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PhD in Nutrition & Exercise Physiology

Application deadline for the PhD program is Dec. 30.

The Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Missouri-Columbia offers a unique doctoral program in Nutrition & Exercise Physiology, which provides students a strong basic science foundation in both disciplines. Students complete the core Nutrition and Exercise Physiology curriculum, and then specialize in Exercise Physiology or Nutrition by completing additional coursework in either emphasis area.

Graduate students have the opportunity to work with faculty whose research focuses on how nutrition and exercise impact chronic disease.

Upon completion of this degree, students will be well prepared for careers in academia, industry or the public sector.

Teaching and research assistantships are available to PhD degree candidates on a competitive basis.

Exercise Physiology Emphasis

The Exercise Physiology PhD Emphasis Area is designed to provide advanced training in both the basic and applied aspects of exercise, physical activity and physical inactivity. The curriculum has a scientific basis with core courses in exercise physiology, nutrition, biochemistry, and physiology. Currently, the research focus is to examine the mechanisms by which physical activity levels and/or exercise modulate risk and development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, as well as metabolic and cardiovascular diseases using both animal models and human subjects, and to be able to translate the findings into the clinical or applied setting.

Nutrition Emphasis

The Nutrition PhD Emphasis Area provides training in the distinct core nutrition knowledge described by the Graduate Nutrition Education Committee of the American Society for Nutrition: general research skills; structure and biochemical and metabolic functions of nutrients and other dietary constituents; food, diets, and supplements; nutritional status assessment; nutrition and disease; nutrition interventions and policies; and, analytical skills. Basic, translation and clinical research focuses on obesity and associated conditions such as fatty liver disease, diabetes and bone fragility.

Graduate students receive training in laboratory research, seminar preparation, scientific writing, problem solving and grant writing. Graduate studies in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology offer the advantage of interdisciplinary exercise research that is facilitated by numerous collaborations at the many research centers at MU. The MU Nutritional Center for Health (MUNCH), which is used for study meal preparation and feeding studies is housed in NEP. The Exercise Physiology and Nutrition research programs collaborate closely with other units on campus including the Department of Biomedical Sciences in the Vet School, and the Departments of Internal Medicine and Medical Pharmacology and Physiology in the School of Medicine among others.

At this time, the program does not accept students into the doctoral program without a master’s degree. A student without a master’s degree who would like to pursue a doctoral degree must apply to the master’s graduate program. Once accepted into the master’s program, it is possible to apply and transfer to the doctoral program after the first year of graduate study. Specified criteria must be met for the transfer to be approved by the Graduate Admissions Committee. Please contact the department for more information.

Nutrition Prerequisite Courses:

Entering students are expected to have undergraduate training (lecture and laboratory courses) in general and organic chemistry and biology, a two-semester course in biochemistry and an upper-level human nutrition course.

Course Title & Number Hours
General Chemistry (e.g., CHEM 1320, 1330) 8 hours
Organic Chemistry w/Lab (e.g., CHEM 2100, 2130) 5 hours
Biochemistry (e.g., BIOCHM 4270, 4272) 6 hours
Biology w/Lab (e.g., BIO SC 1500) 5 hours
Human Nutrition (e.g., NEP 2340) 3 hours

Exercise Physiology Prerequisite Courses:

Entering PhD students should have a completed master’s degree and have training in general anatomy, physiology, a two-semester course in chemistry, organic chemistry and an upper-level exercise physiology course.

Course Title & Number Hours
General Chemistry (e.g., CHEM 1320, CHEM 1330) 8 hours
Organic Chemistry w/Lab (e.g., CHEM 2100, 2130) 5 hours
Anatomy (e.g., PTH_AS 2201) 3 hours
Physiology (e.g., MPP 3202) 5 hours
Exercise Physiology (e.g., NEP 3850) 3 hours

The NEP Doctoral Degree requires 75 hours total beyond the bachelor’s degree, including but not limited to the required core courses and courses required for the emphasis areas; courses from the Masters degree (≤ 30 hours if from another institution) may be counted towards the doctoral degree at the discretion of the student’s committee. At least 15 of the 75 hours of course work must be at the 8000/9000 level (exclusive of research, problems and independent study experiences).

Dissertation Requirements

The dissertation must be written on a subject approved by the candidates doctoral program committee, must embody the results of original and significant investigation and must be the candidates own work. All dissertation defenses shall be open to the general faculty. For the dissertation to be successfully defended, the student’s doctoral committee must vote to pass the student on the defense with no more than one dissenting or abstaining vote.

Course Number Course Name Credits
Required courses for both Nutrition & Exercise Physiology
MPP 8415 Research Ethics (or other Ethics course: BIOCHEM 8060, BIO_SC 8060; V_PBIO 8641) 1-2
Statistics* (2 course minimum) 6
BIOCHEM 7270 General Biochemistry 1 (or other Biochemistry course: BIOCHEM 8240) 3
NEP 8870 Exercise Metabolism 3
NEP 7340 Human Nutrition II 3
NEP 8501 Topics in Exercise Physiology (1 credit, must take 3 times) 3
NEP 9087 PhD Seminar (1 credit, must take 4 times) 4
NEP 9090 PhD Research 12
Exercise Physiology Emphasis: Requirements
NEP 8850 Advanced exercise physiology 3
NEP 8220 Cardiovascular disease and exercise 3
NEP 8860 Exercise Endocrinology 3
NEP 7500 Research Methods and Techniques (Min 6 hrs, Max 12 hrs) 6-12
Nutritional Sciences Emphasis: Requirements
BIOCHEM 7272 General Biochemistry 2 3
NEP 8310 Nutritional Biochemistry of Lipids 3
NEP 8340 Nutrition in Human Health 3
AN SCI 9442 Vitamins and Minerals 4
NEP 7500 Research Methods and Techniques (or other course: MPP 8417) 2