Nutritional Sciences (MS)
Graduate Chair


Rachel Novotny

 Agricultural Sciences 216
1955 East West Road
Honolulu, HI 96822
p:     (808) 956-3848
f:  (808) 956-4024



Nutritional Sciences Graduate Studies


Course requirements and other degree requirements are subject to change.  For up-to-date requirements contact the Graduate Program Chair.


There are two degree options, Plan A (thesis) or Plan B (non-thesis). Because the MS in Nutritional Sciences is a research-based program, students are generally expected to follow Plan A. Permission from the student’s advisor and Graduate Chairperson must be obtained to follow Plan B. 

Plan B is focused more on coursework and less on research and is appropriate only for students who do not plan on an advanced degree or a career that involves research. Requirements common to both options are described below. Requirements specific to each option are given under Plan A (Thesis) and Plan B (non-Thesis) webpages. Regardless of option followed, all students are required to complete a research project and written report in a timely manner. The research project will be directed by a Nutritional Sciences Graduate Faculty advisor approved by the Graduate Chair. It is the student’s responsibility to develop a research plan with their advisor. Students should clarify with their advisor if they will participate in a thesis project (Plan A) or scholarly research report (Plan B) as soon as possible in their program.

Course Requirements Common to Both Plan A and Plan B: 

Upon entering the department the student should meet with the Chair of the Graduate Program who will provide an orientation to the MS program and serve as the student's interim advisor if one has not already been assigned. Prior to registration for the first semester of study, the student will meet with his or her advisor for a preliminary conference to determine if there are any undergraduate deficiencies and to discuss the students program of study. A total program of course work that meets the requirements for the MS degree should be discussed. In addition to courses needed to overcome undergraduate deficiencies and required graduate courses, students may be required to complete elective courses in microbiology, physiology, biochemistry, statistics, public health or other related fields of study depending on the student’s background and interests. These courses will be selected in consultation with his or her advisor with the main considerations being the ultimate research and career objectives of the student and fulfillment of credit requirements for the Master's degree. 

Oral Candidacy Examination (Oral Qualifying Exam)

An oral candidacy examination is given near the completion of the student’s first year of course work and no later than the semester prior to graduation. The purpose of the exam is to evaluate the student's basic knowledge in food and nutrition science and their ability to pursue advanced work toward the Master's degree. The examination enables the student and advisor to plan a program that will overcome any deficiencies in the student’s background, if present, and foster professional development and success in the remainder of the student's MS program. 

The examination is conducted by a committee made up of at least three members of the Nutritional Sciences graduate faculty. The committee is chosen by the student in consultation with their advisor and approved by the graduate program chairperson. The committee members should reflect the breadth of the field of study (Nutritional Sciences). A majority of the committee members must agree that the student has demonstrated sufficient knowledge and abilities to pursue master’s level work and research in the field, otherwise the student fails. A student passing the exam may, however, be asked to participate in coursework or other projects deemed necessary by the exam committee to help strengthen weaknesses in the student’s background revealed in the exam. The student’s advisor should also attend the exam, but does not ask questions or vote in the evaluation process. The advisors role is to support the student, insure fairness, and participate in discussions about how to overcome any deficiencies detected during the exam. A student failing such an examination may repeat it once upon petition approved by the graduate chair and the Dean of the Graduate Division. The second examination should be taken no sooner than one month or later than three months after the first examination. Continuation of graduate study will depend upon successful completion of the examination. Appeal of the committee’s decision may be filed following the Academic Grievance procedures outlined in the Graduate Division Manual. Upon passing the examination, the student is admitted to candidacy (Plan A students submit Graduate Division Form I; Plan B completes Progress Report Form and notifies Grad Chair of exam results).

Other Requirements for Graduation:

All graduate students are required to have one semester of teaching experience in order to meet graduation requirements. Students who are not paid TAs need to schedule the instructional experience with any participating graduate faculty member during any semester of their choice. A memo from the participating faculty evaluating the performance of the student as satisfactory or unsatisfactory should be forwarded to the Graduate Chair upon completion of the experience. Unsatisfactory performance does not fulfill graduation requirements and the instructional experience must be repeated. Specific guidelines for the instructional experience are available from the Graduate Chairperson

Summary of Required Elements of Program:

  1. Introductory meeting with Chair of Graduate Program and advisor to plan course work and define any deficiencies(Optional: may be recorded on Plan A, Form I; Plan B, Progress Report Form for documentation). 
  2. Meet coursework requirements and instructional experience requirement (submit evaluation memo for instructional experience to graduate chair). 
  3. Pass qualifying exam (Submit Plan A, Form I; Plan B, Progress Report Form). 
  4. Selection of Master's Thesis Committee and Thesis Topic (Submit Plan A, Form II). Selection of Plan B project with advisor’s approval (Plan B, Progress Report Form). 
  5. Pass Final Examination on research project (Submit Plan A, Form III; Plan B, Progress Report Form). 
  6. Final approval of thesis (Plan A only, Thesis committee signs signature page).
  7. One semester teaching experience. 

Note: Students need to notify the Graduate Records Office and apply for graduation during the first 3 weeks of the semester they intend to graduate. Also, students must be registered for at least one credit during the semester they intend to graduate.

HNFAS Department

1955 East West Road
AgSci 216

Honolulu, HI 96822

phone: 808-956-7095

fax: 808-956-4024


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