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Master of Professional Studies in
Nutritional Sciences

Experiential Track

MPS in Nutritional Sciences Experiential Track (Pathway to RDN Credential)

The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Nutritional Sciences program offers an optional Experiential Track that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) as a Future Education Model Graduate Program. The Experiential Track is a competency-based curriculum that integrates the online MPS in Nutritional Sciences graduate coursework with in-residence supervised experiential learning (minimum 900 hours) for RDN eligibility. Upon graduation, you will receive a Verification Statement and will be eligible to sit for the RDN exam. Please be sure to check the state-specific licensure requirements page.

This track offers two geographic locations for the supervised experiential learning: University Park, PA and surrounding areas and Hershey, PA and surrounding areas. Upon applying, you will be asked to indicate if you are interested in the Experiential Track of the MPS in Nutritional Sciences, as well as your preference for geographic location.

Experiential Track Curriculum (Total of 39 credits)

The Experiential Track of the MPS in Nutritional Sciences is a full-time, 24-month program that integrates advanced-level online graduate course work with supervised experiential learning areas. The total number of credits required for completion of the Experiential Track is 39 (minimum). This track requires completion of the 30 MPS in Nutritional Sciences credits plus a minimum of 9 additional credits. Check out the Courses page for the full descriptions of the course work.

The program runs from summer semester year one through spring semester year two. During year one, you will begin by taking two online graduate courses in the first semester (summer), followed by three consecutive, in-residence semesters of graduate course work and supervised experiential learning (NUTR 895). During these three semesters (fall, spring, and summer), you are expected to relocate to the assigned location and will participate full-time by completing online graduate course work and supervised experiential learning courses. During year two, you will complete two online graduate courses in the fall and the capstone course in the spring.  Year two courses are online only, and you will not be required to remain in-residence.

Please note: Students will be assigned to NUTR 895 courses based on site availability and student ability to meet competencies.  Additional 895 courses may be assigned if students need additional time to meet competency requirements.

Experiential Track Requirements

Note: To be eligible for the optional Experiential Track, your undergraduate graduation conferral date must be before the start of the program, which is the first day of classes. If you have questions or need clarification, please contact the program prior to applying.

In addition to the standard prerequisites and application requirements, which can be found on the How to Apply page, these additional items are required if you are interested in the MPS in Nutritional Sciences Experiential Track:

Work/Volunteer Experience — Applicants 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. You will be required to complete the Experiential Track of MPS Program (ExpMPS) - Supplemental Information Form to document your work/volunteer experiences. This form will need to be uploaded with your Graduate School application.

Prerequisite Course Work — For admission to the Experiential Track of the MPS in Nutritional Sciences, the basic prerequisites 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)
  • 3 credits in medical nutrition therapy

Note: 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 that if medical nutrition therapy was taken more than 5 years prior to application, due to recency of content, it may be accepted at the program director’s discretion.

Students with a bachelor’s degree from an ACEND–accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) will be required to upload their DPD Verification Statement with their Graduate School application.

Experiential Track Application Process and Deadlines

To be considered for the MPS in Nutritional Sciences Experiential Track, you will use Penn State's Graduate School application and the same process used to apply for the MPS in Nutritional Sciences. Applicants will indicate interest in the optional Experiential Track by answering a question on the application and note a preference for geographic location. The Dietetic Internship Centralized Application Services (DICAS) will not be used for application to this program.

The Experiential Track will accept students once per year. This year’s application deadline is February 15. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the class is filled. Applicants will be notified of selection for interviews via email as soon as their complete application has been reviewed.  Interviews will take place in-person or via video conferencing.

Accreditation Status

The Experiential Track of the MPS in Nutritional Sciences program is accredited by The Accreditation Council on Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) through December 31, 2024.

For any questions regarding program accreditation, please contact the program director or ACEND.

The Accreditation Council on Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND)
120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2190
Chicago, Illinois 60606-6995
Phone: 800-877-1600, ext. 5400 or 312-899-0040
Fax: 312-899-4817

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