Master of Science - Nutrition


The Program

The goal of our M.S. program is to enhance students’ knowledge of nutrition by integrating resources and expertise across campus. We offer students:


  • Multidisciplinary research opportunities,
  • Thesis and non-thesis options,
  • Teaching and research assistantships and
  • Individual attention.


The research interests of our graduate faculty encompass many different aspects of nutrition including experimental, clinical, public health, education, policy, and human and community development.


Graduates from our program have been successful in obtaining challenging careers in research, education, dietetics practice, and administration of nutrition programs in the public and private sectors.



Students have the option of two plans in order to complete the graduate program:


Plan A students must complete 32 credits, including 6 credits for thesis (NUTR 797 or equivalent). A thesis is a scientific document that describes the background, methods, results and conclusions of an original research activity.


Plan B students must complete 35 credits, including 3 credits for professional paper (NUTR 796 or equivalent). A professional paper here refers to a critical analysis of existing knowledge on a specified nutrition topic/problem that is written in a style suitable for a science journal.


Students enrolled in both Plan A and B, must complete and earn a “B” or better (i.e., 3.0) in each of the following core nutrition courses (total of 15 credits):


  1. Micronutrients (NUTR 735; 3 credits)
  2. Macronutrients (NUTR 730; 3 credits)
  3. Nutrition and Health (NUTR 725; 3 credits)
  4. Nutrition Assessment Techniques (NUTR 732; 3 credits)
  5. Seminar in Nutrition (NUTR 726; 1 credit)


Students who fail to earn a “B” or better in one or more of the core nutrition courses have the option of re-enrolling in the course(s) the next time it is offered. There are no substitutions available for regularly scheduled classes.


Other required courses for both Plans include:


  1. Graduate-level research methods course (3 credits). Students may select a research course among the following approved courses:
    • CEP 700 Introduction to Educational Research
    • EECB 750 Research Design in Ecology (same as BIO 750)
    • EL 785 Survey Research in Education
    • NUTR 680 Nutrition Research and Contemporary Issues
    • SOC 737 Survey Research Methods
  2. Graduate-level statistics course (3 credits). Students may select a statistics course among the following approved courses:
    • APST 663, Design and Analysis of Experiments
    • CEP 640 Educational Measurements and Statistics
    • CEP 740 Advanced Educational Measurements and Statistics
    • CHS 780 Research Methods and Applied Biostatistics
  3. Graduate-level seminar course (1 credit). In addition to NUTR 726 (1 credit) listed previously, all students must complete a second graduate seminar course. This requirement may be fulfilled by completing an additional semester of NUTR 726 or by enrolling in a graduate seminar related to their area of specialization/interest.
  4. To fulfill the remaining credit hours, students may complete other elective courses that are directed toward developing proficiency in the students’ selected area of specialization/interest.



These positions are offered through various departments and are paid by grants or state funds. Students interested in these positions must contact the department for specific requirements. The Graduate School is responsible for approval of graduate assistantships after a department has requested the initiation of a contract. All positions are contingent upon available funding.


Graduate assistants perform a variety of duties from teaching undergraduate classes to grading papers, to conducting research in laboratories. Teaching assistants receive special teaching-skills training through the Teaching assistants receive special teaching-skills training through the Graduate School. All graduate students holding an assistantship (teaching TA or research RA) are considered Nevada residents for tuition purposes. Non-resident tuition is only waived for the duration of the assistantship.


To be eligible for an assistantship, students must be admitted to a degree-granting program and be in good academic standing. The students must have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 and must be continuously enrolled in at least 6 graduate level credits (600- 700) throughout the duration of the assistantship (upon approval of the Graduate Dean, English Bridge Course credits may be used to help satisfy the enrollment requirements). A student enrolled in a prescribed program is ineligible for a teaching or research assistantship.


State-funded assistantships (TA/RA) may be held for a maximum of:

  • Three (3) years for master's degree students;
  • Five (5) years for doctoral degree students;
  • Six (6) years for students continuing with doctoral studies after completing a    master's degree.

International students serving as Teaching Assistants must meet a minimum Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 550 (paper version) or 213 (computer version) and pass the Speak Test with a score of 50. (A score of 50 on the Test of Spoken English (TSE) can be substituted for the Speak Test.)



All graduate students must enroll in a minimum of three graduate level credits each semester. A graduate student, who is not a graduate assistant, may register for up to 16 graduate credits in any one semester, or up to six graduate credits in any six-week summer session.


In the event of an illness or family emergency, a leave of absence may be requested. The Graduate School’s “Application for Leave of Absence” form should be used for this purpose. The leave request must be approved by the Graduate Nutrition Program Director and the Graduate School. The leave period cannot generally exceed one year. At the end of a leave-of-absence period the student must also complete a “Notice of Reinstatement to Graduate Standing” form.


All work toward a master's degree (transfer credits, credits completed at UNR prior to admission, course work credits, thesis credits, if applicable, and all examinations) must be completed within six calendar years immediately preceding the granting of the degree. The Graduate School may consider an extension, normally not to exceed one year or one-third of the course credit required for the degree. Requests for extensions must come from the Chair of your Advisory-Examining Committee with the concurrence of the Director of Nutrition Graduate Program and be based on an academic or humanitarian rationale for the delay in degree completion.



Students who seek admission to the program must have a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.0; a GRE score of at least 1,000 (verbal plus quantitative); and have completed the following undergraduate courses or equivalent courses as determined by the Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Veterinary Science:


  • General Chemistry (Chemistry 101)
  • Organic Chemistry (Chemistry 220A, 220L or Chemistry 241, 242, 345)
  • Anatomy & Physiology (Biology 223, 224)
  • Microbiology (Biology 251)
  • Algebra & Trigonometry (Math 128)
  • Principles of Nutrition (Nutrition 223)
  • Human Nutrition & Metabolism (Nutrition 451 or Biochemistry 400)
  • Advanced Nutrition (Nutrition 452)


Applying to the Nutrition Graduate Program


Please note that all students must apply directly to the UNR Graduate School. Applications will not be accepted the Nutrition Department. In addition to the Graduate School requirements described below, students should also send the following to the Nutrition Graduate Program Director:


(1) A letter of application that describes professional goals as well as area of interest in nutrition and


(2) Three letters of recommendation from individuals that can provide evidence of the students’ potential to successfully complete graduate program requirements.


Please note: The Nutrition Graduate Program does require Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores. Students must also provide current scores directly to the Graduate School (see instructions below).


Applying to Graduate School


Graduate Faculty

The following currently serve as Nutrition Graduate Faculty. We encourage students to get acquainted with those who share your research interests. (Please note that many are not in the Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Veterinary Science.)


Judith Ashley, Ph.D., R.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Veterinary Science
Nutrition education for health professionals; clinical nutrition; weight control management, geriatric nutrition


Jamie Benedict, Ph.D., R.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Veterinary Science
Adolescence; environmental characteristics that impact nutritional health with specific focus on school policies and practices; obesity; nutritional health of low-income persons; nutrition education methodologies.


Marie Boutte, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, School of Public Health
Genetic epidemiology and Melungeons of Southern Appalachia; health compensation among atomic veterans; HIV disease among older adults


Robert Brunner, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, University of Nevada School of Medicine
Diet/disease relationships; nutritional supplements and disease; predictors of adherence to nutritional interventions, particularly those involving supplements.


Bill Evans, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and State Extension Specialist
Human Development and Family Studies
Adolescent risk, resiliency and developmental issues in general with specific focus on youth development and youth worker issues, resilience to adolescent violence, suicide prevention and youth program evaluation


Michelle Granner, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, School of Public Health
Physical activity, sedentary behavior, dietary intake, and the interaction of these behaviors. Healthy weight management, obesity, eating disorders, community-based participatory research, and evaluation.


Doina Kulick, MD, FACP
Assistant Professor , Internal Medicine, School of Medicine
Obesity genomics, bariatric patients, management of obesity in primary care settings, bone health and nutrition; board certified in internal medicine and nutrition internal medicine.


Claude R. Lardinois, MD, FACP, MACN
Professor Emeritus, Internal Medicine, School of Medicine
The role of medical nutrition therapy as it impacts on chronic disorders like hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, and the metabolic syndrome; impact of selective nutritional supplements on carbohydrate metabolism.


Stanley Omaye, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Veterinary Science
The role of micronutrients and antioxidants in health; effective pharmacological and nutritional intervention in chronic diseases and aging; development of nutrient biomarkers and methodologies; environmental issues, such as, air pollutants, tobacco smoke, and heavy metal contamination effects on human health


Ron Pardini, Ph.D
Professor , Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
The induction of oxidative stress by various chemicals in insects and cancer; the biochemistry and molecular biology of antioxidant systems of insects and tumor cells .


Chris Pritsos, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Veterinary Science
The impact of free radical generated damage on biological systems and the role of antioxidants in the prevention of this damage; mechanisms of action and therapeutic efficacy of anticancer agents; the health impact of environmental tobacco smoke exposure including biological damage, antioxidant protection, and genetic factors which may make persons more susceptible to its harmful effects


Marsha Read, Ph.D., R.D.
Professor and Associate Dean, Graduate School
Supplement behaviors and beliefs; bone health including calcium intake in adolescents and pre-adolescents


Madeleine Sigman-Grant, Ph.D., R.D.
Professor and Area Extension Specialist
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
The feeding relationship between caregivers (parents and childcare providers) and young children, specifically in low income families; including breastfeeding as well as infant, toddler and preschool feeding interactions


Karen Spears, Ph.D., R.D.
Assistant Professor and State Extension Specialist, Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Veterinary Science
Nutrition assessment methodology with focus on development of new tools to improve the accuracy of dietary assessment. Evaluation of community-based obesity interventions and the built environment to support food intake and physical activity behavior change.


Wei Yang, Ph.D., M.D.
School of Public Health & Director, Center for Health Informatics
Health informatics; Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System; cancer epidemiology; injury prevention; children with special needs


Who do I contact for more information about Nutrition graduate program?

Dr. Jamie Benedict, Assoicate Professor, Faculty Advisor
Phone: (775) 784-6445
e-mail: jamieb@cabnr.unr.edu
Office: 114c Sarah Fleischmann Bldg, UNR Campus
1664 North Virginia Street
Mail Stop 142
Reno, Nevada 89557


Page last updated: 5/30/2012