Master of Science (MS) — Nutrition

Program overview

A hybrid program to increase your skills and knowledge as a nutrition professional

In just four academic quarters, this Master’s of Nutrition prepares you to meet today’s changing demands in nutrition and wellness. You will deepen your knowledge in the science and application of the field of nutrition as you explore emerging and controversial topics in this important discipline. Increase your skills in communication and counseling, project design, and teaching or informatics — and prepare to impact the lives of diverse populations with your MS in Nutrition. 

Take your career to the next level and prepare to educate others about ways to benefit their health and wellness.

SPU grad Katia Mora consults with a client | photo by Kami Couch

Overview

About the program

The Master of Science in Nutrition program prepares current and future practitioners to meet the changing demands of health care, education, or business. This graduate program can also strengthen their application for a dietetic internship and allow them to meet the 2024 CDR degree requirements for registration as a dietitian. This master’s degree is designed to broaden the expertise of nutrition educators and scientists, health professionals, and dietitians alike beyond basic nutrition facts and clinical skills. It will increase knowledge of epidemiology, research methods, and clinical and functional nutrition — and prepare students to extend their impact and influence outside of the traditional scope of dietetic and nutritional science practices.

This master’s degree also allows you to work closely with SPU faculty and the extensive network of local area alumni, while also affording an opportunity to integrate your own professional work and interests.

Distinctives

  • Low-residency program that allows you to earn a master’s degree by completing 33 quarter-based credits over a brief 11-month period, if full time.
  • Coursework and experiences are built on a foundation of Christian values — engaging and fostering human flourishing with competence, character, and wisdom.
  • Complete your MS degree in four academic quarters, which includes one summer term, along with the completion of two three- to four-day in-person intensives prior to Autumn Quarter and immediately following the summer term.
  • Deepen your knowledge not only in the science of nutrition, but also in the areas of epidemiology, research methods, functional nutrition, and emerging topics in the field.
  • Advance your choice of diverse and relevant skills in counseling, communication, project design, teaching, or informatics — to give you the ability to extend your impact and influence outside the traditional scope of dietetic and nutritional science practices.
  • Online program coursework with the exception of the intensive sessions, with some synchronous time to facilitate discussion and relationship building about twice per week in the late afternoon.
  • Successful completion of the program also includes a thesis or a final capstone project and respective presentation and oral defense or presentation.

As a student in SPU’s MS in Nutrition program, you will gain confidence to translate research evidence to clinical practice, to engage in inter-professional collaboration, to lead and influence a wide range of food, nutrition, and wellness systems, and to advocate for effective, quality care for diverse populations within a variety of settings.

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Curriculum

About the curriculum

The MS in Nutrition Sciences is a 33-credit program designed to be completed over an 11-month period (four-quarter sequence), if full time. Part-time enrollment is available, extending the program duration to two academic cycles.

Integrated into all courses within the MS in Nutrition Sciences is an ongoing dialogue of the role of diversity in nutrition research, nutrition recommendations, and patient care. This includes the need to develop and incorporate approaches to better understand the ways in which race, age, ability, gender, and other areas of diversity may influence health and disease outcomes.

Furthermore, a deep exploration, alongside continued critical review, of past and current structural inequities within the nutrition sciences will allow students to examine the impact of systemic racism on continued inequity and health disparities.

Core courses

Core courses for the MS in Nutrition Sciences degree explore advanced metabolism, epidemiology, and research methods. These courses build on previous knowledge gained in undergraduate science coursework, while establishing a foundation for understanding and applying the content of additional coursework.

Core courses also include two required seminar courses offered during the fall and summer in-person intensives, a faith integration course that examines the intersection of food, nutrition issues, and the Christian faith, as well as degree thesis or capstone project credits.

Students may pursue particular interests through selection of a minimum of nine elective credits. These can be gained from a choice of three courses from a list that changes annually. Potential offerings include: Nutrition Communication & Writing, Introduction to Integrative and Functional Nutrition Therapy, Controversies in Nutrition Therapy for Chronic Diseases, Advanced Nutrition Counseling & Behavior Change, Disordered Eating and Non-Diet Approaches, Nutrigenomics and the Microbiome, Food as Medicine: Culinary Nutrition and Healing Foods, and Teaching Nutrition.

Final project

A final project for the MS in Nutrition degree, which can take the form of either a traditional research thesis or a capstone project, draws upon advanced nutrition research to either apply it in order to improve human wellness or to support the work of an organization. Students need to complete 5 credits of either Research Thesis or Capstone Project during the course of their studies as well as deliver an oral defense or presentation at the end of the program.

Students pursuing a capstone project are required to complete Project Design & Implementation as one of their elective courses, while those who take the thesis route may opt for an applied statistics course from one of the other graduate programs at SPU to assist them in conducting and analyzing their research.

Fall intensive

NUTR 6950

Special Topics in Nutrition

2

Fall

NUTR 6100

Macronutrient Metabolism

4

NUTR 6300

Research Methods in Nutritional Epidemiology

4

Winter

NUTR 6200

Micronutrient Metabolism

4

NUTR 6800

Project Design and Implementation (if choosing capstone project)

4

OR

Graduate-level Statistics course from another program at SPU (if choosing research thesis)

4

NUTR 6899

Capstone Project

3

OR

NUTR 6995

Research Thesis

3

Spring

NUTR 6001

Food & Faith

3

Elective

3–4

NUTR 6899

Capstone Project

2

OR

NUTR 6995

Research Thesis

2

Summer

Elective

3–4

Elective

3–4

Project presentation/thesis defense

Summer intensive

NUTR 6950

Special Topics in Nutrition

2

MS Nutrition Sciences Curriculum

Program Core

NUTR 6100    Macronutrient Metabolism    4

In-depth presentation to expand understanding of the biological roles of nutrients and their metabolism: how we digest, absorb, transport, and use them in our bodies. It integrates information on the roles of macronutrients in nutrition and health with clinical applications in malnutrition, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Topics covered include carbohydrates and energy metabolism, dietary fiber, protein and amino acids, and lipids.

NUTR 6200    Micronutrient Metabolism    4

This course provides an in-depth presentation of vitamin and mineral metabolism with particular emphasis on nutrient bioavailability and absorption, transport and tissue accumulation, regulation of nutrient metabolism and homeostasis, and nutrient function with clinical applications. Other topics include the health effects of inadequate and excessive micronutrient intake, methods used to estimate nutrient requirements and establish nutrient intake reference and upper limit levels.

NUTR 6300    Research Methods in Nutritional Epidemiology    4

Practical application of how epidemiological methods are used to research questions within nutrition science. Examines the relationship between diet and disease as well as dietary data collection, study design, statistical analysis, and validation. Includes discussions of current issues and controversies in nutrition.

NUTR 6001    Food & Faith    3

Food has profound theological implications; eating is an essential way that we relate to God, to others, and to the rest of the created order. Theologically speaking, food is a primary means by which we experience communion, community, and creation. This course examines the intersection of food, nutrition issues, and the Christian faith, encouraging theological reflection on the biological, ecological, psychological, aesthetic, spiritual, agricultural, and economic facets of eating.

NUTR 6950    Special Topics in Nutrition    4

Seminar-style intensives taught over the course of 3-4 full days. Topics vary and focus on areas of current/emerging interest and research.

NUTR 6899    Capstone Project    1–5

Provides the opportunity for students to utilize competencies developed in their coursework by engaging in a sustained research project on a carefully chosen topic. The project will synthesize nutrition principles, methodology, and relevant context and apply it to an actual organizational issue or problem. Students will be mentored through this project during the second half of their degree program, and they may elect to focus their work on their current occupational settings or a local organization of interest. The topic and research methodology must be approved in advance by the faculty supervisor.

NUTR 6995    Research Thesis    1–5

This course provides an application of graduate level research methods within the field of food and nutrition, building upon NUTR 6300 Research Methods in Nutritional Epidemiology. Qualitative and quantitative approaches are reviewed and used in designing and developing a sound research proposal. Special emphasis will be placed on bridging the gap between research and practice of nutrition sciences. The topic and research methodology must be approved in advance by the faculty supervisor.

Elective courses

NUTR 6400    Introduction to Integrative and Functional Nutrition Therapy    4

In-depth exploration of the philosophy and principles of integrative and functional nutrition therapy and its focus on whole-person, whole-foods approach that considers environmental impact, genetic predisposition, physiological, social, and psychological factors in restoring and maintaining wellness. Includes an introduction to lifestyle medicine, examining evidence-based therapies in lifestyle behaviors such as diet, exercise, sleep, social connectivity and stress. Explores the use of functional foods within different contexts and cultures, including references to historical origins of integrative nutrition.

NUTR 6450    Food as Medicine: Culinary Nutrition and Healing Foods    3

Equips students with knowledge of dietary patterns shown to prevent, treat, and reverse diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers as well as prepare them to implement food as medicine at a practical level in patient care, including nutrition considerations for various lifecycle stages and special populations. The pharmaceutical implications in using food as medicine are also explored. The course exposes students to basic culinary and meal planning principles with many opportunities to apply in the kitchen the concepts learned.

NUTR 6500    Controversies in Nutrition Therapy for Chronic Diseases    3

Presents the current controversies (in historical context) about the best approaches for managing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, weight management, chronic kidney disease, and cancer through nutrition therapy. Specific therapeutic dietary modifications, such as the role of saturated fat and carbohydrates are discussed in the context of disease pathophysiology and research evidence behind these is examined.

NUTR 65500    Food Choice & Ingestive Behavior    2–3

Exploration of environmental and biological determinants of ingestive behaviors (e.g., food choice, eating patterns, portion size) and their relationship to childhood and adult obesity.

NUTR 6570    Nutrigenomics & the Microbiome    2–3

Introduction to genetic variants, gene activation, and influences on nutrition and health-related outcomes. Topics include nutrition immunology, diet impacts on the microbiome, and epigenetics. Includes critical analysis and discussion of molecular and translational nutrition research.

NUTR 6610    Advanced Nutrition Counseling & Behavior Change    4

Equips students with the tools necessary to provide nutritional intervention through counseling and education using evidence-based principles and both in-person and remote/online modalities. Topics explored include motivational interviewing as well as common social and environmental barriers to behavior change. This course has a strong emphasis on client/patient-centered counseling.

NUTR 6650    Disordered Eating and Non-Diet Approaches    3

Explores the spectrum of disordered eating behavior and discusses various contributing factors that lead to a disordered relationship with food, including diet culture, weight-bias, and body image. The course introduces students to the science, research, and application of weight-inclusive approaches (e.g., Intuitive Eating, Health at Every Size) as effective prevention and treatment methods.

NUTR 6700    Nutrition Communication & Writing    3

Provides the skills necessary to effectively distill technical nutrition information into a digestible, appropriate format for a general audience. Examines the impact of popular science and social media on nutrition communication.

NUTR 6770    Teaching Nutrition    3

Introduction to creating educational content with emphasis on course design, active-learning and virtual teaching strategies, and tools, as well as assessment.

NUTR 6800    Project Design and Implementation    3

Builds knowledge and skills to enable students to conceive, plan, design, implement, assess, and change nutrition-related projects and programs effectively and in an inclusive and socially just manner. It is designed to deepen critical understanding of the strategies, processes, techniques, and issues involved in taking ideas and turning them into practical realities with identifiable outcomes and benefits.

 
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Application

Application and recommendation materials

In order to apply, students must have completed or provide the following:

Online application and $50 application processing fee.

Official undergrad transcript(s) that demonstrate degree completion.

Completion of the following courses no earlier than 10 years prior to applying for this MS in Nutrition application, unless you are currently practicing in dietetics:

  • Required
    • Human Nutrition
    • Organic Chemistry
    • General Biology OR Anatomy and Physiology
  • Recommended
    • Advanced Nutrition/Metabolism
    • Nutrition Assessment OR Medical Nutrition Therapy
    • Food Science
    • Microbiology
    • General Chemistry
    • Biochemistry

Personal statement

  • Please describe your personal background, interests, and work experiences (current and past) as they relate to your desire to pursue a Master’s in Nutrition.
  • What personal strengths and professional expertise would you bring to the MS in Nutrition program at Seattle Pacific University?
  • What in particular interests you about receiving your Master’s in Nutrition from Seattle Pacific?

Two letters of recommendation

  • One letter of recommendation should be from a former instructor; the second recommendation should be from an employer/supervisor. (A third letter from an instructor or employer is optional.)
  • Prompts for your references:
    • What are the applicant's greatest strengths?
    • What weaknesses do you perceive the applicant has?

No GRE (Graduate Record Exam) test scores are required for this program. If you have taken the GRE, including your scores is optional.

Interview (optional, at the discretion of the program faculty)

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Costs

2022–23 Tuition and Fees

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$715

per credit

$23,595 (Total fixed tuition cost for the program for students who maintain a full-time schedule.)

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$50; $150

application fee; one-time matriculation fee

See additional fee details.
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33 credits

to complete

All tuition, fees, and other charges stated here are payable in U.S. dollars ($US).

In addition to direct instructional costs, Seattle Pacific University’s MS in Nutrition tuition covers academic and student support services. Other benefits include use of athletic facilities (e.g., gym, locker room, and fitness rooms), and the SPU Library.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Scholarship and other financial aid is available to newly admitted and continuing students in the College of Arts and Sciences MS in Nutrition program. For more information, visit Graduate Students Resources in Student Financial Services.

Resources available to graduate students to offset costs may include:

  • Start class by Autumn Quarter 2022 and you can receive a $1,000 Opportunity Scholarship, dispersed evenly over four quarters (Autumn Quarter through summer) of full-time attendance. In addition, the $50 application fee is waived.
  • Student loans. Includes amounts that exceed tuition and provide for living expenses.
  • Merit scholarships. Offered by the University as an offset to tuition.

Student employment and career opportunities

For part-time student employment opportunities on or off campus, explore these options:

Also available to SPU undergrads, graduate students, and alumni, SPU Handshake can help you learn about jobs, internships, volunteer opportunities, mentorships, and upcoming events.

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Career Opportunities

A Master of Science in Nutrition can open countless doors to allow you to advance your career, while playing a vital role in helping others improve their health and wellness. Just some of the your potential career paths include:

  • Clinical dietitian
  • Sports dietitian
  • Nutrition educator
  • College dietitian
  • Public health dietitian
  • Community health worker
  • Health and wellness coach
  • Community dietitian
  • Nutrition researcher
  • Diabetes educator
  • Secondary education nutrition teacher
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International Applicants

International students are an important part of Seattle Pacific University. A vibrant and active international population, SPU’s international graduate students represent 32 different countries.

International Student Applicants

In addition to general admission requirements, international students must also submit:

  • TOEFL internet-based score of at least 100 (600 if paper based, 200 if computer-based) and IELTS score of at least 7.0, if English is not your first language.
  • Official financial statement reflecting financial support equivalent to the cost of the first year of graduate study. Complete the Declaration of International Student Finances form and send it to the address listed on the form, along with an original bank statement and copy of your passport (front and back).
  • When submitting non-U.S. transcripts, provide a transcript evaluation by World Education Services (WES) or Foundation for International Services Inc. (FIS). (A page-by-page evaluation is sufficient, but a course-by-course evaluation is needed to determine if any pre-requisite foundations have been satisfied.)

All official transcripts must be submitted in English. International applicants are responsible for all costs associated with this service, including transcript(s) order and/or delivery fees (official transcripts must be sent directly from the school or translation evaluation service in a sealed envelope).

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Faculty

Faculty

Daniela Gheleva

Associate Professor of Food and Nutrition; Director of the SPU Community Kitchen Program; Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
PhD, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Email: dgheleva@spu.edu
Phone: 206-281-2309
Office: Peterson Hall 204A

John Douglass

Assistant Professor of Biology
PhD, Rutgers the State University of New Jersey

Email: jdouglass@spu.edu
Phone: (206) 286-7355

Mya Kwon

Instructor of Nutrition, Registered Dietitian
MPH, University of Washington

Email: myakwon@spu.edu
Phone: 206-281-2657
Office: Peterson Hall

Michael D. Langford

Professor of Theology, Discipleship, and Ministry
PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary

Email: langford@spu.edu
Phone: 206-281-2815
Office:  Alexander & Adelaide Hall 402

Liz Gruchala-Gilbert

College of Arts and Sciences Librarian
MLS, University of Washington

Email: lgg@spu.edu
Phone: 206-281-2790
Office: University Library

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