Master's Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements
MS Nutrition Minor
Master's Final Oral Exam
Example Schedule for the Master's Degree
Important Deadlines for Master's Degree Completion
Time Limit for Earning the Master's Degree

Degree Requirements

The Master’s degree has a minimum of 30 credits, comprised of 14 graduate level course credits in Nutrition, 6 credits in a minor or supporting field outside the major, and 10 thesis credits (Plan A) or 10 credits of additional graduate-level coursework and/or independent study (Plan B).

14 Graduate Level Course Credits in Nutrition

  • NUTR 8621, Presentation Skills (Fall, 1credit) Should be taken the first fall semester. This is an orientation class taught by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS)
  • Graduate Nutrition core series*
    • NUTR 5625 - Nutritional Biochemistry (3 credits, Fall)
    • NUTR 5626 - Nutritional Physiology (3 credits, Spring
    • NUTR 5622 - Vitamin and Mineral Biochemistry (3 credits, Spring)
    • NUTR 5624 – Nutrition and Genetics (2 credits, Fall)                                                                                                                                                   *If a student has taken these core course(s) or their equivalents (the equivalence will be evaluated by the Director of Graduate Studies), they must take other courses to achieve the equivalent number of graduate level course credits. These may be from any nutrition course that is 5xxx or 8xxx, or FScN 4622 Nutritional Toxicology, or 6xxx courses if taught through Public Health.
  • One 8xxx level course (2 credits.) from the following list:
    • NUTR 8620, Advances in Nutrition (Spring)
    • NUTR 8620/PHSL 8620 Advances in Nutrition: Obesity Prevention from the Molecule to the Bedside (Fall)

6 Graduate Level Course Credits Outside the Major

  • Must include one graduate level Statistics course.
  • Students enrolling Fall semester 2015 and later must include one graduate level research methods course (at least 2 cr.). Students can select from a list of recommended courses already offered across the university in consultation with their adviser. See Appendix C for the current list of courses.
  • Other courses may be from any field but must be at the 5xxx or 8xxx level. (Exceptions: 6xxx Public Health courses are allowed.)

10 Thesis or Project Credits

  • Plan A/thesis students must register for a minimum of 10 Master’s Thesis Credits (NUTR 8777). Plan A requires an original research project to be completed with the results subsequently reported as a thesis. Its purpose is for students to learn how to demonstrate familiarity with the tools of research or scholarship in Nutrition, to work independently and present the results of their investigation effectively.
  • Plan B is similar to the Plan A but involves less research. It includes additional coursework and completion of a special project. Plan B/project students must take a combination of an additional 10 credits of coursework and/or Independent Study (NUTR 8695). The student’s adviser specifies both the nature and extent of the coursework and project work necessary to satisfy this requirement. The Plan B project should involve a combined total of approximately 135 hours (the equivalent of a minimum of three independent study credits) of work. Additional coursework can include up to 7 additional credits. The independent study form and instructions (NUTR 8695) can be found on our website. For more information see Appendix F: Nutrition MS Plan B Option Guidance.

If a student begins as a Plan A MS student and has taken Master’s Thesis Credits NUTR 8777, these credits do not factor into the total number of credits needed. The student must submit a Registration Exception Request asking to exchange the Thesis Credits for Independent Study Credits in order to reach the minimum of 30 coursework credits. Previous theses and Plan B papers are available for review in the FScN Library, room 220. See Sue Winkelman in the reception office, room 225A, to check out items.

Transfer Courses

The graduate level courses taken at another institution that are determined to be equivalent may be substituted for program courses based on faculty approval and Graduate School guidelines. Students must complete the Degree Plan Worksheet for GPAS, in consultation with their advisor, to request approval of transfer courses. The Degree Plan Worksheet is found here.

For information regarding transfer credits policy visit the UMN policies website.

Additional Master’s Degree Requirements (Plan A and Plan B)

  • The 14 graduate level course credits in Nutrition must be taken on an A/F basis (except NUTR 8621). Biostatistics should also be taken on an A/F basis but the other required courses outside the major can be taken S/N.
  • Maintenance of a 2.8 GPA
  • In addition to the academic requirements, students are expected to obtain teaching experience. All M.S. Nutrition graduate students are expected to assist in teaching a course two times.
  • Seminar Presentation (A presentation of your thesis or project work at the Graduate Seminar. It is not graded and usually given during the last semester.)
  • Passage of a Master’s Final Oral Exam (see details below)
  • Completion of a Master’s Thesis or project. The department and Graduate School each require a copy of the master’s thesis upon completion. The Department requires a copy of the Plan B paper. Advisers will not sign the Final Examination Report form after the final oral defense for Plan B MS students until they receive the final, revised copy of the student’s Plan B paper. The adviser should ask other committee members to sign the Report form, but retain the form until he or she receives the final, revised copy of the Plan B paper. The student can submit an electronic or hard copy to his or her adviser. The electronic or hard copy of the Plan B paper should be forwarded to the Program Coordinator (Nancy Toedt) to be stored in the Department. If it is a hard copy, it should be spiral bound prior to submitting to the adviser. The Graduate School does not require a copy of the Plan B paper, but it can be archived in the Digital Conservancy if the student requests.

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MS Nutrition Minor

Master’s students in other programs may complete a minor in Nutrition by completing a minimum of the following two courses:

  • NUTR 5625 - Nutritional Biochemistry (Fall, 3 credits)
  • NUTR 5626 - Nutritional Physiology (Spring, 3 credits)

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Details about the Master’s Final Oral Exam

Master’s students must pass a final oral exam to complete their degree. The final exam consists of a student presentation of their thesis research or project followed by questions from faculty examiners. The final exam covers the major and related fields, and may include any work relevant to these fields.

Examining Committee
The student and adviser agree on recommendations for an appropriate examining committee for the final oral examination. There are three members, two from the major area and one from the minor or related area. Students must consult with possible examiners prior to recommending them for committee membership.

Visit this link to determine who is eligible to serve on your examining committee.

Visit this link to assign your examination committee members.

Exam Procedures
The student must make the thesis or Plan B project available to the examining committee at least 14 days before the exam. The exam is closed, with only the student and the examining committee present. The total exam will not exceed three hours.

Visit this link for administrative policy on Master's degree completion.

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Example Schedule for the Master’s Degree

Fall Semester 1
NUTR 8621, Presentation Skills, 1 credit (students should take this course their first fall semester)
NUTR 5625 - Nutritional Biochemistry, 3 credits
PUBH 6450, Biostatistics I, 4 credits
Begin thesis literature review
Begin thesis research
Master’s Thesis (NUTR 8777) or Plan B project credits (NUTR 8695) should be taken each semester in order to reach 14 credits each semester.

Spring Semester 2
NUTR 5622 - Vitamin and Mineral Biochemistry, 3 credits
NUTR 5626 - Nutritional Physiology, 3 credits
Fulfill 1st Teaching Assistant (T.A.) responsibility
Prepare final draft of literature review

Fall Semester 3
NUTR 5624 – Nutrition and Genetics, 2 credits 
Research Methods Course (at least 2 credits)
NUTR 8620, 2 credits
Fulfill 2nd T.A. responsibility.
Submit abstract for presentation at national/international meeting

Spring Semester 4
NUTR 8620, 2 credits (if NUTR 8xxx course requirement was not taken fall semester)
Master’s Thesis or Plan B project credits (These should be taken throughout program in order to reach 14 credits each semester.)
Begin writing publication(s)/thesis (Writing may begin earlier.)
Present research at Graduate Seminar
Master’s Final Oral Exam

Outside Major Course Information and Terms Offered

PUBH 6450, Biostatistics I (4 credits, fall, spring, every year)
PUBH 6451, Biostatistics II (4 credits, spring, every year)
STAT 5021 Statistical Analysis (4 credits, fall, spring, every year)

Research Methods Course
View this page for the current list of courses. Consult with adviser before choosing a course.

Electives must be taken at the 5xxx or 8xxx level. Exception: FScN 4622 (Nutritional Toxicology) and 6xxx Public Health courses are allowed.

Important Deadlines for Master’s Degree Completion

  1. Register every fall and spring semester until your degree is awarded.
  2. Complete Annual Student Progress Report every spring semester and discuss progress with adviser.
  3. Submit Graduate Degree Plan into GPAS at least one semester prior to anticipated graduation.
  4. Assign members to master’s final exam committee at least one month prior to exam.
  5. Download Graduation Packet up to one semester before Master’s Final Exam.
  6. Schedule final exam. Notify the adviser and other members of the Master’s Final Exam Committee at least two weeks in advance that the thesis or Plan B project will be delivered on a particular date. All Exam Committee members must have at least two weeks to read the thesis or Plan B project after it has been delivered.
  7. Submit Graduate Application for Degree the first business day of anticipated month of graduation.
  8. Obtain signatures for Reviewer’s Report prior to the final exam. (Plan B does not require the Reviewer’s Report.)
  9. Submit Reviewer’s Report and Final Examination Report no later than the last business day of anticipated month of graduation.
  10. After Master’s Final Exam, make corrections or revisions to the thesis or Plan B project. Submit thesis within six months of the final exam date to GSSP Office and submit one bound copy of the thesis to FScN Student Services in 225J FScN. The Plan B paper does not require a hard cover, but must be in a securely bound material. Thesis formatting instructions are available here.
  11. Perform required Departmental laboratory checkout. Turn in keys.
  12. Students are encouraged to schedule an exit interview with the Department Head.

For links to the forms needed for these degree completion steps see:
Master’s Plan A
Master’s Plan B

For answers to frequently asked questions visit this website.

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Time Limit for Earning the Master’s Degree

All requirements for the master’s degree must be completed and the degree awarded within the shorter of five calendar years after initial enrollment in the graduate program. Students who are unable to complete the degree within the time limits described above due to extraordinary circumstances may petition the program and collegiate unit for an extension of up to 12 months. Students must obtain the approval of their adviser/s and program DGS and submit the petition by the deadline. If a petition is approved, the student is notified in writing of the expectations for progress and for the month/year of degree conferral.

If the petition is denied, the student is notified in writing that he or she will be terminated from the graduate program upon expiration of the limit. Students who have been terminated under such circumstances may apply for readmission to the program; however, readmission is not guaranteed. A petition form can be found here.

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