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New nutrition degree offered beginning in fall 2021

ISSUED: 13 July 2021

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University is offering a new degree program for students interested in pursuing careers in nutrition and dietetics. The Bachelor of Science nutrition comprehensive is being offered beginning in fall 2021.

Headshot of Dr. Arnetta Fletcher looking into the cameraDr. Arnetta Fletcher, assistant professor and program director of nutrition, said the new program is flexible and interdisciplinary, encompassing all aspects of food, nutrition, and diet.

“In order to understand a nutrient, you have to understand the basis of it,” Fletcher said. “Nutrition is a part of chemistry. It’s a part of biology. You also have to understand why a person eats what they do, so there’s psychology involved as well. The nutrition program pulls in courses from each of these areas to support the discipline.”

Shepherd has offered a nutrition minor since 2014 and Fletcher said over the past six years students have been expressing an interest in being able to major in it.

“Students with a degree in nutrition can work in a wide variety of settings, including research, private practice, government agencies, education, public health and community nutrition, as well as business, the food industry, and healthcare,” she said. “There’s not only an interest in having this program, but also a need to meet the labor and health needs of our community.”

Fletcher cited Bureau of Labor Statistics data that shows the country needs to increase nutritionists by at least 15 percent to meet current health need. She hopes the new program will become accredited in fall 2022, giving students even more opportunities.

Shepherd has applied to the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) to open a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD), that provides the dietetics coursework necessary for an individual to apply to an ACEND accredited dietetic internship or other ACEND accredited supervised practice program. Successful completion of the DPD and an ACEND accredited supervised practice program will make students eligible to take the Commission on Dietetic Registration credentialing examination for dietitians.

“Our eligibility application was accepted by ACEND and we are in the candidacy process for our proposed program,” Fletcher said.

The nutrition comprehensive is one of two new bachelor’s degrees being offered starting in the fall semester. Shepherd is also launching an interdisciplinary B.A. or B.S. in Appalachian studies.

For more information about the nutrition comprehensive B.S., visit the nutrition comprehensive page in our catalog.

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