Graduate Programs

Graduate students can enroll in a graduate program within the NHS department or as part of the Interdepartmental Nutrition Program (INP)

Hello from the Department of Nutrition & Health Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln! Thank you for your interest in our graduate programs. Hopefully this letter will shed some light on what we have to offer. More generally, maybe this letter will help guide your decisions about the graduate program that fits you best. Not only is it important that you find a good fit, it is equally important that we select graduate students that fit our philosophies. So, we would encourage you to carefully read this welcome letter, because it may guide your application. If you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Graduate Coordinator Diane Nelson at diane.nelson@unl.edu or (402) 472-3666.

In the Department of Nutrition & Health Sciences, we offer two graduate degree programs:

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

M.S. programs are designed for completion in two years. Ph.D. programs are generally four-year programs.

Individual graduate faculty members establish and maintain their own “Areas of Study.” The Area of Study is an area that you intend to focus on academically and is affiliated with individual graduate faculty members. You will see individual graduate faculty members listed under certain Areas of Study. Your goal as a graduate student applicant should be to identify specific, individual faculty members with whom you wish to study under. To better understand each faculty’s Area of Study, read about them here: http://cehs.unl.edu/nhs/nhs-faculty-and-staff/.

Another option is to search their names and research profiles on PubMed (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/) or Google Scholar (https://scholar.google.com/). This is your opportunity to find a faculty member that conducts research and/or teaches in an Area of Study that interests you most.

We offer the following M.S. degree program options:

  1. Research Areas
  2. Professional Specializations

As a member of the Big 10 Academic Alliance, our department emphasizes the importance of Research Areas, which is often a gateway to a Ph.D. program. We call this Option I (with Thesis), and we offer three Areas of Study for this option (alphabetical order):

  • Community Nutrition & Health Promotion
  • Exercise Physiology & Nutrition
  • Food Literacy, Quality, & Safety

There is a minimum of 30 credit hours required, including a thesis, for this degree. This usually entails 24 credit hours of graduate course work (~2 courses per semester over 4 semesters) plus 6 thesis credit hours (NUTR 899). Close individual mentorship with a faculty member who is actively engaged in research is encouraged and expected. This program is often pursued by students preparing for careers in research and scholarly work, such as college or university positions or industry jobs requiring an understanding of the research process.

To prepare graduate students to transition into the applied work force, we offer non-thesis master’s degree options that provide advanced Professional Specializations. We call these Option II or Option III degree programs (both without thesis), and we offer three Specializations:

  • Community Nutrition & Health Promotion
  • Dietetics [must be Registered Dietician (RD) or eligible]
  • Nutrition & Exercise

These specializations require a minimum of 36 credit hours and a comprehensive examination. However, a thesis is not required. This usually entails 36 credit hours of graduate course work (~3 courses per semester over 4 semesters). In these Professional Specializations, it is the student’s responsibility to regularly meet with their advisor for course scheduling. During the final semester, the advisor organizes, administers and grades your comprehensive examination. These programs are often pursued by students who view the M.S. as a terminal degree and do not intend to pursue a graduate degree beyond the master’s level. Jobs, such as management positions, allied health professions, and business owners often hold the non-thesis M.S. degree.

At the doctoral level (Ph.D.), the same Areas of Study exist as for the Option I, thesis-based master’s degree. We view the Ph.D. as research intensive. Ninety credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree (including master’s degree coursework) is required. Generally, we expect doctoral students to publish their scientific work and seek external funding (grants) under close individual supervision of their faculty mentor. Doctoral students are most often funded by graduate assistantships, which is a decision made by individual graduate faculty members, presumably someone that you wish to study under.

Although we do not require specific course prerequisites for entry into our graduate programs, we do prefer that students take certain undergraduate courses that prepare them for success in our graduate programs. Our preferred courses include General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Human Physiology, Human Anatomy, and Advanced Nutrition. Please discuss any potential course deficiencies you may have with your targeted graduate faculty advisor/mentor.

A unique opportunity at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is the Interdepartmental Nutrition Program (INP). Most often, students who are interested in Biochemical & Molecular Nutrition, both at the master’s level (thesis only) and doctoral level, will apply within the INP. The INP requires a separate application process. The decision to apply for the INP is ultimately made between you and your targeted graduate faculty advisor/mentor. If you have interest in Biochemical & Molecular Nutrition and the INP, please contact the INP Graduate Program Chair, Dr. Regis Moreau at rmoreau2@unl.edu.

Hopefully the information herein provides guidance on how you may wish to approach your graduate program application. We would like to emphasize two important take home messages:

  1. Contact individual faculty members in your identified Area of Study.
  2. Passion and knowledge about your interests in our Areas of Study is critical.

Communicate with our graduate faculty. Build a rapport with individual graduate faculty members. Provide them compelling reasons why they should consider your application. The decision to accept new graduate students ultimately rests with each individual graduate faculty member. Ask them if they will consider your application as their graduate student.

Hopefully this information is helpful as you pursue your graduate education here at Nebraska or with other graduate programs around the world.

The Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences offers graduate degrees within Research Areas and Professional Specializations that are driven by the graduate faculty. At least one of the graduate faculty members listed under the Areas of Study MUST review and accept your application in order for you to be accepted into our graduate program. Therefore, it is expected that you identify at least one (but not more than three) graduate faculty members to work with. All graduate applicants are strongly encouraged to establish contact and communicate with graduate faculty members prior to or during their application process. Please visit the faculty websites for more information. Finding a good fit for the mentor/mentee relationship is important for each graduate student and graduate faculty member.

Master of Science (M.S.)

Major: Nutrition & Health Sciences

Option I (Thesis)

Students preparing for careers in research and scholarly work or in college or university teaching; 30 credit hours

Areas of Study:
Option II (Non-thesis)

Students not intending to pursue a graduate degree beyond the masters level and are interested in the M.S. as a terminal degree; 36 credit hours

Specialization:
Option III (Non-thesis)

Students pursuing a graduate degree in dietetics that are Registered Dieticians (RD) or those eligible for the RD exam; 36 credit hours

Specialization:

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Major: Human Sciences
Specialization: Nutrition & Health Sciences
Unified Doctoral Program in the College of Education and Human Sciences

Areas of Study:
Graduate Committee Chairperson:
Joel Cramer portrait picture

Joel T. Cramer Associate Professor

Full Joel T. Cramer bio
Graduate Program Coordinator:
Diane Nelson photo

Diane Nelson Office Associate/Graduate Coordinator

The INP mission is to develop cutting-edge, multidisciplinary education and research programs that integrate animal biology and food to improve human and animal nutrition and health. The INP offers an extensive curriculum and a wide range of research opportunities. Integrating the expertise of three departments allows students greater flexibility in tailoring their research and coursework to their personal and professional interests.

Participating Departments:
Animal Science
Food Science & Technology
Nutrition & Health Sciences

Master of Science (M.S.)

Major: Interdepartmental Nutrition
Option I (Thesis) only

Areas of Study:
  • Animal Science
  • Biochemical & Molecular Nutrition
  • Community Nutrition & Health Promotion
  • Food Science
  • Nutraceuticals

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Major: Interdepartmental Nutrition

Areas of Study:
  • Animal Science
  • Biochemical & Molecular Nutrition
  • Community Nutrition & Health Promotion
  • Food Science
  • Nutraceuticals
Graduate Committee Chairperson:
Regis Moreau portrait picture

Regis Moreau Associate Professor

Full Regis Moreau bio
Graduate Program Coordinator:
Diane Nelson photo

Diane Nelson Office Associate/Graduate Coordinator