Undergraduate Program

The Nutritional Sciences program focuses on helping you learn about the human body and how nutrition affects health and wellness.

Becoming a leader in nutrition starts with the programs in the College of Health and Human Development’s Department of Nutritional Sciences. Here, you will be taught by faculty who are leaders in the field and learn cutting edge nutritional science and the practical applications to promote positive lifestyle changes in others.

You will learn how the body uses nutrients for optimal health throughout the life cycle. In addition, the program will help you prepare for leadership and management positions in a number of health care, industry, government, and food science career fields.

This program is designed to help you explore your passion for nutrition while preparing you to make an impact on the health of others in the future.

The Penn State Department of Nutritional Sciences offers many unique learning opportunities for undergraduate students, both inside and outside of the classroom, that train them to be critical thinkers, well-rounded lifelong learners, and future leaders in nutritional sciences.

Undergraduates who choose the major in Nutritional Sciences may choose the Applied Sciences, Basic Sciences, or Dietetics option. A Nutrition minor is offered for students who want a nutrition emphasis to complement their major area of study.

Applied Sciences Option

The Applied Sciences option prepares students for careers in nutrition education, food service management, health-related pre-professional programs, public-health nutrition, applied research, and further graduate study.

As a student in the Applied Sciences option, you will gain a broad background in nutrition, disease prevention, and foods. Students in this option have interests in public health and health education. It is also an excellent fit if you are interested in pursuing a career as a physical or occupational therapist or a physician assistant. The option will help you prepare for careers in nutrition education, food service management, public-health nutrition, or applied research.

Basic Sciences Option

The Basic Sciences option prepares students for health related pre-professional programs, laboratory-based research, and further graduate study.

This option integrates nutritional sciences with other basic science courses. The strong science curriculum is an excellent fit if you plan to go to medical, dental, or pharmacy school. It also works well for physician assistant and physical therapy programs. The Basic Sciences option also helps you gain laboratory skills that are valuable in careers in research or industry.

Dietetics Option

The Dietetics option prepares students for careers in clinical dietetics, nutrition education, food-service management, health-related pre-professional programs, public-health nutrition, private practice, applied research, and further graduate study. Students who complete this option have taken the first of three steps toward obtaining the Registered Dietitian credential.

The Dietetics option, which meets the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) requirements, are designed to help you understand nutrition in relation to the human body during health and disease so that you are able to promote wellness as well as design medical nutritional therapy. This option will help you meet the requirements to become a RDN, including earning the verification statement needed to apply to the post-baccalaureate supervised practice programs and preparing you for the Registered Dietitian Exam. Within one year of completion of the post-baccalaureate supervised practice program, the program boasts an almost perfect pass rate on the examination to earn the RDN credential.

Nutrition Minor

The Nutrition minor offers students a background in nutrition to complement their major degree requirements.

Emphasis Areas

The Department of Nutritional Sciences offers four distinct emphasis areas that will provide students with additional preparation in an area of study that complements their Nutritional Sciences degree. These emphases were chosen based on the upcoming need for individuals with expertise in these areas in the job market as well as for graduate study. The emphases include:

  • Public Health Nutrition and Policy
  • Nutrition and Foods in Business
  • Nutrition Education and Communications
  • Community Food Security

Career Overview

Gain a solid background in the science of nutrition with the goal of translating that information to consumers, health care practitioners, or industry to improve health and promote wellness.

Medical Field

You will have the opportunity to gain a firm foundation in nutrition, human health, chemistry, and biology, which is an excellent fit if you are interested in medical school or pursuing a health care career, such as a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or physician assistant.

Food Industry/Services

If you are interested in exploring careers in the food industry/services, a degree in Nutritional Sciences may be right for you. Graduates of the program find themselves in a number of positions within these areas, including product development, marketing, labeling and regulations, consumer affairs, public relations, or consulting with chefs in restaurants and culinary schools.

Public Health or Health Education

Help the public maintain a healthy lifestyle through nutrition. You may work in a public school helping develop and implement a nutrition program, impact public health policy decisions, promote health and wellness at the corporate level, or educate the community about the connection between food, fitness, and health.

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

As a registered dietitian nutritionist, you may work in health care, business and industry, community/public health, education, research, government agencies, and private practice. You may counsel patients about their specific nutritional needs, recommend or prescribe medical nutrition therapy, and coordinate with other health professionals to improve the health of patients. You may also manage the food service operations of facilities like schools, day-care centers, or correctional facilities, overseeing everything from food purchasing and preparation to managing staff.

Contact Information

Nutritional Sciences Undergraduate Program Contact Information.