George Mason University’s Master of Science in Nutrition program prepares students who seek to make a difference in the health of their community to become multifaceted wellness experts. We are the only MS in Nutrition with a main campus in Northern Virginia, and our close proximity to Washington, D.C. allows for ample experiential learning opportunities.
In our master’s program, nutrition means more than eating a healthy and balanced diet. We combine the science of nutrition with the culture of food. Our students learn to influence behavior changes that improve the health of local and global communities, as well as increase global food access.
One of the many reasons students choose to study nutrition at Mason is because public health nutrition is the cornerstone of our program, encompassing local, state, national, and global levels. Read on to discover five more of the top reasons students choose to get their nutrition master’s degree at Mason.
- Faculty Research and Expertise
Mason is an R1 Research University, a designation reserved for institutions with the highest level of research funding and activity. This dedication to high caliber research is reflected in our faculty, who are published and have extensive experience in both clinical and community research settings.
Our faculty have expertise in public health nutrition, community nutrition, obesity, maternal-child nutrition, metabolism, clinical nutrition, food science, food systems, and food studies. Mason offers paid opportunities to work closely with faculty on their research.
There are competitive Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs) for full-time students, who typically work 10–20 hours per week on stipend. There are also work-study and wage positions with faculty for up to 29 hours per week.
- New Dietician Concentration — RDN Pathway
Mason’s Nutrition, MS program offers a dietetics concentration, which is part of the Future Education Model by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). The concentration allows students to complete both the coursework and the internship in two years. Graduates are prepared to sit for the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RE or RDN) registration exam, including the upcoming 2024 changes, and for successful entrance into the field of dietetics as an entry-level dietitian ready to make a positive impact.
Why Become a Dietitian?
Dietitians teach their clients and the public about nutrition, food, and health. There are many parallels between the work of a nutritionist and that of a dietitian, including working in the same type of settings (schools, hospitals, long-term care facilities, government health facilities, research, sports, etc.) to help people live healthier lives.
While nutritionists may have varying degrees of education in nutrition, dietitians have the training, credentials, and licensure to help diagnose and treat illnesses, as well as work in clinical settings.
Starting in 2024, an MS in Nutrition is required to take the RD licensing exam. This new professional requirement seeks to elevate the field to better protect the public, remain competitive, and increase field recognition.
Although dieticians who already have an RD license without a master’s degree will be grandfathered in, earning a master’s in nutrition still provides deeper knowledge of the field, bolsters resumes, and helps candidates to stay competitive and stand out to employers.
- Community Nutrition Concentration
Mason's Master of Science in Nutrition program offers a community nutrition concentration that emphasizes a skill set tailored to expanding nutrition-related needs. Students learn to assess, evaluate, and intervene in the most current and relevant nutrition issues.
The curriculum prepares graduates to work for agencies, businesses, and organizations that seek to improve nutrition in various environments, ranging from smaller communities to the larger, global scale. This concentration also prepares students to engage in further study for research careers in nutrition.
Community nutrition is a fascinating and vital aspect of the nutrition field. It incorporates the study of nutrition and the promotion of good health in populations through food and nutrient intake. Rather than just honing in on nutrition at the individual level, an entire community is the focus of the community nutritionist’s (or public health nutritionist’s) interest.
This area of nutrition promotes good health and works to prevent diet-related illness within a whole population, sometimes working with high-risk groups and other subgroups within the community.
- Nutrition Clinic Offers Hands-on Experience
In 2022, the College of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition and Food Studies opened a nutrition clinic at our Population Health Center. The clinic operates on a sliding scale model, meaning the cost is income-based and affordable for those who have limited resources, and helps patients with obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other health issues that diet can improve.
It also provides real-world experience and training for students in the dietetics program under the direct supervision of faculty who are Registered Dietitians or MDs. Clinical rotations for dietetic students start in their second year of the program, adding to the breadth and depth of their educational experience at George Mason University.
- State-of-the-Art Nutrition Learning Facilities
The immersive learning experience in our nutrition programs is also elevated by incredibly valuable facilities within the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies.
College of Public Health Nutrition Kitchen
Peterson Hall houses a state-of-the-art, 25-student capacity nutrition teaching kitchen! The kitchen is furnished with multiple food preparation stations allowing students to participate in cooking and other food preparation activities.
Each station is equipped with stovetops, counter space, refrigerators, sinks, ovens, and tablets for viewing demonstrations and accessing the internet. The kitchen also provides a large demonstration platform with video recording capability allowing replay for each teaching kitchen station.
Human Nutrition Assessment Lab
The Human Nutrition Assessment Lab was established in 2014 to create a teaching environment and to serve as a resource for clinical research investigations dedicated to human nutrition experimentation.
The lab provides an active learning and research environment for students, faculty, and professionals to develop, evaluate, and utilize both traditional and cutting-edge nutritional assessment tools among various populations at the local, state, national, and international levels. It also provides a COSMED Quark RMR metabolic cart, which can accurately assess an individual's resting energy expenditure and Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA), measuring body composition as well as bone density.
Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study Wet Lab
The Nutrition and Food Studies wet lab is a biosafety level-two lab, providing space for cell culture work and basic food chemistry studies. The lab’s equipment includes three biosafety cabinets, a CO2 incubator, an inverted light microscope, a multi-mode plate reader, a spectrophotometer, and liquid nitrogen storage of cells. Shared laboratory facilities within the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study provide the opportunity to perform molecular biology techniques and confocal microscopy.
So, there you have it: five of the top reasons students choose to earn their Master of Science in Nutrition at George Mason University. Mason nutritionists work to improve the health of others and make an immeasurable impact in their local communities and beyond. If you’re interested in becoming a part of this effort to improve health and increase global food access, learn more about our Nutrition, MS program here!