but I wanted to get clarifications direct from the presenters themselves.

      I think your idea for a weekly ‘live’ call with an expert – where they could field Q and A – is an excellent idea – have you presented same to eCornell in your course evaluation or elsewhere?



  3. Hi Lani Muelrath

    I just find your blog today because I try to change the way I eat in summer time and try some workout….
    And your article about” Plant-based Nutrition Certification Cornell UV” is very interesting . Thanks to share your expereince with us.

    • Lani

      Hey Jenny! So glad you came to the blog and I hope you enjoy the information you find here. I aim to provide news you can use, motivation, and inspiration as well as FUN so welcome! And if you’re looking for Plant-based support, well baby, you’ve found it!

      Thanks again and welcome!


  4. Hi,

    How many weeks did the course take to complete? Assuming each week had 5 – 6 hours of effort, I would then know the total work commitment.

    Also, was there any testing involved? If yes, how rigorous was it? Did it require a lot of intense prep time? Were they multiple choice, essay, etc.? How many tests wrere there, and how long did they take to complete them?

    When done with the course, have you found that ECornell has provided any meaningful way of demonstrating that you have acquired meaningful knowledge, skills, etc. via testing or some other way?

    I ask because I am considering other courses, and I wanted this input to help with my decision. Thanks for your help.


    • Lani

      Hi John,

      The weeks it takes depends on which option you go with, back-to-back or spread out, as there are three modules. I did them back-to-back and completed the course in, I believe, 6 – 8 weeks.

      There were some multiple choice questions yet the most provocative assignments were the tasks for taking a stand or position on issues in a given setting. This required one to have assimilated the content and direct useful information accordingly.

      Hope this helps you,

  5. what was the cost of the course?

  6. Looking for a course for my 19 year old to learn to be a host of health coach- nutritionist. Do you have any recommdations for an “in person” school?

  7. Lani Muelrath

    Hi Jill!

    Sounds like an exciting plan for your son! Sorry, no recommendations I can think of at this time.

  8. Hi! What exactly can you do with the certification once you have it? Anything with a career, or would it be more of an extension to something like a nutritionist or RD?

    • Lani Muelrath

      Hi Christina,

      It can enhance any other credentials you have for teaching, training, and ooaching in health. You can’t prescribe diets for people but you can give them a boatload of information about good foods to eat, unhealthy foods to avoid, and what a good day of eating would include. An RD or nutritionist would benefit too.


  9. I’m a pharmacist who is interested personally in this course. Do you think it would be do-able with a 40 work week?

    • Lani Muelrath

      Hi Denise,

      Yes, you’d just need to stretch the time out a little bit. When I went through there were 3 segments to the course and you could do one at a time, another way to pace things.


  10. Well lets see from what I am reading this certificate currently is over $1260 for a 3 weeks course, some broad I know who in fact completed this course proudly blasted in on facebook, whoopie. Big deal. It sounds like a waste of money to me and the other reviewers even tell you who the authors are, you might as well just do the research yourself, but some people are lazy & like to think they are smart or are looking for a pat on the back, especially when they cannot get into a real university or are using this certificate to tout their knowledge on nutrition. Well you can know it all but no one will listen to someone who does not practice what they preach.

    • Lani Muelrath

      I found great value in the course. Sure, you can do lots of research and reading from these authors and educators from their books and online and glean a great deal of knowledge. One of the positives about the course was working with an instructor and being tasked with application of principles in various teaching and clinical settings, as well as interaction with classmates. There is also a progression and files as well as recordings proprietary to the course.


  11. Hi, I was just wondering if you have any idea, I live in UK, I know this is an e-course, but I would be able to do it even if I’m not in the US? Also, doing it part time, how long does it take? None of that info is on their website I don’t think..

    Thank you x

    • Lani Muelrath


      You can do the entire course online from anywhere in the world. I took 6 weeks to go through all three courses as I wanted to focus on the program and complete the requirements. This entials not only reading and tests, but completing written assignments and interacting with our members in the course.

      Let me know what you decide and I hope this helps!

  12. Today i spent 300 $ for platinium roulette system , i hope that i will make my first cash online

  13. I have and BEd and MSW degrees but do not presently work in either education or social work. Are there any opportunities for credentialing and potential opportunities based on my background?

    I am very committed to the lifestyle and benefits of Plant-Based Nutrition.

    Thank you

    • Lani Muelrath

      Hi Joanne,

      I am not certain what your question is. Any opportunities for credentialing in plant-based nutrition? You can certainly enroll in the course and work toward a certification – is that what you mean?



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