Nutritional Sciences

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies.

Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.)

Scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are not required for admission.

College graduates with an undergraduate degree in nutrition, dietetics, public health or related health sciences will be considered for admission. Applicants should have a minimum grade-point average of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) and three supporting recommendations. Exceptions may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests at the discretion of the program. When openings are limited, the best-qualified candidates are given priority.

The basic expectations for admission from undergraduate studies include:

  • 3 credits in physiology (or 6 credits in Anatomy & Physiology I and II),
  • 3 credits in biochemistry,
  • 3 credits in organic chemistry,
  • 3 credits in introductory nutrition (equivalent to or more advanced than NUTR 251 at Penn State), and
  • 3 credits in advanced nutrition.

If these courses were taken more than 10 years prior to application, they may be accepted at the Programs Director's discretion. Students can be provisionally admitted to the program without these basic expectations, but they must complete all identified deficiencies with a 3.00 grade-point average or above on a 4.0 scale within the first two semesters after acceptance, prior to beginning graduate course work.

Experiential Track of the M.P.S. Program

College graduates with an undergraduate degree in nutrition, dietetics, public health or related health sciences will be considered for admission. Applicants should have a minimum grade-point average of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) and three supporting recommendations. Exceptions may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests at the discretion of the program. Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are not required for admission.

The basic expectations for admission to the Experiential Track from undergraduate studies include:

  • 3 credits in physiology (or 6 credits in Anatomy & Physiology I and II),
  • 3 credits in biochemistry,
  • 3 credits in organic chemistry,
  • 3 credits in introductory nutrition (equivalent to or more advanced than NUTR 251 at Penn State),
  • 3 credits in Lifecycle Nutrition,
  • 3 credits in Nutrient Metabolism (macronutrient and micronutrient), and
  • 3 credits in Medical Nutrition Therapy.

In addition, students must have a total of 500 hours of appropriately documented work or volunteer experience completed within two years of application. Of the 500 hours, 300 hours must be in a nutrition or dietetics-related field.

If any of these courses were completed more than 10 years prior to application, they may be accepted at the Program Director's discretion. The exception is if Medical Nutrition Therapy was taken more than 5 years prior to application, it may be accepted at Program Director’s discretion.

For students with a bachelor’s degree from an ACEND accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD), a DPD Verification Statement is required for admission into the Experiential Track of the graduate program.

Students can be provisionally admitted to the Experiential Track of the M.P.S. program without these basic expectations, but they must complete all identified deficiencies with a B grade (3.00 on a 4.0 scale) within the first two semesters after acceptance, prior to taking the following courses: NUTR 800 Food Systems and Organization Management and NUTR 895A, NUTR 895B and NUTR 895C. Students previously matriculated in the M.P.S. program (graduate degree only) must complete an Assessment of Prior Learning form before enrolling in NUTR 895A, NUTR 895B, or NUTR 895C.

Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), or from the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), are required for admission. At the discretion of the graduate program, the GRE or other test scores may be waived for an individual on a case-by-case basis.

College graduates with an undergraduate degree in nutrition, animal sciences, food science, dietetics, or a related biological or social science will be considered for admission. Applicants should have a minimum grade-point average of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale), an acceptable score on the GRE (an average quantitative and verbal score above the fiftieth percentile), and three supporting recommendations. Exceptions may be made at the discretion of the program for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests. When openings are limited, the best-qualified applicants are given priority.

The basic expectations for admission from undergraduate studies include: 6 credits in chemistry (organic and inorganic); 3 credits each in physiology, biochemistry, and nutrition; and physics, calculus, and analytical chemistry for some research areas in nutrition science, and social science for public health and community nutrition. Students with more than 8 credits of deficiency and a superior record may be provisionally admitted to the graduate degree program. The deficiencies identified must be made up with a 3.00 grade-point average or better within the first two semesters.

Degree Requirements

Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies.

The program can be completed on a full-time basis in 24 months or students may elect to complete the program on a part-time basis. Requirements for the completion of the Master of Professional Studies in Nutritional Sciences degree include 30 credits at the 500 and 800 level, with a minimum of 6 credits of 500-level course work:

Required Courses
NUTR 805Advanced Nutrient Metabolism4
NUTR 540Research Methods3
NUTR 801Leadership in the Nutrition Profession2
NUTR 810Nutritional Assessment and Diagnosis3
NUTR 820Advanced Clinical Nutrition3
NUTR 830Advanced Nutrition and Health Program Planning3
NUTR 840Advanced Nutrition Counseling3
NUTR 850Leadership Concepts and Application for the Nutrition Professional3
STAT 500Applied Statistics3
Electives
Elective credits may be chosen from a list of approved electives maintained by the program office.
Culminating Experience
NUTR 860Capstone Project in Nutritional Sciences2-5
Total Credits30

All students must enroll in NUTR 860 and successfully complete the Capstone Project in order to earn the M.P.S. degree. Depending on the nature of the proposed Capstone Project, the program will approve between 2 and 5 credits of NUTR 860 to count towards the degree requirements for a total of 30 credits (minimum). Elective credits may be chosen from a list of approved electives maintained by the program office.

Experiential Track of the M.P.S. Program

Upon completion of the Experiential Learning track of the M.P.S. degree program, students will receive a Verification Statement which qualifies them to take the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credentialing examination.

In addition to the 30 credits, as described above for the M.P.S. degree, students accepted into the Experiential Track of the M.P.S. Program will be required to take the following additional courses:

Required Courses
NUTR 800Food Systems and Organization Management3
NUTR 895AInternship-Clinical2
NUTR 895BInternship-Food Systems and Organization Management2
NUTR 895CInternship-Community2
Total Credits9


The total number of credits required for completion of the Experiential Track of the M.P.S. Program is 39 credits (minimum).

Master of Science (M.S.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

The graduate program in Nutritional Sciences offers the M.S. degree with an emphasis in basic nutritional sciences, applied human nutrition, or nutrition in public health. The M.S. degree requires a minimum of 30 credits of course work at the 400, 500, 600, or 800 level, including at least 12 credits in 500-level courses and 6 credits in thesis research (NUTR 600 or NUTR 610).

Required Courses
NUTR 501Regulation of Nutrient Metabolism I4
NUTR 502Regulation of Nutrient Metabolism II3
NUTR 520Readings in Nutrition2
NUTR 551Seminar in Nutrition1
4 additional credits at the 500 level from a list maintained by the program4
Supporting Courses
ENGL 418Advanced Technical Writing and Editing (or equivalent)3
3 credits in Statistics3
Electives
Elective credits may be chosen from a list of approved electives maintained by the program office. Students pursuing an M.S. degree with an emphasis in nutrition and public health are required to complete a 4-credit field experience.4
Culminating Experience
NUTR 600Thesis Research6
or NUTR 610 Thesis Research Off Campus
Total Credits30

Students must write and defend a master's thesis accepted by the advisers and committee members, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass a thesis defense.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

The Ph.D. requires a minimum of 25 credits of course work at the 400, 500, 600, or 800 level, including 13 credits in the following core required courses:

Required Courses
NUTR 501Regulation of Nutrient Metabolism I4
NUTR 502Regulation of Nutrient Metabolism II3
NUTR 520Readings in Nutrition1
NUTR 551Seminar in Nutrition1
4 additional credits at the 500 level from a list maintained by the program4
Electives
12 elective credits chosen in consultation with advisers and Ph.D. committee, from a list of approved electives maintained by the program office12
Total Credits25

In addition, one credit of NUTR 520, NUTR 551 or NUTR 590 per year is required until after the semester in which the Comprehensive Exam is passed.

Students must pass a qualifying examination designed to assess the student's potential and academic preparation for doctoral study. Qualifying examinations must be scheduled in compliance with Graduate Council policy. For students with a master's degree, the qualifying examination must be scheduled prior to earning 24 graduate credits or prior to completing 3 semesters following admission to the graduate program, whichever comes first. The qualifying examination is administered and evaluated by the Graduate Qualifying Examination Committee. After completion of the qualifying examination, each student will form a Ph.D. committee comprised of Graduate Faculty internal and external to the Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences, in accordance with Graduate Council requirements. Students must pass a comprehensive examination, the specific format and content of which is determined in consultation with the Ph.D. committee. A successful defense of the dissertation proposal and the writing of a satisfactory dissertation accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, along with the passing of a final oral examination in Nutritional Sciences, is required.

English Competence

Written and oral English competency will be determined by the qualifying examination committee and remediation assigned, if necessary. Competence must be formally attested by the program before the doctoral student's comprehensive examination is scheduled.

Dual-Titles

Dual-Title Ph.D. Degree in Nutritional Sciences and Clinical and Translational Sciences

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-208 Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs.

This dual-title degree program emphasizes interdisciplinary scholarship at the interface of basic sciences, clinical sciences, and human health. Students in the dual-title program are required to have two advisers from separate disciplines: one individual serving as the primary adviser in the Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences and another individual serving as the secondary adviser in an area covered by the dual-title program who is a member of the Clinical and Translational Sciences faculty.

Doctoral students with research and educational interests in clinical and translational science may apply for the Dual-Title Ph.D. Degree in Nutritional Sciences and Clinical and Translational Sciences following admission to the Graduate School and Nutritional Sciences and prior to taking the qualifying examination in Nutritional Sciences. An admissions committee comprised of faculty affiliated with the dual-title program will evaluate applicants. Applicants must have a graduate GPA of at least 3.5 in a research area related to human health. Prospective dual-title program students will write a statement of purpose that addresses the ways in which their research and professional goals will be enhanced by an interdisciplinary course of study in clinical and translational sciences.

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in Nutritional Sciences and The Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. After admission to their primary program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the Clinical and Translational Sciences dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the Clinical and Translational Sciences Bulletin page. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in Clinical and Translational Sciences prior to taking the qualifying examination in their home department.

To qualify for the dual-title degree, students must satisfy the degree requirements for the Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences. In addition, students pursuing the dual-title Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences and Clinical and Translational Sciences must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title Ph.D. in Clinical and Translational Sciences, listed on the Clinical and Translational Sciences Bulletin page. Approximately 12 credits of course work required for the CTS dual-title may also be counted as required elective courses for the Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences.

The qualifying examination committee for the dual-title Ph.D. degree will be composed of Graduate Faculty from Nutritional Sciences and must include at least one Graduate Faculty member from the Clinical and Translational Sciences program. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. There will be a single qualifying examination, containing elements of both Nutritional Sciences and Clinical and Translational Sciences. Dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the qualifying examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for Ph.D. committees, the Ph.D. committee of a Nutritional Sciences and Clinical and Translational Sciences dual-title Ph.D. student must include at least one member of the Clinical and Translational Sciences Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the Ph.D. committee is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in Clinical and Translational Sciences, the member of the committee representing Clinical and Translational Sciences must be appointed as co-chair. The Clinical and Translational Sciences representative on the student’s Ph.D. committee will develop questions for and participate in the evaluation of the comprehensive examination.

Students in the dual-title program are required to write and orally defend a dissertation on a topic that is approved in advance by their Ph.D. committee and reflects their original research and education in Nutritional Sciences and Clinical and Translational Sciences. Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) to earn the Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the Tuition & Funding section of The Graduate School’s website. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set by The Graduate School.

Graduate assistantships are only available for students in the M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs.

Courses

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Nutrition (NUTR) Course List

Learning Outcomes

Master of Science (M.S.)

  1. Know: Students will demonstrate knowledge of the basic principles of nutrition science and an understanding of the primary literature both in basic and applied areas of research. The core demonstration will include comprehension of current knowledge in the field and an understanding of study design, methods, results, and significance and the application of this comprehension/understanding to problems in biology, biochemistry, medicine, and public health.
  2. Apply/Create: Students will be able to synthesize the research findings in their specialty area and generate ideas for a novel research project; they will be able to articulate the rationale for the proposed novel research project and clearly describe a specific hypothesis to be tested; they will demonstrate the ability to use best practices in the field of nutrition science to design a research study to test this hypothesis and carry it to completion.
  3. Communicate: Students will be able to convey ideas or arguments in clear, concise, well-organized papers and proposals as well as in formal, oral presentations.
  4. Critical thinking: Students will master the ability to critique the primary nutrition science literature. This will be demonstrated by the student’s ability to identify the research question, experimental design and conclusions in a scientific article in the field; they will also be able to apply their knowledge of statistics and experimental design to critique methodology and conclusions in a scientific article in the field.
  5. Professional practice: Students will demonstrate knowledge and comprehension of research ethics issues which are relevant to the field of nutrition science including working with animal and human populations, ethical principles related to authorship, plagiarism, and conflicts of interest. They will also contribute to the profession through service.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

  1. Know: Students will demonstrate knowledge of the basic principles of nutrition science and an understanding of the primary literature both in basic and applied areas of research. The core demonstration will include comprehension of current knowledge in the field and an understanding of study design, methods, results, and significance and the application of this comprehension/understanding to problems in biology, biochemistry, medicine, and public health.
  2. Apply/Create: Students will be able to synthesize the research findings in their specialty area and generate ideas for a novel research project; they will be able to articulate the rationale for the proposed novel research project and clearly describe a specific hypothesis to be tested; they will demonstrate the ability to use best practices in the field of nutrition science to design a research study to test this hypothesis and carry it to completion.
  3. Communicate: Students will be able to convey ideas or arguments in clear, concise, well-organized papers and proposals as well as in formal, oral presentations.
  4. Critical thinking: Students will master the ability to critique the primary nutrition science literature. This will be demonstrated by the student’s ability to identify the research question, experimental design and conclusions in a scientific article in the field; they will also be able to apply their knowledge of statistics and experimental design to critique methodology and conclusions in a scientific article in the field.
  5. Professional practice: Students will demonstrate knowledge and comprehension of research ethics issues which are relevant to the field of nutrition science including working with animal and human populations, ethical principles related to authorship, plagiarism, and conflicts of interest. They will also contribute to the profession through service.

Professional Licensure/Certification

Many U.S. states and territories require professional licensure/certification to be employed. If you plan to pursue employment in a licensed profession after completing this program, please visit the Professional Licensure/Certification Disclosures by State interactive map.

Contact

Campus University Park
Graduate Program Head A Catharine Ross
Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Professor-in-Charge (PIC) Laura E Murray-Kolb
Program Contact

Mary B Balboni
110 Chandlee Laboratory
University Park PA 16802-610
mbm145@psu.edu
(814) 865-3448

Program Website View
Campus World Campus
Graduate Program Head A Catharine Ross
Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Professor-in-Charge (PIC) Gina Pazzaglia
Program Contact

Debra Marie Jozefick
110 Chandlee Laboratory
University Park PA 16802-610
dmj15@psu.edu
(814) 865-6323

Program Website View