Nutrition Science Honors Program

Honors Program | Undergraduate Students

The Department of Nutrition Science offers an honors program for students interested in taking the next giant leap in their education and gaining an edge in their future career or graduate school endeavors. In the Nutrition Science Honors Program, you’ll develop, complete and share a research project under the mentorship of a Nutrition Science faculty member. This entails a project proposal, research and data collection, a final written report and a poster session presentation.

Benefits of Nutrition Science Honors Program

Past honors program participants have reported the Nutrition Science Honors Program is an excellent way to:

  • Complete an individualized research project with a faculty member
  • Boost your chances for admission to graduate school, including professional schools (medicine, dentistry, etc)
  • Gain an edge in landing management-level positions
  • Receive special recognition upon graduation
    • A statement of graduation from the Nutrition Science Honors Program appears on your transcript.
    • You receive a certificate of recognition from Purdue University along with your diploma.
    • The commencement program will include a notation that you have completed the Nutrition Science Honors Program.

The Nutrition Science Honors Program gives you an opportunity to work alongside internationally respected faculty as you learn how to apply the scientific method to real-world challenges in health and well-being.

Eligibility for the Honors Program

Incoming Freshmen:  Each year, the Department of Nutrition Science selects a small group of exceptional incoming first-year students with majors in Nutrition Science to participate in its Honors Program. Candidates will have demonstrated high scholastic ability, intellectual curiosity, and a persistent pursuit of learning. To be eligible for the honors program as an incoming Freshman, you must be enrolled in one of Nutrition Science’s majors.

Application materials include an application form and an autobiographical essay. The essay should include information about your academic and career interests and goals, your interest in gaining research experience, and your extracurricular and community activities along with other items as indicated on the application form. 

Applications will be considered beginning June 15, 2023, and priority will be given to those who apply by this date, but applications will be accepted until August 1 or until the program is full. Admittance into the program is selective, and applications will be competitively reviewed.

Current Students:  Students in any major (not just Nutrition Science) can also enter the program while at Purdue with at least two remaining semesters (see eligibility requirements below).

  • Have a 3.2 cumulative GPA
  • Have at least two semesters remaining at Purdue
  • Identify a faculty mentor (help is provided for this)

Steps to Complete an Honors Project

NUTR 29700 Semester:

  • Take the Introduction to Honors Research course to learn more about faculty and research opportunities within your department—not required, but highly recommended.

NUTR 39700 Semester(s):

  • Register for NUTR 39700
  • Conduct introductory research (or literature review)
  • Write honors project proposal
  • Submit honors project proposal to faculty readers to be approved
  • Once your project is approved, research and gather data
  • Analyze data

NUTR 49700 Semester:

  • Register for NUTR 49700 during the semester you intend to finish the project and present a poster
  • Finish data analysis
  • Present poster in a public forum
  • Write final thesis
  • Submit an electronic copy of the final report to the Nutrition Science Honors Program director

This program is separate from the John Martinson Honors College. If you received an invitation to be part of the John Martinson Honors College, you are welcome to participate in both programs, as the scope of the Nutrition Science Honors program is different, but fulfills the research requirements for the Honors College.

More Information

Download the Nutrition Science Honors Program Handbook.

Contact Information

Dr. Dorothy Teegarden

Honors Project FAQS

When should I start thinking about a topic and a research mentor for my project?

You will select a research mentor and a topic of interest based on previous coursework and conversations with faculty. Your honors research mentor will work closely with you on your research project and will help you to structure your research experience.

This process may begin in your second year during the sophomore- and junior-level course NUTR 29700 (Introduction to Honors Research).  NUTR 29700 is a course that is typically taught during the fall semester. Though the course is optional, it is highly recommended; you will meet faculty in your department and learn about the research process.

A good first step would be for you to contact a Nutrition Science faculty member to determine mutual interest in a research project topic. You should consider speaking with several faculty members to find a person with whom you can develop a comfortable working relationship and whose research interests you.

This faculty member will be responsible for evaluating your work and they will also assign you a letter grade at the end of each semester.

I have an honors research mentor; what’s next?

Have your academic advisor help you to register for NUTR 39700. You will need an override from your honors research mentor to do so. You will only be able to register for one credit. If you would like more than one credit, discuss changing the number of credits with your academic advisor.

How many hours will I need to complete a Nutrition Science honors project?

It is expected that you will devote a minimum of 300 hours to your research project. In order to qualify for honors recognition, you are required to have a combined total of at least six credits in NUTR 39700 and 49700. Therefore, as soon as you begin working on your research proposal, it is recommended that you enroll in NUTR 39700, using your honors research mentor’s designator code. If you do not earn at least six credits of NUTR 39700 and 49700, you cannot graduate with honors.

What will the NUTR 39700 course be like?

The goals of NUTR 39700 are twofold. The first goal is to conduct initial research (a literature review) in order to write an honors project proposal. Once your proposal has been drafted and approved by your honors research mentor, it will then be read and approved by two other faculty readers in your department.

See the guidelines for the Nutrition Science honors proposal in the handbook.

The second goal of NUTR 39700 is to follow through with your research project and collect your data. Research and data collection take many forms. You will work with your honors research mentor to develop a research plan. Each project will take on a different shape based upon the plan you develop with your honors research mentor.

Note: During the research phase of your project, you should register for 39700. During the semester of expected project completion, you should register for at least one credit of 49700.

I understand my research project is similar to an independent study. Can you explain how many credits I need to take each semester?

It depends. You will need to work out the number of credit hours that you will take with your honors research mentor. The exact number of credits for each semester will depend on the amount of time that you plan to devote to working on your research project that semester. You should spend at least three hours of work per week for each one credit hour in which you are enrolled. This translates to approximately 50 hours of work over the course of the semester.

You will work closely with your honors research mentor to determine the number of credit hours that are necessary for writing a proposal, the number for doing research and data collection and the number for writing your final report.

I need to finish my research project in exactly two semesters. For how many hours should I enroll?

If the work is to be completed in two semesters, you should sign up for three credits of NUTR 39700 during your first semester and three credits of NUTR 49700 during your second semester. Your first semester should be dedicated to writing your proposal and starting your research. Your second semester should be devoted to finishing your research, writing your final report and preparing your poster for presentation.

I have more than two semesters to work on my research project:

If you anticipate working on your project for more than two semesters, you should enroll in NUTR 39700 each semester until the semester that you plan to complete your project and present at the colloquium. Again, the number of credits in which you enroll will depend on the amount of time that you expect to spend on the project during the semester. Generally, you are encouraged to take five credits of NUTR 39700 over the course of two semesters and then one credit of 49700 in your final semester.

When do I register for NUTR 49700?

You will enroll in NUTR 49700 during the final semester that you will be working on your honors project. The goal for NUTR 49700 is to complete your written report and present your data in poster format. Once your honors project has been officially approved by your honors research mentor, you will submit an electronic copy of your final report to the Nutrition Science Honors Program director (Dr. Dorothy Teegarden,

NUTR 49700 is reserved for students who will present their research at the end of the semester in which they are enrolled in the course. It is also expected that you will submit your final project at the end of 49700.

Questions about enrollment in NUTR 39700 and 49700 should be directed to the Nutrition Science Honors Program Director, Dr. Dorothy Teegarden (