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The B.S. in Nutritional Sciences — Nutritional Physiology and Biochemistry Option, formerly Basic Sciences Option, may be the right fit for you if your career plans include a health-related pre-professional program; laboratory research in the pharmaceutical or food industries, government, or academia; or graduate study.

By integrating nutritional sciences with other basic science courses, this curriculum will challenge you to hone your lab research skills while meeting the requirements to apply for programs in medicine, dentistry, physician assistant, occupational therapy, pharmacology, and more.


What is the Nutritional Physiology and Biochemistry Option? icon-olus-circle

The Nutritional Physiology and Biochemistry option incorporates knowledge from chemistry, physiology, and physics to the study of nutritional science. A few of the topics you will explore include the study of global nutrition issues, the relationship of nutritional intake to chronic diseases, and nutrition throughout the lifecycle.

The Nutritional Physiology and Biochemistry option prepares students for health-related pre-professional programs and laboratory-based research. This option is recommended for students preparing for careers in medicine and other health-related fields such as dentistry, optometry, physician assistant, physical therapy, and chiropractic, as well as graduate school. Also, this option prepares students for careers in laboratory research in the pharmaceutical or food industries, government, or academia.

What are the Job Opportunities? icon-olus-circle

Students graduating with a degree in this option typically pursue careers in laboratory research in the pharmaceutical or food industry, government, or academia and will meet the requirements to apply for health-related pre-professional programs in medicine, dentistry, physician’s assistant, occupational therapy, pharmacology, and others.

Admission Criteria icon-olus-circle

Penn State University Admissions Criteria

The Penn State University Admissions office provides the admissions criteria for acceptance into Penn State University Park for first-year students and students transferring from other institutions.

Entrance to the Nutritional Sciences Major

Students are eligible for entrance into the Nutritional Sciences major by meeting the following criteria

  • Accepted and enrolled at the Penn State University Park campus and College of Health and Human Development.
  • Completed a least 29 credit hours
  • Have a minimum of a 2.0 cumulative grade-point average (GPA)
Program Completion Requirements icon-olus-circle

Students in the Nutritional Physiology and Biochemistry option must complete the university general education course requirements and the  Nutritional Physiology and Biochemistry major courses to earn a B.S. degree in the Nutritional Sciences, Nutritional Physiology Biochemistry option.  Students must earn a "C" or higher in the Nutritional Sciences prescribed and additional courses to earn the degree as well as in the General Education Foundations courses (GQ and GWS).  The following links provide additional information.

Academic Calendar icon-olus-circle

Visit the Penn State University academic calendar to find key dates and deadlines for each academic semester.

Financial Aid and Scholarships icon-olus-circle

Financial Aid

The Penn State Office of Student aid offers resources to students learn about financial aid and student loans available to them


Students have many opportunities for scholarships through the university, the College of Health and Human Development*, the Department of Nutritional Sciences*, and professional organizations.


Additional scholarship opportunities will be announced on the Nutritional Sciences Advising blog.

*Scholarships offered by the College of Human Development and the Department of Nutritional Sciences are awarded via an internal selection committee. Selections are based on student career interests, current GPA, and financial need.  There is no application process for these awards.

Resources and Professional Organizations in Nutrition icon-olus-circle
Getting Nutrition Related Experience icon-olus-circle

Nutritional Sciences Advising Blog

The Nutritional Sciences Advising Blog frequently posts information from employers and university programs seeking undergraduates to work at their facility.  Students are encouraged to sign up to receive e-mail notifications to be aware of the most recent opportunities posted on the blog.

Undergraduate Teaching Assistants

Students who earn a B+ or higher in their undergraduate courses and want to reinforce the information they learned in the course are encouraged to become an undergraduate teaching assistant (TA) in the Nutritional Sciences department. Students can enroll in NUTR 496 to receive 1 credit that can go toward their 400-level supporting course requirement. This is a great way for the professor to get to know the student, and if the student does a good job, s/he can get a good letter of reference from the professor with whom they are working. Students interested in becoming a TA for a specific class should ask their professor toward the end of the semester about the opportunity.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Students seeking research experience have the opportunity to be exposed to applied research or basic research in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and affiliated research centers. Students can enroll in NUTR 494 to receive 1 credit that can apply toward their 400-level supporting course requirements.  Depending on the research lab's funding status, students may be given the opportunity to be paid for their work.


Once students have identified a research lab that interests them, they should contact the professor who runs the lab to determine if they are taking undergraduate students.

Volunteer Experiences

Undergraduate students have participated in these volunteer activities to gain experience. Contact information for these venues can be found by clicking the link or doing a search on the Internet.

  • HealthWorks
  • State College Area Food Bank
  • Penn State Cooperative Extension
  • Mount Nittany Medical Center – the hospital offers volunteer experience for students to work with health care professionals and with patients. Students must be able to commit one to two hours per week of their time, and it is recommended they have completed NUTR 251 and NUTR 358. These positions are limited and come on a first-come, first-serve basis. Contact the hospital volunteer services for an application. Phone: 814-234-6170.

International Experiences

Global Leadership Initiative

The Global Leadership Initiative (GLI) in the College of Health and Human Development gives select undergraduate students the opportunity to hone their leadership skills in an international setting, build their global awareness, and prepare them for working with people worldwide through experiences abroad, through in-class learning, by communicating with alumni mentors, and by sharing experiences with other students. For more information, contact Stephen Kodish.

Global Health Minor

Students from across the university have the opportunity to complete a minor in Global Health, which was designed to provide undergraduate students with a multidisciplinary exposure to the theoretical and practical issues affecting the health of populations around the world.