FSU launched a new “4+1” program in food and nutrition this fall semester.
The program follows in the footsteps of recent 4+1 and 3+3 programs rolled out over the past year at Framingham State in English, biotechnology, and law. These accelerated programs allow students to take graduate classes during their senior undergraduate year and earn a master’s degree in less time.
According to Suzanne Neubauer, graduate-level food and nutrition professor, as well as coordinator and advisor to the dietetics program, any student who wishes to become a registered dietitian in the future and take the Registration Examination for Dietitians must first obtain a master’s degree.
This is a recent requirement by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). Though ACEND has set the deadline for this requirement for 2024, Neubauer said it benefits the program and its students to get a head start.
“We have a lot of wiggle room here. However, in conjunction with that ruling, the University has also started some 4+1 programs. So, it was only natural that we would move in that direction,” Neubauer said.
According to Neubauer, the food and nutrition undergraduate program is comprised of approximately 200 students, with an additional 75 enrolled at the graduate level. Four students have enrolled in the 4+1 program since its launch earlier this fall.
Neubauer added ACEND limits the number of students who can enroll in the graduate-level food and nutrition concentration to 24 students.
“Each year, we review applications,” Neubauer said. “Even if you’re a food and nutrition major, you don’t automatically get into the program. It’s a competitive application process.”
According to the FSU website, students who wish to apply should do so in the second semester of their junior year, so they will be able to take graduate-level courses in their senior year. Prospective applicants must have also taken or be enrolled in the 300-level Principles of Biochemistry class.
Neubauer said the program focuses on school nutrition. Degree candidates are placed in rotation at public schools and provide nutrition education, aided by curriculum materials produced by the University’s John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition.
She added ACEND requires rotations in clinical nutrition, food service management, and community nutrition. Students receive approximately 1,200 hours in practicum experience.
However, Neubauer added most students do not end up working in schools, as most available positions consist of working in food service management rather than nutrition education.
“There are not as many jobs in nutrition education,” Neubauer said. “I’d say roughly 10 to 20 percent of our students are taking jobs in schools. That might be working as a food service director or working on menu issues – gluten-free menus, healthier menus – working within the school and USDA commodities.”
Neubauer added, “But it would be nice to have more growth on the nutrition education side.”
Yaser Najjar, dean of graduate education, said in an Aug. 13 press release, “The 4+1 program is a wonderful opportunity for highly motivated undergraduate students who already know they would like to pursue a graduate degree. The arrangement allows students to save time and money and get a leg up on their peers enrolling in traditional graduate programs.”
Emma Perez, a freshman and food and nutrition major, said, “I think food and nutrition is a booming industry, so this is a valuable degree and program for many people.”