Department of Nutritional Sciences

All programs in the Department of Nutritional Sciences train students to become leaders in nutrition who are able to integrate the span of knowledge from molecules to organisms to populations with the goal of improving human health.

The Department of Nutritional Sciences offers a breadth of educational, research, and experiential opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students that provide them with the foundational knowledge and skills to pursue careers in research, pre-professional, industry, food systems management, and community settings.

Nutritional Sciences Academic Programs

Undergraduate Program in Nutritional Sciences

Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences

Graduate Program in Nutrition Receives National Ranking

Recently released results from the National Research Council ranks the Penn State Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences among the nation's best.


  • Increasing the amount of omega-3s in diet will likely decrease risk of heart disease
    Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential for human health, but the body does not produce them -- therefore they must be consumed in order to maintain appropriate levels. Increasing the amount of omega-3s in your diet, whether from fish or flax, will likely decrease your risk of getting heart disease, according to Penn State nutritionists.
  • Bacterial product could cure viral infections, scientists say
    Specifically, in findings published in the Nov. 14 issue of Science, the researchers described that activation of the innate immune system with the bacterial protein flagellin could prevent and cure rotavirus infection, which is amongst the most common causes of severe diarrhea. Matam Vijay-Kumar, assistant professor, co-authored the study.
  • Nearly 70 percent of NUTR students placed into post-baccalaureate internships
    Acceptance rates into dietetic internships is higher than the national average.
    Nutritional Sciences (NUTR) students had a 69.4 percent acceptance rate into dietetic internships for the fall 2013 and spring 2014 application periods, exceeding those terms’ goals, and marking the second time in the last five years that acceptance rates hovered around 70 percent. Out of 72 applicants, 50 were matched.
two researchers checking on a lab rat
  • Eating lean beef daily can help lower blood pressure
  • Contrary to conventional wisdom, a growing body of evidence shows that eating lean beef can reduce risk factors for heart disease, according to recent research by nutritional scientists."This research adds to the significant evidence, including work previously done in our lab, that supports lean beef's role in a heart-healthy diet," said Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, Penn State. "This study shows that nutrient-rich lean beef can be included as part of a heart-healthy diet that reduces blood pressure, which can help lower the risk for cardiovascular disease."
  • Key factor in neonatal zinc deficiency may impact lactation and breast cancer
    Penn State researchers may have found a way to recognize women who are at risk of having low milk zinc levels. It started when her son was just two months old with a diaper rash that would not go away. The blisters eventually spread across his body, including his face. He soon began to suffer from chronic ear infections, unusual for an exclusively breastfed infant who was not in day care. By the time he was six months old, his mother noticed that he was not as active as other babies his age, and he was also failing to gain weight."The pediatrician told me that my son was allergic to my breast milk and that I should wean him onto infant formula," she says. "I refused to stop breastfeeding, because I knew 'breast is best.' Instead, I eliminated all possible allergens from my diet. Only organic foods crossed my lips. Out went cow's milk, all things soy, eggs, gluten, and the dreaded peanut, but nothing helped." That's when the woman contacted Shannon Kelleher, associate professor of nutritional sciences.
  • Nutritional Sciences faculty members, A. Catharine Ross and Barbara Rolls received awards from the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) at the ASN Scientific Sessions and Experimental Biology 2013. Dr. Ross was named a Fellow of ASN, the highest honor the society bestows. Dr. Rolls received the David Kritchevsky Career Achievement Award in recognition of a career devoted to promoting interaction among, support for, and assistance of outstanding nutrition researchers in governmental, private and academic sectors resulting in the application of fundamental knowledge to delivery of better nutrition products and information to the public.