College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences
Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences
Mateja Savoie Roskos, PhD, MPH, RD
Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Sciences
The Master of Public Health (MPH) degree provides students with a strong foundation in the core disciplines of public health including biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, sociobehavioral public health, and public health policy and administration. The curriculum follows guidelines of the Council on Education for Public Health and the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.
The MPH program in Public Health Nutrition includes interdisciplinary training in nutrition-related sciences and the core public health disciplines. The major areas of emphasis include study of methods for quantifying dietary intake and nutritional status, the role of diet in disease risk and health promotion, and the design and implementation of nutrition policy and programs to improve health in local, national, and global populations. The land grant setting of Utah State University provides unique opportunities for the study of the relationship between human nutritional status and health with strong academic and research programs in nutritional epidemiology, federal and community nutrition programs, nutritional biochemistry and molecular biology, USU Extension nutrition outreach programs, food science, food safety, agricultural practices, animal health, climate change, and environmental sciences.
Graduates with a MPH degree in Public Health Nutrition can seek out diverse positions in public health with opportunities for leadership roles, professional development, and higher pay and benefits. Potential positions include: public health nutritionist, nutritional epidemiologist, program coordinator, public health educator, executive director, and nutrition services supervisor to name a few. These positions can be found in a variety of governmental, academic, nonprofit and for profit settings including: state and local public health departments, colleges and universities, health care organizations such as Intermountain Health Care (IHC), Utah Department of Workforce Services, Women Infants, and Children (WIC), food banks, food pantries, nutrition education programs such as SNAP-Ed and EFNEP, community action agencies, and anti hunger/poverty organizations, among many others. Registered Dietitian’s (RD’s) will be required to have a master’s level degree to establish entry-level professional requirements starting in 2024. The MPH degree is increasingly used as a stepping stone to medical or dental school when combined with a nutrition degree or other undergraduate science degree. For students interested in academic careers in public health, the MPH degree can be excellent preparation for application to doctoral degree programs at Schools or Colleges of Public health.
Students must meet some departmental requirements, in addition to requirements of the School of Graduate Studies as seen on the School of Graduate Studies catalog page. Applicants must attain Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores at the 40th percentile minimum on the Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing tests, and must have a 3.0 or higher GPA for the last 60 semester (90 quarter) credit hours. Once admitted, students are required to maintain enrollment as follows: Registered for 9 or more graduate credits or enrollment in at least 3 credits per semester in order to use University facilities and receive direction (including thesis or project report direction) from their major professor. Enrollment in at least 6 credits per semester if receiving an assistantship or fellowship from Utah State University.
The Public Health Nutrition MPH in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences requires an undergraduate background in chemistry, biochemistry, mathematics, statistics, biology and nutrition. Prior coursework in public health is desirable. Students may be accepted into the MPH graduate program with deficiencies in these areas; however, their supervisory committee will require that competencies equivalent to a BS degree in the department of study be obtained as part of the Program of Study.
MPH Degree Plan Options
The MPH requires a minimum of 42 semester credit hours including 15 credits of required core courses, common to all degree options, departmental required courses, elective courses, seminars, and credits for the Plan A, Plan B, or Professional degree options described below.
Plan A option: requires preparation of a thesis, and 6 to 15 thesis credits are required. The semester(s) during which a student registers for thesis credit should correspond as closely as possible to the semester(s) in which the thesis work is done and faculty supervision is provided. The thesis for a Plan A master’s degree is to be a contribution to the field of knowledge based on the student’s own research, or a treatment and presentation of known subject matter from a new perspective. The student and major professor should decide upon a problem or subject for the thesis study by the end of the student’s second semester of graduate study.
Plan B option: requires the production of a scholarly paper and completion of 2-3 credits of thesis research. The Plan B paper is usually a review of literature based on inquiry, systematic research, and analytic critique of the findings. The summary and conclusions developed should enhance knowledge in the discipline. Plan B papers and reports should follow the same format specifications as theses and dissertations and are expected to reflect equivalent scholarship standards, even though they may be less intensive and not demand the originality of a Plan A thesis. Plan B papers are defended but are not reviewed by the Graduate School or signed by the dean of graduate studies. Plan B papers must be submitted to the Merrill-Cazier Library.
Professional degree: A master’s degree option with no thesis or Plan B paper is available. Those seeking professional degrees must complete a supervised field or professional experience, write a capstone paper about it, and give a presentation on it to the department in which the student is enrolled. Students should contact their advisor early in their program to outline an acceptable project and to be certain that all degree requirements will be met and that all appropriate paperwork has been sent to the School of Graduate Studies.