Master of Science Degree- Nutrition and Food Systems

Program Description

The Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Food Systems offers advanced study in nutrition and food systems, focusing on applications in dietetic practice and child nutrition program management.

The curriculum offers a choice of emphasis areas, including dietetic practice, child nutrition program management and applied nutrition. Elective hours are offered in educational administration, adult education, community health, research and statistics, and other areas. Students work with their graduate committees in selecting courses and developing an individual plan of study. Students have the opportunity to develop research interests in child nutrition program management, food service management, clinical or community nutrition, with qualified faculty in each area.

Academic Requirements

The Master of Science requires a minimum of 36 hours of course work for both the thesis and non-thesis options. At least 18 of these credit hours must be selected from courses that are numbered 600 and above. With the advice of the graduate advisor and following the plan for the chosen emphasis, students choose the specific courses and course sequences that will meet degree requirements and their needs for professional preparation. Courses both within the school and in other academic units in the university can be taken to complete the degree requirements, subject to approval by each student’s graduate advisor.

Plans of Study

The Nutrition and Food Systems degree program may be completed as follows:

  • Full-time basis: Full-time students enroll for 12 hours/semester and are eligible for graduate assistantships. Program completion takes 1-2 years.
  • Part-time basis: Part-time students take 1-2 classes per semester. Program completion takes 2-4 years. Many courses are offered using nontraditional scheduling to accommodate work and travel requirements of part-time students. Some classes meet once a month; others are offered online.  
  • Curriculum 

Admission Requirements

Regular admission to the graduate program requires a grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.75 on a 4.0 scale, calculated on the last two years of undergraduate study; acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE); three letters of recommendations from person qualified to assess the applicant’s readiness for graduate study; and appropriate prerequisites. Performance on individual courses related to the major will be considered.

To be considered for admission into the Dietetic Practice emphasis, applicants must apply concurrently to the dietetic internship program through pre-select or the DICAS system. Only those admitted into the dietetic internship can pursue the dietetic practice emphasis. Admission to the Dietetic Practice emphasis is for summer term only and applicants must submit a Verification Statement or a Declaration of Intent to Complete Degree signed by the DPD Program Director, followed by a Verification Statement upon DPD program completion. For the Dietetic Practice emphasis, all application materials must be received by the Graduate School by 5 p.m. on January 3 for preselect and by February 15 for computer matching.

Applicants who are not accepted into the dietetic internship and Dietetic Practice emphasis, but who meet general MS admission requirements, may change their emphasis to Management of Child Nutrition Programs or Applied Nutrition.

Application forms are available from Graduate Admissions, 118 College Drive, #5024, Southern Miss, Hattiesburg, MS 39406, telephone 601.266.5137.
Members of underrepresented groups are strongly urged to apply.

Financial Aid

Financial assistance is available to students in the form of scholarships, loans, graduate work-study, and graduate teaching or research assistantships.

Financial Aid: Application forms are available from the Office of Financial Aid, 118 College Drive #5101, Hattiesburg, MS 39401-5101, telephone (601) 266-4774. Students should apply to the Financial Aid Office no later than March 15.

Scholarships: Scholarships are offered through the American Dietetic Association Foundation (ADAF) and some departmental scholarships the USM Foundation.  

Graduate Assistantships: Application forms for graduate assistantships are available through the Graduate School, 118 College Drive #5024, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5024, telephone (601) 266-4679, and online through the Office of Financial Aid.