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PhD in Nutrition & Exercise Physiology

The Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Missouri-Columbia offers a unique doctoral program in Nutrition and 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 the Exercise Physiology or Nutrition 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.

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.

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. Interdisciplinary nutrition research that is facilitated via the many research centers including the Botanical Center and the Life Sciences Center.

At this time, the program does not accept students into the doctoral program without a thesis-based 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 on this subject.

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.

Exercise Physiology Prerequisite Courses:
Entering PhD students should have a completed master's, ideally with a thesis, and have the same required courses as MS, but Organic I is required. Biochemistry and Nutrition would be ideal.

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.

Other Degree Requirements

Please refer to the NEP Exercise Physiology or Nutrition Emphasis Area handbooks for additional degree requirements.

Course Title Hours Comments
Research Ethics (BIOCHEM 8060, BIO_SC 8060 Ethical Conduct of Research, V_PBIO 8641 Intro to Research Ethics, MPP 8001 Scholarship, Research and Teaching Ethics Across Disciplines) 1-2  
Stats – 2 course minimum from those listed below 6 Require: knowledge of R
Biochem 7270 and 7272 (7272 optional for Ex phys students) 6 Require: UG organic chem 1 & 2
NEP 8501 Topics in Nutritional Sciences and Exercise Physiology) (1 credit, must be taken 3 times) 3  
NEP 8870 Exercise metabolism 3  
Research methods and techniques (MPP 8417 Scientific Communication or MPP 8420 Skills in Biomedical Research or NEP 7500 Research in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology) 2  
NEP 9087 PhD Seminar 4  
NEP 9090 PhD Research 12  
Requirements Hours
NEP 8850 Advanced Exercise Physiology 3
NEP 8001 Cardiovascular Disease and Exercise 3
NEP 8860 Exercise Endocrinology 3
NEP 7340 Human Nutrition II 3
NEP 7500-minimum 6 hr; max 12hr 6
Suggested Electives:
NEP 8030 Etiology of Obesity 3
NEP 8310-Nutritional Biochemistry of Lipids 3
NEP 8340 Nutrition and Human Health 3
NEP 7970 Sports Nutrition 3
NEP 8125 Preventive and Therapeutic Exercise Physiology 3
NEP 8127 Advanced Physiological Assessment and Exercise Prescription 3
V_BSCI 9435 Molecular Exercise Biology 3
NEP 8085-Independent Study, can take more than one 3
BIOCHEM 8260 Macro Biochem pathways –SPRING 4
BIOCHEM 7272 Biochemistry* 3
MPP 7422 Medical Physiology 4
MPP 9426 Transmembrane Signaling 3
MPP 9434 Microvascular circulatory function 3
Molecular Biology 1 3
BIOCHM 9432 Molecular Biology 2 3
Choices of some of the stats courses  
STAT 7070 Statistical Methods for Research 3
STAT 7510 Applied Stats models 1 3
STAT 7540 Experimental Design 3
STAT 7510 Applied Stats models 1 3
STAT 8220 Applied Stats models 2 3
ESC_PS 7150 Intro to Applied Statistics 3
ESC_PS 8850 Quantitative Foundations in Educational Research 3
ESC_PS 9650 Multivar Analysis in Ed Rsrch 3
Course Title Hours
Requirements  
NEP 7340 Human Nutrition II 3
NEP 7330 Human Nutrition II Laboratory 2
NEP 8310 Nutritional Biochemistry of Lipids 3
NEP 8340 Nutrition and Human Health 3
Suggested Electives*:
NEP 8030 Etiology of Obesity 3
NEP 7970 Sports Nutrition 3
AN SCI 8420 Endocrinology 3
V PBIO 8451 Immunology 3
SOC WK 7330 Addiction Treatment and Prevention 3
V PBIO 8455 Epidemiology and Biostatistics 3
FCMD 8420 Principles of Epidemiology 3
FS 8440 Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals 3
BIO SCI 8432 Enzymology and Metabolic Regulation 3
Choices of some of the stats courses  
STAT 7070 Statistical Methods for Research 3
STAT 7510 Applied Stats models 1 3
STAT 7540 Experimental Design 3
STAT 8220 Applied Stats models 2 3
ESC_PS 7150 Intro to Applied Statistics 3
ESC_PS 8850 Quantitative Foundations in Educational Research 3
ESC_PS 9650 Multivar Analysis in Ed Rsrch 3

*Nutrition Emphasis Area Electives

NEP Doctoral Students in the Nutrition Emphasis Area may elect to take suggested courses from the following focus areas: Human/Clinical Nutrition, Public Health Nutrition, Behavioral Science, Food Science, Biochemistry/Cell Physiology.

Human/Clinical Nutrition

Course Title & Number Hours
Etiology of Obesity (NEP 7001) 3 hours
Sports Nutrition (NEP 7970) 2 hours
Exercise Metabolism (NEP 8870) 3 hours
Research in Dietetics (NEP 7950) 2 hours
Nutrition Throughout the Lifespan (NEP 7360) 3 hours
Nutrition Therapy I (NEP 7370) 3 hours
Nutrition Therapy II (NUTR 7380) 2 hours
Human Nutrition II Laboratory (NEP 7330) 2 hours
Endocrinology (AN SCI 8420) 3 hours
Immunology (V PIO 8451) 3 hours
Addiction Treatment and Prevention (SOC WK 7330) 3 hours

Public Health Nutrition

Course Title & Number Hours
Community Nutrition (NEP 7590) 3 hours
Nutrition Throughout the Lifespan (NEP 7360) 3 hours
Epidemiology and Biostatistics (V PBIO 8455) 2 hours
Endocrinology (AN SCI 8420) 3 hours
Intro to Immunology (V PBIO 8451) 3 hours
Human Nutrition II Laboratory (NEP 7330) 2 hours
Addiction Treatment and Prevention (SOC WK 7330) 3 hours
Sociology of Health Systems (SOCIOL 7400) 3 hours
Principles of Epidemiology (F C MD 8420) 3 hours
Epidemiology and Community Health (V PBIO 6678) 2-6 hours

Behavioral Science

Course Title & Number Hours
Neurobiology (BIO SC 7500) 3 hours
Sensory Physiology and Behavior (BIO SC 7560) 3 hours
Behavioral Biology (BIO SC 7640) 3 hours
Developmental Neurobiology (BIO SC 8450) 3 hours
Functional Neuroscience(PSYCH 8210) 3 hours
Addiction Treatment and Prevention (SOC WK 7330) 3 hours

Food Science

Course Title & Number Hours
Food Chemistry and Analysis (FS 7310) 4 hours
Food Chemistry and Analysis Lab (FS 7315) 3 hours
Food Microbiology (FS 7370) 3 hours
Sensory Analysis of Foods and Beverages (FS 7380) 3 hours
Food Product Development (FS 7970) 3 hours
Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals (FS 8440) 3 hours
Technology of Dairy Products and Ingredients (FS 7331) 3 hours

Biochemistry/Cell Physiology

Course Title & Number Hours
Nutritional Biochemistry of Carbohydrates (NEP 8360) 3 hours
Exercise Metabolism (NEP 8870) 3 hours
Biochemistry Lab (BIOCHM 7274) 2 hours
Molecular Biology Lab (BIO SC 7374) 2 hours
Enzymology and Metabolic Regulation (BIO SC 8432) 3 hours
Vet Cell Biology (VB SCI 7333) 4 hours
Vet Physiology (VB SCI 8420) 6 hours
Mammalian Cell Function (VB SCI 7310) 3 hours
Neural Control (VB SCI 8410) 1 hour
Transmembrane Signaling (VB SCI 9426) 3 hours