MASTER OF SCIENCE IN NUTRITION AND HUMAN PERFORMANCE

Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance

The Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance at Merrimack College is a new and innovative program to prepare Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.

The first Future Education Model program in Massachusetts, Merrimack’s MS in Nutrition and Human Performance offers a streamlined pathway to becoming an RDN.

Effective January 1, 2024, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) will require a minimum of a master’s degree to be eligible to take the credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). In addition, CDR requires that individuals complete coursework and supervised experiential fieldwork accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). In most states, graduates also must obtain licensure or certification to practice. Graduates who successfully complete the ACEND-accredited, Future Education Model (FEM) dietitian nutritionist program at Merrimack College are eligible to apply to take the CDR credentialing exam to become an RDN.

M.S. in Nutrition and Human Performance: Why Merrimack College

Merrimack College’s Future Education Model program is one of the first demonstration programs in Massachusetts and the New England region — and one of the few in the country — with a focus on human performance and sport nutrition. Merrimack College differentiates itself from other programs by maintaining its reputation as a student-centered and supportive community that excels in professional graduate education and by remaining grounded by its mission to enlighten minds, engage hearts and empower lives.

Fosters work readiness.

The program is one of the first Future Education Model (FEM) degree programs in the New England region. Future Education Model degree programs are competency-based education programs that integrate classroom learning with hands-on supervised experiential learning activities. The program’s curriculum is guided by competencies and their respective performance indicators, thus it fosters work readiness.

Guaranteed ability to sit for the registration exam.

Successful completion of this one-step program meets the educational requirements needed to sit for the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam. This one-step approach is different from the more common two-step approach requiring the need to competitively apply to a supervised practice program after earning a degree with no guarantee of acceptance.

Specialize in human performance/sport nutrition.

Our program is one of only a few FEM programs that focuses on human performance. You will have the opportunity to work with Merrimack College’s Division I athletes as well as with other DI athletes within the New England region.

Build strong relationships with expert faculty.

You’ll study nutrition and human performance in small classes led by highly engaged and knowledgeable instructors. Our faculty experts include scholars such Dr. Leena BharathDr. Juliana Cohan and Dr. Michael Corcoran.

Program Format

  • On campus
  • Full-time
  • 56 credits

Start Terms

  • Fall

VIEW APPLICATION DEADLINES

What You Will Learn in the Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance Program

In the Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance, you will prepare to be a competent, entry-level registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) capable of implementing safe, effective, evidence-based care. During the program, you will learn to synthesize, critically evaluate, and apply advanced knowledge and skills as a collaborative dietetics practitioner to effectively address contemporary nutrition-related issues.

The M.S. graduate program includes 56 credits spanning across 4 semesters, and uses the summer months as an opportunity for supervised experiential learning experiences. The initial semester provides foundational knowledge, while subsequent semesters provide a greater depth of knowledge and skills development. Some 1,000 hours of supervised experiential learning are integrated across the curriculum in a professional work setting, with additional alternative experiential learning experiences such as simulation activities embedded into specific courses.

The coursework has been designed for students to be able to achieve the standards and competencies outlined by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) Future Education Model (FEM).

Career Outlook for Dietitians

When you graduate from the master’s program in nutrition and human performance,  you will be well-positioned for a successful career in the growing job market for dietitians and nutritionists. It is projected that jobs in Dietetics and Nutrition will grow by 11 percent between the years of 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than the average job growth for all occupations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage as of 2019 for Registered Dietitians and Nutritionists in Massachusetts was $72,610, with the median hourly compensation of $34.91.

Becoming an RDN

Merrimack’s Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance will prepare you for employment as a Sports Dietitian and in environments such as:

  • Research Centers and Product Development
  • Fitness Centers & Athletic Organizations
  • Corporate Wellness Programs
  • Consumer Food and Beverage Corporations
  • Hospitals and other Clinical Settings
  • Community Public Health Centers and Non-Profit Organizations
  • Universities and School Settings
  • United States Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other Government or State Agencies
  • Private Practices

Additional Program Information

The Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance fits squarely within Merrimack’s Augustinian tradition and the mission of the School of Health Sciences.

Mission

The mission of Merrimack’s School of Health Sciences is to provide a quality, innovative education built upon strong science, emerging technologies, and real-world foundational experiences, integrated with the liberal arts and shaped by Augustinian traditions. Our vision is to be broadly recognized as a leader in the preparation of highly skilled, compassionate, ethical health professionals.

Within this broader context, the specific mission of the Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance program is to prepare graduate-trained registered dietitian nutritionists through student-centered, innovative education with integrated experiential learning to become collaborative leaders who apply evidence-based nutrition knowledge and practice to advance life-long health, well-being, and optimal performance in their profession and communities they serve.

With a focus on quality, experiential educational opportunities, and a strong foundation in the sciences, the mission of the program expands upon the missions of Merrimack College and the School of Health Sciences with its specific emphasis on dietetics. The mission of the program is unique within Merrimack College but aligns directly with the mission of Merrimack College and School of Health Sciences. The program will be the only program at Merrimack College with a mission of preparing competent graduate-trained registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs).  

Program Goals

The program goals are:

  1. To prepare graduates to be competent, entry-level registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) capable of implementing safe, effective, evidence-based care.
  2. To prepare graduates who synthesize, critically evaluate, and apply advanced knowledge and skills as collaborative dietetics practitioners to effectively address contemporary nutrition-related issues.  

The goals of the program support the overall mission of the program by their emphasis on the preparation of graduates who embrace the application of evidence-based nutrition knowledge and practice in a collaborative and caring approach to meet the needs of the profession and communities they serve.

The goals of the program also support the overall mission of the program by providing students with strong foundational and advanced knowledge and by building clinical skills to prepare graduates to take on new roles as members of health care teams that work collaboratively in a variety of settings serving a wide variety of individuals and communities.

Additionally, the goals of the program support the overall mission of the program by preparing graduates through a competency-based education structure so that graduates implement safe and effective care which ensures protection of the public, which is consistent with the mission of the Commission on Dietetics Registration.

Objectives

Program Goal 1:  To prepare graduates to be competent, entry-level registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) capable of implementing safe, effective, evidence-based care.

Supporting Objectives: 

  • At least 80 percent of program graduates complete program/degree requirements within three years (150% of program length).
  • 80 percent of program graduates who respond to the alumni survey will report they were adequately prepared to deliver safe, effective, evidence-based care in their first post graduate professional dietetics position.
  • 80 percent of the program graduates will take the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionist within 12 months of program completion. 
  • The program’s one-year pass rate (graduates who pass the registration exam within one year of first attempt) on the CDR credentialing exam for dietitian nutritionists is at least 80 percent.
  • 80 percent of employers/supervisors who respond to our survey will report graduates “satisfactory” or better as effective entry-level RDN practitioners.

Program Goal 2: To prepare graduates who synthesize, critically evaluate, and apply advanced knowledge and skills as collaborative dietetics practitioners to effectively address contemporary nutrition-related issues.  

Supporting Objectives: 

  • Of graduates who seek employment, 80 percent will be employed in nutrition and dietetics, or related fields within 12 months of graduation.
  • 80 percent of graduates who respond to the alumni survey will report they were adequately prepared to use emerging skill in sports nutrition or other related dietetics practices to be an effective RDN practitioner in their first post-graduate professional position.

The program-specific objective with a target measure of a high percentage (80%) of graduates to report adequate preparation in delivering safe, effective, evidence based care demonstrates that the program ensures that graduates have adequate preparation and are confident in their knowledge and clinical skills when providing nutrition care to the public. 

The program-specific objective with a target measure of a high percentage (80%) of graduates to report adequate preparation in using emerging skills in nutrition and dietetic practices demonstrates that the program recognizes that the scope of practice for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) has expanded and that graduates will have new roles as health care professional serving a wide variety of individuals and communities. 

The Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance degree requires a minimum of 56 credits of course work. Students will ordinarily complete the graduate program within two years. However, students are permitted a maximum of six years to complete the program requirements applicable at the time the student enrolls, as outlined in Merrimack College policy.

The two-year program duration is comprised of four semesters and one summer session period. Integrated across the curriculum will be 1,000 hours of supervised experiential learning in professional work settings with additional alternative experiential learning experiences (e.g., simulation activities, case studies) embedded into specific courses. Supervised experiential learning hours in professional work settings will be tailored according to each student’s focus, but are classified into five 200 hour rotations, in:

  • Sports/Human Performance
  • Clinical
  • Community
  • Foodservice
  • Research

Required Courses

The program length is designed to ensure the achievement of core competencies and is aligned with the program’s mission, objectives, and learning outcomes.

Program Requirements:

  • HSC5340 - Medical Nutrition Therapy (4 credits)
  • HSC5350 - Research Methods (4 credits)
  • HSC5360 - Health Promotion Programs (4 credits)
  • HSC5380 - Foodservice Management (4 credits)
  • HSC5390 - Nutrition Education and Counseling (4 credits)
  • HSC5430 - Advanced Practice in Community Nutrition (4 credits)
  • HSC5460 – Supervised Experiential Fieldwork in Dietetics – 200 Hours (2 credits; taken five times over the course of the Program)
  • HSC5470 - Professional Development in Dietetics (2 credits)
  • HSC5500 - Exercise and Sport Psychology (4 credits)
  • HSC6200 - Advanced Sports Nutrition (4 credits)
  • HSC6250 - Nutritional Assessment for Health and Human Performance (4 credits)
  • HSC6500 - Public Health Policy and Management (4 credits)
  • HSC6550 - Nutrition Physiology (4 credits)

Visit the Merrimack Course Catalog for more detailed course descriptions or the Merrimack Academic Calendar for specific dates relevant to the current academic year.

Applicants to the Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance must have earned a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 overall GPA.  Applicants must have completed the required prerequisite courses and have earned a grade of B or better before beginning the Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance.

Prerequisite Courses

  • Human Anatomy
  • Human Physiology 
  • Chemistry I & II
  • Organic  Chemistry I
  • Microbiology 
  • Statistics
  • Introduction to Nutrition  
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Organic Chemistry II and Biochemistry are strongly recommended

Completion of Prerequisites

Required prerequisite courses need to be completed before beginning the program in the fall, but they do not need to be completed before applying to the program. Prerequisites may still be completed in the spring or summer before beginning the program in the fall.  Students may be enrolled with up to fifteen credits of outstanding prerequisite courses the semester they apply to the program and must demonstrate proof of enrollment in those courses in their application. 

Credit for Prior Learning

Currently the Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance does not have a policy to award credit for prior learning for course work or supervised experiential learning.

Additional Application Info

There is no fee to apply, and there is no GRE requirement. However, we encourage you to submit test scores if you feel they will support or enhance your academic background.

Application Info

Completion requirements of the nutrition and human performance graduate degree program include successful completion of all academic coursework and supervised fieldwork with a grade of “B” or better and an overall GPA of 3.0 or greater.  Successful completion of competency-based assessments with an overall experiential fieldwork learning performance rating of “met expectations” or higher from preceptors for all entry-level competencies and completion of at least 1000 hours of supervised fieldwork is also required. 

Students will ordinarily complete the program within two years. However, students are permitted a maximum of six years to complete the program requirements applicable at the time the student enrolls, as outlined in Merrimack College policy.

Verification Statement

Graduates of the program will receive a Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance and a verification statement upon successful completion of the program requirements.  Upon meeting the requirements for graduation, students will receive a verification statement enabling them to take the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) credentialing examination to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN).  

While the Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance delivers exceptional value, here’s what you need to understand the other part of the cost-benefit equation before pursuing your graduate degree.

The graduate degree program in nutrition and human performance is subject to the overall tuition and fee structure for Merrimack’s master’s degrees and graduate certificate programs. Visit the Bursar’s Graduate Tuition and Fees page for up-to-date cost information.

Students in the Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance may incur additional program-related expenses for:

Drug Testing and Criminal Background Checks

Students may be required to complete drug testing and/or a criminal background check prior to the start of supervised fieldwork, as requested by the facility. The student will be responsible for all associated fees. Failure to pass a drug test or criminal background check may lead to probation/ suspension or termination.

Estimated costs include $37 for drug testing and $66.25 for background checks through CORI.

ServSafe Food Manager Certificate

Students will be required to obtain the ServSafe Manager Certificate which verifies basic food safety knowledge. Preparation and completion of this certificate will occur during the Foodservice Management course.  Upon successful completion, students will receive a Certificate of Achievement from the National Restaurant Association. The student will be responsible for all associated fees. The estimated cost for ServSafe Manager course and certification is $47.

Housing
Information about residential housing and/or off-campus housing can be found at: www.merrimack.edu/about/offices_services/residence_life/.

Travel
Students are responsible for all travel costs to and from supervised experiential fieldwork facilities/ sites.  The cost will vary depending on the location of the facility.

Books
It is estimated that the cost of books will be approximately $300 with an optional purchase of Jean Inman Study Guide $300.

Liability Insurance
Merrimack College holds a professional liability policy covering all students enrolled in a course with a fieldwork/clinical component. The policy only covers students functioning in the role of a Merrimack College student. Some fieldwork facilities  may require students to have their own professional liability insurance. If this is the case, the student will be required to purchase student liability insurance.

  • Merrimack’s MS in Nutrition and Human Performance meets the professional licensing requirements of the following states: AL, AK, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY, PR
  • All states not listed above, to the best of our knowledge, do not require professional licensure to practice within the profession.

Accreditation and Outcomes

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) released the Future Education Model Accreditation Standards for programs in nutrition and dietetics. These accreditation standards integrate didactic coursework with supervised experiential learning in a competency-based curriculum designed to prepare nutrition and dietetics practitioners for future practice. Program graduates will be eligible to take the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) credentialing exam to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

The Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance program is a Future Education Model candidacy program seeking accreditation by:

Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics
120 South Riverside Plaza
Suite 2190
Chicago, Illinois 60606-6995
Phone: (800)-877-1600 ext 5400
E-mail: acend@eatright.org
acend@eatright.orghttp://www.eatrightpro.org/resources/acend

Program outcomes data are available upon request.

Want to Learn More about the Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance?

Contact the Merrimack College Office of Graduate Admission at graduate@merrimack.edu.

Schedule an Informational Call with the Program Director

Scholarship Opportunities

Students enrolled in the Master of Science in Nutrition and Human Performance may be eligible for scholarships, which provide additional support to limit your expenses and debt burden.

Learn About Scholarship Opportunities 

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