Master of Sciences in Sport Nutrition
Master of Sciences in Sport Nutrition
The mission of the MSc in the Sport Nutrition Program is to educate students with backgrounds in dietetics in the fundamental skills, knowledge and practice of Sport Nutrition (through coursework, service learning and a capstone Master's experience) in order to prepare them for:
- The Board Certified Specialized in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) Examination offered to registered dietitians through the Commission Dietetic Registration (CDR) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), and
- Sport Nutrition leadership positions in nutrition services (such as food service, consulting, meal planning and education) to high school, collegiate, recreational, elite and professional athletes, and active individuals of all sports and genders.
The goal of the Master of Sciences in Sport Nutrition degree is to graduate students with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in sport nutrition careers while integrating sustainability and a whole food approach in their practices. Our program is unique with this approach to Sport Nutrition. Students have numerous opportunities for hands-on experiences within our university and community to 1) raise their food literacy awareness and 2) integrate their knowledge and skills within sport nutrition.
A Little Bit About Us
We have an active Healthy Campus Initiative called SWELL (Sustainability, Wellness and Learning), where our food service is predominantly locally sourced from both our on-campus greenhouse and local farms. Our students are very active with sustainability related activities. From working at the Greenhouse, "The Food Next Door" (our stand within the campus cafeteria), developing recipes using unique whole food and herbal ingredients, food preparation and food literacy education on and off campus at the farmer's markets via our travelling exhibit, The Flying Carrot.
We consider our sustainability activities and "whole food-first" ideology a more wholesome approach to athlete development and performance. Opportunities for hands-on experiences are available at many premier sites in the community that include both sport-related and sustainability-related skill areas. For example, on a Monday our students may be volunteering by preparing veggie bowls for the next day's food literacy taste testing. On a Tuesday, they may be educating our faculty and students on various ancient grains or beans. On a Thursday morning they may be making peach smoothies using our fresh local Palisade peaches at the annual Bike Jam. On a Friday, they may be travelling to CSU Pueblo to give a sport nutrition presentation to an athletic team.
The curriculum enhances fundamental concepts through advanced clinical sport nutrition coursework while also including complementary subjects such as strength and conditioning, dietary supplements and herbs, health coaching and health promotion. Our goals are to:
- equip students with a diverse and advanced knowledge base in the field of sport nutrition and sustainability,
- instill confidence in student's practical skills;
- and develop professionals who can interpret and apply research in their practice.
What kind of practical experience do students get in sport nutrition while in the program?
There are three parts to this: Education, Food, and Practical experiences
Referring to our curriculum, you will be trained in research methods and statistics so you can be able to translate emerging research and guidelines to usable information for your clientele. For sport nutrition knowledge, you will have two courses in sport nutrition, one being an advanced clinical sport nutrition research and clinical course worth 5 credits where you will also get practical experience outside of UCCS in sport. These experiences vary for each person and the instructor works with each person for placements. There are also supporting courses such as lab work that supports the physiology of exercise, dietary supplements, food and culture, health behavior, and strength and conditioning principles to name a few. Some of these courses are required while others are electives.
Some students get more hands-on practice with food related opportunities than others depending on whether they have an assistantship in these areas or not. If one doesn't have an assistantship, then we encourage volunteering in these experiences. Some are with our Food literacy program called the Flying Carrot which goes to schools and the farmer's market, food service with our UCCS Campus Greenhouse and Cafeteria (SWELL) or the Food Service agencies that cater to elite athletes, and many food related experiences are interwoven within classes. For example, the Bike Jam and the Sustainnovation are events that students participate in for class activities.
Finally, there is the practical experience and this will range tremendously. There are many volunteer opportunities such as being asked to present nutrition talks to athletes. Whether giving a talk to junior athletes and their parents, collegiate or elite athletics, this builds a skillset and repertoire for the student to get practice in creating practical talks for individualized sports and public speaking. These opportunities are plentiful and the more you volunteer for these types of talks, the more experience you will have with education. Some students choose to enroll in internship, practicums, or independent studies where they are paired with a preceptor outside the university to learn practical skills. For example, some students work with dietitians to elite athletes under an internship. Other students work on research projects with agencies and universities, analyzing data that has already been collected that is sport related. For example, a student recently examined the relationship of Vitamin D in elite winter sport athletes. Some students have worked with athletic teams directly with education, handouts and fueling. If you have an RD already, some students are able to work with collegiate teams to get more hours towards the CSSD by offering personal consults. We also have a few positions within our Campus Health Center which sees many student athletes. We have had students working with military personnel as well. One exciting project is working with the development and validation of the Athlete's Plate. This work is led by one of our faculty, Dr. Meyer, and has been the result of many student projects over the last few years. Although much has been done already, we foresee many robust projects continuing in this area. Also, we have had exciting opportunities for our students working either at the Olympic games internationally or on international Olympic projects. Working with clinical sport dietitians on a clinical/private level who address specific conditions (like eating disorders) are some examples of opportunities that students have as well. As you can see, our program is rich and diversified ranging from food experiences to sport nutrition education and practical work.