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MPS in Nutritional Sciences Program Update for 2020

The last few years have been exciting for Penn State’s Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Nutritional Sciences graduate program. This online professional master's degree is designed for registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) interested in enhancing their careers and advancing their skills, or for students or professionals who hold an undergraduate degree in a health or nutrition-related field. Students can choose to complete the master’s degree with or without an optional Experiential Track. This Experiential Track of the MPS, which is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), requires an in-residence component for three semesters and may lead to the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) credential. 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 (SEL) at either one of the two geographic locations. One of the first accredited Future Education Model Graduate Programs in the country, 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 1000 hours) for RDN eligibility.

The program welcomed the first class of seven Experiential MPS students in May 2019 in two on-line courses. The SEL experiences for the students started in August 2019 in Food Systems and Organization Management. We are thankful to the preceptors and sites that have been training our dietetic interns in the Penn State Dietetic Internship Program (which graduated its final class of interns on June 26, 2019 and reorganized into the new, Experiential track) in Hershey, PA and surrounding areas. The program also welcomed new sites and preceptors in University Park, PA and surrounding areas and we are grateful to them for their energy and efforts in this endeavor.

Given the continuing challenge and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic and to protect the health of students, faculty and staff, Penn State has made the decision to extend virtual delivery of courses into the summer. Due to the extension of remote learning, our Experiential MPS students are staying home and not reporting in person to their assigned Supervised Experiential Learning (SEL) sites, practicing social distancing, and continuing remote learning, per University guidance. This occurred during their Community SEL experiences and has delayed the start of their clinical experiences which are now on hold until fall semester 2020.

The program recently completed application reviews and interviews for the second Experiential MPS class of 2020-2022. We accepted 15 students who will embark on their journey May 18, 2020, to obtain a Master’s degree as well as the verification statement needed to sit for the RDN exam. Our program is always looking for new sites and preceptors, so if you or your organization would like to accommodate our students for SEL experiences or wish to learn more about them, please contact: Denise Lawson, Supervised Experiential Learning (SEL) Coordinator:

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

Excellence and quality 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.