New MS in Nutrition Degree Approved

MANSFIELD, PA— The Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania MS-nutritionState System of Higher Education (PASSHE) today approved a new online Master of Science (MS) degree in Nutrition at Mansfield University.

The new program will begin admitting students in fall 2015 and will teach students to apply current strategies and practices in entrepreneurial nutrition to solve problems and address issues in the profession. The online availability gears the program toward working professionals.

“We appreciate the Board of Governors’ support and confidence in this new program,” MU President Fran Hendricks said. “This program answers a need in the Nutrition field and will expand career opportunities for our students.”

The program aligns with PASSHE’s stated desire to ensure academic program excellence and relevance, as well as enabling more students to obtain credentials that prepare them for life, career, and the responsibilities of citizenship. It also aligns with Mansfield University’s liberal arts focus.

Students will be able to complete the program in two years by taking two courses per semester or in four years by taking one course per semester, including summers. Courses within the program will advance students’ nutrition knowledge, improve their ability to effectively lead nutrition programs, and enhance their ability to interpret and conduct nutrition research. A capstone project or thesis will contribute to professional practice as a nutritionist.

The growing complexity of the field will soon require education beyond a bachelor’s degree, Linda Eck Mills, a registered dietician and charter fellow of the American Dietetic Association, told the Board in supporting the new program.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth outlook for 2012-20 is faster than average. Job growth will result from an increasing emphasis on disease prevention through improved dietary habits. A growing and aging population will boost demand for nutritional counseling and treatment in hospitals, residential care facilities, schools, prisons, community health programs and home health care agencies. Currently credentialed Registered Dietitians can use their MS in Nutrition coursework to meet their continuing education requirements.        

Because of its online nature, the new program meets the needs of professionals in rural areas of the Commonwealth. The program will be housed in the Department of Health Sciences. Health Sciences faculty members have the expertise to implement and sustain this program because they were among the first on campus and within PASSHE to teach online. The program builds upon and leverages the existing success of an undergraduate Nutrition Program that has more than doubled size since 2006.

Professer Kathy Wright (right) working with a student.In December, 2014, Professor Kathy Wright, Nutrition Program director, received a Highmark Healthcare Academic Program Development Grant for almost $15,000 to offset technology startup costs for web conferencing, equipment to improve quality of videos produced by faculty and students, and training videos to assist working professionals in preparing for online learning.

Hendricks praised the efforts of Wright in guiding the new MS degree program through the approval process.

“This new program is another example of Mansfield University’s mission to serve our area and the entire Commonwealth,” Hendricks said. “I commend Dr. Wright and her colleagues for bringing it to fruition.”

For more information on the new MS in Nutrition program, go to, call (800) 577-6826 or email