Field Experience

Field Experience

Nutrition students complete field experience in various locations, including UMass, Western Massachusetts, hometowns, and abroad. Students can benefit in many ways from exposure to and experience in the field.  These experiences can be on or off campus as one-time volunteer event or by participating in or organizing a program, through mentorship or shadowing a professional, via participation in a research project or through development or implementation of a community service or outreach project. Some of these can be used for credit and others are purely volunteer. We try to connect students with nutrition professionals looking for help but we encourage all of our students to investigate possible field experiences on their own.  

Field Experience At a Glance

  • On or off campus
  • Volunteer, paid or Independent Study
  • One time event
  • Program planning
  • Mentorship
  • Shadowing
  • Research project
  • Community outreach

When Should I Do Field Experience?

Field experience can occur either during the regular semester or over the summer.  Experiences in the workplace requires early planning as you will need to arrange for permissions, and depending on the site, HIPPA (health information privacy and protection act), CORI check, training etc. Please think about the following when you are deciding about field experience:

  1. Undergraduate internships/Field experience completed during the school year for credit are part of your regular tuition (see independent study below).
  2. Undergraduate internships/Field work that you complete over the summer and wish to receive credit for must be paid for separately, through Continuing and Professional Education.  Financial aid may be possible. Check with the Financial Aid Office by clicking here. To receive credit, you need to fill out an additional form from CPE that the Undergraduate Program Director or Advisor must sign.  (Cost in 2013 was $195 per credit).
  3. If you are not looking to receive credit, you can sign up for Field Experience on your own. Even if you do not receive academic credit, it will strengthen your resume and understanding of the field. Many of our students do this.

How Do I Find An Internship/Field Experience?

  • Available positions are posted on the Nutrition Department's Career Opportunities page.
  • The Workforce Development pages on the SPHHS website are regularly updated with internships and other field experience, please check frequently.
  • Career Services has a great deal of information to help you search for and secure positions.
  • Find your own (especially good if you are looking for one over the summer in your hometown). Ask parents, family members, and friends of family if they know of any opportunities. Research local hospitals, social service organizations, schools etc. View the Field Experience Contacts in the "Downloads" section of this page for examples and other ideas.

Career Planning

Career Planning is an important part of your undergraduate experience.  The Nutrition Major Career Checklist provides important tips and steps  for assessing and achieving your career goals.  Use this checklist as a guide to help you prepare for your future career.

Mary Ellen Liseno is the Career Advisor for all students in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences.  She can help you with clarifying your career goals, finding an internship or other field experience, writing a resume' and many other important steps toward pursuing a career.  She is available for appointments in Arnold House Rm 221 Thursdays 9-11am.  Make an appointment:

You can also schedule an appointment with her at the Career Services office by booking online through the Symplicity website after logging into Career Connect;
Or, by calling Career Services reception at 413-545-2224 8:30am-5pm Mon-Fri for an appointment or for any concerns with scheduling outside of the available times in Symplicity.  Appointments are located in the Career Services office, 511 Goodell Building. The 5th floor is actually the first floor if you enter from the front main doors.

Independent Study

Students who want to work in the field or complete in-depth independent work in a particular area should contact a faculty member to see if there is any opportunity within the Department of Nutrition for research or other independent work.  Sometimes a faculty member can help a student find work off-campus with a preceptor.  The faculty sponsor will make sure that the student has established objectives for meaningful learning and criteria for success/evaluation as to what they will be accomplishing for the semester.  

Freshmen usually register for NUTRITN 196, Sophomores for NUTRITN 296, Juniors for NUTRITN 396 and Seniors for NUTRITN 496.  Each credit is 40 hours of work, per semester, in the field or on a study - approximately 3 hours per week of work for the semester is 1 credit.  The project could be research, nutrition education, or service.

The faculty sponsor should meet with the student a few times over the semester to make sure they are progressing in their independent study. Faculty sponsors assign a grade; therefore it is important to make sure there are clear guidelines for the independent study and its assessment. If the student is working on a project with a faculty sponsor, they should be supervised on a weekly basis.

You can download the Independent Study Application Form from the "Downloads" section of this page.

Community Service Learning

Civic Engagement and Service Learning (CESL) through UMass Amherst is a perfect opportunity for Nutrition students to further engage themselves in the community while gaining course credit and valuable experience. CESL offers a variety of programs that range from certificates to community engagement and leadership training. These programs can enhance students’ knowledge and skills in the areas of education, sustainability, health, technology, and leadership.  Nutrition students can develop a stronger understanding of social justice issues and cultivate skills that can be used professionally.
To learn more about CESL programs, check out the CESL website.
*Note: These courses are not part of the major requirements. The programs are listed as they may be of interest to nutrition students.*

Civic Engagement and Service Learning (CESL) Programs:

Other Programs/Courses that May be of Interest to Nutrition Students

Highlighted Program: Citizen Scholars Program

One remarkable program offered through CESL is the Citizen Scholars Program, which is a two-year, academic service-learning program that links real-life experience to academic coursework. This course sequence is a great way to fulfill public health requirements. Please see the courses below that we will accept for our major:

  • 1. The Good Society - can be used toward the lower level collateral field or the foundation section 2 requirement on the social science track
  • 2. Tools for Democratic Change - can be used toward the upper level collateral field
  • 3. Public Policy & Citizen Action* - can be used toward 300-599 Public Health Elective
  • 4. Organizing: People, Power, and Change* - can be used toward 300-599 Public Health Elective
*These two courses serve as a thesis/project seminar for students enrolled in Commonwealth Honors College. Students interested in this program need to apply, be accepted, and take all four courses.