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Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Nutritional Sciences Graduate Program Update

The last few years have been exciting as the MPS in Nutritional Sciences continues to grow. Since admitting the first class of four students in May 2017, the program has grown to over 30 students, and we are now preparing for our first class of graduates in August 2019.

In addition, we are excited to announce that we received University approval for the addition of a new track, named the Experiential Track, to the MPS in Nutritional Sciences. We also received news on December 13, 2018 that the Experiential track became accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) and is one the first accredited Future Education Model (FEM) Graduate Programs in the country! This newly accredited track expands the MPS program to include a pathway for students seeking Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credentialing.

As an online graduate degree program with a leadership emphasis, the MPS in Nutritional Sciences provided the perfect opportunity to design a FEM graduate program. Because of this, in 2016, the Department made the decision to become a pioneer in dietetics education and to apply as a FEM Graduate Demonstration Program. We submitted our application in October 2017 as part of ACEND’s call for Cohort 1 FEM Demonstration Programs. The application outlined a track founded on a competency-based education model that integrates online graduate coursework with in-residence supervised experiential learning to prepare students to sit for the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) examination upon graduation. The model provides two geographic locations for students to complete supervised experiential learning: Hershey, PA or University Park, PA. This is requiring a re-organization of the 11-month Hershey-based Penn State Dietetic Internship Program as well as the attainment of new affiliation sites in Hershey and University Park, PA. The Penn State Dietetic Internship Program will graduate its final class of interns on June 26, 2019 and will officially close on August 31, 2019. The MPS in Nutritional Sciences Experiential Track is structured so that students can complete the program in 24 months (minimum of 39 credits) and can select to complete supervised experiential learning at either one of the two geographic locations.

Over the next few months, we will be selecting and continuing preparations for the first class of students and will be holding a Kickoff Orientation Event in June to provide competency-based education training for preceptors.

After almost three years of preparing and planning for this new track, we are excited to be fully accredited by ACEND through December 31, 2024, and look forward to training graduate students under the FEM. We are currently accepting applications to the Experiential Track, due March 1, 2019, for our first class to begin May 13, 2019.

Applications for the MPS in Nutritional Sciences (without experiential track) continue to be accepted three times per year as follows: April 15 for summer semester; July 15 for fall semester; and November 15 for spring semester.

Excellence and quality in graduate education is our priority. This program allows flexibility, student-centered programming and a leadership emphasis that prepares future nutrition and dietetics professionals to move the profession forward and for success in the 21st century workforce.