Graduate Program Overview

Degrees Offered

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

The Department

The Department of Nutritional Sciences offers a breadth of educational, research, and experiential opportunities that provide students with the foundational knowledge and skills to pursue careers in research, pre-professional, industry, food-systems management, and community settings. The department strives to train students to become leaders in nutrition who are able to integrate the span of knowledge from molecules to organisms to populations with the goal of improving human health.

The Program

The graduate program in Nutritional Sciences provides advanced training in research, leadership, education, and community engagement in both specialized and interdisciplinary settings. Students work collaboratively with the faculty to conduct applied studies in clinical and community environments and/or basic research in laboratory and translational settings.

The program seeks to promote and develop leaders in nutrition, providing leadership and a central focus for nutrition research and education in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and beyond.

The Penn State Difference

Penn State is one of the leading research universities in the United States. According to the National Science Foundation, it consistently ranks among the top 15 major U.S. universities in research expenditures in science and engineering fields. Its graduate programs attract students from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds and from more than 100 countries all over the world.

Penn State has an enrollment at its main campus–University Park–of nearly 45,000 students, some 7,000 of which are graduate students. The University invites students to consider its graduate programs, whether they aspire to conduct research that will contribute to global knowledge or to hold a leadership position in their field with government or industry.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree

The graduate program in Nutritional Sciences focuses on doctoral-level training and is primarily focused on students who intend to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree.

Master of Science (M.S.) Degree

While focused on doctoral-level training, the Department of Nutritional Sciences does offer a Master of Science (M.S.) degree on a limited basis.

Course Work

The graduate program in Nutritional Sciences offers interdisciplinary core and elective courses in the following areas:

  • nutritional biochemistry
  • maternal, infant, and child health
  • nutritional epidemiology
  • nutrient-disease interactions
  • nutritional neurosciences
  • ingestive behavior
  • molecular biology
  • nutritional immunology

Faculty

Faculty members in the department are multidisciplinary; they are trained in a broad range of backgrounds, including nutrition, dietetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, psychology, immunology, behavioral genetics, endocrinology, epidemiology, health promotion, health education, public health, medicine, and neuroscience. Faculty members use a variety of basic and translational approaches, including molecular and cellular techniques, computational modeling, animal models, and human participants.

Careers

Graduates of the program are employed in numerous settings, including academic, government, and industry settings. For example, career options can include basic and applied nutrition research and/or instructional positions at universities, medical centers, institutes, and foundations; governmental agencies and public health nutrition education and intervention programs; and private food and technology industries. Other career opportunities also are emerging in the fields of food science, health planning administration, genetics, human development, and communications.

Research

Research topics may range from an investigation of the requirements of nutrients necessary for optimal growth and well-being; of improved methods for food and nutrient intakes and subsequent nutritional status; of the impact of dietary patterns on health promotion and disease prevention; of the factors affecting food preferences and ingestive behaviors at the individual and population level; and of the mechanisms of metabolic regulation, including cellular, molecular, and physiological aspects. Penn State‘s graduate program in Nutritional Sciences is ranked in the top tier of all doctoral programs in nutritional sciences in the nation, according to the National Research Council‘s most recent evaluation of research doctorate programs.

Funding

The graduate program in nutritional sciences supports qualified graduate students primarily through research assistantships, which cover tuition and living expenses.

How to Apply

The process of applying for admission to Penn State‘s Graduate School requires the following application materials, some of which are submitted to the Graduate School (Part 1) and others of which are sent directly to the graduate program in Nutrional Sciences (Part 2):

Part 1 - Apply to the Graduate School at Penn State

Every applicant is required to submit an online application to the Graduate School.

Information about fees and programs of study can be found at gradsch.psu.edu/prospective/apply.html.

The online application can be accessed through the “Graduate School Admissions and Program Information Portal” at gradsch.psu.edu/portal.

Part 2 - Apply to the graduate program in Nutritional Sciences

Admission into the graduate program in Nutritional Sciences is highly competitive. The admissions committee reviews each application to determine initial eligibility based on academic preparation, grade-point average(s), and standardized test score(s) (GRE; TOEFL). Beyond these academic indicators, successful applicants have clearly articulated research interests and professional goals, previous research and/or work experiences, strong letters of recommendation, and a GPN faculty advisor identified. Prospective students are encouraged to directly contact faculty members with whom they are interested in working and studying.

More information about applying to the graduate program in Nutritional Sciences is available at nutrition.hhd.psu.edu/graduate/apply.

Contact

Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences
The Pennsylvania State University
110 Chandlee Laboratory
University Park, PA 16802

814-865-3448
814-863-6103 (fax)