Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Public Health Nutrition


A graduate degree in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Tennessee can lead to excellent careers and professional opportunities in public health, non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies.

The program’s mission is to promote an understanding of public health nutrition, including assessment, policy development, and assurance, for the enrichment of the physiological and social well-being of individuals, families, and communities.

One of only eight programs in the country for nutrition leadership education and training for the maternal and child population.  Our program focuses on public health nutrition and leads to a graduate degree.

  • The US Public Health Service, Maternal and Child Health Bureau training grant is a prestigious award, which helps address the need to provide well-trained public health nutrition leaders with special interests in the maternal and child population.
  • The program is one of only eighteen in the country that endorses and meets curriculum guidelines for public health nutrition graduate degrees.
  • The Public Health cognate is in association with the Master of Public Health, which is accredited by the Council for Education in Public Health for Community Health/Preventive Medicine. The program was the first in the country to be accredited outside a school of medicine by the Council for Education in Public Health.

The Public Health Nutrition program’s strengths are the use of evidenced-based guidance and its applications to public health issues, including those of the maternal and child population, overweight and obesity.

  • A leadership emphasis fosters professional development of alumni, who are demonstrated leaders.
  • A population-based focus with an emphasis on community-based strategic planning and program and fiscal management, which prepares alumni for leadership in community-based programs.
  • A behavioral emphasis to promote healthy eating and physical activity also prepares alumni to develop, implement and evaluate health promotion programs.
  • Strong linkages and collaborations with community partners, including the Knox County Health Department provide advanced-level practice to complement didactic course work.
  • The program is the first in the country to receive federal funding for graduate training. Overall, it is the second oldest program in the country.
  • The University of Tennessee has been educating and training master’s-level Public Health nutritionists since 1943. This contributes to a rich history and tradition.

The Public Health Nutrition field experiences are essential to understanding how nutrition programs and services are integrated in community health care delivery systems. Students develop an understanding of and appreciation for the realities of public health nutrition practice and how nutrition-related community priorities and needs are addressed by the public health system. Students integrate theory with practice by interacting with the “real world.” They gain confidence in themselves as professionals, develop professional contacts, and clarify career objectives.

Along with the block field experiences, students complete a 45 hour practicum as part of NUTR 524.

Block Field Experiences

The block field experience gives Public Health Nutrition students the opportunity to practice full time with supervision by an experienced field preceptor. It includes one week of an experience at an interdisciplinary/inter-professional setting, such as Cherokee Health Systems, and seven weeks at a field agency. The field experiences are individually tailored to each student based on expressed priorities and interests. The field experience is a great opportunity for students to experience full-time practice and further develop their knowledge and skills. The block field experience is completed at the conclusion of didactic study as NUTR 515 (Field Study in Community Nutrition).

Examples of past field placements include:

  • Miami-Dade County Health Department in Miami, Florida
  • Arizona Department of Health Services in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Indian Health Service in Rockville, Maryland
  • National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Control and Population Studies, Bethesda, Maryland
  • Maternal and Child Health Bureau in Rockville, Maryland
  • US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services in Alexandria, Virginia

Practicum

Concurrent field experiences are incorporated into a 45-hour practicum to augment the didactic component of NUTR 524. Students work with public health nutritionists at the Knox County Health Department, which is a comprehensive metropolitan health department. Students learn about how to conduct a community nutrition assessment, as well as, plan, implement, and evaluate programs that benefit the local community.


More information on Public Health Nutrition MS Program

More information on Dual MS-MPH Program

More information on Nutritional Sciences PhD Program

 

For more information on the Public Health Nutrition Program, contact:

Marsha Spence, PhD, MPH, RDN, LDN
Associate Professor of Practice
Director, Public Health Nutrition
Department of Nutrition
1215 Cumberland Avenue
The University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996-1920
Phone: 865-974-6265
Fax: 865-974-3491